Bexhill and District CSMA

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CLUB night this month was on November 16 when we were fortunate to be educated about the meat trade by Gerald Matthews.

Mr Matthews has been a butcher for 40 years and his father was also a butcher. We were taken through every aspect of the trade from the choice of carcass to methods of cooking.

He regards butchery as an art or a craft and says that sadly, today, there are not enough young people coming into the trade. The job entails an early start and a late finish. However, there are far fewer jobs these days as the increase in the number of supermarkets has reduced the number of independent butchers from around 35,000 to only 8,000 today. The meat trade today is worth around £20 million with 10 million head of cattle, 36 million sheep, 8 million pigs, 855 million chickens, and 16 million turkeys.

Today’s modern abattoirs are designed so that cattle are not under stress when slaughtered. Stressed meat can be very dark and the taste is poor. Freshly killed meat tastes “like a nail” and is tough. It needs to be hung for enzymes to work. Mr Matthews hangs his meat for around 21 days.

Following the BSE scare, DEFRA has established a very strict regime of regulations controlling every aspect of meat production. Last year there were probably only nine cases of CJD and fortunately the most dire predictions have not been realised.

The Matthews butchery is, of course, famous for its range of sausage. In national competitions it has been runner-up several times since 2004. In 2009 it won “Britain’s Best Banger” competition and was second this year. Pork sausage is the best seller.

Our lunch club meeting on November 2 was at the Black Horse at Telham where there was a very good turn-out.

Our Christmas dinner is at The Cooden Beach Hotel on December 21.

The programme for our club nights and lunch club venues for 2011 has now been printed.

Those members who have not yet received a copy should telephone our Secretary, Tony Calton on 01424 434496.