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Grass-fed Beef Flavor - Page 3

post #61 of 99
Thread Starter 


Hey Grass-feeders:  


I just bumped into this post on another Cheftalk thread.  Any opinions as to the relevance of this? (Recall that my initial post described the odor of the cooking beef as "like pig liver".)


In 2008, R. Wadhwani submitted his graduate thesis at the University of Utah on the the very subject of liver off-flavor in beef steak (Google: "Cause and prevention of liver off flavor" for the pdf).  Around page 22 of his thesis he presents his hypothesis that the liver off-flavor is a result of inefficient blood drainage from the beef carcass. Given that beef liver itself is saturated with hemoglobin/myoglobin giving it its very distinctive taste, and the fact that the liver (and other organ meat) is removed immediately upon slaughter thus sustaining the blood content, I see no fault with his hypothesis. My understanding is that the off-flavor is further heightened by prolonged storage, such as freezing; where the meat is practically marinating in its own blood.


Knowing what we do now of the practices in the big commercial beef producers/slaughterhouses, it's not surprising that the time needed to properly raise and process a cow is not a priority for them. To avoid this unpleasant taste in what you hope to be a nice steak dinner I suggest you do not purchase your beef from any of the mega grocery chains. I only occasionally indulge in a steak dinner -- because when I do it is fresh, USDA prime, local, grass-fed, and raised free of added hormones and antibiotics -- and yes, it costs more.

post #62 of 99
Thread Starter 

PS to AC:  Another issue with your proposed Option C is that by feeding corn to the cow, it would appear that you eliminate some or much or all of the health benefit, which is said to be particularly in the Omega 6/Omega 3 ratio.  Grassfed beef is said to have a wildly better ratio, that is, far more threes vs sixes.

post #63 of 99

Psst...cattle have four, yes four, stomachs for a reason! And it is NOT to consume grains!

Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #64 of 99
Thread Starter 

I think it was Angus-man who recommended an article on Slate entitled "Raising the Steaks" about flavor comparisons among several vendors and breeds and feeding styles.  Since I went through hell to find the article (six years old!) here's the link:




Lot of good commentary in that article.  Interested to read that they (apparently) cooked all steaks with exact same methodology; Aldersprings Ranch in Idaho beat out Niman for Best In Show.  A.R. raises predominantly Red Angus.

post #65 of 99
Thread Starter 

NOTICE:  I was WRONG about the "unbelievable" pricing of the grassfed beef on americangrassfedbeef.com  I can't account for my error; all I can do is correct it.  Their price for rib eye steaks and strip steaks is about $75 for six 8-oz steaks, so about $25 per pound.  Reasonable.

post #66 of 99

Cattle originated in the same part of the world where wild barley first grew, North Africa, the Middle East, Southern Asia.  Cattle started eating grain long before human beings began eating grain.  Grain was a seasonal part of their diet.  When grass produced grain seedheads, cattle ate it.  The starch in the grain seed heads fattened the cattle so that they could survive on their fat stores in seasonal climates.  When human beings began cultivating grain, they used cattle as draft animals to plow the grainfields.  And ever since, wherever human beings have gone, they have taken grain and cattle.  After human beings began hoarding and monopolizing grain, cattle had to evolve to survive eating grain only when it was fed to them by human beings.


The truth is that cattle can eat grain, and naturally have eaten grain in the past.  The difference now is that most of the cattle grown for beef production in the United States are fed a diet that contains a high percentage of starch grain for an extended period of time in a feedlot.  Yes, that is not a natural diet.


If you believe that cattle are not supposed to eat grain, and that grass fed beef is the only option from a health standpoint, then this thread is a lost cause, it does not apply to you because you will never eat grain fed beef.


I personally believe that this type of sentiment is exactly what is protecting the feedlot industry in the United States.  If an animal is fed one single grain of corn then it is considered as tainted as the rest of the animals in the grain fed industry.  I believe that a lot of people in the United States have tried grass fed beef from cattle that were not consuming enough calories and nutrition to grow and develop properly, it tasted nasty, so those people decided to return to getting their beef from the supermarket.


