The Natural Science Behind Beef Flavour

Not Every Bite Tastes Exactly the Same

September 25, 2017

When you think about the flavour of beef, your instinct may be to compare it to the flavour of others meats – chicken, pork or even fish. Each of these products has a distinctive smell and taste that you’ve probably grown up with and become accustomed to. But what if you compare beef to beef? We don’t just mean in terms of tasting different cuts, like a steak versus a hamburger – we’re talking about the subtle elements of flavour that can be identified and differentiated among common cuts of meat.

Like a fine wine, beef has subtle notes to it – sometimes a richness, other times a somewhat bitter or nutty taste. Some steaks are sweeter or more buttery, and others, more earthy. This isn’t random, or a fluke – there’s a science behind it, including the breed, what the cow eats, their muscle mass, the aging process and other factors. There’s a chemistry to beef, and the level of specific compounds in the animal will directly affect the taste and texture of the associated beef product.

For example, a higher level of sugar, amino acids and organic acids (in the right combination) will result in a sweeter-tasting meat, whereas an animal with a different chemistry will be more rich, bitter or meaty. Elements such as proteins, lipids, acids, hydrocarbons, ketones, lactones and more can contribute to the flavour of your steak. Like anything from nature, there are organic variations from animal to animal, and this affects the end result beef product. Subsequently, not every bite tastes exactly the same, even if it’s the same cut from the same herd.

Interestingly, much of beef’s flavour is hidden until heat is applied. Raw beef is quite mild and has almost no scent to it when fresh. The taste of raw beef products depends on things like fat content and preparation. Once grilled (or cooked in another manner), many more subtleties appear in terms of aroma, taste and texture. Of course, cooking techniques influence taste and texture as well (ie using a brine, seasoning the meat, the temperature/method used and/or cook time).

All of our beef is delicious and of exceptional quality. That said, we understand that people have unique preferences, and we strive to offer our customers exactly what they want. Just like you may prefer a sauvignon blanc or chardonnay to a pinot grigio, you may refer a milder or stronger flavour of beef. Knowing this, the VG Meats team has been working to identify flavours in meat before it is sold. This is done using a chemistry analysis that measures that natural elements in each animal, identifying the combinations present and subsequently assigning a flavour designation to the product. With this system, you can choose not only a cut of meat, but a distinctive flavour. If you like your beef mild, with bitter notes or full of rich flavour, you can get it. It’s like choosing a bottle of wine – you discover what you like, and you keep buying it (or, you try something new every time – whatever you want)!

We’re excited about this development at VG Meats, and we hope you are, too. If you have questions about this flavour identification process or how to choose the right beef product for your taste buds, please contact us. We’d be happy to answer your questions and make sure you get the best steak of your life!