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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/492

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fed meat, such as pork fed on nuts and offal instead of meal, wastes much in cooking.

(6) It should not run to water or become very wet on standing for a day or two but should on the contrary be dry upon the surface. Meat however that has been frozen is always damp on the surface, although the quality may be excellent.

Inferior Meat.—Meat may be quite wholesome and yet may be of inferior quality. Ordinary purchasers do not understand this in theory, though they are accustomed to it in practice. An ox that had worked at the plough would be hard and somewhat strong-flavoured; but suitably cooked it would be unobjectionable from a hygienic point of view. Cow-beef is habitually sold in the markets and the poor gladly buy it at a low price. Even in the best quarters of the town, superior meat hangs side by side with the second quality. Not enough comes to town of the best short-horned beef, or of Southdown mutton, to supply one-tenth of the customers, and in all market-lists the prices at per stone vary according to the breed and the quality. It answers the grazier's purpose to take a lower price per stone for an animal that arrives quickly at maturity, and attains to the greatest weight on a given amount of food. As a rule, the larger the animal, the coarser the flesh. This is markedly true of different varieties of the same species. In providing for a large number of persons, where quantity and cheapness are of more importance than first-rate quality, joints of large, full-flavoured beef and mutton are by far the most advantageous to buy, and for strong soup, stews with vegetables, and such dishes, there is no reason for choosing the most delicate meat.

Fat Meat.—As regards fat, that can be bought more cheaply than on a joint of meat, and many persons object to eat much fat. But it is always risky to buy any part of an unusually lean animal, in case its condition should be due to disease. It is better to buy a lean joint off a fat beast, or to cut off the fat before cooking the meat, as it can be clarified and used for deep frying, plain cakes, pastry, etc. Again, if economy is an object, it is well to buy a cheap part of a first-rate animal rather than a prime joint off an inferior beast. The fore-quarter costs less than the hind; and in a bullock it is easy to get a solid lump of meat from the fore-quarter with little or no bone; of course, if a joint is cheap because it is bony, there is no economy in buying it.

A Few Observations on the Nutritive Value of Salted Meat may be properly introduced in this place. Every housewife knows that dry salt in contact with fresh meat gradually becomes fluid brine. The application of salt causes the fibres of meat to contract, and the juice to flow out from its pores; as much as one-third of the juice of the meat is often forced out in this manner. As this juice is pure extract of meat, containing albumin, osmasome, and other valuable principles it follows that meat, which has been preserved by the action of salt, cannot have the nutritive properties of fresh meat.