Factors Influencing the Flavour and Texture of Meat Before Cooking

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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The most obvious influence is that of species; other factors are the breed, age, nutrition, sex, and activity level of an animal. Domesticated animals, particularly cattle, have long been bred for specific purposes, and those intended for beef generally provide better meat than dairy cattle. Younger animals have tenderer muscle but less fat than older ones; this is why veal has a rather dry texture. Flavour, too, is milder. Castrated males have a different distribution of fat and muscle from uncastrated ones. Exercise increases the number of filaments in the bundles of muscle fibres; the larger the bundle, the tougher the meat tends to be. Feedstuffs, too, make a difference to flavour, and certain substances may actually taint the meat.