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Apr 29, 2013 12:59 PM

Grass-fed beef texture

I just had a new delivery of a grass-fed cow, and I'm noticing that the texture of the hamburger is really different from the previous farmer's. I always have the processor grind up all of the steaks into the chuck because we don't care for steaks in this house. But this ground beef feels more grainy, and when I make my usual meatloaf, without any egg or gluten since we're allergic, the texture is like eating browned hamburger instead of the nice smooth texture we always had before. Any ideas about what the difference might be? They're both 100% grass-fed cows. And any suggestions about what I could add to my meatloaf to make it have a more pleasing texture? (Please note we can't have any dairy, eggs, grains or high-carb veggies such as carrots or potatoes or winter squash.) Thanks!

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  1. Is the fat content different? A coarser grind?

    1 Reply
    1. re: weezieduzzit

      Yeah, this might be it - a courser grind. Thanks. I'll look into it.

    2. Can you eat oatmeal? I know some celiacs that will eat Bob's Gluten free Oatmeal and others that won't.

      If you can you might want to try that. I like to use oatmeal in my meatballs and meatloaf. It adds a nice texture and flavor. I process in the FP first so that is is closer to "breadcrumb" texture.

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodieX2

        Yeah, we can't eat oats, even gf. Too bad! I'm sure it would be delicious.

      2. Hi there, there are any number of factors. How old was the cow? Was it a cow or steer? What was the breed? Did it come from a herd that has been on grass for generations? How was it butchered? Animal genetics? Everyone of these could and would make the texture different. Let me know if I can answer anything else for you. Hope this helps.

        1. Are you sure it is 100% grass-fed cow? Even if they are 100% grass-fed cow, they may not be the same for the following reasons:

          1) age of the cow - if it is over 30 months it can be tough.
          2) grass and vegetation that they eat
          3) breed
          4) you buy from someone who does not know cattle management and who does not know how to butcher. I have a great friend who is a butcher. I learn that if you do not know how to harvest and process, meat can get really tough. Steer can get stress in the process and change the meat.

          I love grass fed beef, did all of the research on it. :)

          6 Replies
          1. re: nagill590

            Not to get too into the 'weeds' about this but virtually all beef cattle are 'grass fed'. It's just where did they eat the 'grass'? In a feed-lot or was it truly a 'range bovine'? Big difference.
            Like others have posted there are dozens of factors that effect the texture/taste of beef.
            If I were going to purchase a 'grass-fed cow or steer I'd go out to the ranch in the spring. With the help of the rancher I'd take the ear tag/tattoo number and some photos (to show dinner guests what the little darling looked like when it was young. But actually to check the markings/numbers before it was shipped off the the abattoir). I'd discuss with the rancher if or how the animal was going to be 'finished'. In other words I'd be 'proactive'. Any rancher I'd want to do business with wouldn't mind me 'sticking my nose in' occasionally. They'd take me for someone who knew what I was doing.

            1. re: Puffin3

              This is good advice. Thanks. I didn't realize how many factors go into raising a locally raised grass-fed cow. I just figured that a farmer who raised 100% pasture-raised cows would produce good meat. Apparently not. I'll look into this further.

              1. re: makinitgreen

                There is grass and there is grass. You may be surprised to know hat some of that beautiful picturesque 'ranch-land' you see on TV is actually pretty crappy feed for any animal. This is mainly b/c the minerals and nutrients were washed away millennia ago.
                The lack of say selenium in grassland, which is common in many areas causes all kinds of health issues. These manifest themselves in crappy meat at your table.
                You have to be pretty careful when buying a whole animal.
                I suggest sourcing as much info as you can from organizations like 4-H.
                Around here there's always a long waiting list to pre-purchase the best 4-H beef calves.

                1. re: Puffin3

                  You guys are so helpful! Thanks for this. I'm in the Boston area. Would there be a 4H organization out here? I always thought of that as a midwest thing, but clearly I have some learning to do about this process.

                    1. re: Puffin3

                      There are a bunch of 4H clubs in New Hampshire. With the hard economic times north of Concord, most of the 4H animals raised in that area are now for sale to "outsiders." Generally these animals become available after the Fall fairs.

          2. Yep, fat content, grind, free ranging or mostly penned, and age all make a lot of difference. Of all these, I've found that age is the most significant factor. 20-24 months is generally pretty good, but I also find not enough farmers let the cows develop enough fat.

            Don't forget the slaughtering-butchering-freezing/storage process also should happen within just a few hours at most or the meat suffers quickly as preservatives aren't introduced like in mass-produced cows.