How is lamb graded?The United States recognizes three categories of lamb, all based on age. Mutton, due to its age, is generally not considered "lamb," but is included here for the sake of information.
U.S. government regulations require that spring lamb be slaughtered between the beginning of March and the close of the week containing the first Monday in October. It is the most popular variety in America.
Although American consumption of lamb pales in comparison to other countries, the U.S. does not produce enough lamb to satisfy consumer demand. Much of the lamb sold in the U.S. is imported frozen from New Zealand. Australia is another major exporter of lamb.
American lamb is generally milder in flavor, since the sheep are grain-fed rather than permitted to free-range graze. The U.S. cuts are also generally larger and meatier.
The U.S. government further grades lamb based on the proportion of fat to lean meat. Prime is the top grade, followed in order by Choice, Good, Utility, and Cull grades.
US Lamb Grades• Baby Lamb: Milk-fed lambs slaughtered at between 6 and 8 weeks of age. (Also known as hothouse lamb)
• Spring Lamb: Milk-fed lamb between 3 and 5 months of age.
• Lamb: Weaned on grass and under one year of age.
• Mutton: Sheep over 1 year of age, typically slaughtered by 2 years of age as a food source.
More About Lamb and Lamb Recipes• What is the difference between lamb and mutton?
• Lamb Selection, Storage, and Cuts
• Lamb Grades
• What is lamb fell?
• What are lamb musk glands?
• Lamb History
• Lamb Recipes
Lamb Photo © 2009 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.
|•||The Best of Meats : From Amish and Mennonite Kitchens|
|•||The Complete Meat Cookbook|
|•||Charlie Trotter's Meat and Game|
|•||The Lobels' Guide to Great Grilled Meats|