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Inconsistent flavor of grass fed beef

I bought a quarter beef from my brother. He had it butchered on site and had a local meat handler do the butchering, aging, cutting, and wrapping. This is angus grass fed and finished with organic grain.

I have had some of the meat taste really good, while others are in edible! Has anyone heard of this? Friends have told me they think someone pulled a fast one and gave me meat from two different beef. Any thoughts?

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  1. I've heard that due to the greater variety of diet with grass fed animals that the flavor of the meat can vary but I've never noticed this. If they are that noticeably different, it seems odd to me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: fldhkybnva

      But to vary that much from one cut to another is strange! One packet of stew meat is great, while another is nasty. The sirloin is so strong that its ruined the dishes I've made.

      I've soaked it in hot and cold water, per information on the net regarding how to remove the gaminess, and it hasn't worked.

      I'm actually reluctant to eat any more of the beef and I have so much in the freezer. I'm even contemplating becoming a vegetarian again!

    2. The variation between the stew meat is a little odd, but stew meat does come from all over the cow so there is some variation. It is possible that the processor mixed some cuts but not likely and impossible to say from the internet.

      I wouldn't call this grass-fed meat since it was grain finished and most folks who raise 'grass-fed' beef finish it on grass too, although there's no standard for grass-fed so folks can call their beef what they like. :-)

      Cereal finished beef is regular beef and shouldn't be gamey unless the animal was stressed at slaughter.

      What does your brother think? He's familiar with his beef and knows more about the animal and what the meat should look like than anyone else. He could tell you if the beef looks like it has been mixed up or if it was a jumpy animal.

      Best of luck with the rest of the cuts!

      2 Replies
      1. re: GersFarmer

        I knew the beef; it wasn't jumpy and at slaughter wasn't stressed, just eating grass in the field.

        My brother has been very defensive and then sent me an article about why Americans have trouble with grass fed beef, insinuating that I was "one of those," so I havent mentioned it to him again. I had bought meat from one of his other beef a year previously which didn't have this problem.

        I'm just perplexed as to how some of the meat is so awful and some tasty!?

        1. re: Suecq53

          Having a brother is worth more than a quarter of beef.

          I guess it comes down to the trustworthiness of the processor. Kengk's suggestion below of poor handling is reasonable, too.

      2. The only things that make sense to me is that either the meat came from more than one animal or that some part of it was not handled properly.

        1. Yes, this happens to me too.
          I posted about here last year. No one knows why. It just seems to be the nature of the beast :)


          Sometimes people want to tell you that you are just not savvy about grass fed beef or not used to the flavor. This is not the issue. Sometimes the cuts from the same animal are "off" enough to ruin the dish. Luckily, most of the meat is good.

          I identified the off flavored cuts in a roast and in the big soup bones on my animal.

          1. If you've got beef that's gamy to the point that it tastes like mutton (or goat), well, you've got recipes for that, am i right?

            Folks used to know how to handle even the strongest beef tastes.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Chowrin

              Well, unfortunately you don't know when it is an off tasting cut until the dish is just about done. Too late.

              Again, it is not gamy or simply stronger tasting, it has an off and unpleasant taste.

              1. re: sedimental

                So it's just the taste? No smell difference? I say you were had but that's mho.

                1. re: foodieX2

                  I live on a farm. I was not "had". I have a chest freezer of grass fed beef every year.

                  The smell is very barnyard smelling on these cuts as well. Not rancid. The smell could be dealt with, but the off flavors ruin the dish. This is not as uncommon anymore as the general public is eating more gras fed beef, but this problem isn't talked about much. Since I posted last year about it, and started asking around, I found out that it is not an uncommon problem.

                  Edit: I didn't notice much of a smell on a roast that this happened to, but my beef stock smell was really strong and unpleasant. Like manure, not like bad beef.

                  1. re: sedimental

                    And hence why I said it my humble opinion. Geesh.

                    I have been buying grass fed beef long before it got the trendy name and this had never happened to me so my opinion is just from my own personal experience. The only time I have had gamey meat so bad that it ruined the dish/made it inedible was from less reputable sources.

                    And honestly, my question really was why cook it if you know it's "bad" from the smell? Seem like a waste of time/energy. Again IMHO.

