What makes us Different? – Meat coloring

If you have often shopped for meats at the grocery store or through a large home delivery service you are probably used to getting meat that always looks the same. Your steaks are always bright red in color, and they may be perfectly rounded and the same 8oz size every time. You might be a little surprised then to buy from a local farmer and get meats that vary in size, shape, and color. But these differences are what make John Henry’s, and other local meats, better.

Each animal is unique, their shapes and sizes vary. Our animals are able to roam the pastures and graze as they please. They are not given hormones, steroids or fatty feeds, to bulk them up quickly. This results in cuts of meat that will vary in size from animal to animal. Age, diet, and exercise all have an impact on the color and shape of the cuts. Even within one animal the different cuts may have color variances due to which muscles are exercised more. The fat in grass fed beef is different as well. Darker and more yellow in contrast to the bright white fat of grocery store cuts. This is due to the beta carotene present in their diets. This beta carotene also makes that fat healthier for you to consume!

The biggest difference you will notice is the color of the meat. Grocery stores have taught us to expect a bright red color in our meats. The bright red color is caused by Myoglobin, which is a protein in the tissue cells. While Myoglobin is normally purple in color it changes to a bright red when exposed to oxygen. Many commercial meat producers will add carbon monoxide to the packaging process to increase and maintain the bright red color. This meat will remain bright red even after it has spoiled in some cases. The carbon monoxide maintains the red color regardless of changes in temperature and exposure to store lighting, hiding potential quality issues. Here at John Henry’s we vacuum seal our fresh meats for shipping and we do not add carbon monoxide (or any other gasses) to our packaging. Vacuum sealing actually removes the oxygen from the package to maintain freshness and will result in darker and sometimes inconsistent coloring.

Your John Henry’s meats will remain fresh for 2-3 days after your shipment arrives, when refrigerated. If you are not going to use your meats in 2-3 days we recommend freezing them. You may experience more darkening of meat during storage, even when frozen. This is caused by the oxidation of the myoglobin and does not change the quality or the flavor of the meat in any way.

For more information on meat coloring please visit https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/e8dad81f-f7fc-4574-893e-bae20cf8b215/Color_of_Meat_and_Poultry.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

Meal Planning Tip #2-Meal Journals

Meal Planning can be a scary thought. What is the best way? How do I get started? Do I have to find new recipes? It does not have to be so scary if you just take it one step at a time and follow our simple tips.

A Meal Journal is a great way to get started. Your journal can be a spiral notebook, a store bought planner, or scratch paper in a binder.  Your journal will evolve as we go through all of our meal planning tips over the next few weeks so don’t worry about creating the perfect layout.

The first step for your meal planning journal is to record the meals you are already eating, and that your family enjoys. Take 20-30 minutes to sit down and write any meals that you can recall from the last few weeks. Include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks if possible. If you are feeling ambitious you can even sort them (more on sorting later). It is ok if you can’t remember all of your meals, don’t stress about it. You will continue to log meals your family eats over the next couple weeks to add to your meal library. If you come across any new recipes that you would like to try , jot them down on their own page.

The meals that you are recording will become your base for planning your future meals. You will, of course, add new things and maybe remove others as you go through your meal planning journey, but a good base will make your planning easier. Why plan a week of brand new things and over stress yourself, when you have tried and true favorites on standby? Sorting your meals will be a big help for future planning as well. You can sort in columns, on different pages, or just as a code letter to each item (B=Breakfast, S=snacks/sides, etc.). There are many categories you can sort by, some options are: cooking style (slow cooker, stove, oven, and grill), base ingredient (chicken, beef, pork, and pasta), Prep/cooking time (quick meals, 1-2 hr meals, all day meals). Sort by whatever you feel is going to work best for you.

That wasn’t so bad right? You are well on your way to becoming an expert meal planner. Keep your journal handy and keep recording your meal options and you will be all set for our next tip: Starting your meal calendar.