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JerseyMidwest's Profile

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100% grass fed beef. Icky! Am I crazy?

Lets discuss why grassfed beef tastes different... if we can even argue that it does. There is a body of scientific research that says most Americans can't tell the difference, even though there is a clear difference in fatty acid composition between grain fed and grass fed cattle. Personally, I have worked in feedlots, and worked on some heritage breed pasture based farms in central NY, and I think I would rather risk my digestive tract on the grass fed cattle. To be fair, however, feedlots serve a purpose, they provide a consistent cookie-cutter product to a population who is content eating fast food hamburgers every day. Grass fed beef requires some talent to properly cook and flavor, and while it does have some more readily oxidized fatty acids, it is consistently leaner and contains a healthier fatty acid mix. I encourage people from all walks of life to really give grass fed beef a try; it is different than what most people are used to in this country, however, it is a healthier solution that provides a natural solution to many of the problems that feedlots have created. There will be little e-coli 0157-H7 in grass fed beef, as these cattle have an unsuitable rumen environment for this bug. Also, when your butcher tells you grass will kill cows, tell him to climb in his hobart grinder feet first. I had a client tell me this once, and couldn't quite believe my ears. Cattle are rumenants, and much like termites, they house microbes in their stomachs which allow them to convert cellulose into energy... there is a long pathway we will skip here, however. Cattle evolved this way, and we have tried to inefficiently feed them corn to get them fatter faster, regardless of cost, so that people will have a beef product they feel is consistently moist and has the same flavor (or fatty acid profile). So, I encourage you to go out and be daring, grass fed beef out of australia is very cheap and easy to come by... if you eat alot of beef, contact a local wholesaler who is probably importing from a company like Dunedin Beef... and order right from them. Go out there and eat grass fed!

Nov 15, 2007
JerseyMidwest in General Topics

Down-Home Prosciutto

Lets discuss eating country hams without further cooking for just a moment, I have cured my own hams for quite some time, and have a degree in meat science/food safety. I agree with an estimate of 6 to 12 months of aging prior to consumption raw, however, I am not sure I would agree with it for the same reasons everyone here is discussing. I would want that aging time for the flavor to mature, however, the ham is officially cured after about 40 days when it is first hung. I personally cure mine in October, hang them in November, and eat the first slices as an uncooked product in April. I realize 5 months seems a bit short to some, but if you looked at a graph of microbiological activity, you would see once the water activity dropped below about 90% (which happens during that first curing stage) and the nitrate which gives them that pink ham color is converted to nitrite and eventually binds hemoglobin... there are no living soldiers left on board. In the italian tradition, the way my grandparents did things, the ham was cured for atleast 2 years. This has little to do with anything relating to your health and a great deal relating to flavor and fatty acid oxidation. That is, as was mentioned above, what gives cured meats their characteristic flavor. Also, I recommend everyone go out and try lamb proscutto, as when those fatty acids age you get an even more dramatic change in flavor, and it is just as easy to make at home. Hope this helps.

Nov 15, 2007
JerseyMidwest in Features