                    Lastly, living on a farm does not necessarily protect you from unscrupulous butchers...

                    1. re: foodieX2

                      Yes, it was a legit question, that is why I answered it. It doesn't smell "bad" really when cooking. My finished stock smelled very unpleasant though.

                      Again, this is not simply a gamy taste. I don't mind gamy tastes. If it was just a gamy muscle meat issue, then much of the animal would taste gamy. That is the thing.....it doesn't. For me, it was a few roasts and some leg bones. Leg bones should not have anything to do with a gamy taste. The rest of the animal was fine.

                      You are fortunate you have not had this happen to you. You will know it when it does happen though. No mistaking it. It is gross.

                      1. re: sedimental

                        I haven't had this happen yet, but I'm wondering if there are any flavors that can mask the off taste? Hot peppers, curry. lots of garlic?

                        If you come up with a palatable solution, please post it because I am sure this will happen to someone else at some point, and that someone might be me. I don't buy a lot of beef, but when I do, it's grass fed.

            2. We but a quarter or half very year but 100% grass fed, no grain. Never have had this issue.

              Cows come from a relatives farm, processed at local, small butchers. I can say that some cows have been "beefier" in taste than other but really no variation per cow.

              1. I once bought a roast at a grocery store that had a very gamey taste. I took it back to the store and the butcher told me that the meat had been bruised and that caused the gamey taste. If that was the case, did I get the part of the beef that hit the ground at slaughter? Hmmm...

                5 Replies
                1. re: Suecq53

                  I was just going to say that maybe bruising was a possibility or lack of proper bleeding. The redneck in me is going to show now. We once hit a deer broadside while driving, it died quickly and with little bleeding. We raise our own goats, pigs, chickens for meat and we didn't want to waste a perfectly good doe. After bringing her home and cleaning, butchering etc within hours of death, some sections were definitely bruised and many blood clots were found in the tissues. The bruised parts tasted very strong, even the sections near the bruising were unpleasant to eat. Meat far away from the bruising was mild and delicious.

                  1. re: earthygoat

                    Just a thought, I assume your beef was a steer and not a young bull. Bulls sometimes produce off tasting cuts when slaughtered.

                    1. re: ospreycove

                      I think the animal was 1 - 2 years old. Weighed 1200lb. Is that a young bull or a steer. I'm not up on animal husbandry!

                      1. re: Suecq53

                        Well, all steers were once bulls........once they no longer are "burdened with the extra equipment" they become steers.
                        Some folks can taste the difference between bulls and steer beef. Too much testosterone in the bull beef meat. To me a bull beef has sometimes a strong/strange flavor on some cuts. Younger bulls, (calves under a year old), do not seem to be affected by this condition. I recently purchased part of a young, grass fed and finished, bull calf, hanging weight 695 lbs, and the steaks, ground beef, roasts are very tasty.
                        Hope this helps, I personally would not let a bull get to 2 years if it is to be used for slaughter

                        1. re: ospreycove

                          I remember us taking an old herd bull to be slaughtered, maybe 8-9 years old. A bunch of yearling hoodlums got him cornered and broke a hind leg fighting him. Dad got the whole animal made into hamburger so we ate a lot of burgers and meatloaf over the next few months.

                          Looking back I sure wish he had at least got the filet taken out. Bull weighed at least 1,800 pounds, would have been impressive steaks. Don't remember us making any particular comment on the burger. A simpler time, we ate what we raised for the most part.

                2. There are several factors that may have caused this. I would argue with your title though. Finishing an animal on grain makes it a grain fed animal. (to me) The finishing is the most important part. It would be helpful to know how it is inedible. Is it the texture or flavor? What cuts are the issue? I would hope that your animal did not get mixed up. That is a big deal if it happened. It is very important to know your butcher. Outside of an injury, what you are describing sounds to me like it is a butcher issue. Even if the animal was injured the butcher should have seen it and let you know what cuts were ruined. If his cooler work is sloppy that can ruin meat.

                  Full disclosure, I raise Grass Fed Beef and sell in in Southern CA. If you have other specific questions and want to send me more info about what cuts or what the specific issue is I would be happy to talk to you about it. info@truepasturebeef.com