Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Split Half of Beef

Our split half (that's one-fourth of a cow) from Hillsboro-area farmer Adam Hershberger of Highland Haven arrived yesterday, 108.5 pounds of beef at $2.15/pound, plus processing charges of $60 for a total of just over $293. That works out to $2.70 per pound and includes steaks, roasts, chops, ribs, ground beef, and all the other cuts. And it's a lot of meat -- I had two medium-sized coolers filled.

For those who are interested in eating locally but worry that it'll cost more, I have to believe that this much beef -- which I think will probably work out to around a year's worth for my family, as we tend to eat beef maybe once a week or so -- for this little money is an incredible deal. If you have a freezer and the financial ability to shop in bulk, I can't imagine you'd be spending more on this unless the only beef your family normally eats is ground beef.

I'm glad I asked for a share of a smaller cow -- I was fortunate that it all fit into my freezer! And fitting it all in pretty much destroyed my careful organization. Usually I keep beef (along with beef bones and beef stock) on the bottom shelf, pork on the second, poultry on the third, seafood, lamb, and butter on the fourth, fruits/veggies on the top shelf, and flour/grains/nuts in the door. With several dozen packages of beef arriving, I had no choice but to shove some of it in with other things. And of course I should really get any older beef out first, so that's going to mean taking things in and out for a while. I'm hoping by the time I get all the older beef out, I'll have figured out how to get all the new beef onto the 'beef shelf.' Being the AnRet that I am, I'll probably be out there this afternoon trying to organize it. I want to add a layer of wrapping to help it keep longer, anyway, so I might as well do everything at once.

There are a lot of cuts included that I've never cooked before. I'm really looking forward to this as a challenge -- what do you even do with beef liver? Oh, wait a minute...liver and onions, right? I tried a bit of a friend's order once in a restaurant, years ago. Bleah. Tasted like mud. Oh, well, maybe I can find something else to do with it. Suggestions are welcome!

It's going to be an interesting education in proportions, too. My family eats a lot of ground beef and the very occasional steak or ribs or roast and not much else. I don't really even have much understanding of how much of any one cut is on a given cow.


Jen (Modern Beet) said...

Nice! I've been considering doing this for a while, but we just don't have the space to store that much food... maybe someday

Do you have 'The River Cottage Meat Book'? It has all sorts of ideas for preparations of offal and lesser known/used cuts of meat

valereee said...

Jen, I do have the River Cottage Meat Book! I am definitely planning on diving into that one.

I read somewhere that a split half take 4 cubic feet of freezer space. My freezer is probably 17 cubic feet, I guess. I don't think the beef is taking up anywhere near a quarter of it, though.

How big is your family? I would think that if you aren't at least three adult appetites, you'd probably want to buy this much meat with another family/couple.

Pennington Hollow Farm said...

Hi Valeree - Our family orders a "Half of Beef". We are a family of 7, soon to be 8, and it lasts us a year, eating beef once per week, sometimes twice. This time around we got Beef Tongue... hmmmm..... I found a recipe in Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that actually sounded pretty good. I will NOT be telling the children until they finish saying how WONDERFUL it tastes! :-)

valereee said...

Lisa, how many adult appetites does your 7/8 probably equate to? I have a teenage son, a vegetarian teenage daughter, plus hubby. I generally plan for 2.5 - 3 "servings" of meat per meal and come out pretty much correct except when my son is doing one of those teenage boy bottomless pit things.

Walter Jeffries said...

Over on my Sugar Mountain Farm blog on the Mystery Photo - Silver Tool post you gave a link for a bone marrow tool. I think you might be right. It does look similar.

FarmerK said...

I don't typically like liver, but when my friend makes it fresh, it tastes better than any restaurant. She cuts it into thin slices, dredges it in flour, and then fries it in bacon grease. You could give it a try. Otherwise, liver makes good dog or cat food. Good luck!

Jon said...

I split a cow with a couple other people. It was really interesting. The ground beef was great, but I have to say I was disappointed by the steaks. Keep in mind that they are not dry aged at all, so they are somewhat 'wet' versus what you may typically think of as a steak. You can't age cut steaks, so you just have to live with it. The roasts make GREAT pot roasts and beef bourgogne.

I'm not sure I'd buy a cow again, as we have also split a pig - which was really, really good!

valereee said...

Jon, my family don't actually eat a lot of steak, so I'm kind of wondering how I'll use these. I may actually end up dicing many of them for stir fries, soups, casseroles, etc. I wonder if that's a waste of steak?

FarmerK, I'll probably give it a try when my dad is coming for dinner. IIRC, he likes liver. My mother never made it, so I'm actually not sure.

Pennington Hollow Farm said...

Hi Val,

Of our family of 7, I'd say 4 need adult sized portions. I cooked 4 rib-eye steaks last night, which would be about 8 - 4 oz. servings. It worked out just right with one downfall. I didn't have any leftovers to send to work with hubby this morning. :-(

Re: Liver. Fried Liver and Onions is worth attempting to develop a taste for. Sally Fallon recommends eating liver once per week. Currently, our family does good to have it once per month, but we are working on it.

If you have no other use for liver, next time ask the butcher to grind it into your ground beef, OR if you raise Broilers, liver is extremely beneficial to their diets.

Jon said...


Well, I would say that dicing up any good steak and putting it into soup might be a waste! Stir fry or fajita's would be good though.

Don't get me wrong...they aren't BAD...just not as good as I was hoping for.

audrey said...

So exciting! Sounds like you got a good deal. Getting the quarter totally changed the way I shop and cook, will be interesting to see what you find. We will sometimes use the sirloin and NY strip cuts for stir frying.