Department of Animal Science


Date of this Version



Published in 2009 Nebraska Beef Cattle Report (Lincoln, NE: December, 2008). Copyright © 2008 The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska.


This study was conducted to measure the shear force of beef heel (m. gastrocnemius) and to characterize the uncooked m. gastrocnemius for pH, water holding capacity, composition, and color. Ten heels were cut into steaks (for grilling) from the proximal to the distal end. Twenty additional heels were separated into lateral and medial portions; half were oven roasted and half were grilled as roasts. The proximal end steak was always less tender than the distal end steak. There were no differences in shear force between lateral and medial sides for any cooking treatment. The lateral side of heel has many connective tissue seams which were carefully avoided during shear force measurement. Heel roasts contained approximately 6% fat, had a pH of 5.59 and a mean shear force around 8.14 lb. Given the connective tissue distribution and tenderness properties, the medial side of the m. gastrocnemius appears to be of steak quality.