You are in the meat store. You saw two cuts of meat. One is labeled as mutton while the other is lamb. Now, you are confused. Your mom simply told you to buy sheep meat and now, you are given several options.
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So, you took out your phone and Googled, “difference between mutton and lamb.” That’s how you landed on this page.
Thankfully, you are on the right path. In this post, let us go through what made mutton and lamb meat different. By doing so, you’ll also be able to make a better choice when it comes to choosing what meat is best for you.
Mutton vs Lamb meat
Mutton and lamb meat are technically from the same species, the sheep. The terms used primarily differ in terms of their age.
When you say mutton, it refers to a sheep that is more than one year old.
On the other hand, a lamb is a sheep that is less than one year old.
Other related terms
Since we’re on this topic, there are other terms you might also want to know.
There’s the type of meat called spring lamb, which is a sheep that is less than three months old.
The hogget is a term used to refer to sheep that are in their second year of life.
You might as well hear the term prime lamb. This is the type of lambs that is primarily raised for meat.
Terminology based on location
The terms hogget and sheep meat are commonly used in countries like Australia, New Zealand, Norway, and South Africa.
While mutton is a term commonly used to refer to a sheep that is older than one year old, this is not the case in Caribbean and South Asian cuisine. Mutton is instead used to refer to goat meat. Sometimes, goat mutton is used to avoid confusion.
In some regions in the world, the term lamb is not strictly used for sheep younger than one-year-old. For marketing purposes, companies sometimes stretch the accepted distinction of various terminologies and use “lamb” as a general term to refer to sheep meat.
Generally speaking, the younger a sheep is, the more fat they contain. So, between mutton and lamb red meat, you’ll find lamb chops to be having more fat content. Since lambs are fatter, they also become juicier when cooked.
Since muttons are less fatty, their meat is leaner. If you’re trying to lower your fat consumption, then the mutton is a better and healthier choice.
When it comes to tenderness, you will love young sheep or lambs even more. The reason is that the older the sheep gets, the more it develops muscles. Muttons start to shed off fat and become more muscular.
Lambs offer tenderer meat than muttons. If you still like muttons, there are meat tenderizers that you can use. Here are some of them:
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Generally speaking, mutton is more affordable than lamb. Since lamb is less common, the demand is higher for lamb. This causes the price of lamb to increase.
Like what was mentioned above, mutton is more common than lamb. Since mutton is also more inexpensive, more people can afford it. As a result, farmers prefer to slaughter their sheep when they get older than one year old.
Lamb and mutton around the world
Mutton is much more popular in European and Middle Eastern cuisine. In the US, lamb is more popular than mutton. Mutton is also more popular in developing countries.
Additionally, hogget and mutton are getting more and more popular in England particularly in Yorkshire, Lancashire, and other northern regions of the country.
Mutton has a stronger flavor and smell compared to lamb. If you’re not used to eating mutton, you might need to slowly eat it.
The mutton comes with a gamey flavor stronger than that of the lamb. For this reason, you may enjoy mutton more than lamb if you already enjoy eating wild boar, rabbit, deer, and other game meats.
You can use other strong flavors if you want to cancel or minimize the strong flavor of mutton.
Differences in flavor based on source
When it comes to taste, you will also notice that there’s a difference based on where your meat comes from.
For example, lamb and goat meats sourced from the US contain more fat because they are commonly fed with grain. This makes US meat have a delicate flavor.
Lamb and goat meats coming from New Zealand and Australia come with a stronger flavor. They have lower fat content. The reason is that they are grass-fed.
Usually, people cook lamb by grilling, roasting, and braising. On the other hand, mutton is cooked best with stewing and other slow-cooking methods. Muttons should be cooked slowly because they are tougher cuts.
Which one is better, mutton or lamb?
Since everyone has their preference, there’s no exact answer if you’re asking which one is better among the two.
You can choose lamb meat if you wish to eat more tender and juicier meat.
You can choose mutton meat if you wish to eat leaner meat with a stronger aroma and gamey taste.
there are also different cuts you can choose from. There’s the lamb loin, lamb shoulder chops, rib chops, and a lot more. Each of these tender cuts gives you a different eating experience.
In the end, each type of meat comes with its advantages and disadvantages. You simply need to check both sides of the coin and see which one would best fit your needs, preference, and budget.