Our beef, lamb, and pork are sourced through a multigenerational, family-owned farm and slaughterhouse in Pine Plains, N.Y.–right across the river from us on the Kingston-Rhinebeck bridge. Our certified organic chicken is from family farms in the mid-Atlantic.
+Explain whole animal butchery.
Whole animal butchery is the practice of cutting from whole carcasses, rather than buying boxed meat or bulk standard cuts. We like this approach of purchasing whole animals because, among other reasons, it gives our farmers job security.
We’ve designed our product menu so nothing goes to waste. This means fat goes in sausages and hot dogs, while offal gets blended into our raw dog food.
+Where is the meat cut?
Right behind the storefront in our Stone Ridge location. Our small crew of butchers practice whole animal butchery.
+Is it grass-fed?
We plan to offer 100% grass-fed meat in the future, but at the moment we do not. This is for a couple of reasons.
First, we believe that livestock animals should be raised in a way that’s appropriate to their locale. It’s difficult to raise animals on 100% grass year-round in New York State, where we’re based. This is why the independent farmers we partner with usually feed their animals grass as well as alfalfa and some corn. This mixture (a.k.a. “silage”) helps keep their animals consistently well-fed during long, cold, snowy winters.
Second, we don’t sell meat that comes to us frozen. Farmers who raise 100% grass-fed animals in the Northeast, where our meat currently comes from, generally can’t keep them fed throughout the winter. So they slaughter animals and freeze meat in the late fall, then sell it frozen for much of the year. This practice is not objectionable, but, again, we don’t sell previously frozen meat.
We currently source our beef from a family farm in New York State. The animals are fed silage throughout the year, which guarantees that the meat is consistent year-round and comes to us fresh, not frozen. While the silage is mostly grass, it’s not 100% grass. You can be confident that our beef is hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and raised by farmers who give their animals room to roam and a 100% vegetarian diet free of GMOs.
+Is it organic?
Our beef, lamb, and pork are not certified organic. They are, however, local, as well as humanely and sustainably-raised and produced. The farmers we work with adhere to our very strict requirements and none of our animals are given, fed, or administered hormones or antibiotics. Our chicken is USDA certified organic; this is the best choice for us to provide our customers with a consistent and ethical option at an affordable price. Check out our book, The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat, for more information on why we don’t require all our farmers to obtain organic certification.
+What about your other ingredients?
We source everything we use in our products with the same careful attention we pay to our meat. All of our spices are organic and, with a very few exceptions, all of our other ingredients are as well. See our ingredients labels for specifics.
+Is your meat fresh or frozen?
When you buy meat in the vending machines, it’s always fresh. If you place a custom order, you can expect fresh cuts unless otherwise indicated by our staff. Some people prefer frozen meat; it’s great to travel with or to stock up on. Our meat always comes to us fresh, never previously frozen. So we set aside some as we’re cutting it to freeze in order to have frozen available for sale, too.
+How do I cook this stuff?
Each product listing on our website includes a brief description of the cut and some best practices for cooking. We like Epicurious and the New York Times as online resources. If you’re in shop, take a look at our community copy of The Butcher’s Guide. There are some good references in there, and you won’t just find recipes. There are also oven temperature guides, tips on when to grill and when to roast, and how to shop well-raised meat on a budget. If you have other questions, call or email for pointers directly from the butcher’s mouth.
+How do you come up with your prices?
To keep our prices affordable, we’ve invested in vending and processing technologies. Our prices are generally lower than what you’ll find at high-end markets or butcher shops, but our product is the best you can get. It’s raised ethically (without hormones or antibiotics) and it has incredible flavor. Truly there’s nothing like it. Compare our ground beef to other locally sourced ground beef and you’ll see what we mean.
+What kind of packaging do you use?
Our meat is currently packaged in vacuum-sealed plastic bags. This anaerobic (lacking oxygen) environment maintains freshness longer than paper wrap or plastic-wrapped trays. You can keep an unopened package of our meat in your fridge for a month. All packages have a “use or freeze by” date on them. Once you freeze a package, it’s good in the freezer up to a year from that date.
+How long do products stay in the machine for?
We stock the machines fresh daily, just like a butcher case. Raw meat like steaks and chops, and even ground, remain in the machine for a week max. Processed goods like hot dogs might stay in there for two weeks, but it’s not likely because they’re too delicious to stick around that long. Everything we sell could actually safely stay in the machines–or your fridge–for a month. We prefer shorter shelf life for sake of quality.
+The use or freeze by date on my meat is a month from now. I’m nervous about keeping meat for a month. How do I know if it’s still good?
When you open a vacuum-sealed package, your meat might have a slightly funny smell at first. This is because meat naturally gives off gases, and those gases have been trapped in that tight little space. This does not mean it has gone bad. If you’ve left something out or it’s close to its due date and you’re concerned about how it smells when you open it, one way to tell if your meat is good is to leave it on a plate on your countertop at room temperature for 20 minutes. When you return, give it a whiff. If it’s odorless, your gases have dissipated and the meat is fresh. If it’s still funky, the meat should not be eaten.
+Why vending machines?
Initially the machines were a way to accommodate demand without putting too much pressure on our small staff. Now, they’ve become the heart of what we do. Our entire mission is to increase the accessibility of good, quality food. What better way to do that than to offer well-raised meat 24/7?
+Can I place a custom order?
Of course! And there are lots of ways to do it. You can use our website, send an email, or call our counter staff from 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM seven days a week.
– Order online: www.applestonemeat.com
– Order by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Order by phone: (845) 626-4444
+What are some pointers for ordering online?
The most important thing is to note that you’re ordering by weight, not by item, unless otherwise specified. Ordering by weight online is tricky, because we never know exactly what a piece of meat will weigh until we cut it. So, we ask you to pick a weight range and then we give you an estimate of your cost based on the high end of your weight range. We’ll never charge you more than your estimate. Once you place an online order, one of our staff members will be in touch to discuss details and arrange a pick-up.
+I’m confused by the weight range selections. Help!
Ordering meat online is like ordering at the deli or butcher counter–you might ask for a specific amount, but every cut is different. What you get might actually be a little bigger or smaller than what you were hoping for. This is especially true with whole animal butchery. We don’t order pre-cut, boxed meat–we cut everything by hand to order. That’s why there’s a weight range.
+How do I know how much to order?
We usually recommend about a half pound of meat per person. If we were standing beside you right now, we’d ask, “How many vegetarians at your table?” “Any big eaters?” “How many of your group are children who will only pick and nibble?” You can factor those things in, too, but the ½ lb. rule is a good place to start.
+What do I do if I need more than the available weight range?
We try to give you an accurate estimate of the most that each cut might weigh. For example, if a strip steak only has the option of 1-1.5 lbs, it means that one strip steak usually lands somewhere along that weight range–never less or more than that. If you want more than one of something, use the add/subtract button to choose multiples of a weight range.
+When is my payment processed?
Your payment is processed once we’ve cut and packed your order. When you place your order initially, the website calculates the highest possible amount it could cost and places a hold on your card for that much. Once your order is packed, we enter the actual cost and push the payment through. The actual cost is always lower than the estimate. We will never charge you more.
+How do I know when my order is ready?
You’ll know your order is ready when you receive a call or email from one of our staff members. Some kind member of our customer service team will be in touch to arrange all pick-up details.