Cooking Elk Meat


When looking for an interesting cut of meat, I settled on Elk Steaks, because they were something unique withoutbeing completely out there (I really wanted to buy rattlesnake, but I didn’t think my family would go for it!).IMG_1050

With meat, I always think simple is better. While there are a boatload of recipes for elk steaks that with ingredients lists a mile long, I settled on a simple recipe because I wanted to let the meat shine. While this recipe was calling my name, I didn’t want the taste of elk to be obscured by bacon or liquid smoke, because I wanted to get the full experience of elk meat. Here’s the recipe I chose:

IMG_1043Grilled Elk Steaks (Source)

4 venison steaks, about 2-3 pounds total


Vegetable oil

Black pepper

Lemon juice (optional)


  1. Bring the venison out of the fridge and salt it lightly. Let it come to room temperature for at least 15 minutes, or up to 1 hour. Use this time to get your grill ready.
  2. When your grill is hot, use a grill brush to scrape down the grates. Soak a paper towel with some vegetable oil and, using tongs, wipe down the grates.IMG_1052
  3. Pat the steaks dry with paper towels and coat them with a thin film of vegetable oil. Lay them down on the grill. Do not disturb for 2 minutes. Use tongs to pick the steaks up and move them 90 degrees on the grill—this will give you the cross-hatch grill marks. Grill another 2 minutes.
  4. Flip the steak and grill until done, using the finger test for doneness (outlined above). Move the steak to a cutting board and grind black pepper over it. Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving, with a squeeze of lemon juice if you’d like.

IMG_1030One thing I really liked about the webpage which contained this recipe is that it explained why this method was chosen, as the author believes that more intensive recipes (marinades, brining, etc.) should be reserved for the tougher cuts of meat, such as meat from older animals, but with some meats, such as elk, the flavour is show stopping enough without any extra help (Source). When I set out with this recipe, I chose not to include the lemon juice, because I didn’t want it overpowering the meat. I also decided to grill the steaks, as opposed to baking or pan-frying them simply because I prefer meat that is cooked on the grill. I always find that the smokiness that is added compliments the juiciness of the dish.

IMG_1033One main thing to keep in mind when cooking elk is that there is barely any marbling, so one must not overcook it. While this is obviously the goal when cooking anything, overcooking elk meat is disastrous because it renders it completely dry, and barely edible (source). Because my steaks were pretty thin (maybe an inch thick, if that!), I was very careful with the cooking time, and perhaps cooked it for half the amount of time, and theIMG_1051 result was a nicely cooked, medium rare elk steak.

The result of this recipe? I didn’t think it quite meets the claim that it is completely interchangeable with beef (Such as is said here), but it was a nice change. The flavour was quite mild, and would be a nice alternative protein source when planning out dinner. I do understand now why people would want to marinate these steaks or add bacon and the like, because the flavour of elk is not completely outstanding, and is much more subtle than one is used to with red meat. However, given the nutritional statistics of the steak I ate, I think elk will be featured more often in my diet because it is a great way to satisfy my craving for red meat without blowing my caloric budget.IMG_1053


Trying Out New Types of Meat: Elk Steaks

IMG_1037      For this project, I chose to work with elk steaks. The reason for this was that I wanted a cut of meat that was healthy, 386and with 25g of protein, and only 110 calories per steak, elk fit the bill! I’ve also never had elk before, so I thought that it would be an interesting meat to experience.

The use of elk for their meat has a long history, as it was a key part of the diet of Aboriginal People and European Settlers (source). In fact, their co-existence with humans reaches back to the prehistoric era, as rock paintings of elks have been found at ancient sites (source). When cooking them, it is very important to not overcook, because as elks lack fat, it will become exceedingly dry and inedible. In fact, with steaks, one can brush the meat with butter, to help keep it from drying out. The steaks have a very fast cook time, around 5 minutes (source). There are 4 main cuts that are found: roasts, steaks, ground and stewing meat. Because of the lack of fat, cooking these cuts takes less time than with beef, and one can use both dry and wet cooking methods (source).

