Choosing Lamb and Mutton: Grades of Lamb
Lamb is produced from animals less than a year old. Mutton is
meat from older sheep, There are five grades for lamb.
- Prime grade is very high in tenderness,
juiciness, and flavor. Its marbling enhances both flavor and
- Choice grade has slightly less marbling
than prime, but still is of very high quality.
Most cuts of
prime and choice grade lamb (chops, roasts, shoulder cuts, and
leg) are tender and can be cooked by broiling, roasting, or
grilling. The less tender cuts; breast, riblets, neck, and
shank, can be braised or used in stews to make them more tender.
- The lower grades of lamb and mutton are good,
utility, and cull.
These are usually not marked
with a grade.
So which grade should I buy?
Normally only the highest two grades, prime and choice, are found
in grocery stores. Since the quality of lamb varies according to the
age of the animal, you really only want to buy lamb that has been
USDA graded (meaning Prime or Choice)
Click here if you would like to see a
22 minute long
educational video about
the beef grading process . The video covers the entire
process from farm to table and dwells on the grading process..