By Mario Fiorucci, Co-Founder of The Healthy Butcher
This article was originally published in Tonic Magazine April 2011
April is lamb month as far as I’m concerned.
We sell more lamb during the week of Easter than we do pretty much the rest of the year. That said, did you know that lamb is the only universally accepted red meat? Hindus are forbidden to eat beef, Muslims & Jews eschew pork, but no culture or religion outlaws lamb. Lamb has been a part of our carnivorous lives since 9000 B.C.! During these early days, much of the world chose Shepherding as a career path, and the meat they knew best was lamb.
Lamb is a sheep less than 1 year old. The term “Spring Lamb” refers to a lamb between 3 and 5 months old. Over 1 year, a lamb is referred to as a yearling. Over 2 years of age, lamb is called mutton; meat from mutton is darker, tougher, and has a stronger flavour than lamb.
The Healthy Butcher’s Lamb Cut Chart
Despite the lamb frenzy that occurs at Easter, the best time to purchase local lamb is between mid-summer and fall, when lambs have grazed on open pasture for several months. In the autumn you can buy genuine Ontario “Spring Lamb”, that is, a lamb born in the early spring, fed on mother’s milk and organic pasture all summer, and slaughtered in the fall, which produces the sweetest and most succulent of meat. The taste of good lamb is earthy and rich with a faint sweetness. Lamb is fairly fatty, and, unlike pork, the fat is not entirely edible – it is more like tallow. This contributes to the high price of lamb, because by the time the lamb is trimmed of its fat, bone and other non-edible parts, the resulting meat is only about 40% of its weight.