What are the different types of meat?
Ground meat to lean meat; uncured to cured. What’s the difference? Here's an overview of the different, main types of meat:
- Ground Meat - Also known as minced meat, ground meat has been finely chopped in a grinder or processor.
- Lean Meat - Lower in fat, calories and cholesterol than some other cuts of meat; lean meat can be round steaks or top sirloin for beef, pork loins for pork, turkey or skinless chicken breasts. According to USDA standards, a 100-grams serving of lean beef must contain less than 10g of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat and 95 milligrams of cholesterol.
- Processed Meat - Processed meats, like deli meats, bacon and hot dogs, have usually undergone a process to extend its shelf life such as using preservatives or are smoked, salted or cured.
- Uncured Meat - Uncured meat contains curing agents such as sodium nitrate and is preserved with non-synthetic sources like celery powder, salt or sugar.
- Cured Meat - Meat that has been cured includes added nitrite, sodium nitrate, potassium nitrite or potassium nitrate for preservation.
What are the different cuts of meat?
Looking for the perfect meat for your main dish? Here's how to choose the best cut for your needs:
- Brisket - This cut comes from the lower breast of beef cattle. While it's considered a tough cut of meat, slow cooking can make it tender, chewy and robust. This is also sometimes referred to as plate meat.
- Chuck – Flavorful and rich, with visible marbling, chuck meat comes from the shoulder area of beef cattle. Chuck roasts, boneless country-style ribs and flat iron steaks are all considered chuck.
- Flank - Flank steak comes from the lower chest of beef cattle. It's a rich, lean, chewy and beefy cut of meat perfect for grilling, broiling or sauteing.
- Loin - Loin meat comes from the area of the beef cattle that stretches from the hip to the shoulder and includes the tenderloin. This most tender part of the beef cattle is usually used for steak.
- Rib - Meat from the beef rib cut is very tender because of its high degree of marbling. These cuts are also rich and flavorful, with a distinctive, satisfying beefy taste. Deeply meaty and succulent, short ribs come from the lower portion of the rib.
- Round – The lean, flavorful meat coming from the rear leg of beef cattle is considered the "round cut." This may include bottom round, top round or the eye round.
- Shank - This tough, slightly gamey meat comes from the shin of beef cattle. It's most delicious and succulent when cooked in moist heat, low and slow.
- Breast - The leanest and most popular cut of chicken, as the name implies, this meat comes from the chicken's chest. It can be sold bone-in or boneless.
- Drumstick - The chicken's shins, also known as drumsticks, come bone-in and are inexpensive. A backyard BBQ favorite, these higher-fat pieces are easy to flavor, season and grill.
- Leg - A chicken leg contains both the thigh and drumstick, usually with skin on and bone-in. Leg quarters are a popular and affordable option for grilling.
- Thigh - Considered dark meat, the thighs come bone-in or bone out and are flavorful and juicy cuts of meat from the top of the chicken's leg.Wing - The chicken wing comes on the bone and has higher fat content than a breast, but a richer, meatier flavor.
- Butt - Don't be fooled! Pork butts actually come from the shoulder of a pig. These rich, meaty cuts include the neck, shoulder blade and upper arm. A tougher cut of meat, the butt is best prepared by slow cooking or roasting.
- Ham - The decadent, melt-in-your-mouth meat you find in the deli or ham steaks comes from the pig's leg.
- Loin - This tender cut of meat can be cut into pork chops that are mild, juicy and tender. The pork tenderloin also comes from the loin and is by name the most tender piece of pork. Baby back ribs, also from the loin, can be slow cooked for a fall-off-the-bone tenderness.
- Shoulder Picnic - This meaty and sweet part of the pig can be found right below the pork butt and is excellent for smoking or making sausage.
- Spare Ribs - Ribs sit between the loin and the side. With a meaty, fatty mouth feel, spare ribs are best prepared by braising to keep the meat from drying out.
Can dogs eat raw meat?
