Mutton -

Is the dressed flesh of the sheep. It is best from animals three to five years old. If too young, it lacks flavor; if too old, it is tough. It is best liked in the spring, as it is generally more juicy then and less liable to be marked by any "woolly" or "sheepy" taste. All mutton, in order to avoid this taste, should be hung up for at least two days before use - and should thereafter always receive close attention and be kept as much as possible from exposure to the air.

The quality depends both on the breed and the feeding of the sheep. In England and France these two points have received more attention than in the United States, but the domestic product is steadily improving and sheep raising is now an important industry in several states.

Much of the objection which many Americans feel to the use of mutton is due to the poor stock formerly sold here - many of the animals slaughtered were ill-fed, badly cared for and old. The meat of a young, well-fed sheep kept in a good refrigerator will seldom have any disagreeable flavor.

The most famous English product is the "Southdown mutton," the fine flavor of which is attributed to a little insect which flourishes in the fine pasture of the South Downs. In France, the best is the Pré salé ("salt Field"), so-called because the sheep pasture on the salt marshes along the sea coast.

In purchasing carcasses, the grocer must take into account the loss of weight which will ensue from drying out while it hangs in his store. The better his refrigerating facilities, the smaller will be the loss.

In selecting, he should see that the meat is fine grained and firm and of darkish, clear red color, and the fat firm and white. If the flesh is flabby, or the kidney fat small, the carcass should be avoided.

Diagrams 1 and 2 show a division of the carcass practised in many parts of the country. Diagram 3 is a well recognized Eastern method.

The description in the Department of Agriculture Bulletin accompanying Diagrams 1 and 2 comments on the fact that the cuts in a side of lamb or mutton generally number only six, three in each quarter. The Chuck includes the ribs as far as the end of the shoulder blades; the Loin reaches from the chuck back to the leg, and the Flank is made to include all the under-side of the animal. Some butchers, however, make a larger number of cuts from the forequarter, taking a portion of the Loin and Chuck to make a cut known as Rib; and part of the Flank and Shoulder for a cut designated as Brisket.

The term "Chops" is ordinarily used to designate portions of either the loin, ribs, chuck or shoulder, cut or "chopped" by the butcher into pieces suitable for frying or broiling. The so-called "French chops" are cut from the "Rack," a term sometimes applied to the Chuck and Ribs. See also Color Page opposite page 404.

Arround Mutton in The Grocer's Encyclopedia

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