Represents about 3% of all beef.
Prime cuts of beef have abundant marbling, making it the highest grade beef available. Coming from young, well-fed cattle, Prime cuts are usually found in high-end restaurants and hotels. The high ratio of fat-to-meat contributes to tender, juicy flavor, perfect for grilling and dry cooking.
Represents about 54% of all beef.
Choice grades of beef are also high quality, but contain less marbling than Prime cuts. Different cuts of Choice grade beef are often referred to as high choice, average choice, and low choice, depending on the amount of marbling in each cut.
A leaner, more uniform quality of beef.
Select grades of beef contain little marbling, and are typically less juicy and tender than higher grades. Once again, different cuts are assigned High Select or Low Select. Despite having a lower grade, Select cuts are still delicious, especially when braised or marinated.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) assigns “grade shields” to different cuts of beef to help consumers and those in the beef industry understand the quality level of beef products. Skilled USDA graders categorize the cuts into Prime, Choice, Select, Standards, Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner. Only Prime, Choice, and Select are found in grocery stores and in retail, and here at Skip’s, we only offer Choice grade beef or better.
This “grading language” acts as the standard in business transactions. When the USDA meat graders evaluate cuts of beef, they use specialized instruments and a subjective assessment process to determine the characteristics of the meat, especially the marbling distributed throughout the cut. They must follow the official standards for grading developed by the Agricultural Marketing Service of the USDA.
The two categories for determining the grades of beef are quality grades vs. yield grades. To measure quality grades, USDA graders inspect the level of tenderness, flavor, and juiciness; for yield grades, they calculate the quantity of usable meat that a single carcass yields, selecting a yield grade between one and five.
In addition to marbling, other factors that contribute to the quality of beef include the proper treatment and diet of the cattle, age of the carcass, firmness and color of the flesh, and texture. Your knowledgeable artisans at Skip’s make sure your cut of beef contains outstanding quality.