The CDC does not recommend offering raw meat to your dog. If you have any questions about what diet is best for your dog, consult your trusted veterinarian.
Can you refreeze meat?
According to the USDA, if you follow food safety guidelines, you can refreeze most meat or poultry. It is safe to refreeze any uncooked meat thawed in the refrigerator; just be aware that the moisture lost during thawing may impact quality. If you cook meat that had been frozen before, it is okay to refreeze whatever you don't eat if it's kept refrigerated and then frozen within three days.
When it comes to refreezing meat, some tips:
- Never refreeze meat that has been left out of the refrigerator for longer than two hours; or 1 hour in temperatures above 90⁰F.
- Never refreeze meat that has fully thawed on the counter.
If you buy packaged meat, poultry, or fish from the grocery store that's been frozen, the USDA says it is safe to refreeze it if it's been stored and handled correctly.
How do you freeze meat? How long does meat last in the fridge and freezer?
When freezing meat, to help ensure its quality, it’s a good practice to remove meat from the original packaging and double-wrap to protect it: first in plastic wrap or freezer paper; then in foil or an airtight freezer bag. Here are a few added tips for ensuring your meat is kept at is prime:
- Bacon – For unopened packages: refrigerate up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month. To freeze opened, uncooked bacon, roll each slice into a coil, place on a baking sheet, and flash-freeze for 2 hours. Once frozen, wrap and place bacon into an airtight bag. For cooked bacon, flash-freeze a single layer on a baking sheet overnight; then transfer to a freezer-safe bag.
- Fresh beef, veal, lamb, and pork - When wrapped carefully, fresh steaks, roasts and chops will last up to 1 year in the freezer. Wrapping chops individually helps preserve quality, taste and freshness.
- Fresh poultry – Store whole chickens or turkeys in the refrigerator (up to 2 days) and then frozen (up to 1 year when portions are individually wrapped). Refrigerate chicken or turkey pieces (up to 2 days) and then freeze them (up to 9 months).
- Ham - Fresh, uncured ham lasts up to 4 days cooked or 5 days uncooked in the refrigerator. A cooked, store-wrapped ham will last for a week in the fridge. Fresh, uncured, uncooked ham lasts up to 6 months; Frozen, cooked, store-wrapped, whole, half, sliced or spiral ham will last for up to 2 months.
- Hamburger, ground meats, and ground poultry - Fresh hamburger, ground beef, turkey, chicken, other poultry, veal, pork, lamb and mixtures are safest to use within two days if refrigerated. In the freezer, they'll last up to four months. When freezing, be sure to wrap thoroughly to preserve the quality and prevent freezer burn.
- Hot Dogs/lunchmeat - An opened package of hot dogs or lunchmeat is safe to store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Unopened, they will last for two weeks. Frozen hot dogs and lunchmeat can last for up to two months. To freeze hot dogs, wrap them individually in plastic; place in an airtight bag. For best results with lunchmeat, layer each meat slice between sheets of wax paper; then wrap and bag.
- Sausage - Storage times vary based on type. Raw pork, beef, turkey or chicken sausage are safe to store in the refrigerator (up to 2 days) or in the freezer (up to 2 months), or, when cooked, up to 5 days (refrigerator) or 2 months (freezer). When purchased frozen, cooked sausage will last up to 2 months from purchase in the freezer.
Make sure to label any bagged, frozen meats with the date and contents using a permanent marker. Then, per the FDA, keep all frozen meats at a temperature of 0° F (-18° C). Remember, never thaw meat on the kitchen counter, and dispose of any meat that's been at room temperature for more than two hours.
How can I place a custom meat order?
Placing special orders with us is easy, and our friendly Hometown Butchers are happy to help!
- To place special orders for select meats, visit your local store’s website and call us. Or, if you are at the store, visit with our amazing meat team, and they’ll gladly take your order.
- Call or visit your friendly in-store Hometown Butcher and have them place an order on your behalf.