385One of the main draws of elk is its similarity in taste with beef, without all the saturated fat (source). Elk is also a great choice for healthy eaters. With almost 9 grams of protein per ounce, this amount is higher than what is found in both chicken and beef (source)! It’s vitamin game is also strong. People who eat a 3.5 ounce serving of elk will be ingesting their full daily dose of Vitamin B12, 15% of their daily iron, a fifth of their daily phosphorus and thiamine, as well as many other nutrients (source). Finally, elk has zero carbohydrates, so while that means you won’t be getting any fiber from the meat, there also isn’t any sugar, as well, the sodium level of the meat is very low (source).

The cut I chose was steak, which comes from the rib area (source). This cut is one of the more tender ones, as the elk does not rely on its back muscles. As already mentioned, whe n cooking elk steaks, one must be very careful not to overcook, because as elk is lacking fat, it will be very dry and inedible if not cooked perfectly. When cooking them, the maximum inner temperature the steaks can reach is 160°F, because this signifies that they are well-done, however, they should be taken out at 155, because of carry over cooking (source). There are 3 main ways to cook steaks, all dry heat methods. These are frying, grilling and broiling, all of which are appropriate because they are fast cooking methods (source). Another plus is that no marinating is needed, just salt and pepper, as well as butter if one desires. All you need to do for a delicious elk steak is season it, pop it on the grill, and Bob’s your uncle, you have a great meal!

Elk steaks are a great alternative to beef or chicken, because they are a great source of protein and a ton of vitamins. While it is possible to render them inedible when cooking, with the proper care being taken (and perhaps a dab or two of butter!), you can enjoy a delicious and healthy meal.

Making Grapefruit Jam


For this assignment, I decided to make grapefruit jam. I love grapefruit, and my house is always full of it, so when I came across a recipe for grapefruit jam, I knew that I wanted to try it. As I have never preserved anything before, I did a bit of research into the technicality of it. Here are some articles I found to help with the jamming process:

027How to Ensure That Your Jam Sets

7 Tips to Make Sure Your Jam Sets Up

Learning to be Flexible

Some Canning Questions/Answers

As you can see, one of the best resources I found was Food in Jars, which also is where I found the grapefruit jam recipe. While I also look at sites like The Kitchn, I found that Food in Jars was very helpful because their main occupation is preservation, so they have been through it all.


Some History

Before getting into the recipe, I thought I would go over some of the history of jam making. While there is no exact020 timeline on when jam was first made, one thing that is agreed upon is that people have been making jam for centuries, with the first known recipe being published in Culinary Matters in 1561. Jamming likely was introduced to Europe around the time of the Crusades, when soldiers returning from the Middle East brought back this delicacy. It is thought that the process of jamming originating in the East because of the easy access to cane sugar.


Today, there are 8 most popular flavours of jam (listed in descending order): strawberry, grape, red raspberry, apricot, orange marmalade, apple, blueberry and cherry. In terms of production, in the US, people eat about 1.5 pounds of jam and jelly a year, and about 1 billion pounds of preserves are produced annually.



108The Recipe (Source)

Small Batch Grapefruit Jam039

Yield: 2 Pints


8 large red grapefruit (approximately 4 pounds) (Note: I used 9 because the grapefruit I had had extremely thick skins)

2 1/2 cups granulated white sugar


Start by supreming the grapefruit. Do this by cutting the top and bottom off. Then, working from north pole to south, 104cut the rind off the fruit (you want to expose the interior surface of the fruit). When rind is entirely removed, use the knife to separate the fruit from the membrane of the fruit.

Collect the naked fruit sections and their juice in a large bowl. Set any seeds you find aside. Bundle them up in a103 length of cheesecloth. They’ll give the jam an extra hit of pectin.

Once all the fruit is supremed, pour it into a large, non-reactive pot and add the sugar and the cheesecloth bundle containing the seeds. Stir until the sugar begins to dissolve.

Turn the heat to high and bring the fruit mixture to a boil. Cook at a bubble, stirring regularly, until the jam reaches 220 degrees and passes the plate/sauce/wrinkle test (remove the pot from the heat source while you’re testing to prevent scorching).

When the jam passes these set tests, pour into prepared jars. Apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.

When time is up, remove jars from canner and let them cool on a folded kitchen towel. When jars are cool to the touch, remove rings and test seals. Store sealed jars in a cool, dark place. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used first.