As a small producer, I would like to raise and sell high quality beef outside of the mainstream "food chain".  I do not think that the climate where I live will allow me to raise grass fed beef that would have a taste that is fit to eat (as Butcherman described, nasty, extremely unpleasant).  If I feed the cattle a grain of corn, my beef is tainted, therefore I have no market for what I could produce.  So, I am forced to send my cattle down the road where they will eventually end up going from the feedlot to the supermarket along with everyone elses cattle.  This system does not reward anyone who is trying to produce superior cattle or better beef.  So, you have what you have.


And lastly, Wadhawani is trying to paint an unpleasant picture of beef production.  Blood draining has nothing to do with the bad taste of some beef, when you cut the head off and remove the heart and internal organs, the blood comes out, you can't keep it in.  The same people that are processing grass fed beef are also processing grain fed beef the very same way.  There is a difference in taste that has nothing to do with the processing.

Edited by AngusCattleman - 3/8/13 at 8:43am
post #67 of 99

I won't be eating foreign raised, grain fed, vacuum packed meat.   EVER!

post #68 of 99
Thread Starter 
You sure write clear, forceful posts; if you quit ranching you should be able to get a gig blogging or commentating or Site Administrator-ing or such.
You say you would like to sell your beef outside the normal supermarket channel, but you are constrained by your climate on the one side of you and the abhorrence of grain on the part of consumers on the other.  Two thoughts seem worth tossing into that discussion.
The consumers, like me, who are drawn to grass-fed beef are subscribers to the Paleo Diet, which is a derivative of two perspectives.  The first is based in archeology which states that man has been eating flesh, including offal, and leaves, roots, berries, bugs and such since we were cavorting on the savannah, but have only been eating wheat, corn and such since about last Tuesday, the beginning of agriculture, so it would seem that our bodies are far better adapted to the first group of foods, yet our modern diet is strongly skewed toward the second.  For the second perspective, we consider the latest findings in biochemistry. Where the two perspectives intersect, that's the Paleo Diet.  Example: biochemistry tells us Omega 6 fats are bad for our health, and Omega 3 fats are beneficial.  And it is asserted that the meat of grassfed beef has a ratio of Omega3/6 which is very advantageous, while the meat of grainfed cattle is the reverse: stronger in Omega 6, far weaker in Omega 3.
But Paleo eaters are only about 5% of the population, at a guess. Folks who just want to feel assured about the quality of the meat, and are interested in the flavor, are a much bigger demographic.  Niman Ranch, for instance, sells "natural" beef, w/ no hormones, no pesticides, etc, and they seem to get about $40 per pound for their steaks.  Dunno what that would end up being for a whole dressed carcass, after shrinkage from hanging, factoring in the cheaper cuts, chuck, etc...maybe $15/pound. Truly don't know.  And I have no clue as to what it costs per pound to raise the steer and hang him in the cooler.  Basic point: all this griping, by me and others, about grassfed, means a lot to us/me, not so much to you. I bet if you want to sell your beef online or through Niman or mail order or whatever, there's a way.
post #69 of 99
Thread Starter 

AngusMan, or anyone else on this thread interested in marketing beef via the Internet could profitably review a site named docscows.com  Doc is a cantankerous guy, and I think his site is a hoot.

post #70 of 99

Here is a very good article about grass fed beef vs corn fed beef



post #71 of 99

People I buy beef from do quite well selling direct to the consumer. Very good price very good beef. Mostly grass fed with a little grain at the end.

