Information on Beef Grading

You’ve probably heard terms like “prime,” “choice” and “select” when it comes to beef products. These terms refer to the “grade” or “quality” of the cut of meat you’re buying. It’s important to understand the difference between these grades, as it will help you make the right decision when you’re searching for the best cuts of beef in an Alexandria, IN grocery store.

Beef grades are determined by experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Higher-grade meats might be used for steaks in upscale restaurants, while lower-grade meats may be used in processed foods.

How are beef grades determined?

When trying to determine beef grades, USDA graders will look at the meat’s marbling, color and texture. When looking at these factors, graders will determine the meat’s tenderness and flavor. They will also determine how much usable lean meat appears on a certain animal. To properly access the meat, graders will utilize a series of tests and electronic tools.

Marbling, which is the primary determining factor of beef grading, refers to the white pieces of intramuscular fat found in red meat. The pieces of fat usually appear as streaks or spots and show how tender the meat is. The more marbling a piece of meat has, the higher its quality.


Choice beef is often produced in high quantities and can be found in most supermarkets. While this type of meat doesn’t feature as much marbling as prime, it’s still of high quality and can be enjoyed for romantic dinners and other special occasions. Popular types of choice-grade beef include steaks from an animal’s ribs and loins.

Proper preparation of choice beef involves roasting or grilling. Choice beef is also great when cooked in a slow cooker and served in soup or stew. It’s often advised to cook choice meat with a small amount of liquid.


Prime beef is the type of meat you’ll order at a nice restaurant or serve on a fancy occasion. This type of meat features an abundance of marbling, making it extremely delicious and tender. The meat, which comes from young cattle, is usually cooked through the process of grilling, roasting or frying. It’s also popular to bake or broil prime cuts of beef.

The cut of prime beef you have can determine how you cook it. With prime beef steaks, for example, many people choose to cook it on high heat for a few minutes to avoid overcooking. If you are cooking prime rib, you might choose to cook it on low heat for a longer period of time.


Though select beef has less marbling than choice and prime, it’s still a delicious cut of meat when prepared correctly. This type of meat is less tender than prime or choice, so you might choose to cook it slowly. You might also choose to use a meat tenderizer to soften up tougher cuts of select beef.

Finding the perfect cut of beef at your Alexandria, IN grocery store is easy when you know about the different grades. When looking for the freshest meat bundles and other groceries, be sure to visit Horner’s Midtown Market to check out our selection.

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