Sensory Evaluation

To ensure that I made the most out of my jam, I decided to eat it a few ways: straight off a spoon, on toast, in a PB&J sandwich, and in a cookie.


Straight Off a Spoon

  • How does this appeal to the five basic tastes – salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami?
    • The first taste is off sweetness, and it is quite pleasant, if not slightly cloying. Then the sourness of grapefruit comes out, and it is pretty overpoweringly tart. I expected it to be bitter for some reason (must have been the grapefruit) but it was more tart than bitter. The tartness stays in your mouth for awhile
  • 197Use your sense of Taste, Smell, Sight, Hearing and Touch; what do you observe with each?
    • Smell: it smells a bit cloying sweet, but the aroma is pretty faint, there is a bitter edge to the smell, but 198doesn’t really remind me of grapefruit, there is none of the freshness and zippiness that is in the smell
    • Sight: It is a reddish orange, a bit brighter than blood orange, but darker than true orange
      • It has a definite texture, where the pips of the grapefruit are still visible, but more gluttonous. They are not super defined, but woven together. The pips, while still present, have a jelly like quality and stick together
      • When dropped off the spoon, all move together is a gelatinous clump
    • Hearing: They don’t really make a sound, a faint ‘clump’ when dropped off the spoon
      • When tapped, have a slight bouncy sound, like water lapping, or a thick and sticky liquid hitting the side of something
    • Touch: Sticky without actually sticking to my finger, it is brought up to a peak, and then falls off. The peak doesn’t not stay, but the jam retracts back into itself, keeping its shape
    • Mouth Feel: It is very chewy and textured, as the pips are pretty gummy but still present. It just tastes sweet – sticky and gummy and thick.
  • 063Are there relatable or similar flavours that you detect? “Tastes like…..”
    • Tastes like overly sugared grapefruit, but it doesn’t really taste like true grapefruit
    • Overall: Good, but not great. It was super sweet, and then super tart, so there wasn’t really a smooth flow of flavour. It was sticky in your mouth, so I had to chew a bit to get out all the flavour. I was expecting more of a grapefruit flavour to be present.

On Toast

This was pretty yummy! The bread was able to balance out the tartness and cloying sweetness of the jam, making the072 flavours more approachable. This allowed the citrusy flavour to come out, and it made me think of grapefruit more than just eating it straight off a spoon did. While it did make the bread soggy (which could be the fact that I made it about 20 minutes before eating it), eating the jam this way allowed the more subtle flavours to come out.


With Peanut Butter

I expected this to be gross, but it wasn’t. It certainly wasn’t delicious, but it was not as absurd a combination as I was expecting. The one thing that happened was that the peanut butter overpowered the jam, and the main taste was the super tartness that was present when eating the jam straight. Interestingly, the sweetness of the jam didn’t come through, which I was expecting because I was using unsweetened peanut butter. Instead, the tartness of the jam just grows in your mouth, barely detectable on the first bite, but the time you are done chewing, it is much more powerful.


214In a Cookie

Since the jam was so sweet, I thought that it would work well in a cookie, so set around making cut out shortbread ones. Well, I was wrong. While it tastes fine, it is not amazing, as the shortbread doesn’t serve to bring out the complex flavours of the jam, and instead it simply tastes tart. This jam also is not the best for a shortbread cookie, because it is not sweet enough to make this cookie a dessert. While one might think that the sweet and sour qualities of the cookie would balance very well, the flavours fight with each other instead of complementing each other.


