Grass-fed Beef Flavor

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Joined Feb 23, 2013
Butcherman, I would be interested in hearing what you think of the flavor of Bastrop Cattle Company www.bastropcattlecompany.com  grassfed beef, and how it compares to Alderspring Ranch grassfed beef.

Bastrop Cattle Company is producing grassfed beef here in Texas close to where I live.  I think they may have figured out how to make good tasting, tender grassfed beef.  They are processing young calves that have not been weaned, that have still been nursing on cow's milk.  The cow's milk has all of the fat and protein and sugar that the calves need to grow.  The calves are harvested at an early age, so the beef is tender.  And the calves are getting all of the nutrition that they need to grow, so they don't taste gamey or rank.  The cost per pound for steaks looks very reasonable compared to other grassfed beef that I've seen for sale.

BCC is a cooperative of small ranchers.  They raise their own beef, and purchase young calves from other nearby ranchers.  They look for gentle cattle that are primarily British breed (Angus or Hereford) that will produce a weaned calf that weighs over 700 pounds.  Before long, all of my calves will be grassfed and will be sold as beef through Bastrop Cattle Company.
 
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Joined Sep 22, 2013
We live in Colorado where the cattle are Certified grass fed only, no corn or drugs.

Last winter we bought our first 1/2 of a beef and it also had an elephant appear in our kitchen the

first package of beef we cooked!!!!! The smell was like grass compost, which was so strong in odor

that my husband and I couldn't swallow it. That was ground beef. It is very true about how lean it is

you almost have to marinate it in oil so you can cook it?? I complained to the ranch where we purchased it

and to our dismay were king of brushed off by the rancher.  I explained we expected a nice roast maybe prime rib,

or a tenderloin roast, we received a few chuck style roasts and didn't even get a rump or round roast??

We got a few t bone steaks and top sirloin steaks. 80- 1 lb packs of hamburger. We felt like the guy who delivered it

switched the prime cuts for less than desirable cuts. Anyways see if you agree we were robbed by the butcher or

delivery driver?

The second contact with the rancher made my mind up, I told him about the smell and the less than prime cuts we

got.

His reply was that he had changed drivers because of a lot of complaints and also has a new USDA certified

company to butcher this year, I believe he said the ACME meat packaging co. Also to make sure we were satisfied

and repeat our business he is going to give us a 1/8th of beef 2014 and another 1/8th 2015?

I told him Id like to try meat from another cow  in 2014 also if it tastes and smells the same we don't want more in

2015?

My husband has horrible grass allergies also, the first time we tried it he broke out all over has anyone with

allergies had issues eating grass fed only beef??

Please let me know what others think??

We didn't think the taste was anything special and didn't have the beef flavor of a restaurant steak, but

the grass smell was very apparent on your plate which was not appetizing at all.

Defosted in the microwave the meat really has a putrid smell that will make being in the house sickening..

.
 
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Joined Oct 23, 2012
MtnFolks:  You make two points, That the grassfed beef you purchased was not at all delicious, but rather bad smelling, bad tasting and dry, and that the selection of cuts seemed not to represent a true half of a beef carcase. 

As to taste and smell, your experience mirrors mine. We have had a lively discussion on this Site, yet no conclusion. I am grateful for and respectful of the smart folks who have contributed. But it sorta hurt me to see how several people sincerely felt I was being insensitive and abusive, that my taste buds were attuned to bland, soft meat, and I was disparaging the nice, strong, vivid taste of grassfed beef.  Others have suggested that any odor or off-taste is attributable to mishandling in packing and shipping.  But I've bought from four vendors and had identical experiences.

I've stopped searching for delicious grassfed. My provisional decision is I can have Healthy or Delicious, not both.  But Angus Cattleman posted a suggestion that I try Bastrop Cattlemen, and I shall. Somehow I missed AC's post until I got an email notice of the Mtn post.  I live in the Texas Hill Country and am intrigued by AC's recommendation.  Thanks, AC.

As to selection, I can only say that since I have been buying Sample Boxes of the various vendors' beef, I have no direct experience, but I have been puzzled by the list of cuts proffered on the various sites.  I have wondered what these ranchers are doing with the cuts they are leaving out of their Offered Selections. I guess they have other customers for the cuts they are withholding from the selections they offer on their sites.  When I read "half a beef" I'm thinking "side of beef", but perhaps what these vendors intend is "half a beef by weight".  But with that quibble, or deception, aside, you are correct to question where the better cuts are that you expected. If what he is selling is a true side of beef, then of course it would include the loin roast and steaks, the round roasts (top, bottom, top sirloin, eye) as well as the chuck and neck and shank and skirt and etc.

