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Locally-raised alpaca meat found to be mild

 

Alpaca meat is packaged in various sizes. These packages contained hamburger, teriyaki sticks and summer sausage and were used in a tasting last week. The meat is available from a local alpaca rancher.

Maybe sometime soon you will find alpaca meat in the delicacy section of your local meat market.

Alpaca meat?

That's right, alpaca meat!

Local alpaca ranchers Merv and MaryJo Monteith are teaming with a consortium of alpaca raisers and going into the alpaca meat business.

The couple provided packages of frozen alpaca hamburger, teriyaki sticks and summer sausage for sampling.

Last week, I had a sampling with neighbors David Stiegelmeyer and Howard Anderson.

I put the samples in a large frying pan, making the hamburger into small patties. We took each sample in turn, starting with the hamburger, then the teriyaki sticks and, last but not least, the summer sausage.

And what a surprise!

All three of us looked at the following: the cooking smell, the taste, and consistency of the products.

To our combined surprise, there was not a strong cooking odor, not like wild game meat, and the taste of the hamburger was milder than beef hamburger.

Anderson was particularly enthusiastic with the teriyaki sticks and summer sausage since he makes some of his own.

"No wild taste," he stated. Stiegelmeyer agreed, as I did, "no wild taste."

The alpaca meat products are not yet approved by the USDA, but it may only be a matter of time.

A fully grown alpaca can weigh in at 150-200 pounds, with some 70-75 pounds of meat.

Add to the meat harvest fiber from its long hair, and even the hide. There's not a lot of waste to a harvestable animal.

Developing an alpaca meat industry has a lot to do with keeping confirmation high, always trying to breed for the finer points of an animal. The Monteiths had one animal with teeth problems at their Spring Canyon Alpacas business, for instance. So rather than breed the animal and take the risk of the offspring having the problem, they decided to harvest it for meat and other uses.

The alpaca raisers send their animals for processing to Smokey Ridge Meats in Chewelah,Wash., which combines the meat and labels it for sale.

The Monteiths are advertising the product now, including in a special holiday supplement included in The Star this week.

Look for it at about $10 a pound in the marketplace.

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