Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
  • Like
How to make sure your grass fed beef is tender
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.


Now you can save presentations on your phone or tablet

Available for both IPhone and Android

Text the download link to your phone

Standard text messaging rates apply

How to make sure your grass fed beef is tender


I was doing my usual stint at Internet research recently and found an interesting article about grass fed beef tenderness and its relationship to tasty beef.Meat Tenderness , by Richard J. Epley of …

I was doing my usual stint at Internet research recently and found an interesting article about grass fed beef tenderness and its relationship to tasty beef.Meat Tenderness , by Richard J. Epley of University of Minnesota Extension.While I earlier had found an article from the University of Missouri, where studies of grass-fed and corn-fed beef (Martz) showed no real differences of when processed using methods to increase tenderness on both types of beef. Simply put, corn fed beef will result in more fat on a carcass which will allow it to be processed and prepared faster. The loss is in the taste. Corn fed (IMHO) has little to no taste compared with grass-fed.

  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
    Are you sure you want to
    Your message goes here
    Be the first to comment
    Be the first to like this
No Downloads


Total Views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds



Embeds 0

No embeds

Report content

Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

    No notes for slide


  • 1. How to make sure your grass fed beef istender - process it right.I was doing my usual stint at Internet researchrecently and found an interesting article aboutgrass fed beef tenderness and its relationship totasty beef.Meat Tenderness, by Richard J. Epley ofUniversity of Minnesota Extension.While I earlier had found an article from theUniversity of Missouri, where studies of grass-fedand corn-fed beef (Martz) showed no realdifferences of when processed using methods toincrease tenderness on both types of beef. Simplyput, corn fed beef will result in more fat on acarcass which will allow it to be processed and prepared faster. The loss is in the taste. Cornfed (IMHO) has little to no taste compared with grass-fed.Now the disclaimer I have to make right off is that there are differences from farm to farm andfrom season to season. The idea is that you find a variety of beef which you are happy with andthen stick with that producer and processor. As you know your farmer, youll know your food.To explain this, lets use the Minnesota article as a base to develop a checklist:GeneticsPer University of Minnesota (UMN), 45% of the tenderness is in the genes. While they talkabout purchasing "Mystery" beef cuts at a supermarket (because you dont know where theycame from or how they were raised) - youll get varying tenderness because of the wide varietyof genetics out there. When Continental cattle breeds are crossed with African breeds,toughness becomes an issue in their offspring (see linked study).While we have started with some "mutt" Angus crosses, Worstell Farms has worked toimprove this by directly crossing Galloway into this mix. So we have the larger size of theAngus along with the inherently higher-quality Galloway genes. The result is a medium-framed animal which matures quickly on just grass and a mixed pasture forage program. TheGalloway breed is known for producing a particular genetic variant which enables them to Visit for more information.
  • 2. more quickly tenderize under refrigerated aging conditions.While some of our cows have more Hereford in their background, several also have someBrahmin traits, as noted by their physique. And as we sample most of the beef leaving thisfarm, weve found no real difference to date, nor has our customers.Species and AgeBasically, younger is better. This is why veal is so noted. However, the production demands ofa farm say to raise a beef until its fully grown in order to make the most beef. Corn fed beef issold by weight. When they get enough fat on them, they are shipped. We used to raise cattlethis way and it only took about 16 months to get to marketable weight. Grass fed beef will getto full size in 20-22 months, thats steers anyway. Heifers (females) will get to full size inabout 3 years. The older the animal, the tougher they get. This is due to the connective tissue(gristle). And is why older cows are usually processed as hamburger in order to bypass thatproblem. (Think of it as mechanical tenderizing, much as Swiss steaks are prepared.)FeedingAs this article points out, what they are fed doesnt make that much difference. Grass fed beefhas higher