These three grades are typically reserved for making processed meat products and canned goods. USDA-graded beef sold at the retail level is Prime, Choice, and Select. Prime and Choice are on the higher end of the marbling and tenderness, so they tend to do pretty well with conventional cooking methods. USDA Choice has less marbling than Prime but is of very high quality. Can I Eat Shrimp as Part of a Low-Fat Diet? According to an article published by the University of California Berkley, beef that is graded Select has 5 – 20% less fat than Choice beef of the same cut, and 40% less fat than Prime. On the other hand, beef that has been either raised on grass or finished on grass is typically considerably leaner than grain fed beef, and therefore would typically not have a USDA rating. What do the USDA beef grades mean? The different beef grades are found in specific cuts of meat; each has its own unique uses and recommended cooking methods. The higher the grade of your beef, the higher the marbling and tenderness, and usually also the better the taste because it’s the fat content that really gives the great flavor. Do the Different Grades Have Different Nutritional Values? I love cooking outdoors over live fire and smoke whatever the weather, using various grills, smokers, and wood-fired ovens to produce epic food. U.S. – A Guide for Planning any Meal or Feast, How to Clean Your Charcoal Grill, Ready for the Coming Grilling Season. © 2020 Food Fire Friends, All rights reserved. Lately, we have begun seeing Wagyu cattle raised outside of Japan, and it’s becoming easier to source Wagyu beef. There are eight grades listed by the USDA but the infographic shows nine with an split added between choice … Also, the cattle tend to be much older than Prime, Choice, or Select. Most beef is either grain fed or grain finished beef and is USDA rated. You will typically not find these cuts in your local supermarket cut into roasts or steaks. Like many, I used to be completely lost when I would go to the supermarket looking for a good steak. We’ll get into the details below, but know that there are essentially three main types of grades for beef sold in the USA. This meat is very tender and only accounts for about 2.9 percent of all graded beef. I’d stare at the meat case with wonder and curiosity, looking at the steaks and not knowing what most any of the words on the label meant. Beef that is Prime or Wagyu will be very flavorful and will be much more tender than the lower graded cuts. There are other USDA grades of beef such as “Standard,” “Commercial,” and “Utility.” These grades will have considerably lower amounts of marbling and will risk not being very flavorful. You need to be careful when you see labels like “grass fed” or “grain finished” on the beef packaging. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. The short answer is: yes and no. Lower grades (Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner) are mainly ground or used in processed meat products. Are there any recommendations we should have made? USDA Prime has abundant marbling (flecks of fat within the lean) which enhances both flavor and juiciness. Miki Kawasaki of Serious Eats does a great job of demystifying the differences between grass fed and grain fed beef. The USDA grade shields are highly regarded as symbols of high-quality American beef. Did we miss any major points? It is not likely that you will find these in a supermarket, and if you do, you probably will not want to cook with them. Please leave a comment down below letting us know! USDA Beef Grades . Professional blogger and cookbook author Bethany Moncel has become an expert on making delicious, healthy meals on a budget. Select is considerably leaner than Prime and Choice and will lack marbling. We hope this article has taken some of the confusion out of the subject of beef grades. She also holds a nutritional science degree. There are eight grades of beef designated by the USDA, only the top five of which are usually sold to consumers. Lower grades are most often used for processing and use in canned goods. Wagyu is a breed of cattle native to Japan. Marbling (intramuscular fat) is the intermingling or dispersion of fat within the lean. Lately, there has been some controversy over what these labels genuinely mean, and how they can potentially confuse consumers. There are other USDA grades of beef such as “Standard,” “Commercial,” and “Utility.” These grades will have considerably lower amounts of marbling and will risk not being very flavorful. USDA Standard and Commercial Grades. You can grill, fry, roast, or bake this beef as well as stew it or braise it. The reverse sear is great for steaks, and low and slow smoking is great for brisket. They will instead be ground for hamburger meat or other processed foods. It may be difficult to find in your typical supermarket since Prime cuts are generally reserved for restaurants and hotels. When sold in the retail market they typically go ungraded or are labeled under the store brand name and sold for lower prices. Lower grades are most often used for processing and use in canned goods. Prime beef is produced from young, well-fed beef cattle. These grades may be completely devoid of fat marbling or cut from older animals. From the highest USDA Prime to the cutter and canner grades lower down the scale, the infographic quickly explains exactly what a USDA grade on meat is telling you. It can typically be cooked with either dry or moist heat methods without causing excessive dryness. Prime beef comes from young, well-fed cattle with an abundant amount of marbling throughout. Most of this meat is reserved for use in processed meat products including ground beef, hot dogs, and pet food. These grades are typically reserved for “store brand” beef. Once the beef is graded, the manufacturer must comply with the labeling requirements set by the Food Safety and Inspection Service. This is done to help make it easier to fatten the animal for slaughter. Degree of marbling is the primary determination of quality grade. Looking for the best dinner recipes? Choice accounts for roughly 50 percent of all graded beef. What do the Different Grades Mean for Your Steak or Brisket? When you go to the butchers or supermarket and are faced with beef that is choice, select and prime, do you know what this means and what the difference is? Rebecca Morris of Modern Farmer recommends marinating Choice steaks in a salt-rich sauce like soy or Worcestershire before cooking. USDA Utility, Cutter, and Canner Grades. Which Should You Buy? The salt will tenderize the meat and make it juicier. This is the highest grade of beef with the most fat marbling. Standard and Commercial grades are very low in fat content and may be considerably less tender. Get our free cookbook when you sign up for our newsletter. Once I got to smoking the king of BBQ meats though, brisket grades became something I simply had to learn, and from that the USDA grades as they applied to all beef. Moist heat methods include braising, stewing, steaming, and poaching. Choice? Black Friday and Cyber Monday Grill and Barbecue Deals 2020, 27 of the Best Grilling Gifts and BBQ Gift Ideas in 2020, Smoking Times and Temperatures Chart – With BBQ Cooking Tips, Bottom Round Roast – What it is, Where it Comes From, How to Cook it, Best Soft Sided Coolers in 2020 – Light for Travel, But Super Effective, Fire Me Up: Buying Guide to the Best Charcoal Chimney Starters 2020, Best Grill Brushes and Cleaning Tools – Buying Guide and Reviews, 2020, Best Charcoal Smokers in 2020 – Buying Guide and Reviews, Best Electric Meat Grinder – Buying Guide and Top Models in 2020. U.S. Wagyu Beef & Wagyu Brisket – What Are They, Why Are They So Loved? The last three grades are rarely sold at retail stores or used in restaurants. What do you think? USDA … Now that we know the differences between Prime and Choice beef, does this affect how you prepare your steak or brisket? How Do the Different Grades Differ in Taste? Also, the cattle tend to be much older than Prime, Choice, or Select. In this article, I’ll share with you what I know about the different USDA beef grades and show you how to become a savvier carnivore.