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    Centre Hall, PA
  1. Happy Cow Fat!

    A lot of farmers don't keep the fat either since it takes up a lot of room in the freezer and doesn't sell well. The best way to get some would probably be calling local slaughterhouses directly and asking them to cut you some fat next time they have a grass-fed beef come through.
  2. Animals fed corn and soy?

    No problem! Glad it was helpful. :-)
  3. Grass fed beef

    Oh and I meant to add that the yellow fat is only if they are on GREEN grass for several months before slaughter! If you get one that is slaughtered in the spring after being on hay all winter, the fat will be fairly white.
  4. Grass fed beef

    Sorry your steaks haven't been good. The animal may have been finished improperly (if they are not actively gaining weight when slaughtered, they can be tough). More likely, though, is that cooking with too high of heat and past medium is the biggest part of the problem. Aging is less important in grass-fed beef than grain-fed. If it hung for 7-10 days, that is good enough. If a label on a piece of beef says 'grass-fed', please rest assured that it received no grain (other than perhaps training treats)! The USDA is really bringing the hammer down on this and if it says grass-fed OR grass-finished, it's what you're looking for. Otherwise, talking to the farmer should be sufficient. Farmers are almost always proud of how we choose to raise our animals and will be truthful. BTW, age to finish is largely dependent on breed. Grassy Angus, Hereford, Devon, etc., most cross-breeds will finish at 18-20 months. Other breeds (especially heritage breeds... Scottish Highland, Galloway) will take up to 30 months. And often, those slow growing breeds end up slaughtered before they are "finished".
  5. Animals fed corn and soy?

    There's a distinction that needs to be made among meat. Ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats) can be raised on pasture/browse alone. They can get all the energy they need that way and are healthiest that way. However, monogastrics (poultry, pigs) are omnivores and not built to only eat grass. That would be like asking you to subsist on lettuce. Birds are definitely meant to consume grain. For pigs, it would be a much smaller portion of their natural diet, and mostly seasonal. However, feeding pigs a diet that is not built on grain and soy is extremely challenging these days (Sugar Mountain Farm in Vermont is very prominent on the internet and does raise grain free hogs, but he feeds them quite a bit of whey, which is certainly less 'natural' for an adult hog to eat.) So for monogastrics, 'pastured' is the key word to look for. That way, they have their grain ration, but can harvest their own diverse natural diet to supplement it. When starting my farm, I initially tried to get a feed with no corn or soy. For protein, you cannot feed them meat/meat byproduct if you are selling them (even though that would be natural fodder for them). Fish meal makes them taste like fish. No mill in my area carries forage peas and if I grew my own, I'd have to invest in a way to mill them. As for corn, most other grains are less ideal in terms of digestive issues they cause for pigs (and birds). Most non-grain carb sources are very seasonal. Ultimately, I decided to stick with standard grain rations (though I did find non-GMO) until better options become available. In the meantime, I'm going to try to grow/wild harvest more and more non-grain/soy feed for them each year! Sorry about the lengthy post, just trying to clear up this common misconception and make your meat buying much simpler!
  6. Grassfed milk?

    I believe there is definitely a difference in fats in dairy from grass-fed vs largely grain-fed animals. If you do drink raw milk, there's a definite safety aspect there, too, according to some raw milk producers I know. Problem is, lactating cows, especially breeds that have high production, have very high feed demands and so it's challenging to graze them 100%. Moreso than to grass-finish a beef. And for winter feeding, dairy-quality hay is quite expensive and so feeding some grain is quite common to cut those costs even among producers who really want to emphasize pasture. I had thought that Organic Valley was an excellent option for national brands, but I just checked their standards and while it's probably still the best out there, it didn't really excite me. The do have a minimum requirement for grazed pasture, but they do not restrict grain consumption. I don't drink straight milk, but most of the limited dairy I do consume comes from a nearby Amish farmer who has a 100% grass-fed, raw milk dairy. Of course, his farmer's market stand is right next to mine, so it's actually easier for me than going to the grocery. ;-) Check out and and you might find a nearby producer who is convenient to you.
  7. Grassfed - pastured cooking FYI

    That book is very, very good. My current favorite from Shannon Hayes (who I totally loooove) is Long Way on a Little. It gives all the grass-fed cooking tips and recipes for darn near every cut, but also lots on what to do with bones and fat, organs, etc. It's really fabulous. Best part is that her family went Paleo as she was writing this book and most of the recipes are Paleo.
  8. Help me with steak!

