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Preview of Beef


January 1 - December 31

Harvest Period

N/A - N/A

Domesticated around 8,000 BC, cattle were among the first livestock brought to North America on ships with European colonists. In addition to providing an important source of dietary protein, cows provided humans with milk, leather, and, early on, farm labor. Today, Canada is the third largest beef exporter in the world behind Australia and the United States. Beef production contributes tens of billions of dollars annually to Canada’s economy.


Selecting and Storing


Consumers have many options when it comes to local beef. Ontario beef farmers offer organically or conventionally raised beef, grass- or grain-fed, and antibiotic- and hormone-free. Farmers offer beef in different quantities, from sides (approximately 350 pounds) to quarters (approximately 160 pounds) to smaller or individual cuts. Different parts of the cow yield different cuts of meat, from tender steaks to hamburger to short ribs. Foodlink provides links to web sites of local farmers so you can do your homework before heading to the store, farm market, or farm gate to make your purchase. Some farms will even deliver your beef free of charge.


Beef can be purchased frozen or fresh. If frozen, store meat in the freezer until ready to use; then safely thaw in the refrigerator (not on the counter). Fresh beef should be used as quickly as possible after purchase or frozen.


Nutritional Information


Due to breeding programs and better diets, today’s beef is, on average, 50% leaner and 21% lower in cholesterol than it was twenty years ago. Lean beef is an essential source of protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins. And it tastes so good! 


3 ounces (85g) cooked sirloin provides 160 calories, 9g fat, 0g carbohydrate, 0g dietary fibre, and 21g protein.


How To Use


The beef we eat is mainly muscle and, when slaughtered, there are seven primary cuts. At the top of the animal, starting near the head and going back toward the tail, are chuck, rib, short loin, sirloin, and round. Underneath the animal, from front to back, are the brisket and flank. The tenderness or toughness of the cut depends on how much the animal used that particular muscle. Therefore, cuts near the shoulder or leg, which are used often for movement, are going to be tougher. The muscles that are not used as much, in the center of the animal, will be more tender. These cuts are cooked in different ways to maximize flavour and tenderness.


For grilling, broiling, and pan frying, the best cuts of meat are rib eye, strip, or T-bone steaks.  These cuts from the tender center of the animal have little collagen and elastin. Sirloin and round steaks are generally going to be tough and dry.


For roasting, top sirloin, tenderloin, standing rib roasts, and top rump roast are good candidates.


For stir frying, flank, top round, and sirloin steak are good. These cuts are best cooked quickly, and since elastin is broken because the meat is cubed, they are more tender.


For kebabs, tenderloin is the best bet. This mild cut absorbs flavours easily and it is very tender.


For pot roasting and braising, chuck and rump are the best cuts. These cuts have more collagen and need long, slow cooking in a wet environment to melt the collagen and reach optimum tenderness. Chuck has the most flavour and is the most tender.




Numerous cattle breeds are raised in Ontario. Each breed is known for specific traits such as size, flavour, adaptability to climate, mothering ability, and more. These days, few herds contain purebred cows—crossbred cattle can maximize the best characteristics of multiple breeds. Some of the most common breeds found in Ontario are Black Angus, Limousin and Hereford.