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Keep your meat fresh and well-flavored

By Toi Degree

Rowan Cooperative Extension

Since Danélle Cutting is writing about Lee Menius’ new butcher shop, I thought I’d give you all some meat tips.

As summer draws to a close, there is still time to get grilling and if you’re like my nephew who will grill anytime, these tips are useful.

As a general rule of thumb, meat should only be kept in the refrigerator for one to two days prior to being used.  Leftovers that are cooked should be used within four days of being prepared. Freezing time varies from meat to meat and will also depend on the cut of meat but is usually anywhere from three to 12 months. I will include a link at the bottom of the article with storage times and temperatures.

So, let’s get to the meat of the matter. Most people who grill have their own way of doing things and their own spices. Bottled grill seasoning blends are often expensive, heavy on salt and preservatives, and lacking in the flavor department.

When you make your own, you control the ingredients and the flavor. Most of your basic blends will include salt, red and black pepper, and additional flavor from garlic salt or onion powder. Chili powder, dried herbs and warm spices like cumin, cloves and cinnamon can turn up the volume. You are also in control of the heat if you like to add that to your mix.

Preparation couldn’t be easier: Just mix up spices, and transfer to an airtight container. To store your unique spice blend, simply keep in the pantry for up to six months. You may want to make a custom label for your jar. Then, you can sprinkle your custom blend onto fish, steaks, chicken and pork or mix with oil for an instant marinade.

And, don’t forget the veggies — choose sturdy ones that’ll hold up on the grill such as squash, onions, eggplant, peppers, corn on the cob and mushrooms.

Here are a few blends below that you might want to use to make your own. It really doesn’t matter if you are grilling salmon, skinless chicken breast or juicy steaks, mix up tantalizing flavors.

Beef Seasoning (steak or burgers)

Spicy Montreal Mix (makes 1 cup)
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup ground black pepper
1/4 cup granulated onion
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. garlic powder

Pork Seasoning (ribs, tenderloin or chops)

Smoky Fennel Mix (makes about 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. celery salt
2 Tbsp. smoked paprika
1 Tbsp. ground fennel

If the above recipes didn’t quite tickle your fancy, there are many other recipes that you can try. The first step is to understand which spice is best suited for the meat you are using.

Here is a link to a handout that will outline each and every spice and what they taste the best with. It will also provide you with a breakdown of spice combinations, how to use dry versus fresh and much more.

To learn more about spices, click on this link:  http://food.unl.edu/documents/Spice%26HerbsHandout08.pdf   or you may like this handout more from Tennessee state called blends and rubs which you can find here:  https://ag.tennessee.edu/fcs/Documents/BlendsAndRubs.pdf

Refrigerator and freezer storage chart:  https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/ResourcesForYou/HealthEducators/UCM109315.pdf

Toi N. Degree is a family and consumer education agent for N.C. Cooperative Extension, Rowan County Center.  You may reach her at 704-216-8970, or email her at toi_degree@ncsu.edu

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