This is a great site.  Great to get a bunch of smart, experienced people in a "room" with each tossing in their experience and opinion. Thanks to PHatch for refereeing this and keeping the ball in play.
 
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Joined Dec 23, 2000
Very interesting thread, and kind of an old home week for me.  My father's forebears farmed in southeast Missouri since 1848; they wound up being very big in the Angus show cattle field.  AngusCattleman, you may have come across the MAFBlackcapmere bloodline- that was their most prominent champion sire. My late uncle  ran the farm until he retired around 1980 or so. The M in MAF is the same as the M in MikeLM./img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif

www.Askthemeatman.com is the butcher/packer in Jackson, MO who handled my uncle's packing needs.  He has a wonderful, informative website and anybody interested in meat, meat products, or meat equipment will find it both useful and entertaining. 

By the way, they have a sale going on thru tomorrow 9/23.

Mike

Edit 9/24:  New sale thru Oct. 7: $30 off any sale over $150.
 
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Joined Mar 21, 2008
Have a grass fed beef rump roast in the oven braising, will add some potatoes later after it gets a good start. Maybe carrots if the ones in the fridge are still good.
 
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Joined Oct 23, 2012
APOLOGY:  In my post responding to Mtn and Angus Cattleman, I thanked P. Hatch, but now scrolling back through the months of posts, I see that it has been Pete McCracken who has kept this train on the rails with astute commentary.  Thanks, PM.
 
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Joined Oct 23, 2012
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgF3gK..

This is a link to a Heston Blumenthal video of him cooking a Longhorn steak, and it looks EXACTLY like the steaks I am jonesing for.  Very interesting cooking methodology.

He says on the video that Longhorn won their taste test over perhaps five other breeds.

I found a Longhorn rancher/vendor in Winnie, Texas, but that's five hours on I-10 from my home in Kerrville.

Cheftalkers: Any experience to report, w/ Longhorn meat vendors or grilling Longhorn meat?
 
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Joined Sep 26, 2012
This is quite a read.....

I bought 1/4 of a GF cow a few years ago......basically very good but I appreciate the opinions here.

The local farmers markets are my sources.

http://www.rockingchairranchcattle.com

My main problem is the toughness...

I buy from local ranchers w/ in a 200 mile radius.

Another problem is that they are required to freeze it all.

Not sure if this is good or bad.

It is all aged for 14 to 21 days...

A big problem is the ranchers are not foodies so they are typically clueless about the cooking part.

I have not experienced "nasty" but I get it.
 
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Joined Aug 15, 2003
Most likely the nastiness come from improper or bad slaughtering, and has little to nothing to do with the animal itself. If an animal is stressed or agitated pre and during slaughter, it uses the stored sugar in it's muscles that then gets replaced with lactic acid. That is most likely the culprit. 

A lot of this depends where you source your meat from and how it is treated during slaughter. I personally quite like grass fed beef (and corn fed beef too lol), and I recognize that it has a more beefy flavor and is usually a bit tougher, but I would never describe the taste as "nasty" or in any way off putting. 
 
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Joined Jul 19, 2014
I raise 100% grass fed Ruby Red Devon beef. Just wanted to put in my two cents on how to NOT get a wonderful experience out of grass-fed.

1. cook it too hot or two fast - it's OK to sear it but then put it on a cooler burner - don't turn down the burner it's on - the heat stays too long - have another burner to put it on. Think venison.

2. get too young a beef - it takes just about 3 years to properly finish a beef on 100% grass. My meat is as well marbled as any feed-lot beef but it takes the extra year to get a beautiful marbeling on grass only. This adds to the expense of raising the beef, thus be prepared to pay for that.

3. make sure the beef was finished on GRASS - not hay (which qualifies as grass) - especially in the winter - have your beef finished while they are still on pasture. Hay tastes NASTY.

4. Make sure the animals are handled and killed humanely. If they are stressed, their adrenaline is in their system and the meat is dark, tough and doesn't taste good.

5. Sounds counter-intuitive, but be careful of organic beef. The USDA has approved incinerated bio-waste as Certified Organic fertilizer. It is CHEAP and certified - thus a LOT of farms use it. It's cheap as that's one of the only ways for the government to get rid of it. The farms I know that use it have to shut their windows when it rains - as it still smells like poop. If it smells like poop I am sure it effects the flavor. EEWWW is all I can say.

6. Make sure the beef has had access to the right minerals - if they don't get free choice minerals their muscles are deficient in anything their grass is deficient in and this effects the physical properties of the muscles - and thus the tenderness and flavor.