Originally Posted by butcherman View Post
post #72 of 99
Thread Starter 

Angus:  Thanks for the newspaper article link; indeed very interesting.

post #73 of 99

My sisters and I purchased a side of grass-fed beef, completely free of hormones or any of the other nasty things that corn fed traditional beef could typically contain.  I excitedly awaited the butchering of our beef so we could try it, and due to the "healthier" reviews of grass-fed, it would actually be good for us.  The first night I barbecued a T-bone and a Ribeye.  I anxiously cut into the steak, put the fork in my mouth, and was immediately disappointed.  I thought maybe I hadn't seasoned the steaks enough, or maybe hadn't cooked them long enough, and varying other reasons for the disappointing taste.  However, each piece of meat I have cooked since that time has produced similar results.  Instead of the taste growing on me, and liking it more and more, the opposite has happened.  I can no longer tolerate the smell of it cooking, and once it is done, before I can take a bite of it I'm overwhelmingly put off by the smell and taste.  Maybe there is something genetic here - maybe this smell/taste is not pervasive to others because of genetics??  I was so excited and looking forward to eating grass-fed.  I've done everything I can do to season it just right, even going as far as to cover it up with excessive seasoning.  Nothing works.  I'm so disappointed in the way it tastes, I will never buy it again.  It cost a small fortune for a side of this beef and I guess I just expected so much more in taste and quality.

post #74 of 99

It is a generally accepted idea that animal meat flavor is influenced by what the animals eat.


As such, it is reasonable to expect that corn fed beef will taste different than beef raised on grass and, in fact, grass fed beef flavor will be influenced by what grasses were consumed by the animal during its life.


When I worked in the Middle East I discovered that the lamb served, as well as the mutton, tasted completely different than what I was used to eating in the Western and Mid-Western US. In fact, the initial taste was very off-putting for me. I have since learned that fat tailed sheep taste different than the typical breeds in the USA and that the vegetation in the Middle East is far different than in the USA, Australia, or New Zealand.


Along similar lines, I have eaten venison from various locales and the flavor varies widely.


If one has eaten corn fed beef for most of their life and suddenly switches to grass fed, a change in flavor, and even texture and tenderness, should be expected. I know many cattlemen that I worked with in the 1960s and 1970s who detested the flavor and texture of corn fed beef as they had eaten local, grass fed beef for all their lives and become accustomed to the taste.


In my experience, when changing from one type of food stuff to another, it is best to start with a minimum of seasoning, preferably only salt and pepper, until I learn what enhances and what detracts from the different product.


Not only are there differences between corn and grass fed beef and different breeds of sheep, wild duck tastes different than domesticated or farm raised duck, Wild salmon tastes different than farm raised salmon, and the list goes on and on.


In fact, the French have a word or expression for the differences, terroir. Quoting from Wikipedia (yeah, I KNOW)


Terroir can be very loosely translated as "a sense of place," which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the production of the product.

Perhaps this has some influence?

Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #75 of 99

I've never seen a cow in a cornfield eating corn - it isn't natural - hell humans should eat corn conservatively.  I realize they will most anything put in front of them, but corn especially Monsanto corn is just not right.  I wonder if they'd eat acorns?  Pigs and venison raised on acorn is amazing tasting.  I prefer my beef to be grass fed - it's leaner and more gamey tasting - like when we was kids.

post #76 of 99

New to Grass-Fed,

Can you tell us the city and state where the grassfed  beef was raised?  When did you purchase the beef, was it recently or in some years past?  Beef is not cheap to produce and not cheap to process, so a side of beef is a significant investment for both the producer and the customer.  I feel like a producer should not try to sell something that their customer would not be happy with.  Did you contact the beef producer and ask them if you could return the beef that you did not use?  If they feel that they have produced a good product and they have a large group of customers that purchase their product, they should not have a problem finding someone else that is interested in purchasing the beef and refunding your money.


My own opinion is that if you do not have a medical condition that prevents you from eating grain fed beef, then all-natural grass pastured grain fed beef (finished on grass and grain with no hormones, antibiotics, or ionophores) will give you the best flavor for a very good value.



I have been studying the subject of grass-fed beef some more.  The American Grassfed Association has a published list of standards for grassfed and grass pastured beef.  The most important standards are:


"3.1.1 All livestock production must be pasture/grass/forage based."

"3.1.2 Grass and forage, shall be the feed source consumed for the lifetime of the ruminant animal, with the exception of milk consumed prior to weaning.  The diet shall be derived solely from forage consisting of grass (annual and perennial), forbs (e.g. legumes, Brassicas), browse, or cereal grain crops in the vegetative (pre-grain) state."


