Which is the Highest Quality Meat: Select, Choice, or Prime?

Finding a good piece of meat to cook with can be difficult, especially if you don’t know the industry terms and standards. Lucky for you, Rancher’s Prime is on a mission to educate consumers about how to recognize and find the highest quality meat available. The most important terms you need to know about meat quality come from the U.S.D.A (United States Department of Agriculture) grading system. 

The U.S.D.A. was tasked with developing grading standards for livestock in 1916. Although standards have been changed over the years, the U.S.D.A. still implements our beef grading system with eight quality grades. For an especially good cut, you just need to know the difference between the top three grades: Select, Choice, and Prime. A key difference between these grades is the marbling, or the intramuscular fat seen in the meat. These are the thin, delicate white lines you’ll find in a cut. Now that you know the basics, let’s look into the details of each grading and which is the highest quality meat.

U.S.D.A. Select 

Normally found in grocery stores, Select meat is the leanest of the three grades, which means the fat content is the lowest. This results in a less juicy and flavorful cut, which is why marinating this type is recommended to help make it tender and tasty. (Less fat = less marbling = less flavor, to make it simple.)

U.S.D.A. Choice

Choice meat is a high-quality meat with a greater amount of marbling than Select, resulting in a very tender and juicy cut packed with lots of flavor. This type of meat is a great option when you don’t have access to Prime quality and is frequently used at high-end steakhouses. 

U.S.D.A. Prime

Finally, we are finishing up with the highest quality meat, U.S.D.A. Prime. You can’t purchase Prime meats just anywhere, as it is among the highest quality not only in the U.S. but in the world. It’s generous amount of marbling results in the juiciest and most tender cuts imaginable. We specialize in U.S.D.A. Prime grade steak as a high-end meat delivery service and are helping give the public access to these exclusive cuts. 

Grocery store cut (left) vs. Rancher's Prime cut (right). Look at the difference in the marbling!

Try the Difference for Yourself

Now that you understand the industry verbiage and classifications in looking for the highest quality meat, you can see why we rave so much about Prime meat. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into reaching this standard, and most of the time it takes generations to attain such a high merit. Methods like heritage breeding, free-range pastures, and traceability all are required to achieve this, which is why we require such criteria for each of our ranchers. Their dedication is what helps us deliver the best steak you’ll ever taste right to your door. If you’re interested in trying some of the highest quality meat available in the U.S., order from us today!

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