CLAs, which is gotten from the oils on the grass they are eating. Higher CLAs orOmega 3/6 ratio makes the beef better for your heart (per some studies), but this doesntaffect tenderness. (And cattle fed GMO corn gives you more a mystery of whats in that beefand what it will do to/for you.)Muscle to MuscleThe more a cow uses that muscle, the tougher it gets. So muscles off their legs or relatedmuscle groups will be inherently tougher than muscles around the spine, which are used forsupport, "...the tenderloin provides a support function in the animal and therefore has lessconnective tissue." So what cut you buy will determine its tenderness considerably.Suspension of CarcassCattle are hung by their hind legs, generally. So this puts more tension on certain musclegroups and they tenderize less in the aging process. Again, this doesnt affect the tenderloin,which is why its called that. Some plants use pelvic suspension, but this is rare, due tonecessary changes in plant layout and cutting procedures.Chilling Rate The carcass is chilled immediately after slaughter to prevent spoilage. If the carcass is chilled too rapidly, the result is "cold shortening" and subsequent toughness. Cold shortening occurs when the muscle is chilled to less than 60°F before the completion of rigor mortis. If the carcass is frozen before completion of rigor mortis, the result is "thaw rigor" and subsequently extremely tough meat.The article goes on to say that beef well-covered in fat resists this cooling problem. This is a Visit for more information.
  • 3. point to watch out for with grass-fed beef, as it has less of a fat covering. While weve had noproblems with any beef weve processed due to this, it opened our eyes as well to what canpossibly happen in some of these mass-production facilities. We use only local processors andso verify this on every plant we use.AgingThis is the most controversial areas. It is subject to opinion. And as such, we disagree with thisarticle at that point. The longer it is hung, the more it ages. The muscle tissues break down.However, this also increases the chance and amount of spoilage which can/will occur. Whilemost depends on the cleanliness of the room itself, the beef can absorb odors fromsurrounding material and can also be affected by mold which grows at 35-degrees. While anyaffected areas can be cut off, this loss also doesnt guarantee that it didnt absorb some odor(which affects taste) from that situation.Most of the lockers we use agree on 7-10 days to age beef. Some people prefer 3 weeks aging.One processor told us that in order to prevent mold, they spray the older carcasses with a ph-lowering enzyme spray, but this then simply slows down the natural process of aging.So tenderness is more how it is raised than how long it hangs - unless you dont mind a widervariance in taste.Quality GradeIn the late 70s the USDA changed grading to align with the majority of the beef being corn-finished. So they added characteristics of intramuscular fat into their grading process. Marbling, the visible specks of fat in the lean, also is a factor used in determining the USDA quality grade. However, information in the last decade indicates that marbling exerts only a small influence on tenderness of meat, primarily by acting as a lubricant during chewing.The fat enables faster cooking and higher temperatures - so you can have a medium-rare witha crispy exterior if you want it. Grass fed beef is cooked at lower temperatures and (as iscommon with most beef) is better prepared by marinading for hours beforehand or overnight.Some prefer to cook their beef in crock-pots to preserve the nutrients (as youll find on manyrecipes for this site.)MechanicalAs mentioned above, when you grind beef, you are eliminating the connective tissue problem.Steak is often cubed, which is pulverizing it with small blades. Swiss steak is run through atenderizer, which in your home is a small hammer with a pointed surface. Same result.As well, when you cut your beef into small pieces and cook them, this also then satisfies thisscene. More heat (and any surrounding juices) can enter the beef to soften the connectivetissue. As well, the beef flavor enters the stew to enhance the other vegetables, etc. Visit for more information.
