What Determines the Tenderness of Meat?

No one wants a tough cut of meat as it will mean longer cooking, which results in loss of moisture and taste. There are lots of factors that determine the tenderness or toughness of meat, among them the method used to slaughter an animal.

When looking for a tender cut of meat, think of these four factors.

  • The Ideal Cut

Meat is measured using what is called 'Warner-Bratzler shear force test' where scientists measure the shear of 1 cubic centimeter per muscle sample. The lower the shear force, the more tender the meat will be and vice versa. Tenderloin has the lowest shear force at 2.6 while the top round steak is tough at 5.3. Top blade steak, rib roast, top loin steak, ribeye steak, round tip steak, and Top sirloin steak are some of the most tender parts of a cow while Eye of round roast, rump roast, Bottom round roast, and Chuck roll steak are quite tough.

Naturally, the tender cuts are more expensive as compared to the other parts of an animal.

  • Handling Methods

It has been said and noted that less stress leads to tender meat. An animal that had to run and use most of its muscle prior to slaughtering is going to be tougher than one that was relaxed. Transporting the animal in a humane manner on the way to the slaughter house is beneficial as is the use of pre-slaughter treatments such as vitamin D all go a long way to ensuring tender meat. When an animal is numbed using electric stunning, it struggles less and feels less pain, which leads to tender results.

  • Collagen and Tenderness

Cuts on the round or chuck are collagen-heavy and so they are quite tough. They are best cooked under slow heat to break the collagen into gelatin or marinated in an acidic marinade for at least 6 hours. Collagen, a stiff protein prevalent in most animals is quite tough and hard to break down. It is found on the skin and other parts of the body and can be made slightly better by slicing the meat into small pieces. Since it is water soluble, cooking methods such as braising and stewing are recommended to make it less chewy.

Collagen is mostly found in weight-bearing muscles and those most frequently used. As a result, beef is tougher than pork as the muscles are more developed and more frequently used. The most used muscle in fish – found on the wings – is not as tough because fish do not need much effort to swim.

  • Cooking Method

Slow-cooking has always been a favorite when using less tender meat cuts. You can set your slow cooker on low and keep your appointment with a Cellphone Repair expert in Toronto even if he is 7 hours away. When you check on your meat later, your tough piece will be falling off the bone even without prior marinating. And if you have to marinate it, forget store-bought option and use tomato juice and orange for the perfect acidic balance.