"3.1.4 Animals cannot be fed grain."


"3.1.5 Animals must have continuous access to pasture and forage appropriate to the species."


"3.1.6 Forage is defined as any herbaceous plant material that can be grazed or harvested for feeding, with the exception of grain."


What this means is that grassfed cattle can be fed almost any plant material, except for grain.  The most significant health benefit of grassfed beef is that it can be eaten by people who have celiac disease, wheat allergies, or corn allergies.


Since grassfed beef is not strictly limited to eating only grass, but can also be fed forage, anyone with a knowledge of the nutritional content of common forages and the nutritional requirements of beef cattle should be able to select a diet that would greatly improve the taste, tenderness, and marbling of grassfed beef (make it much better than feedlot beef).  I'm going to go as far to say that someone could produce a bright red muscle/white fat, extremely tender, choice to prime, market ready carcass at 16 months of age if they feed a British breed (Angus or Hereford) steer.  Assuming that a forage based diet costs twice as much as a grain based diet, an average cost of $5.50 per pound of carcass weight, or $8.40 per pound of retail product for all cuts (steaks, roasts, ground beef, cut and wrapped) would not be out of line.  Which all means that if the beef is fed properly, in a little over a year's time you could be eating grassfed beef that makes you say "I have never had beef this good before in my entire life".

post #77 of 99
Originally Posted by AngusCattleman View Post

When grass produced grain seedheads, cattle ate it.



Originally Posted by AngusCattleman View Post

3.1.1 All livestock production must be pasture/grass/forage based." ... What this means is that grassfed cattle can be fed almost any plant material, except for grain.  


So what happens when grass-fed cows go on pasture today, and the grass produce grain seedheads: are the cows instructed not to eat it? wink.gif

post #78 of 99

In fact, the French have a word or expression for the differences, terroir. Quoting from Wikipedia (yeah, I KNOW)


Perhaps this has some influence?


Terroir sure as heck has some influence. I have tasted meat - and cheeses - from cows pastured on the one hand on salt marshes at the Baltic coast and on the other hand on high-altitude alpine pastures. The difference is massive. Both were brilliant, but in completely different ways.

post #79 of 99
Thread Starter 

Thanks GM and AC for the latest posts.  I hope Chef McCracken is still monitoring, because I'd like to ask his opinion (and, as well, the opinion of others) on the extension of each of these issues. 


On the issue of terroir, I wonder how we encourage, celebrate (and obtain!) some of these beeves GM is noting. I recall when I was still wearing a butcher's apron, there were turkeys marketed which had been fed on a specific diet, chestnuts perhaps, and their meat was much in demand by those who knew.  Why couldn't a steakhouse waiter at, say The Palm (am I showing my age?) announce, "Tonight, our chef is featuring a twelve-ounce steak from steers grown in the Baltic region, feeding on the grasses of the salt marsh, and he's searing it and...."


And AC's query goes right to the heart of the validity of the claims of the biochemists that the meat of grassfed steers contains a vastly superior ratio of Omega 3s to Omega 6s. How DO you keep the cows gobbling the grass, yet not eating the grain-heads?  Or is the issue purely corn, as a feed?  The lingo always lays out as, "Grassfed vs Grainfed", but perhaps the second place should be "cornfed". However, the Paleo Diet, so named, proscribes corn AND wheat, and so it proscribes the meat of animals fed on those foods.


