July 20, 2018

This article is for those who wonder how to choose the right meat

Obviously, summer is the time of picnics and barbecues and every time planning the outing we face the same question: "how to choose good meat and, what is even more important, where to find good meat, what part is ideal for barbecue and how to store this product correctly?"

The Costless team decided to dispel the doubts and clarify this issue once and forever. We asked for help a person who knows quite a lot about meat, Anna Bilyavskaya - co-founder of "Сarnivorа", the network of butcher stores that sell farm meat.

Anna kindly agreed to answer our questions, and we hope you find this information useful.


Costless: Which meat is the best for a shish kebab?

Anna: In summer pork neck is in great demand and it's truly delicious! But there are so many options for alternative cuts that can be found in butcher shops. For pork buffs, I would recommend trying a shish kebab cooked from pork brisket, but make sure to purchase a professionally cut piece that keeps the right proportion of meat and fat. Also, it’s worth paying attention to pork ribs BBQ. It’s important to double-check that they are of an American cutting, in this case, the ribs are almost fatless. That would be a classic barbecue!


C: Where and how should we choose meat?

A: The criteria of fresh meat are very simple: it must be bright red, dry, without mucus, without color spots, and traces of weathering.
Where to buy quality meat — is my favorite question indeed!
Our advice, as a butcher's shop — never buy meat on the markets! This is the matter of your family's health first of all!

My favorite phrase is: "I know this granny and always buy at hers". It’s rather a self-deception and our post-soviet faith in honest "grannies." It's just unrealistic, to sell on the market every day or even just on weekends and bring your own product, which logically must be slaughtered every day or at least every week! No even one "granny from the market" is capable of it, trust me! So, a few questions arise: where the meat comes from, how was it delivered and how was it stored. One answer is obvious to everyone — it is usually stored on a dirty and warm counter.


C: Do I need to wash meat before cooking?

A: It is not necessary to wash meat: it is a myth, perhaps formed when buying it on the market from a dirty counter.


C: Veal or beef, which is better?

A: Only beef! Dairy calves are prohibited for sale in Europe and America. There are not many useful substances in the veal indeed, because it is a meat of a very young animal.

Beef is not that stiffer than veal, it just must be prepared properly! Again, it is necessary to understand what part of it to cook and how. We invest a tremendous amount of time for the staff in order to train them and then bring the best product to our customers.

For example, here is one trick of how to choose beef for frying or stewing: take a bicuspid fork and pierce the meat. If the prongs come in easily, the meat is suitable for frying, if pricking is extremely difficult, it is better to stew or bake the meat (editor's note).


How long can the meat be stored in the freezer and is it worth being frozen at all?


C: How long can the meat be stored in a refrigerator?

A: Fresh meat may be stored safely only for 3-5 days at zero temperature. It is even better to immediately marinate it, this way the meat will be delicious for cooking. Chicken meat cannot be stored for a long time at all, I would recommend keeping it in a fridge not than for 1-2 days.


C: How to freeze and unfreeze meat properly?

A: For what do you need to freeze the meat and make strategic reserves of meat in the freezer? There are plenty of butcher shops now, where you can always find some fresh meat. Buy meat for yourself for two days and store it at zero temperature, it is the best option!

Well, if you have already frozen it, make sure you defrost it slowly and only in the refrigerator at a temperature of not higher than 2-3 degrees.

If the defrost temperature is higher, there is a high risk of bacteria developing. When freezing meat, it is important to remove any air from the package. You can defrost it either in a package or on a plate, covering it with one more plate on top to avoid the absorption of foreign odors (editor's note).


C: Is there a practice of processing meat in stores for longer storage? How to avoid buying any "chemical" meat?

A: Most likely such technologies exist. That is why in our meat shops we always open the butcher's area and sell the bulk from ear to tail. After processing, the meat immediately comes to the show-window and every step of the process is under the strict supervision of the store customers. I believe that this way we correspond honestly to all the customer requests at maximum.

On markets, meat is wiped or sprayed with cold water so it looks fresher and more succulent. The risk of such treatment is that water contributes to the reproduction of harmful bacteria. And in supermarkets, meat may be treated with carbon monoxide before packaging, which gives it a more saturated color. The technology itself is not dangerous if it is not abused and, for example, not used to add freshness to the spoiled meat. One of the easiest ways to choose fresh meat is by smelling it, so when buying meat in a sealed package, make sure to keep the check (note editor).
Our new "Expert Tips" section is created to raise important and interesting questions, debunk existing myths, and share useful information about food.

We are always glad to receive your suggestions on topics and questions for experts.

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