What you need to know about Meat and Cheese

Last week we highlighted our top Produce choices from the F&H annual Produce & Protein Guide and this week we will be covering the Protein Meat and Cheese categories!


Beef Beef is rich in iron and protein. It also contains zinc, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and potassium. Redness is not an indication of better or stronger flavor nor is it indicative of freshness. Defrost beef in the refrigerator. Never re-freeze thawed beef.

Use ground beef within 24 hours or freeze up to three months.

Cuts such as rib-eye, T-bone, striploin and top sirloin need only brief cooking. Season with salt and pepper, then grill or broil on medium-high heat, turning once or twice. Keep raw and cooked meat separate to prevent cross-contamination.

A chief concern is E.coli.

Cook thoroughly to eradicate bacteria, and wash hands immediately after handling raw product.

Chicken Chicken contains essential amino acids and B vitamins. Dark meat is rich in riboflavin, and light meat is rich in niacin. Chicken is also low in sodium. For refrigerated product store at 4oC (40oF).

To thaw: Wrap in plastic and store in refrigerator for 10 hours per kilogram (five hours per pound).

Use a meat thermometer to ensure product is finished cooking. It should register 85oC (185oF) in the thigh muscle or 75oC (165oF) in the dressing or stuffed birds. Be careful of salmonella. The internal temperature of a whole cooked chicken should be 85oC (185oF). For chicken pieces, temperature should be 74oC (165oF).
Duck Properly cooked duck – hung on a rack over a roasting pan to catch fat – is not fatty or greasy, making it a lean meat. The layer of fat beneath the skin dissolves during cooking, leaving the dark meat moist and tender with a rich flavor. Refrigerate a fresh duck and use within two days or freeze in its original package for up to six months. Never thaw frozen duck on the counter. Thaw in a pan in the refrigerator, loosely covered. Duck needs to be cooked longer than chicken or turkey to ensure fat melts away completely and skin is crisp and golden. Same as chicken
Lamb A lean meat, lamb contains protein, iron and B vitamins. Excess fat can be trimmed away due to low marbling. Unlike beef, lamb has no marbling. Meat should be light or dark pink, with a firm, fine-grained texture and a creamy white fat. Store fresh lamb cuts in the coolest part of your refrigerator up to three days, loosely covered with wax paper. Large cuts of lamb may have a thin, paper-like covering of white fat called the fell. Leave it on roasts to seal in juices while cooking, but peel it off other cuts to prevent the meat from curling when cooked. Like other meats, it’s important to cook thoroughly to prevent spreading E.coli, salmonella and listeria. Medium-rare lamb should have an internal temperature of 63oC (145oF).
Rabbit A lean meat typically high in protein and low in cholesterol. Rabbit tastes a bit like chicken and is known for a light flavor and nutty aftertaste. Store package meat in refrigerator for up to two days or in the freezer for longer. Cooked product can be refrigerated for three days, but freezing is not recommended, because the meat becomes too dry. Rabbit meat is good for braising, roasting and stewing.

Note: Wild rabbit takes longer to prepare than farm-raised animals. Cook wild product longer at a lower temperature. If you don’t cook it long enough, the meat will be tough and have a more “wild” flavor.

Cook thoroughly to eradicate harmful bacteria and be sure raw product doesn’t accidentally contaminate other food.
Turkey Turkey is high in protein and low in calories. It also features B12, zinc, and selenium. Turkey is graded according to the quality of appearance. Canada A turkeys are well shaped and meaty with an even fat covering. Whole turkey can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three days after purchase. Whole turkeys can be kept frozen for one year, while parts keep for six months. Cook turkey to an internal temperature or 77oC (170oF in the breast and 82oC (180oF) in the thigh.

When roasting, any stuffing plced in the cavity of the bird should reach an internal temperature of at least 74oC (165oF).

Same as chicken and duck.
Veal A source of iron, zinc and B12, veal is also lower in saturated fat than pork, chicken and beef. Store fresh veal in the meat compartment or in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Wrap meat from the butcher loosely in waxed paper or foil. Use within five days or freeze up to three months. Cuts from the rib (chops or roasts) or loin are the best to roast, grill, broil or pan fry because they’re tender and cook quickly.

Choose ground veal for juicy burgers or meat pies. Less tender cuts such as veal shank, shoulder and breast are ideal for slow braises and stews cooked in liquid.

Cook thoroughly to avoid spread E.coli and other foodborne bacteria.

Medium-rare veal should have an internal temperature of 63oC (145oF), medium of 71oC (160oF) and well-done of 77oC (170oF).


Fresh (unripened) Bocconcini, Burrata, Cream cheese, fresh Mozzarella and Ricotta Ontario fresh cheeses are made with whey extracted from milk. Cheese should be slightly firm with a high level of moisture. Store in refrigerator for no more than two weeks. Do not ignore best-before dates. Avoid freezing, unless you plan to use in cooking at a later date (texture will be affected).
Soft Feta, Brie and Chèvre (goat’s milk cheese) A surface-ripened cheese that’s neither pressed nor cooked during manufacturing. Feta is the only cheese that’s interiorly ripened. Wrap in foil or plastic wrap and store in refrigerator. Young Brie can last a month, but two weeks is usually optimum. Store away from pungent foods as soft cheese can absorb tastes and smells.
Semi-Soft Havarti, Monterey Jack and Mozzarella These semi-firm varieties range from mild to sharp in taste. They feature a moisture level of 40% and 60%. Store in plastic wrap in refrigerator crisper away from other food. Can last from one to four weeks. Remove white mould spots as they occur and re-wrap carefully.
Firm Gouda, Cheddar, Provolone and Swiss Varying in taste, firm cheeses should have a butterfat level of 20% to 31% and a moisture level of 35% to 52%. Can last several months if store in foil or an airtight plastic in the refrigerator. Remove white traces of mould as they develop. Some firm cheeses (such as cheddar) can be frozen after grating.
Hard Asiago and Parmesan A cheese aged for months or years that has lost up to 70% of its moisture. Often used for grating, these cheeses are high in calcium and protein. Properly wrapped, hard cheese can last several months but should be kept away from air and temperatures over 4oC (39oF) for prolonged periods. Freezing will affect taste.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s