One of the sub-issues may be evolution of these various grains.  I mean to say, the manipulated evolution of such.  And, PS, I'm no Luddite; I realize that if you look back in time, the foods we clasp to our breasts today as Natural/Normal/Wonderful are the product of centuries of "manipulation".  Apples.  Celery.  You name it.  But the cardiologist who wrote Wheat Belly (and runs the website of that name: "lose the wheat; lose the weight") argues that when dwarf wheat was developed, perhaps fifty years ago, we entered uncharted territory. Now wheat was being grown which had been developed SOLELY for its Yield Per Acre, with NO attention to what this new strain of wheat might do in our gizzards.

post #80 of 99

My younger brother also raises Angus cattle.  This weekend he told me that one time he took his steers to PX Feeders to be fed http://pxfeeders.com/index.asp .  They were fed in a feedlot, a dry lot, with no grass.  He had the beef processed the same way that he always does, dry-aged 14 days.  When he tasted the beef he was not very happy with the flavor of the beef, it did not have the same good flavor that he was used to, it lacked flavor.  The flavor of the beef that he raised at home, that was fed corn while on grass pastures had a much better flavor.  He told me that cattle need to eat grass to produce beef with the best flavor.  I once thought that eating grass hurt the flavor of beef, but I've competely changed my opinion.  I now believe that eating grass greatly improves the flavor of beef.  Whether the animal is eating corn or not eating corn, as long as the animal is consuming enough calories to support their specific level of growth, eating grass does improve the flavor of the beef



Here are a few articles that address the health benefits of grassfed beef versus grain fed beef:








Dr. Stephen Smiths study on the effects of eating corn fed ground beef versus grassfed ground beef:




A study released in 2009 that shows that corn fed beef has more fat than grassfed beef, but corn fed beef has more monounsaturated fat (good fat) than grassfed beef:



post #81 of 99
post #82 of 99

your source is biased and thus not useable.

post #83 of 99

Butcherman, I would be interested in hearing what you think of the flavor of Bastrop Cattle Company www.bastropcattlecompany.com grassfed beef, and how it compares to Alderspring Ranch grassfed beef.


Bastrop Cattle Company is producing grassfed beef here in Texas close to where I live.  I think they may have figured out how to make good tasting, tender grassfed beef.  They are processing young calves that have not been weaned, that have still been nursing on cow's milk.  The cow's milk has all of the fat and protein and sugar that the calves need to grow.  The calves are harvested at an early age, so the beef is tender.  And the calves are getting all of the nutrition that they need to grow, so they don't taste gamey or rank.  The cost per pound for steaks looks very reasonable compared to other grassfed beef that I've seen for sale.


BCC is a cooperative of small ranchers.  They raise their own beef, and purchase young calves from other nearby ranchers.  They look for gentle cattle that are primarily British breed (Angus or Hereford) that will produce a weaned calf that weighs over 700 pounds.  Before long, all of my calves will be grassfed and will be sold as beef through Bastrop Cattle Company.

post #84 of 99

We live in Colorado where the cattle are Certified grass fed only, no corn or drugs.


Last winter we bought our first 1/2 of a beef and it also had an elephant appear in our kitchen the


first package of beef we cooked!!!!! The smell was like grass compost, which was so strong in odor


that my husband and I couldn't swallow it. That was ground beef. It is very true about how lean it is


you almost have to marinate it in oil so you can cook it?? I complained to the ranch where we purchased it


and to our dismay were king of brushed off by the rancher.  I explained we expected a nice roast maybe prime rib,


or a tenderloin roast, we received a few chuck style roasts and didn't even get a rump or round roast??


We got a few t bone steaks and top sirloin steaks. 80- 1 lb packs of hamburger. We felt like the guy who delivered it


switched the prime cuts for less than desirable cuts. Anyways see if you agree we were robbed by the butcher or


delivery driver?


The second contact with the rancher made my mind up, I told him about the smell and the less than prime cuts we




His reply was that he had changed drivers because of a lot of complaints and also has a new USDA certified


company to butcher this year, I believe he said the ACME meat packaging co. Also to make sure we were satisfied


and repeat our business he is going to give us a 1/8th of beef 2014 and another 1/8th 2015?


I told him Id like to try meat from another cow  in 2014 also if it tastes and smells the same we don't want more in




My husband has horrible grass allergies also, the first time we tried it he broke out all over has anyone with


allergies had issues eating grass fed only beef??


Please let me know what others think??


We didn't think the taste was anything special and didn't have the beef flavor of a restaurant steak, but


the grass smell was very apparent on your plate which was not appetizing at all.


