Why Cutting Meat Against the Grain is Scientifically Superior

One way to ensure the very best in your home grilling? Cutting your meat against the grain.

The friendly people over at America’s Test Kitchen took to science to prove the superiority of this method with something called a CT3 Texture Analyzer from Brookfield Engineering.

They took a flank steak (which has wide muscle fibers) and a section of strip loin (which has thin muscle fibers) and cooked both to an internal temperature of 130 degrees. Then they used the “ultra sensitive” CT3 to test how much force is required to bite into each cut of meat when carved with and against the muscle fiber grain.

When cut against the grain, the flank took—on average—about 383 grams of force to bite 5 millimeters into the meat, versus 1729 grams when cut with the grain. Perhaps even more notably, the strip cut tested 590 grams with the grain vs. 329 grams against.

In other words, when sliced perpendicular to the muscle fibers, a cut of flank can be just as tender as a cut of expensive New York strip steak, and that fact could save you money next time you’re lingering over the refrigerated section at the grocery store and wondering whether it’s a day for splurging. Buy the flank and cut against the grain for the biggest pay off. Science wants you to.

As Cook’s Illustrated Senior Editor Dan Souza notes in the video, this rule applies with the raw and cooked cuts, and is most useful for meat with wide fibers, a high proportion of connective tissue, and clear longitudinal grain, like skirt, hanger, and flank.

Now go light the coals! Class is dismissed.

Blue Apron’s Memorial Day Sale Will Save You $60 On Your First Three Boxes

Scott Eisen/Getty Images
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

If you’ve gone through all the recipes you had bookmarked on your phone and are now on a first-name basis with the folks at the local pizzeria, it might be time to introduce a new wrinkle into your weekly dinner menu. But instead of buying loads of groceries and cookbooks to make your own meal, you can just subscribe to a service like Blue Apron, which will deliver all the ingredients and instructions you need for a unique dinner.

And if you start your subscription before May 26, you can save $20 on each of your first three weekly boxes from the company. That means that whatever plan you choose—two or four meals a week, vegetarian or the Signature plan—you’ll save $60 in total.

With the company’s Signature plan, you’ll get your choice of meat, fish, and Beyond foods, along with options for diabetes-friendly and Weight Watchers-approved dishes. The vegetarian plan loses the meat, but still allows you to choose from a variety of dishes like General Tso's tofu and black bean flautas.

To get your $60 off, head to the Blue Apron website and click “Redeem Offer” at the top of the page to sign up.

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The Clever Reason Oranges Are Sold in Red Mesh Bags

Gingagi/iStock via Getty Images
Gingagi/iStock via Getty Images

If a detail in a food's packaging doesn't seem to serve a practical purpose, it's likely a marketing tactic. One example is the classic mesh bag of oranges seen in supermarket produce sections. When oranges aren't sold loose on the shelf, they almost always come in these red, mesh bags. The packaging may seem plain, but according to Reader's Digest, it's specially designed to make shoppers want to buy the product.

The color orange "pops" when paired with the color red more so than it does with yellow, green, or blue. That means when you see a bunch of oranges behind a red net pattern, your brain assumes they're more "orange" (and therefore fresher and higher quality) than it would if you saw them on their own. That's the same reason red is chosen when making bags for fruits like grapefruits or tangerines, which are also orange in color.

For lemon packaging, green is more commonly chosen to make the yellow rind stand out. If lemons were sold in the same red bags as other citrus, the red and yellow hues together would actually make the fruits appear orange. Lemons can also come in yellow mesh bags, and the bags for limes are usually green to match their color.

Next time you visit the supermarket, see if you can spot the many ways the store is set up to influence your buying decisions. The items at eye-level will likely be more expensive than those on the shelves above and below them, and the products near the register will likely be cheaper and more appealing as impulse buys. Check out more sneaky tricks used by grocery stores here.

[h/t Reader's Digest]