Sunday, September 30, 2012

Buying Beef in Bulk

I have a great garden in my back yard, but I do not have the space (nor the blessing of my husband or knowledge needed) to raise my own meat. For the last two years we've been buying our meat at the farmer's market, from local farmers that raise their beef, pigs, chicken, buffalo, etc. on pasture. After thinking about, we decided we'd like to 1) avoid going to the farmer's market so often in the winter, 2) try to eat more cuts of an animal, and 3) save money while still buying from local farmers.

So, we decided that we would buy beef in bulk. We solidified our decision when we found a 16-cubic feet upright freezer on super-sale at the local home improvement store. So, this summer we visited R Farm to check out their farm store. Based on our online searches, they were offering the best value in local beef raised on pasture (although they're not certified organic). We planned to go to the store to buy a few cuts, try them out, and then decide if we would buy. However, while there we heard Mac talking about the cost of feed going up this winter because of the drought, which would ultimately increase the price of beef. We decided right then and there to put a deposit down on a half steer, without ever tasting the meet. We still bought some cuts and took them home with us, and I'm happy to report that they were delicious.

Our farm visit was in mid July, I think. I received a call from Nicole on September 13 letting us know that our steer was ready for slaughter in five days. It was a little faster than I expected, but fine by me. I started reading up about cuts and requested our selected cuts from the butcher R Farm works with, Detjens Northern Trails Meats. They had an online form, which made it super easy.

Yesterday we went to go pick up the meat. It was a lot, but manageable. We filled three coolers. We realized we were newbies because we were the only people not wearing gloves. When packing coolers full of meat, it helps to have gloves on - my hands got a little frosty. Lesson learned from last time.

We got the meat home and packed it in the freezer. I'd say it fills about 60% of our freezer. Our freezer has three shelves, a bottom basket, and door space. The beef filled the bottom rack, bottom shelf, and about 80% of the second shelf.

Here's what we ended up with:

  • 3 chuck arm roasts (about 3 lbs each)
  • 3 blade chuck roasts (about 3 lbs each)
  • 1 rib roast (maybe 5 lbs?)
  • 2 rump roasts (about 3 lbs each)
  • 1 english roast (about 4 lbs)
  • 6 packages of stew meat (about 1 lb each)
  • 4 soup bones
  • 2 large packages of short ribs (about 3 lbs each)
  • 8 round steaks (about 12 oz each)
  • 6 sirloin steaks (about 10 oz each)
  • 8 t-bone steaks (about 8 oz each)
  • 4 porterhouse steaks (about 10 oz each)
  • 8 ribeye steaks (about 10 oz each)
  • 5 lbs of hot sticks
  • 73.5 lbs ground beef
*I didn't weigh any of this meat - I'm totally guessing, and likely a bit conservative. The only thing I'm sure of is the ground beef.

Since most of my beef cooking experience has been tacos, chili, hamburgers, and stew, I'm going through my cookbooks for great ways to use all this beef. We're looking forward to quality meat without all the running to the farmer's market.

As luck would have it, we signed up for a whole-hog butchering class 6 months ago, and that fell on the same weekend our beef was ready. So today we butchered a hog and brought home a cooler full of pork. More on that in a separate post, once I wade through the pictures.

1 comment:

  1. I can help you with any beef recipes you need! We split a whole cow with my father-in-law this year and it filled up two upright freezers. Next year, long sleeve shirts will be worn while unpacking the truck & loading the freezer as I gave myself frostbite on my arm (three weeks later and the area is still cold to the touch!).