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Mar 10, 2008 05:38 PM

Pre-sliced (in the deli case) cold cuts

Replying to another post, I thought I'd make the following it's own topic...

Until I moved to the Midwest I'd never encountered pre-sliced (in the deli case) cold cuts. What the hell? I don't want some supposedly-efficacious, sittin' around who knows how long, sliced to someone else's idea of "thinness," meat. I want it sliced fresh and to my specifications. Which is why local supermarkets don't get my business at the deli counter more often than not; I've had workers actually argue with me because I want my cold cuts sliced fresh.


Is this phenomenon more prevalent than I imagine it to be(cuz...I've never seen it anywhere but southern Illinois and Indiana in general)?

Cold cuts have a very short shelf life...the more surface area that's available the quicker they'll oxidize...not to mention, I like my cold cuts just short of shaved(I don't get people that want a thick cold cut---unless it's genuine turkey breast--- not composite). It's a texture thing.

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  1. My credentials: Deli worker in a local grocery store while in college in Iowa. I think I fit your deli worker criteria PERFECTLY.
    First off, from a customer service standpoint they should always be happy to slice your meat anyway you want. It's their job. And they should do a single slice, get your approval, then continue. Personally, I never minded it because I knew for a fact that most of the pre-sliced meats in the deli case had been there too long. We did not slice fresh every morning if there was too much left over from the previous day. Oh, and those pre-made sandwiches? Even older.
    Second, up-scale meats are relatively new to the Midwest market (I'm talking the majority of the Midwest here, there are always exceptions). I worked in the deli in the early 90's and there just weren't many options. The ham came from a giant pressed pink rectangle. The Turkey was a giant tan oval. Strangely, the roast beef at my deli kicked ass in the beginning but later (of course) a newer, more processed brand was purchased in order to cut costs. Those meats still exist and are still sold in most grocery stores around the nation.

    Honestly, if the meat quality is poor to begin with, it doesn't really matter that much if it's pre-sliced. People didn't (and don't) expect much from the delis, it was just an alternative to Oscar Myer. The ONLY alternative. Outside of upscale stores, most shops pre-slice. I've lived all over the US and it's everywhere -- even places that serve Thurmans or Boars Head pre-slice. Most people don't have the patience to wait for their meat to be sliced.

    1. I couldn't believe it when I saw pre-sliced deli meat. I think it might have been in a supermarket in Las Vegas. I'm not a big fan of cold cuts to begin with, but refused to purchase pre-sliced.

      1. most supermarkets i have seen have the meat pre-sliced. i find the local german and italian markets are actually cheaper (!!!) than the supermarkets anyway with their meats, and slice to order. there is one conveniently located about a block and a half from my house. glorious!

        4 Replies
        1. re: dani_k

          I'm from Pittsburgh, PA and every major grocery store I've been to has their cold cuts pre sliced. No big deal to me as I don't really think of cold cuts as something particularly fresh to begin with as I do with say fish. I mean they are highly processed highly salted pieces of meat, not sure I get the whole freshness thing with freshly sliced versus pre sliced.

          1. re: Rick

            drying out faster, shelf life (being highly salted doesnt entirely protect from going bad), flavor loss, texture changes ... not to mention being exposed in a fridge with many other meats and foods of varying flavors and thereby tainting the flavor of the meat you are purchasing.

          2. re: dani_k

            I have never seen that here. They slice it, to your preference, as you stand there. They will also pass out samples, if you're not familiar with the meat, or cheese.

            btw dani_k, I am a Dani, too.

            1. re: danhole

              well, you MUST be cool with a name like that!

          3. Let's not forget that a lot of deli sections now have more and more "convenience food", including the pre-sliced deli meats and cheeses that are in cryo-vac packages vs. the piles of pre-sliced stuff in the case that you are referring to. While the stuff in the cryo is generally more expensive, and you don't have a choice of the thickness of your slices, the one big advantage might be that these slices have seen much less human contact and open air. I don't know that for sure, but with all the automation in the grocery biz, I have to believe that's true.

            1. At the chain supermarket I go to for some items, their deli has many of their deli cuts presliced, I dont buy my cold cuts from them. I buy my deli meats from an Italian deli, and they have none presliced, and cut the meat to order.

              If anyone has had a sandwich where the deli freshly slices the meat and cheeses, and makes the sandwich immediately can attest for the huge taste difference freshly cut deli meats have over their presliced counterparts.