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What Makes Our Highland Beef So Special?

01/05/2017
by JILLIAN MCEWAN

Highland cattle have developed into an efficient and versatile beef breed. They are natural foragers in a variety of terrains and years of breeding have adapted them to out wintering in the severest of climates. Being largely self-sufficient, they require minimal maintenance.

They are fertile and usually calve outside unaided and unattended. Capable of surviving in the harshest weather conditions, Highlanders thrive where other breeds would fail. The Highland cow is long lived and matures on low input natural feed. Their outstanding hardiness minimises costs and many farmers are now recognising the inherent qualities of Highland cattle as a beef breed because of their ability to efficiently convert rough fodder into low fat, high quality beef. Because of the excellent way Highland cattle pass on to their progeny their many virtues they have become the basis of many breeding programmes for beef with that sought after quality.

The wonderful taste of the Highland beef produced is reflected in this diet of natural goodness because beef from grass and grass silage fed animals, as opposed to grain fed animals, generally produces a better quality meat. Feed can alter the fatty acid composition, flavour and oxidative stability of meat and forage based feeds tend to give lower saturated concentrations of fatty acids. Grass fed animals therefore produce ultimate flavour beef.

Highland Beef Online

Full Flavour Beef

Pure Highland beef is slow maturing, lean, firm and very low in fat while at the same time rich in protein and iron. It is unsurpassed for flavour, tenderness and juiciness which comes from having just the right amount of marbling through the meat to give that succulent flavour so typical of old fashioned traditional beef. It lends itself magnificently to a range of cooking methods and different recipes.

Highland Beef Grass Fed

Traceability & Provenance

Today’s stringent market means that complete traceability of the product is essential. Through the Highland Cattle Society’s Herd Book, traceability can be assured. Records are now fully computerised. Each carcase has a provenance and can be instantly traceable to the farm where it was born and reared.

Highland Beef for UK Delivery

Key Factors that Affect the Taste of Beef

Diet
In rearing animals, diet has the greatest effect on the flavour of the meat, because animal diet is an important factor in producing fat type, which effects flavour. Our Highlanders are allow to roam freely throughout our Angus glens in the North East of Scotland. They graze all year round mainly on wild grasses, heather and other native plants that they discover whilst roaming. Our beasts are never finished on grain like many of the commercial breeds. During the winter when grass is scarce on the hills, we may supplement our cattle with homegrown haylage or silage.

Grass fed beef

Dry ageing

Dry-aging beef means that once the animal is butchered, portions of the carcass are allowed to rest in very carefully controlled conditions (cool temperatures, with relatively high humidity) for a period of time—often several weeks, and sometimes up to a couple of months.

When we create such conditions, we allow enzymes to do their work. And we end up with a complexity of flavour—savouriness, sweetness, some bitterness-that just wasn't there before. There's no cooking method that can generate the depth of flavour of a dry-aged piece of meat.

During dry-aging, collagen, which is what holds the muscle fibres together, is broken down. Collagen is what can make a steak tough. After the dry-aging process the collagen is broken down leaving protein which is extremely tender.

Typically we dry-age our completely free range beef for up 28 days, which is already 2 weeks longer than the industry average. However, we know that extended maturation up to 35 days increases the meat flavour intensity and complexity even more.

  • Increased meat flavour complexity
  • Extremely tender
  • Intense beef flavour due to loss of meat moisture
  • Dark colour of meat and fat


Cooking
Meat develops its flavour during the cooking process. Heat affects the compounds in the meat and the reactions that take place between these compounds result in the overall taste. Water soluble compounds and fatty acids are just two, which are characteristic of the species’ flavours, and these in turn may vary due to the animal and the breed and the degree of “fatness”. Fat adds specific flavour and aids the entrapment of moisture within the meat and during the cooking process, it keeps meat moist and succulent

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