Defosted in the microwave the meat really has a putrid smell that will make being in the house sickening..





post #85 of 99
Thread Starter 

MtnFolks:  You make two points, That the grassfed beef you purchased was not at all delicious, but rather bad smelling, bad tasting and dry, and that the selection of cuts seemed not to represent a true half of a beef carcase. 


As to taste and smell, your experience mirrors mine. We have had a lively discussion on this Site, yet no conclusion. I am grateful for and respectful of the smart folks who have contributed. But it sorta hurt me to see how several people sincerely felt I was being insensitive and abusive, that my taste buds were attuned to bland, soft meat, and I was disparaging the nice, strong, vivid taste of grassfed beef.  Others have suggested that any odor or off-taste is attributable to mishandling in packing and shipping.  But I've bought from four vendors and had identical experiences.


I've stopped searching for delicious grassfed. My provisional decision is I can have Healthy or Delicious, not both.  But Angus Cattleman posted a suggestion that I try Bastrop Cattlemen, and I shall. Somehow I missed AC's post until I got an email notice of the Mtn post.  I live in the Texas Hill Country and am intrigued by AC's recommendation.  Thanks, AC.


As to selection, I can only say that since I have been buying Sample Boxes of the various vendors' beef, I have no direct experience, but I have been puzzled by the list of cuts proffered on the various sites.  I have wondered what these ranchers are doing with the cuts they are leaving out of their Offered Selections. I guess they have other customers for the cuts they are withholding from the selections they offer on their sites.  When I read "half a beef" I'm thinking "side of beef", but perhaps what these vendors intend is "half a beef by weight".  But with that quibble, or deception, aside, you are correct to question where the better cuts are that you expected. If what he is selling is a true side of beef, then of course it would include the loin roast and steaks, the round roasts (top, bottom, top sirloin, eye) as well as the chuck and neck and shank and skirt and etc.


This is a great site.  Great to get a bunch of smart, experienced people in a "room" with each tossing in their experience and opinion. Thanks to PHatch for refereeing this and keeping the ball in play.

post #86 of 99

Take a look at http://www.askthemeatman.com/yield_on_beef_carcass.htm for a pretty detailed breakdown of the cuts from a dressed out beef, you'll have to scroll down to see the details, they are listed AFTER all the links.

Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #87 of 99

Very interesting thread, and kind of an old home week for me.  My father's forebears farmed in southeast Missouri since 1848; they wound up being very big in the Angus show cattle field.  AngusCattleman, you may have come across the MAFBlackcapmere bloodline- that was their most prominent champion sire. My late uncle  ran the farm until he retired around 1980 or so. The M in MAF is the same as the M in MikeLM.;)


www.Askthemeatman.com is the butcher/packer in Jackson, MO who handled my uncle's packing needs.  He has a wonderful, informative website and anybody interested in meat, meat products, or meat equipment will find it both useful and entertaining. 


By the way, they have a sale going on thru tomorrow 9/23.




Edit 9/24:  New sale thru Oct. 7: $30 off any sale over $150.

Edited by MikeLM - 9/24/13 at 7:58pm
travelling gourmand
travelling gourmand
post #88 of 99

Have a grass fed beef rump roast in the oven braising, will add some potatoes later after it gets a good start. Maybe carrots if the ones in the fridge are still good.

post #89 of 99
Thread Starter 

APOLOGY:  In my post responding to Mtn and Angus Cattleman, I thanked P. Hatch, but now scrolling back through the months of posts, I see that it has been Pete McCracken who has kept this train on the rails with astute commentary.  Thanks, PM.

post #90 of 99
Thread Starter 




This is a link to a Heston Blumenthal video of him cooking a Longhorn steak, and it looks EXACTLY like the steaks I am jonesing for.  Very interesting cooking methodology.


He says on the video that Longhorn won their taste test over perhaps five other breeds.


I found a Longhorn rancher/vendor in Winnie, Texas, but that's five hours on I-10 from my home in Kerrville.


Cheftalkers: Any experience to report, w/ Longhorn meat vendors or grilling Longhorn meat?



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