How To Tell If The Meat You're Buying Is Actually Fresh

Freezing guide included!

Cover image via Chef Steps

Whether you're making daging masak kicap or a ribeye steak, here's what you need for a truly satisfying meal:

How can you tell if the meat you're getting is actually fresh? Use this checklist the next time you're out shopping:

1. See if the meats are butchered well

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Buy your supply from a skilled butcher. Chances are, the selection will be fresher and of much higher quality than places with poorly-butchered pieces.

If you're seeing clean, smooth cuts that are roughly the same size and thickness, that's a sign that they have been well-butchered. If you're seeing hacked pieces with jagged edges, keep walking.

2. Take note of the colour

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Keep a look out for meat with a rich red colour. If you're seeing dull brown pieces, chances are they've been sitting around for a while.

Also, when you're looking at the colour, pick the ones where the colour is uniform across the piece of meat. If you're seeing some discoloured spots, it could also indicate that it's no longer fresh - or it's been handled poorly.

3. Test the firmness

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Fresh meat will spring back when pressed with your finger. Meat tends to lose its firmness the longer it's been left out. So if your finger leaves an indentation, it's not the best pick for your grocery haul.

Also, take a look at the fibres of the meat. Pick those with muscle fibres that appear tight and even. The meat is likely of questionable quality if you're seeing loose, uneven or broken fibres.

4. Sniff out any unusual odour

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While fresh lamb may have more of a gamey scent, fresh beef is generally odourless. Take a whiff and if it smells off, don't buy it.

It's also generally a good idea to avoid buying ready-packed minced meat

The thing about minced meat is that you wouldn't know how long it's been there and which parts of the animal were used. A better idea would be to pick a fresh piece of meat and ask the butcher to mince it for you.

Now that you've got the best pick, make sure you store them right to retain their freshness

Air is the enemy! Whether you're planning to use the meats the next day or the next month, keep them tightly sealed all the way. Here's how to do it:

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1. Place the meat in a ziploc bag.
2. Zip it halfway and squeeze out as much air possible from the bag.
3. Zip the rest of the way, and place it in another ziploc bag. Squeeze out as much air as you can for the second bag as well.

If you're planning on cooking them within the next 3 days, you can keep the sealed packs in the fridge section. To be safe, do a quick smell check again before you cook it. Otherwise, store the meats in the freezer. They'll keep for up to 3 months.

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