Question: From what kind of beef is ground beef made?
Answer: Generally, ground beef is made from the less tender and less popular cuts of beef. Trimmings from higher priced cuts may also be used. These cuts contain varying amounts of fat and lean. Because ground beef is so popular, many supermarkets and butchers cannot get enough meat from a carcass of beef after they have removed the steaks, roasts, and other cuts to fill the demand. Consequently, they may buy less tender meats or less popular wholesale cuts specifically for grinding into ground beef. While most steaks and roasts come from younger steers or heifers, much ground beef is prepared from the meat of older animals, which is tougher. Grinding tenderizes it, and the fat reduces dryness and improves flavor.
Q: Are there grades for ground beef or hamburger?
A: No. Ground beef or hamburger may be made from graded or un-graded meat. There is no way of telling what quality of meat you may be purchasing because the trimmings used to make ground beef lose their identity during grinding.
Q: While visiting my sister in New York, I found a tomato can with two labels. The hidden label was marked "rejected due to rust." When the can was opened, we didn’t see any rust. Do you think this was a mistake?
A: Most definitely. All responsible food product manufacturers destroy badly rusted cans. However, it is not uncommon for these firms to recondition cans with only minor rust. After reconditioning, but before redistributing, the can’s integrity and appearance is always checked. In this case, it seems that someone forgot to remove the reconditioning label.
Q: I’ve just bought a horse and I need to know exactly how to brand the animal. What do you suggest?
A: You need to contact our Equine Protection Office for assistance. In Georgia, most horse owners consider hot branding horses as cruel and disfiguring. Lip tattooing is the most common form of identification used by thoroughbred owners and the few horse owners that brand use the freeze method rather than the hot one. If you have not registered your brand you also need to contact our Animal Health Office for registration information.
Q: One of my resolutions for this year concerned improving my eating habits and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. Where should I start?
A: Start in the fresh produce section of your local grocery store or visit your local state farmers market. Only choose produce that is not damaged, bruised or wilted, since rough handling leads to vitamin loss. You should purchase amounts which can be used within a short period of time because most fruits and vegetables retain top quality for only a few days. If you must purchase cut fruit or vegetables, the larger chunks are better. Small chunks have more surface area exposed to air, which speeds the loss of vitamins.
Don’t peel your fruits and vegetables as many nutrients are contained in the skin, not to mention fiber. Try to eat at least five or more servings of fresh produce every day.
Q: My husband loves to cook, but only on the grill or in the smoker. My problem is that the grill and smoker are on the patio off my dining room and I can not keep that smoky smell out of my drapes. What should I do?
A: Suggest that your husband build a dry brick patio that he can use for his grilling and smoking that is farther away from your home. And don’t worry about your husband making a big mess. The only thing he will need is couple pieces of pressure treated boards, stakes, some sand and bricks.
The length of the boards and the amount of sand and bricks will be determined by the size of the patio. So the first thing to do is to decide on the size patio you want, and dig the area out. Edge this area with the treated boards and stake them into place.
Then pour in your sand and spread it out over the entire area. This sand base should be 2Ú inches deep. Spray the sand gently with water, let it dry, and tamp it down until it’s at a 2-inch level.
Then position the bricks, fitting them tightly and making sure they’re level. When all the bricks are in place, pour sand on them, sweep it onto the crevices, sprinkle with water and repeat as necessary to fill any gaps. Voila, instant patio.
If you have questions or problems with services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture you may write the Office of Public Affairs, 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Room 226, Atlanta, GA 30334 or call 800-282-5852. This column appears Sundays.