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Unread 04-07-2013, 11:23 AM   #1
Gig'em99
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Default Did last year's drought impact beef quality?

Has anyone out there noticed any differences over the past year, in the quality of beef that you're purchasing?

My example: Been buying from the same butcher for years. His supply is from Iowa. Occasionally other states, but always midwest, and corn fed. Over the years, I've been generally pleased with all of his meats. I still buy from the big boxes from time to time as well. And across the board, it seems like my briskets in particular, have been less consistent this past year. Anyone who wants specifics can check out the sharing secrets thread in the competition forum.

Specifically, I've noticed issues with choice grade. Just seems like my normal processes aren't getting the meat done. Now these are briskets that look well marbled, aren't yellow, and are generally very flexible off the shelf. My normal prequalification process is all met, but when I'm expecting the briskets to be ready...they're not. Or one will be perfect, and another from the same case is chewy. (cooked at the exact same time, wrapped at the same time, held to the same temp conditions, etc)

So, anyone else experiencing this?
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Unread 04-07-2013, 11:33 AM   #2
volfan411
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I just purchased a pack of NY strip steaks from Sams and have been extremely unhappy with the quality. I have cooked 3 of them and all were tough. I did not look at them well in store but now I see they do not have good marbling.
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Unread 04-07-2013, 11:45 AM   #3
cowgirl
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Not sure if the ongoing drought has anything to do with it. Ranchers here, including myself, will not hold cattle that we aren't able to feed. When the drought hit, herds were sold off. The cattle were not kept in "starving" conditions.
What cattle that are sold are still going through the same finishing process to add marbling and weight before hitting the packing houses.

Many are trying to build their herds back up but it looks like the drought isn't going to ease up soon.

Could be the beef is coming from a new location? Just a guess.
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Unread 04-07-2013, 11:47 AM   #4
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What do you mean "last year's drought"? It's still with us.
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Unread 04-07-2013, 11:52 AM   #5
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Find a local farm and support them. I buy a side of grass fed beef raised 25 miles from here and processed 10 miles away.
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Unread 04-07-2013, 12:02 PM   #6
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cowgirl summed it up very well, If he is getting cattle that were not finished completely, as in lack of feed so then the beef will not be as good of quality
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Unread 04-07-2013, 12:41 PM   #7
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I know that the cows weren't starved. But there was also a lot of changes in the corn market. Corn prices went up, as supply was impacted. Made me wonder if the cattle were being finished the same way, or if the corn was being supplemented with anything else.

Also, yes, last years drought is what I'm referring to specifically, because the beef being sold now was alive through it, being finished during it. This year's drought will impact tomorrow's beef...or it will if my theory has any validity to it at all.

Yea, I was talking about briskets specifically, but the strip comparison is very interesting. I guess some of the tri tips I've cooked lately also seems to have some toughness that I'm not accustomed to.

Any others out there feel like beef quality has changed recently?

Definitely not trying to make a dig at the producers/ranchers, you guys are managing your herds accordingly.
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Unread 04-07-2013, 12:49 PM   #8
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I buy mostly California and Oregon beef for regular cooks, but, the usual commodity stuff from the restuarant supply for larger cooks. Because I do not use a normal time/temperature process, I have not noticed any difference in my cooks. But, it would not surprise me to hear that some feeders have switched to a different feed, nor would it surprise me to hear that your butcher had to switch to a different supplier.

It is also possible that younger cattle coming to market are a little less likely to finish off in the same way.
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Unread 04-07-2013, 12:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gig'em99 View Post
My normal prequalification process is all met, but when I'm expecting the briskets to be ready...they're not. Or one will be perfect, and another from the same case is chewy. (cooked at the exact same time, wrapped at the same time, held to the same temp conditions, etc)