    I really recommend getting "Long Way on a Little" by Shannon Hayes. It's great for how to cook every cut of meat from all sorts of pastured animals and how to save a lot of money in doing so. Her method is to start with dry, room-temperature meat. Pan-sear the steak over a high flame in a cast-iron, or other oven-proof, pan. Just a minute or two on each side. Then put it in a 200-225 degree oven and finish to medium-rare. Works beautifully in my experience!
  9. I sell and help raise grass-fed beef. Hot carcass weight is initial hanging weight, before dry-aging (it will weigh up to 10% less after dry-aging). The finished weight is about 60% of the dry hanging weight depending on things like whether you keep soup bones, organs, fat, etc. Our processing fees are about $0.65/lb hanging weight (dry, I think), so assuming it's similar wherever you are $3.50/lb / 0.93 = $3.76 3.76 + 0.65 = $4.41 per lb dry hanging weight $4.41 / 0.6 = 7.35 / lb finished weight If you buy a quarter, it'll be somewhere between 80 and 120 lbs. Their price would be pretty expensive in my region (Central PA), but not insanely so. We sell our meat in variety packs by finished weight to avoid this confusion. I fear that a lot of consumers think they are getting a screaming deal, when it's really an average or even expensive price. So, I don't like selling by hanging weight, but a lot of farmers/ranchers do it anyway. Usually they are selling the animal 'on the hoof' when they do it this way (which it sounds like your guy is doing). I'm not sure if it's a regulatory issue, just because it's how the butchers work, or because it reduces the producer's uncertainty (ie, how much weight the carcass loses when drying, how weight the carcass loses when drying if the consumer chooses to waste organs/bones). Good luck!
  10. Ask the rancher if you can buy a smaller quantity sampler from them before you commit. You should know if you like their flavor after you try a high quality steak, a tougher cut (london broil, sirloin, chuck roast... cook it SLOW!), and some grind. I also want to point out that most farmers/ranchers who sell by the quarter/side sell by hanging weight. This is the weight after the animal is slaughtered and dressed out, but before it's butchered and bones are removed. You can usually expect about 60% of the hanging weight to be what lands in your freezer, but ask them about their typical yields. So, at $4.50/lb hanging weight, you are actually paying around $7.50/lb finished weight (4.5/0.6). If you can get a hold of the book Good Meat, they have a great explanation of how to get the best value and what you like best from a quarter of beef. Hope that helps!
  12. Grass fed beef taste so bad??!!

    I am new to the job, but I sell grass-fed beef and will be getting more into production as time goes on. So I'm not an expert, but I know a thing or two about beef. Grass-fed should have a stronger beefy flavor than conventional, but it shouldn't be gamey. I agree with those who say try a different farmer. Sounds like you've gotten a hold of some not-so-great beef. Raising tasty grass-fed beef is not fool-proof. The breed is certainly a huge factor, as is the genetics within the breed. Some breeds finish much better on grass (Scottish Highland, Devon, Belted Galloway, Shorthorn, and smaller-bodied Angus). The huge Angus that is bred specifically to finish well in a feedlot won't do very well on grass because it can't gain fast enough to stay tender with that much bulk. Other factors that affect taste: age of the animal (again, optimal age is dependent on breed. For instance, a good age for a Highland is much older than for an Angus), soil pH, pasture quality and management, slaughter conditions, stress, whether the animal has to walk a long way to get water and is therefore more well-exercised, etc. I say all this not to make it super-complicated for you to buy a steak. My point is that you should talk to the farmer/rancher and find out what their practices are. If it sounds like s/he just learned that you can get a better price for grass-fed and left whatever they had on grass instead of sending it to the feedlot, if they don't pay attention to genetics, if they don't steward their pastures carefully, try someone else. If s/he sounds like they really know their stuff and care about finishing delicious beef, give it a shot! Good grass-fed beef is really amazing and well worth the effort! It is also a different ball-game to cook grass-fed beef. Cook it more gently and don't cook steaks past medium rare. Check out Shannon Hayes' books and her website,
  13. Freezer Meals

    You can blanch kale and freeze it (get as much water out as you can), but I highly doubt kale chips would fare well, just because they're so delicate.
  14. I think the most important thing is to make sure you get enough total calories. Your body will make the best milk for your baby one way or the other, but sudden calorie restriction could make your milk supply go down.