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Beef 101


Most homemade jerky is made from beef. That being said, there are different grades of beef as well as different categories [1]. You’ll want your beef to be lean for jerky but it helps to know the differences if your looking for a tender juicy steak. The grades of beef are designated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDFA). The three grades are:


  • Prime –  Best, restaurant quality with excellent marbling
  • Choice   –  Very Good, found most often at your local grocery, adequate marbling
  • Select  –  Good, less marbling, making it a good choice for jerky


The above grades are based on the following traits that effect the taste and quality:

  • Maturity – not chronological age but the physical attributes of the livestock as it matures
  • Firmness – muscles become firmer as the animal matures
  • Texture – the texture becomes coarser with maturity
  • Marbling – refers to the amount of fat distributed in the muscle

You may also see other notations to beef at your store. For example, heavy beef and Angus are two that we see locally. Heavy beef has a more dense texture, better flavor and a darker color – although the breed of origin is not necessarily designated.

Beef packaged with the notation ‘Angus’ is from the Angus breed. We’ve found this beef to be juicier and more tender.  This may be due to the fact that the beef is ‘heavy’ with better marbling.

Labeling of beef at the grocer is controlled by the USDA, so read the labels – they are your guide to buying the best beef cut for the intended consumption.


Looking for great beef marinades?  Check out these favorites at Amazon…..










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