Domestication of cattle has existed since 6500 BCE. Beef is the culinary term for the meat from full grown cattle about 2 years old. The term cattle refers to domesticated bovine farm animals including cows, bison and buffalo. Bovine refers to animals in the family ‘bovini’,
Beef is a red meat, like mutton and pork. Red meat contains more myoglobin, (an oxygen carrying red blood cell) than the white meat of chicken and fish. A steer is a bull that has been castrated before reaching sexual maturity and is primarily used for beef. A live steer weighs about 1000 pounds and yields 450 pounds of edible meat. High quality beef is firm, velvety. Fine grained lean, bright red and well -marbled. The fat is a smooth creamy white.
FACT 1: Beef is the flesh of mature cattle as distinguished from veal which is the flesh of calves.
FACT 2: There are over 50 breeds of beef cattle. Of these the four most popular breeds are Angus, Hereford, Charolais and Brahman.
FACT 3: There is a large international beef trade. The grading standards are similar everywhere. In the US there are four major (primal) cuts of beef. The chuck and round that are less tender, and the loin and rib that can be cooked dry .Cuts of chuck of round are made into stews or ground for hamburgers. In the US steak, from the fleshier parts, is most popular. In the UK best rib or rib roast is very popular.
FACT 4: In Kobe Japan, near Osaka, highly prized beef is produced from cattle that are vigourously massaged and fed a liberal supplementary diet of beer.
FACT 5: Guards at the Tower of London are nicknamed Beefeaters. The very popular and high quality dry gin that is distilled in London Beefeater Gin is named after these guards.
FACT 6: The tenderness and flavour of beef are sometimes improved by the process of ageing. This involves hanging the carcass for about two weeks at a temperature of 2 degrees C. This encourages physical change in the muscle tissue that enhances the quality of the beef.
FACT 7: Corned beef is a brisket or rump cut that has been pickled in brine, using rock salt. The Irish were the biggest exporters of corned beef till 1825. During the Napoleonic wars the British army sustained on cans of Cork’s Corned Beef.
FACT 8: The largest producer of beef in the world is the USA. It produces about 19 % of the world beef. Brazil is the second largest producer, producing 17% and the European Union is the third largest producer of beef in the world.
FACT 9: The largest beef consuming nations are Uruguay, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia and the USA. Beef is not popular in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Indian subcontinent. However the cusine of China, Korea and Japan include beef.
FACT 10: Hindus believe that the cow is representative of divine and natural beneficence, and should be protected and venerated. The slaughter of milk producing cows was prohibited as far back as 2 BCE, when the Rig Veda proclaimed them unslayable. The kings of the Gupta Kingdom discouraged the slaughter of cows. In the twentieth century the Hindus in British India called for a ban on cow slaughter. This antagonised the Muslims and is is one of the causes of the Partition of India in 1947. Today cow slaughter is banned in India. In many states the ban is being extended to include bull and calves, and is known as the beef ban. However the ban does not include buffalo meat which is called cara beef.