7. KNOW YOUR FARMER and don't be cheap. Same rule for any produce or meat you are buying - you don't know what you are getting if you don't know the farmer. It takes another year to raise a perfectly finished grass-fed beef and if you want that experience you should be willing to pay for that. You pay extra for hand made furniture and a good grass-fed beef is really crafted, not thrown out in a yard then killed.

I have beautifully marbled, melt in your mouth, great taste from first bite to last, beef. But it's a lot of hard work and requires daily pasture movement and care of the animals and lots of time and patience. You get what you invest in - in money and in time investigating what you are indeed buying. I'll place my beefs against any conventionally grown beef any day - and I'll win - but that's not what you get by just buying any old generic grass-fed beef for the most part. Investigate ALL your food - you would be amazed at the crap that's offered us.....

Joanie, walkergrassfed.com
 
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Joined Sep 26, 2012
 
7. KNOW YOUR FARMER and don't be cheap. 
Here we go. That's what it is about. I know the farmers and the butcher to the point of having the occasional beer with them. They are good people and love their food themselves. Never had a bad experience there. And it still works for them - you still can make a living by selling low volume - high quality stuff. Same with some of the local pig farmers. Heirloom pigs with belly fat you would not believe, partially pastured in orchards so they can gorge on the fallen apples and plums. That fat, that fat.....
 
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Joined Sep 26, 2012
 
I raise 100% grass fed Ruby Red Devon beef. Just wanted to put in my two cents on how to NOT get a wonderful experience out of grass-fed.

1. cook it too hot or two fast - it's OK to sear it but then put it on a cooler burner - don't turn down the burner it's on - the heat stays too long - have another burner to put it on. Think venison.

2. get too young a beef - it takes just about 3 years to properly finish a beef on 100% grass. My meat is as well marbled as any feed-lot beef but it takes the extra year to get a beautiful marbeling on grass only. This adds to the expense of raising the beef, thus be prepared to pay for that.

3. make sure the beef was finished on GRASS - not hay (which qualifies as grass) - especially in the winter - have your beef finished while they are still on pasture. Hay tastes NASTY.

4. Make sure the animals are handled and killed humanely. If they are stressed, their adrenaline is in their system and the meat is dark, tough and doesn't taste good.

5. Sounds counter-intuitive, but be careful of organic beef. The USDA has approved incinerated bio-waste as Certified Organic fertilizer. It is CHEAP and certified - thus a LOT of farms use it. It's cheap as that's one of the only ways for the government to get rid of it. The farms I know that use it have to shut their windows when it rains - as it still smells like poop. If it smells like poop I am sure it effects the flavor. EEWWW is all I can say.

6. Make sure the beef has had access to the right minerals - if they don't get free choice minerals their muscles are deficient in anything their grass is deficient in and this effects the physical properties of the muscles - and thus the tenderness and flavor.

7. KNOW YOUR FARMER and don't be cheap. Same rule for any produce or meat you are buying - you don't know what you are getting if you don't know the farmer. It takes another year to raise a perfectly finished grass-fed beef and if you want that experience you should be willing to pay for that. You pay extra for hand made furniture and a good grass-fed beef is really crafted, not thrown out in a yard then killed.

I have beautifully marbled, melt in your mouth, great taste from first bite to last, beef. But it's a lot of hard work and requires daily pasture movement and care of the animals and lots of time and patience. You get what you invest in - in money and in time investigating what you are indeed buying. I'll place my beefs against any conventionally grown beef any day - and I'll win - but that's not what you get by just buying any old generic grass-fed beef for the most part. Investigate ALL your food - you would be amazed at the crap that's offered us.....

Joanie, walkergrassfed.com
Wow...

I am going to take this to my GF rancher today.
 
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Joined Feb 23, 2013
Our second attempt at producing grassfed beef has turned out much better than our first.


Our first experience was many years ago. We had a young weaned heifer processed during the winter. She was fed poor quality hay and was not given any mineral supplements. So, we pretty much did everything wrong. That heifer had a gamey, rank smell, and an off putting taste that ButcherMan and many others have mentioned.


After gaining some experience raising pastured corn fed beef, we decided to try raising grassfed beef again. We got our recent grassfed beef back from the market over the weekend and we took four more calves to the market.


We are processing these calves at a young age, so they are very tender. They’re 8 months old, weighing 700 pounds, and they are still nursing. We provide them free choice mineral supplement, put them on our best improved pastures with lush green grass, and we weigh them each month to make sure that they are eating well and growing well. We’ve only processed calves that are gaining over 2.5 pounds per day.