  • 4. Chemical Salt is a chemical that at certain concentrations increases the tenderness of meat. The presence of salt is one of the reasons that cured meats such as ham are more tender than uncured meats. Salt apparently exerts its influence on tenderness by softening the connective tissue protein, collagen, into a more tender form. There are a number of vegetable enzymes such as papain (papaya), bromelin (pineapple), and ficin (fig) used to tenderize meat both commercially and in the home. These tenderizers can be applied either in liquid form or in powder form. Their primary effect is to dissolve or degrade the connective tissues collagen and elastin. The limitation of vegetable enzymes is that their action is sometimes restricted to the surface of meat. Also, on occasion, they can impart a characteristic "tenderized" flavor to meat.So that steak you eat in a fancy restaurant may only "taste" tenderized. The last one I atecertainly wasnt inherently tender - and the taste didnt last past the thin layer of spices on thesurface...Marinading Marinading is a way consumers can improve tenderness and add taste variety to the meat component of meals. The basic ingredients of a marinade include salt (or soy sauce), acid (vinegar, lemon, Italian salad dressing, or soy sauce), and enzymes (papain, bromelin, ficin, or fresh gingerroot). Some marinade recipes call for addition of an alcohol source (wine or brandy) for flavor. The addition of several tablespoonfuls of olive oil will seal the surfaces from the air and thus result in the meat staying fresher and brighter in color for a longer period of time. The tenderizing action of marinades occurs through the softening of collagen by the salt, the increased water uptake, and the hydrolysis and breakage of the cross links of the connective tissue by the acids and alcohols.Youll also note that prime barbecue recipes call for marinading the beef, as well as constantlybasting them with a sauce that usually has salt, lemon, vinegar, and alcohol in it. This articlerecommends marinading for 4-8 hours in a refrigerated earthenware dish before cooking.Freezing Freezing rate plays a small role in tenderness. When meat is frozen very quickly, small ice crystals form; when meat is frozen slowly, large ice crystals are formed. While the formation of large crystals may serve to disrupt components of the muscle fibers in meat and thereby increase tenderness very slightly, the large ice crystals result in an increased loss of juices upon thawing. This increase in loss of juices results in meat that is less juicy upon cooking and therefore usually is perceived as being less tender. Visit for more information.
  • 5. Thawing Thawing meat slowly in the refrigerator generally results in greater tenderness compared with cooking from the frozen state. Slow thawing minimizes the toughening effect from cold shortening (when present) and reduces the amount of moisture loss. Thawing in a microwave is accomplished by using a lower power setting or by manually alternating cooking and standing times. During the standing time, some of the heat from the thawed areas moves toward the frozen area.CookingThe summation here is to cook according to where that cut came from. Dont expect a rumproast to cook like a tenderloin. As cooking progresses, the contractile proteins in meat become less tender, and the major connective tissue protein (collagen) becomes more tender. Thus, for cuts that are low in connective tissue—such as steaks and chops from the rib and loin— the recommended method of cooking is dry heat, including pan frying, broiling, roasting, or barbecuing... For cuts with a high amount of connective tissue—such as those from the fore shank, heel of round, and chuck—the recommended method of cooking is long and slow at low temperatures using moist heat such as braising. The application of moist heat for a long time at low temperatures (275-325°F) results in conversion of tough collagen into tender gelatin and makes this type of cut more tender compared with dry heat cooking of one of the less tender cuts of meat. Degree of doneness significantly affects tenderness. As the lean is heated, the contractile proteins toughen and moisture is lost. Both decrease tenderness. Tender cuts of meat cooked to a rare degree of doneness (140°F) are more tender than when cooked to medium (155°F), and medium in turn is more tender than well-done (170°F).Now, as covered on this site in various places, you dont cook lean beef (grass-fed) like fattybeef (corn-fed). It will dry out and wont become tender. I included the above remarks toexplain how cooking can additionally make the beef more tender.Get your crock-pot going for those less tender cuts and cook shorter and cooler in general.This doesnt mean you get below temperatures the USDA recommends to kill any unwantedbacteria. But read up on cooking grass fed beef. Use the recipes on this site to start with.Develop and expand your culinary skills to include the wide varieties of cuts and finisheswhich grass-fed beef enables.CarvingFinally, this even surprised me. When you cut cross wise to the connective tissue, you aremechanically tenderizing your beef even further as you serve it. Ever wonder why roast beef iscut so thin? Visit for more information.
