General Remarks. - Avoid meat of any kind that has lean of a dark purple tint, for it means either that the animal was diseased, or, at least, very old. A very pale pink tint is also a sign of bad quality, so also if the flesh is flabby or watery. Now and then a joint of meat may be seen lying in a pool of reddish fluid; if this is noted, avoid it. Very bony or fat meat is always dear, even if low in price; fat of a dark yellow tint indicates that the animal has been fed largely on oil-cake, and when it is cooked the flavour will be rank and greasy.
-There should be but little smell from meat, and that not unpleasant, and all parts, specially kidneys and liver, must be quite free from spots or discoloration.
The lean of beef should be bright, deep red, firm and elastic to the touch, and well marbled with creamy white fat, and finely grained. The fat should be creamy white; the suet hard, a pinkish tinge on it, and easily crumbled. Hard, skinny fat, and horny strips along the ribs indicate that the animal was old. The beef of Scotch oxen is reckoned best; no first-class butcher offers cow or bull beef for sale.
The prime roasting joints are sirloin and ribs, but as they contain much bone, they cannot be reckoned as economical. The best roast for family use is top-ribs or round, as there will be no bone, and rarely any superfluous fat. The flavour and texture are, however, not quite so excellent as the two first-mentioned.
Mutton is more easily digested than beef, as the fibres of the lean are shorter, more tender, and therefore more digestible. Welsh and Southdown mutton are the most popular varieties. Select joints off small animals; the large meat is wasteful and coarse. The cheaper parts of mutton are so bony that, although low-priced, they are not economical in the end. The legs are best for family use. The lean of mutton should be a clear dark red, and finely grained, the bones small, the fat very hard and white. Mutton requires to be hung as long as possible without its becoming tainted. When well hung, the cut surfaces should look dry and a blackish purple colour; when freshly killed, the cut parts look moist and a bright red. Legs can be hung for a longer period than shoulders or loins. If the larder accommodation is bad, butchers frequently let customers select their joint, and then hang it for them. This is an excellent plan.
Veal cannot be reckoned as very digestible, and if killed when very young, contains but little nutriment. The flesh is usually a very pale colour, but if rather a deeper pink, it will be more juicy. The grain should be fine, the fat clear and white, the kidney free from discoloration and enclosed in plenty of firm fat. Veal cannot be hung, as it soon becomes sour.
Lamb should have the lean finely grained and of a delicate red colour, the fat firm and white, devoid of any yellow tinge. The kidneys and surrounding fat should be firm and not in the least tainted or discoloured. The veins of the neck end of the fore-quarter ought to be bluish, not green, in tint, as the latter is a sign the meat is stale, and lamb, like veal, does not improve with keeping.