We had this beef dry aged for 9 days, but plan to age the next 4 carcasses for 16 days. The beef has the aroma of fresh beef. The color is a bright red color with a hint of purple, not the darker burgundy that I expected from grassfed beef. The flavor is good, it’s a light beefy taste, not the intense beefy flavor of our pastured corn fed beef.


I am convinced that the bad taste and smell of the grassfed beef that ButcherMan and others have described is caused by a lack of adequate calories and protein needed for growth of the calf. Growing calves need a high level of protein and energy which they get from their mother’s milk. Mature animals don’t need the same high level of protein and energy (because they are no longer growing) and can thrive on lush green grass. The way to avoid getting bad tasting grassfed beef is to make sure that the beef comes from mature cattle on lush pasture, or from young nursing calves with high milking mommas on lush pasture.
 
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122
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Joined Sep 26, 2012
 
Here we go. That's what it is about. I know the farmers and the butcher to the point of having the occasional beer with them. They are good people and love their food themselves. Never had a bad experience there. And it still works for them - you still can make a living by selling low volume - high quality stuff. 
Here in the states it is hard enough to get to know the ranchers/farmers but the "butchers" and processors(?) its a game changer here...almost impossible for the average working person...to get to know them.
 
122
13
Joined Sep 26, 2012
Our second attempt at producing grassfed beef has turned out much better than our first.


Our first experience was many years ago. We had a young weaned heifer processed during the winter. She was fed poor quality hay and was not given any mineral supplements. So, we pretty much did everything wrong. That heifer had a gamey, rank smell, and an off putting taste that ButcherMan and many others have mentioned.


After gaining some experience raising pastured corn fed beef, we decided to try raising grassfed beef again. We got our recent grassfed beef back from the market over the weekend and we took four more calves to the market.


We are processing these calves at a young age, so they are very tender. They’re 8 months old, weighing 700 pounds, and they are still nursing. We provide them free choice mineral supplement, put them on our best improved pastures with lush green grass, and we weigh them each month to make sure that they are eating well and growing well. We’ve only processed calves that are gaining over 2.5 pounds per day.


We had this beef dry aged for 9 days, but plan to age the next 4 carcasses for 16 days. The beef has the aroma of fresh beef. The color is a bright red color with a hint of purple, not the darker burgundy that I expected from grassfed beef. The flavor is good, it’s a light beefy taste, not the intense beefy flavor of our pastured corn fed beef.


I am convinced that the bad taste and smell of the grassfed beef that ButcherMan and others have described is caused by a lack of adequate calories and protein needed for growth of the calf. Growing calves need a high level of protein and energy which they get from their mother’s milk. Mature animals don’t need the same high level of protein and energy (because they are no longer growing) and can thrive on lush green grass. The way to avoid getting bad tasting grassfed beef is to make sure that the beef comes from mature cattle on lush pasture, or from young nursing calves with high milking mommas on lush pasture.
but walkergrassfed says this-

bad taste is a result of- "get too young a beef - it takes just about 3 years to properly finish a beef on 100% grass. My meat is as well marbled as any feed-lot beef but it takes the extra year to get a beautiful marbeling on grass only. This adds to the expense of raising the beef, thus be prepared to pay for that."

This very confusing.
 
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Joined Feb 23, 2013
There are a couple grassfed beef producers near me who are raising young grassfed beef and are doing a good job of it. Young beef may also be called vitello, vitellone, or rose veal. Young grassfed beef will have good flavor and will be more tender than beef from mature cattle, but will not have the marbling of a mature animal, or the robust flavor of a mature animal.

The young beef calf should still be nursing and should be growing at a high rate of gain, because if it is not getting enough protein or energy for growth, it will become stressed and its beef will have an off flavor and a gamey odor. But eventually, as the calf grows older and begins to reach its mature weight, it no longer needs a high protein and high energy diet. That is when it begins to put on fat and marbling, and why more mature grassfed beef has high marbling and a more intense beefy flavor.

But compared to a grain fed animal, it takes more time to get a grassfed calf to their mature weight, as much as 3 years, they just don’t grow very quickly on grass alone. As a calf grows older, their muscle fibers grow stronger and tougher. That’s why some grassfed beef may be tougher. So with grassfed beef, there may be a trade-off between choosing young beef that is tender, or mature beef with robust flavor and marbling.

But you should avoid grassfed beef from calves that have been weaned, but are smaller than mature sized cattle, they may be more likely to have an off flavor. I think that is why Joan Walker says that one way to NOT get a wonderful experience out of grassfed beef is if you get too young a beef. You should know your beef producer and know what they are doing to produce better beef.
 
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