That Food Guy
Saturday, May 31, 2014
  Product Evaluation - Great Value Canned Roast Beef


Product Evaluation: Great Value Canned Roast Beef
We dropped the dog off at the vets and had an hour or so to wait. Just across the parking lot was the local Walmart. The wife and I wiled away the time with a little shopping. Since it was just killing time, we paced slowly through the aisles and that made it the perfect opportunity to watch for new or unusual products. My eye fell upon Great Value canned Roast Beef, a 12-ounce can for $2.50. The label indicated fully cooked roast beef in beef broth, caramel color added. No country of origin was listed but there was a USDA Inspection logo so I assume the product is packed in the USA.

Coastal Florida, hurricane central, is one of those places where it is prudent to have a few days’ supply of food and water on hand for those emergencies that can isolate you, cut you off from your normal sources of food and water, often for a lengthy period of time. Having food and water on the shelf can do much to lower your stress levels in periods of crisis.
Canned and bags of tuna, canned salmon, corned beef, corned and roast beef hash, SPAM and various brands of beef stew are available in the supermarket. But plain beef, beef to use in cooking a meal are rare indeed, enough so that I can’t right now think of an all–beef product that I have seen lately. With that in mind I tossed one can into the basket to try out at home, to see if it was worth putting on the emergency food shelf (and since it is wise to rotate food stocks, another underlying question would be is it good enough for a regular, day-to-day meal?). Local supermarket beef prices are $5 to $9 a pound. At $2.50 for 12-ounces (about $3.30 a pound) it seemed an inexpensive meat source – or so we thought.

We decided to try it out tonight making a simple meal much like we would make if it were a disaster time. We have rice, of course and packaged gravy mix. From the freezer we had some mixed vegetables and there were some cherry tomatoes fresh from the vine. Oh, yes! Don’t forget the mushrooms. Most everything goes well with mushrooms.
The first thing we noticed when we opened the can was there is a lot of packing liquid, the beef broth. There was about ¾ cup of liquid in the can. At about 4 or 5-ounces of water, in the 12-ounce can, leaves about 8-ounces or less of beef (these are all rule of thumb guesses, I only measured the ¾ cup of liquid) and that would make the price per pound for the beef portion at a bit more than $5 per pound. In the end, the beef in the can is about the same price per pound as the fresh meat in the supermarket butcher’s case.

The beef, cold from the can, has a good texture and it hasn’t been overcooked in the canning process. However, it is very bland, light on flavor. After cooking in the can and then cooling, some of the beef fat gels into clumps. Heating the broth and beef together redistributes the beef fat and the flavor is significantly enhanced. The pieces of meat are of the smaller size; most were more like soup pieces although a few of the pieces would have made small pieces for a stew.
Our meal was canned roast beef and gravy over rice along with some steamed vegetables. It was a tasty and satisfying meal although a bit short on the beef. (I had the rice cooking before I opened the can of beef. Had I opened the beef first, I would have used much of the broth to cook the rice.)

Being a canned product, it doesn’t require refrigeration and has a reasonably long shelf life; important assets for emergency food. The price per pound for the meat itself is about the same as the cost per pound for lower end fresh cuts of meat at the butcher counter; you don’t have to pay a premium. It has a good flavor and a pleasing texture, not a food you have to train yourself to like. It certainly has a place in the emergency larder or on camping trips especially since it seems to be about the sole source of canned plain beef. It will serve well in both roles. I will be picking up a couple more cans for the emergency shelf on my next shopping trip to Walmart. Running late? In a hurry? It will serve well there as well. This meal was done while the rice cooked. All was done and ready to eat in 20 minutes. As for day-to-day use I don’t think it will serve all that well. As good as it can be, why settle for canned meat when, for the same price per pound of meat, you can have fresh meat from the butcher or frozen meat stored in your freezer.

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Location: Chugiak Alaska, St Petersburg, Florida, and Friendsville, Tennessee, United States
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