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products3.jpg (13428 bytes)The mission of 3J Beef, Inc. is to bring you the highest quality hormone- free, all dry-aged beef in the country. There are a number of things that set 3J Beef above the rest. We manage the beef from birth all the way to the consumer, only a hand full of outfits do this in the United States. Let us share with you a hundred years in the making of 3J Beef!

Calves are typically sold after they are weaned at around seven months and then given supplemental feed, so that by about 14 months, before they reach skeletal maturity, they will have amassed a maximum amount of weight for slaughter. The rush to put weight on the cattle often leads to the use of anabolic steroids and growth hormones, and almost all cattle are treated with antibiotics and appetite-stimulating feed additives along the way. Put simply, more weight brings more money.

The 3J calves are born in the spring under close supervision of Joe T. and Klint Venneman. After weaning at around six months, calves are put out to pasture to graze on mid-western wheat until they are 11 to 12 months of age. Then they are moved to the feeding pins on the ranch. At this point, they have reached their maturity and are ready to be "fattened up." While in the feeding pins, the cattle are fed hand selected whole corn for approximately 120 to 150 days. This increases the marbling within the meat structure. Our cattle are never given any steroids or growth hormones, which results in a healthier, more tender cut of meat. At this point, they are harvested.

Our processors, Tom Buck and family at Dalhart Processing, dry-age all the beef. Dry-aged beef is an investment in time and money that few outfits are willing to make. We dry-age the entire beef at between 36 to 34 degrees for exactly 21 days before processing it, and then each cut of meat is individually sealed and vacuum packed to guard freshness. During this period, two things happen: First, the meat loses a great deal of excess moisture and acquires a wonderful flavor. The second effect of dry-aging is that the beef's natural enzymes break down the muscle fibers, tenderizing the meat.

tenderness.gif (13429 bytes)When the whole beef has gone through the entire dry-aging process (21 days), the outside turns a deep mahogany color. Dry-aged beef was the norm until about 20 years ago when someone got an idea to put beef in vacuum-sealed plastic bags before it left the slaughterhouse. In this hermetically sealed environment, the meat ages in its own juices, hence the term "wet-aging." Wet-aged meat is not exposed to air, so it doesn't lose moisture; nor is there a thick crust to be heavily trimmed, as with dry-aged meat, so the meat is considerably cheaper. This helps explain why close to 99 percent of beef, including the meat used at many well-regarded steak houses and almost all retail stores, is sometimes wet-aged, but mostly not aged at all. A great analogy between dry-aged and wet-aged is the taste difference between skim milk and whole milk. Wet-aged beef tastes watery; where as dry-aged beef tastes succulent and is robust in flavor. This insistence on dry-aging is another distinguishing factor of 3J Beef, Inc.

With that said, we suggest that you grab a plush, ripe California Cab, elegant Bordeaux, or even an Assume Shiraz isn't a bad idea, but choose a serious one and invite your best friends over for a taste of lost tradition. This is what our family has done for years and is why we call it "Beef With Tradition".