Our family farming history began with my great-great-... (nine generations ago) grandfather Johannes. He, his wife and three children left Saxony, Germany, on April 20, 1734, aboard the ship St. Andrew, mastered by Capt. John Stedman. They landed at Philadelphia on Sept. 22 and eventually settled our family’s first "New World" farm near Society Run in Frederick Township, Montgomery County, Pa., in 1743. Pig farming was our family’s specialty until the mid 1950s. A lot has changed since then. Our BQA cow–calf operation includes 100% grass-fed registered Red Angus, Hereford and purebred Beefalo; 30 to 35 pastured Duroc and Spot pigs; 100 Freedom Ranger broilers; and 90 Golden Comet and Buff Orpington layers. We organically maintain 80 acres, comprising 15 acres in rotational pastures, 15 acres in tillable cropland, and alfalfa/mixed grass hay on the balance. We have never used chemical pesticides or herbicides on our pastures or hay fields. We are not a "certified" organic farming operation, but we prefer the natural/organic approach to help promote sustainability.
From Pasture to Plate
Feb 19, 2010
This week’s blog will focus on “Preparing Grass-fed BEEF”
from Pasture to plate
I recently read an article about the practice it takes to prepare Grass-fed BEEF correctly.
It was written by Chef Michael Formichella. He stated that while he was working with a large beef group, he had many discussions about how our food makes it’s way to our tables here in the U.S. These discussions than made him wonder if the simpler ways of the past were better for cattle and the consumer?
Chef Formichella than noted that “before WWII all American BEEF was “Grass-finished,” meaning that cattle ate pasture grasses for a large portion of their lives. Today, the vast majority of cattle spend anywhere from 60-120 days in feedlots being fattened with grain before being slaughtered.” Chef Formichella also stated that “Unless a consumer deliberately chooses Grass-finished, Grass-fed or Free-ranged meat, the beef bought at your local grocery store will be of the corn-finished variety.” Because the corn-finished method brings cattle to slaughter weights faster, the result is less expensive beef products for the mass consumers.”
With sustainability becoming more common, consumers are becoming educated about the health benefits of Grass-based farms and the animals they produce. Many “Grass Ranchers/Farmers” from Big Sky Country to the East coast say their ranching methods create happier animals that are ultimately a better product for the consumer.
Chef Formichella also stated that “Grass-fed ground meat & steaks are sold in specialty food stores for substantially higher price per point per pound than ordinary BEEF.” “Consumers will pay the higher price even during these tough economic times.” Grass-fed meat products are also beginning to become readily available in stores right on the farm where the animals are raised. For most consumers that is a BIG selling point. Because of a high occurrence of recent Level 1 Food Recall’s across the United States, consumers want to know where their food comes from. Not just what country, but what farm in which State. If you can provide a safe BEEF product with traceability to the pasture it was born and raised on for it’s entire life, you’ve got the confidence of the consumer! Traceability is where your success as a BEEF producer is.
The secret to ageing Grass-fed BEEF is short hanging time (generally 7-10 days), and than “Wet ageing” the BEEF for 5-7 day’s BEFORE vac-sealing and freezing it. Grass-fed meat has distinct flavors depending on the season and which grass was fed to the animals. Another important thing to remember when preparing grass-fed meat on the grill, stove top or oven is that it will cook much faster than traditional grain-fed meat. In some cases (depending on the cut of meat), it could cook in half the time! This is simply due to being much lower in fat. However, the lack of fat doesn’t mean a lack of flavor. Nor does it mean the meat will be tougher. If you don’t know how to cook meat any cut (Grain or Grass-fed), will be as tough as a shoe.
Grass-fed BEEF will also have less shrinkage on your customers grill. That is another thing they will remember. When they put 4 pounds of steaks or ground beef on their grill they don’t want to end up with 2 pounds of meat on their plate.