New Zealand is known for its stunning natural beauty (if you’ve seen The Lord of the Rings you know what I mean). What you might not know is that meat from New Zealand is regarded as some of the best in the world.
Silver Fern Farms is New Zealand’s largest grass-fed lamb, beef, and venison producer. They have launched a website that gives consumers a place to shop for sustainable, grass-fed meat that ships to 60 countries worldwide.
In this review I’ll share my experience after tasting some of the meat from Silver Fern Farms.
Silver Fern Farms sent me a selection of meat for free in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The Silver Fern Farms story
Starting in 1948 as the Primary Producers Cooperative Society based initially in the South Island of New Zealand as a meat marketing cooperative, the company went through a number of rebrands and restructures to become what it is today.
Silver Fern Farms is still a farm cooperative, but they share an uncompromising set of core values for the quality of their red meat that exudes integrity at its core.
They boast 100% grass-fed lamb and beef, with no added hormones, no antibiotics – ever, and no feedlots. They also offer pasture-raised venison, better animal welfare than commodity meat and better nutrition than grain-fed meat.
Silver Fern Farms overview
The Silver Fern Farms website is a bevy of knowledge and insight into their production practices. It’s very user-friendly and doesn’t shove the consumer right into the buying process.
It’s first and foremost an educational experience on the quality of meat they produce and how they produce it. The website navigation delves into the values of the company, as well as it’s 100% traceability and sustainability goals and practices
You can even browse through the specific farms that are part of the cooperative. The whole experience is very human in comparison to other online butchers who go straight to the buying experience with little background on the sources of the meat.
When you do click to shop online, Silver Fern walks you through their range of beef, lamb and venison offerings. They have single cuts as well as bundles if you prefer to buy in bulk.
The site also offers a robust recipe library with tips on how to cook specific cuts available. What do I do with these lamb medallions, you ask? How about Chimichurri Lamb Medallions with Couscous and Chickpeas.
I imagine keeping the options limited offers for better quality control that’s easier to manage through high-volume production.
What we like:
- An informative, transparent website with a library of knowledge and background.
- Forethought on traceability and sustainability for the future of meat production.
- Candid information on each buying option for beef, lamb and venison.
What we don’t like:
- The price is a bit higher than what you’re probably used to from a grocery standpoint, but it is on par with local butchers and high-end markets like Whole Foods. They have to factor in the supply-chain costs of getting the meat to you, but this happens up front, rather than the back-end like regular retail.
- Limited offerings – You won’t find a large variety of meat cuts for sale, but the meat offered is high-quality.
Ordering and shipping
Silver Fern Farms sent us 16lbs of meat total, consisting of:
- 85% Lean Ground Beef
- Ground Lamb
- Ground Venison
- Lamb Medallions
- Lamb Steaks
- New York Strip Steaks
- Rib Eye Steaks
- Venison Medallions
The delivery date got pushed out due to a regional FedEx service interruption, and this had me nervous that the meat would thaw and spoil. It arrived two days after the original delivery date, and the meat was still frozen inside the packaging.
This is due to the box being well insulated and packed with enough dry ice to “facilitate three full days of frozen temperatures” per their FAQ.
The meat packaging is exceptional, and the best packaging I’ve personally experienced from online meat ordering. There is an easy-tear outer package with product and company info, as well as tips on how to prepare the meat. The actual meat is vacuum-sealed in an inner package that keeps the meat from oxidizing.
Other meat-by-mail packages are single-sealed and some have had the vacuum seal broken. Silver Fern has this figured out for utmost quality.
Finally, the package comes with a promotional pamphlet that is both informative and instructional. It’s not some throw-away advertisement to order again, rather it goes more into the quality of the product and operation as well as offers recipes for the types of meat in the package. Win-win.
How good was the meat from Silver Fern Farms?
Doing some research on Silver Fern Farms – and being 100% grass-fed and 100% New Zealand raised – I had high expectations for the taste and quality of the meat.
I kept the steak preparations simple to let the meat flavor come through, but tried a few different recipes for the ground meat.
Right away you could see the beef cuts were high quality. The color and marbling reflected an upper choice/lower prime USDA grade.
The lamb and venison medallions were deep in red color with an earthy smell, exuding that grass-fed quality. I let them come to room temperature, and threw them on the hot coals to medium-rare doneness.
The steaks were extremely tender and juicy. The beef had a deep, meaty flavor that comes with any grass-fed cow, and these were well balanced with the mineral-taste and the juicy internal fat flavorings. You didn’t even have to chew the ribeye; it was so tender.
The lamb and venison medallions had an extremely robust flavor almost gamey in nature, and that’s not a bad thing. The simple salt and pepper seasoning allowed the meaty flavor to shine through. A+ quality and taste.
The lamb medallions were by far the most tender and flavorful of the group. Lamb doesn’t get much love in the US as in other parts of the world, but this certainly opened my eyes to the possibilities.
The flavors of the ground meat reflect those of the steaks I mentioned above. The beef was hearty and robust. It reminded me of a butcher’s blend for ground beef, like ground short rib or chuck. Though the packaging said 85% lean, it tasted like an 80/20 or 75/25 fat ratio – juicy and flavorful.
The ground lamb had a subtler flavor and was on the lighter side of that grass-fed, irony taste. I paired it with Mediterranean-inspired flavors with feta and tzatziki sauce, and the lamb still managed to shine through.
The ground venison had the deepest flavor and was the most gamey. The venison meatballs seared nicely and remained moist on the inside. Venison is naturally lean, so there wasn’t much fat rendering out, but internally they were juicy and packed full of meaty flavor.
I loved everything about Silver Fern Farms meats. From their candid transparency of operations to their well thought-out packaging, and last but not least – the obvious quality and flavor of the meat.
Though they don’t have a large selection of meat cuts, what they do offer is high-quality, humanely and ethically raised, traceable and sustainable, and tastes great.
Silver Fern Farms specializes in quality, grass-fed red meats and their end product reflects that. You can find other quality BBQ cuts elsewhere, but when you’re looking for great grass-fed steaks, consider Silver Fern Farms for your next purchase.