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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/628

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552
HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT

lambs in September. In many cases the lambs are placed in houses, and the ewes are allowed frequent access to the lambs, but do not remain constantly with them. Lambs command a high price in the early months of the new year, but as the season progresses they gradually approximate to mutton price, so that the great object of the producer of fat lambs is to market his lambs as soon as possible.

In the early part of the season, however reared, lamb is, in London, and indeed generally, sold in quarters, divided with 12 ribs to the forequarter; but, as the season advances, these are subdivided into two, and the hind-quarter in the same manner; the first consisting of the shoulder and the neck and breast, the latter of the leg and the loin—as shown in the cut illustrative of mutton. As lamb, from the juicy nature of its flesh, is especially liable to spoil in unfavourable weather, it should be frequently wiped, so as to remove any moisture which may have formed on it.

Price of Meat.—In calculating the selling price of any meat, what is called the "offal," i.e., the skin and inside, are calculated into the price of the animal. The price of any commodity, and of meat dead or alive, may be seen quoted every day in the newspaper market lists; and it would be well if consumers studied and understood these a little better than is usually the case. Another fact they might learn with advantage is the difference of price between the best meat and the second or third quality. Very few persons eat always the best meat, for the reason that it is not sufficiently plentiful, and perhaps even fewer people pay second-best prices or expect to pay them.

As already pointed out, second quality meat does not necessarily mean unwholesome meat, or indeed worse meat than most people are contented with.

Season for Mutton.—Mutton is in season all the year round, different counties producing sheep for the market at various seasons; but just as beef is said to be in its prime when French beans are in, i.e., when the pastures are greenest and freshest, so mutton is in best condition when grass is plentiful, rather than when it is fattened entirely on roots and cake.

Mutton is often thought more digestible than beef, and is therefore prescribed for invalids, but a matter such as this must be decided by individual idiosyncrasy rather than rule. It is always thought to be less satisfying, and as it is impossible to buy a solid lump of boneless mutton, it is no doubt, on that account also, less economical.

Relative Cost.—In reckoning the cost of various joints as compared with one another, we have assumed that leg and loin are the same price, and that 18 ozs. of either can be bought for a shilling, and that the shoulder and best end of the neck are both sold at 20 ozs. (1¼ lb.) for a shilling. The loin has more bone than the leg, 3 ozs. instead of 2½ ozs. in each shilling's worth of meat, and the loin also is very fat, so that although it is nice it is not cheap. The shoulder has the same