  • How is this food unique?
    • This food is unique because I had never heard of grapefruit jam before. Grapefruit is one of those things that you eat when you are dieting, and it isn’t really consumed by the general public, mostly due to the fact that is can be difficult to eat and it very tart. I love grapefruit, so I was excited to try this out.205
  • What did you learn about your palate?
    • I learned that if I had to choose between sweet and crisp, I would go for crisp. One thing I love about grapefruit is the zippiness of it, and the freshness you get in your mouth when you eat one, and I felt that this was missing.
  • 111Did you enjoy this food?
    • It was surprisingly good! I wasn’t sure about how grapefruit would become a jam, and how the different flavours would play off each other, but it turned out to be delicious when paired with the appropriate food.
  • Would you eat it again? Why or why not?
    • I will, if only because I have about half a litre of jam sitting on my counter. However, I vastly prefer fresh grapefruit to the jammed kind, because the latter is missing the crispness that I love about the fruit.
  • Are there certain flavours you find more or less appealing?
    • One of the main things that I disliked about the jam was the cloying sweetness that one first tastes. I have a major sweet tooth, but the jam coated my mouth and the sweetness didn’t feel fresh. The tartness was also a bit shocking, but became more appealing as I got used to the jam, and especially once the jam was spread on toast, because it was tempered a bit, and other citrusy flavours were allowed to shine.
  • 116How has this experience changed the way in which you will taste, analyse and use foods in your cooking?
    • By trying out the jam in different ways, this showed me how flavours can change based on a foods’ combination. It was remarkable how much more nuanced the jam became when I ate it on toast, compared to the simple 2 tastes that I was getting by eating the jam off of a spoon. This showed me how important food pairing is, because it can make a simple dish quite complex. In the future, I will think more about the sides and toppings I am putting on food, to ensure that a balance is achieved, and no one food is overpowering another.



The Jamming Process

In all the reading I did, one thing that was not stressed (and really should have been stressed) was that patience is a virtue when it comes to jamming. The recipe I used said that it would cook up in 20 minutes, so when that time hit, and my jam was still very pippy and not sticking together, I was sure I had done something wrong. I was running through options in my head for other things that I could make for this project. But, after doing some additional reading, I finally realized that sometimes jam takes some time to make, and there is nothing you can do about it.


Successes: I think the main success was that I actually made jam! I have never made anything like this before, so was going in completely blind, and to have it turn out is a big win in my books! Even though the final product is more marmalade than jam, it’s still edible, which I’m very happy about.


Failures: Well, I didn’t exactly make jam, so I guess that is the biggest failure, but (harking back to the successes paragraph), as I had never preserved anything before, it’s still a win in my books.


026What I would do differently: I think next time I would be more careful with my segmenting. The grapefruits I bought had super thick skins, so I really had to dig in to get out the grapefruit sections, but I think next time I’ll take my time with it more and really make sure all the skin and white bits are carved off. I also would be more careful to collect the seeds. I think one of the main reasons why the finished product was more of marmalade than a jam is that I didn’t save any of the seeds because I couldn’t find any cheesecloth in my house. Next time, I would ensure I have some, because I think that would speed up the cooking process as well make this product actually jam. One last thing I would do would be to use smaller jars. At my local grocery store, they only had litre jars, and as I didn’t have access to a car to drive anywhere else to get smaller ones, I was stuck with them. I think next time, I would use smaller ones so that I’m not forced to now eat almost a litre of jam before it spoils.099

095This was my first and last wrinkle test. I was super impatient, and did the first after 20 minutes, and when it didn’t work, I thought that I had ruined my entire batch! But I gave it a little bit more time, and sure enough, the jam passed the test!


Trying Out New Food

095 One food item I have never eaten is dragon fruit, so when challenged to eat something I’ve never had before, I decided to try out this fuchsia fruit. One of my first observations was that it looked like a heart, and has a sweet, faint berry scent. It was also quite squishy, so I went in expecting a105 juicy, sweet fruit. I was pretty surprised when I opened it up and saw that it looked like a giant, white kiwi, as I had been picturing it more as a berry, with the same colour all the way through. In terms of taste, dragon fruit tastes like a mixture between a berry and a grape, however without any of the tartness of either. It is also reminiscent of a ki110wi, due to its texture, however, it is also lacking the sharpness of kiwi. Dragon fruit is definitely not as sweet as it looks though, and it has a very mild taste, however, in the middle of the fruit, it was not as soft a112nd was much sweeter.

In terms of my tastes, I prefer fruits that have an edge, like apples or blueberries, something with a bit of tartness to offset sweetness. Dragon fruit does not fit these requirements, as it had a much more subtle flavour, like a bland grape. If I had it again, I would use it to accent a s091tronger tasting fruit, like kiwi. In fact, in the article I read about how to eat dragon fruit, it suggested putting kiwi and dragon fruit on skewers and grilling them. One major positive about dragon fruit is that it is quite visually attractive, and would be a nice addition to a fruit salad or fruit tray, because of the beauty of the fruit.