Video:Learn About the Grades of Steakwith Omar Saad
The three different grades of steak are based on the quality of the meat and its marbling. Here are some tips on the three grades of steak: select, choice and prime.See Transcript
Transcript:Learn About the Grades of Steak
Hi I'm Omar Saad here for About.com and today we're going to learn about the different grades of steak. If you're a fan of steak, you've no doubt noticed the different listing of different grades when shopping for your favorite cut. But what do they mean? And how do they affect the taste, texture, and tenderness of what you are buying? Let's take a closer look.
History and Background of the Grades of Steak
Beef grading has been in effect since the 1920s with the USDA currently handling the duties. While there are currently 8 separate grades of beef from canner all the way up to prime, it's only the top three grades, select, choice, and prime, that most of us will ever have to worry about.
Considerations When Grading Stea k
There are two main considerations when grading beef, age or maturity and marbling. Breed can come into play when discussing certain specialty steaks, such as Angus Beef and Waygu cattle, when looking at Kobe Beef. In regards to age, beef tends to have the texture and flavor we desire when the cattle is between 18 and 24 months of age.
Select Grade of Steak Is the Least Expensive
The bottom of the top 3 grades is select. About a third of all beef butchered every year is graded select. As you can see, a steak graded select will have little to no marbling. This will greatly affect the flavor, as well as making the steak much tougher and not as juicy as the higher grades once cooked. The overall quality of the meat will be lower as well, as this steak is also lacking in firmness. As you might guess, select grade steaks are the least expensive.
Choice Grade of Steak Is the Most Common
Choice beef is both the most common grade, with about 50 percent of all beef receiving this label, and for the money, usually the best buy. A choice cut will usually have a decent level of marbling and will feature a good level of tenderness, flavor, and juiciness. Marbling is denoted by these small flecks of fat in the meat. They're responsible for a great deal of the taste and texture of the meat. But a choice cut, while tender, will usually have a coarser texture than it's prime grade counterpart.
Prime Grade of Beef Is Top of the Line
Prime beef is the top of the line here in the U.S., and you'll usually have to go to a butcher shop or a high end steakhouse to get it, often costing a pretty penny. A prime cut will feature anywhere from moderate to heavy marbling. It should also feel firmer and more solid when it's uncooked, in comparison to its choice counterpart. Only about 2 to 3 percent all beef ever makes the cut to prime.
Tips for Choosing a Grade of Steak
There are few things in the realm of food that are quite as satisfying as a good steak. Just be sure to ask your butcher or the meat manager at your local store what grades they are stocking, and you shouldn't have any problems ending up with a great steak on your plate.
Thanks for watching. To learn more, visit us on the web at About.com.