So, anyone else experiencing this?
I would prequalify this as your problem. NO 2 briskets are alike. Cooking meats to identical time and temp will give you maybe 50% success. You need to cook each piece to the same FEEL. Size of brisket, marbeling, aging all have to do with how that 1 piece will cook.
For example, i cook 32-48 briskets every night. I start probing around 12 hrs and pull the last 1 off maybe 15 hrs later.
Try to learn when a piece of meat is finished by feel rather than time and temp.
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Unread 04-07-2013, 12:55 PM   #10
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and no, i have not noticed any change in beef except that the cattle are being cropped a lil earlier resulting in smaller primals.
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Unread 04-07-2013, 01:02 PM   #11
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I just trimmed up the weirdest packer I have ever seen. I thought it was half a packer, but, this morning, as I was preparing to cook it, I realized it was a full sized point, but, the flat was tiny, about 1" thick at most. At first I thought it was an odd trim ( who would trim a flat at a bias ) but, it had membrane on top and bottom and that has to mean it was just a really odd, or very young steer. (and yes, this was the super pricey brisket)



Literally, this is a packer, maybe 4 pounds. I thought it was a point, but, nope, a tiny packer, stripped of fat cap. I took off silverskin from top and bottom.
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Unread 04-07-2013, 01:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gig'em99 View Post
I know that the cows weren't starved. But there was also a lot of changes in the corn market. Corn prices went up, as supply was impacted. Made me wonder if the cattle were being finished the same way, or if the corn was being supplemented with anything else.

Also, yes, last years drought is what I'm referring to specifically, because the beef being sold now was alive through it, being finished during it. This year's drought will impact tomorrow's beef...or it will if my theory has any validity to it at all.

Yea, I was talking about briskets specifically, but the strip comparison is very interesting. I guess some of the tri tips I've cooked lately also seems to have some toughness that I'm not accustomed to.

Any others out there feel like beef quality has changed recently?

Definitely not trying to make a dig at the producers/ranchers, you guys are managing your herds accordingly.
I haven't noticed any kind of a trend. I have always found good meat and not so good meat on a pretty random basis. I buy choice ribeyes from COSTCO regularly, and have only had a few that weren't up to my expectations.

I buy chuck for grinding, and it seems pretty normal.

Are you buying from Hirsch's?

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Unread 04-07-2013, 01:18 PM   #13
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While the drought has had an impact and hurt some of us in the pocket as producers it has also had an impact on quality, cattle are not held on grass or in feed lots as long as normal and the shortage of grain has driven prices higher in all aspects from producer to consumer. The use of Ethanol as fuel has done even more damage to the industry by consuming vast amounts of corn, this double edge sword is not without consequences. Still every animal is different and no two will cook the same for this reason primal cuts for BBQ must be cooked to feel; not time or temp.
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Unread 04-07-2013, 03:43 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bludawg View Post
While the drought has had an impact and hurt some of us in the pocket as producers it has also had an impact on quality, cattle are not held on grass or in feed lots as long as normal and the shortage of grain has driven prices higher in all aspects from producer to consumer. The use of Ethanol as fuel has done even more damage to the industry by consuming vast amounts of corn, this double edge sword is not without consequences. Still every animal is different and no two will cook the same for this reason primal cuts for BBQ must be cooked to feel; not time or temp.
Bludawg has nailed it, at least that's my experience and most small ranchers I know. Our drought in Florida is not as bad as Texas but it's still bad and starting our 4th year. Unless its a steer I'm holding out for myself (do 1 or 2 a year), we are selling as soon as we wean in mid-May. Normally we would hold those animals through summer grass and sell in September-October but the pastures can't support the numbers and I've made the decision to hold quality producers and replacement heifers. That means younger smaller steers are headed to pre-conditioning then on to feedlots in the midwest without the benefit of 3-4 months on quality pasture.
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Unread 04-07-2013, 04:54 PM   #15
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If a cut is stamped prime or choice oe select, it is done so based on certain specifications. Its not graded on a curve. The drought may have affected beef, but a prime cut is a prime cut...or am I being naive?

Having said that, I went out to a high end restaurant last night and was severely disappointed. My 22 oz Porterhouse was closer to 18 oz and at $49 a la carte was a rip off. My date order a petite filet mignon and half of it was hard as a rock and the center was void of flaver (her words). The $50 bottle of vino was good though.
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