  • 6. When cuts are made from carcasses and wholesale cuts, the normal procedure is to cut at right angles to the length of the muscle. This procedure severs the maximum amount of connective tissue and distributes the bone more evenly among all cuts in that area. Likewise, consumers should carve cooked meat at right angles to the length of the muscle fibers or "against the grain" to achieve maximum tenderness.SummaryAnd now, there you have it. A fairly complete layout of what it really takes to serve up tastyand tender beef for your family or guests. This has been quite an education for me, and I hopeto share this more broadly with others.Feel free to do your own research. Check out the original UMN article for yourself. Study upon the various cuts, cooking procedures, and carving methods. Ask your farmer where yourbeef is processed and then call them to find the methods they use.Again: know your farmer, know your processor, and youll know your food. ---- For more data on raising pasture fed beef, as well as other information on prime beef as health food – visit Visit for more information.
  • 7. About Worstell FarmsOur family goes back on both sides withfarmers. As far as we can trace.And that tradition came to Mexico,Missouri around 1960 to purchase thecurrent farming operation.Jim and Laura Worstell established aworking farm there and then, and raised abig family of 8 kids, along with severaldogs, cats, and an occasional pet squirrelor raccoon. And dont forget the llamasand peacocks...In 2000, Robert Worstell returned to thefarm to take over operations management(as well as the day-to-day chores) andshares these duties with his mother and sister (well, not the chores, so much.)On approximately 250 acres of land, which is mixed hillsides, bottom, and woods, we raise acombination of annual row-crops and also our beef. Typical of this area, we have marginalland which is better suited to cattle than cultivation (which is typical of most cattle-farming).Weve found that where we run our cattle actually improves the soil and its health - as long aswe pay attention and actually manage how long and when they graze where. As we continue tostudy and learn about and from our cattle, our daily lessons help us to improve the quality andquantity of beef we raise.We practice managed grazing and are transitioning over to ultra-high-density stocking, as this is even better for the land and actually requires more cattle peracre to keep up with the lush growth and pasture renovation.All our beef is from local stock. Mostly black Angus cross-bred cows, with our current BeltedGalloway bull named "Gene Autry" is servicing these well.Ordering Our BeefWe only take local orders, so contact us via the website or call directly. Due to Federal laws,we cannot sell our beef out of Missouri – youll have to buy it here. Generally, our beef isspoken for well before its ready for processing. However, contact us for what we have comingup and we can give you an estimate on when the next one is coming available. We are also offering La Cense beef, which is USDA inspected and can be shipped anywhere in the US. Please see for details. Visit for more information.
  • 8. Related Articles from the Worstell Farms Web Site: • Worstell Farms – Finest Missouri Grass Fed Beef • Raising Missouri Pasture-Fed Beef • Whats All-Natural, Humane, Pasture-Raised? • How does a Beef Ranch Stay in Business? • Why our Missouri prime beef is striped... • Missouri Beef: Heathy is as Healthy Eats • What are "CLAs" and "Omega 3 and 6s"?!? • How Missouri Beef is Your Best Health Food • Missouri Grass Fed Meat For You to Buy • The Surprising Taste of Grass Fed Meat • Dry Aged Vs. Wet Aged • What are the beef cuts?About the Author:Dr. Robert Worstell retired from a corporate career in graphic design to the much calmer andhealthier American Midwest, to inherit running the family farm. His constant work andresearch has been to improve the sustainability of this Missouri “beef ranch”. The results showthat grass fed beef, locally and directly marketed is the route to profitability, not followingcommodity trends.Dr. Worstells training in web design has helped him move the operation more online, as wellas giving him new networking opportunities to promote Worstell Farms beef products. He isalso a prolific author and has recently completed research into the all-time best self helpbooks, with his “Freedom Is – (period).” Out of the 7 books published this year, hes alsoproduced a fiction work, “The Dreamer Dreamed” - itself a breakthrough use of fiction toexplore the metaphysical aspect of dream meaning. All of these are available athttp://midwestjournalpress.comDr. Worstell may be contacted through his several blogs and websites for interviews andappearances. Visit for more information