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Grass-fed Beef From The Ranch

Karin Carswell Guest, a sixth-generation rancher, comes from a family steeped in island history. Princeville Ranch began raising cattle in 1831 when the animals were brought to Kauai. In 1895, Guest’s great-great-great-uncle bought Princeville Ranch. Her mother, Gale Carswell, is from the Wilcox family, who came here as missionaries. In 1978, Gale and husband Donn began offering horseback rides on the 2,500-acre property. Starting as Pooku Stables and later becoming Princeville Ranch Adventures, the family offers horseback riding adventures and continues to raise cattle.

The Carswell family began selling grass-fed beef in 1995 at their convenience store inside the Chevron gas station in Princeville. In 2009, they partnered with Jurassic Kahili Ranch and formed North Shore Kauai Beef, which is raised with sustainable ranching practices, slaughtered at Andrade Slaughter House in Kalaheo, and cut into edible portions and vacuum sealed in food safety certified Cryovac bags at Medeiros Farm, also in Kalaheo.

North Shore Kauai Beef is raised strictly on grass, is hormone- and antibiotic-free, and aged for 15 to 21 days. Deliveries are made weekly, and begin Thursdays at the Chevron Station in Princeville, also known as North Shore General Store.

What’s growing: Princeville Ranch and Jurassic Kahili Ranch raise Brangus cows, which are a cross between Brahman and Angus. “Over time, ranchers on Kauai began importing Brahman, which do better in hot and humid climates, with Angus, which are prized for tender meat, good marbling and excellent flavor,” explains Karin.


A cow’s natural diet is grass, but modern agriculture produces genetically modified corn, which is more affordable than grazing land and is used for feed. Despite fatal illnesses in cows, the corn “fattens” them quickly. Grain-fed beef can be fatty and tender, but grass-fed beef has more flavor.

“People tell me that once they switch from grain-fed beef to grass-fed, they don’t go back because it tastes better,” says Karin.

Season: Calves are born in February-March and again in September-October. North Shore Kauai Beef is slaughtered at 24-30 months and available year round.

What to look for: Cuts are delivered fresh to local retailers, who may or may not freeze it. You may find that the color is darker than grain-fed beef, with cream-colored marbling, which is from chlorophyll in the grass.

Storage: If stored in its original packaging, fresh beef will keep for up to six weeks, which is a process called “wet aging.” “Dry aging” happens at the slaughterhouse. Aging is a process in which the meat breaks down and becomes more tender and flavorful. Frozen cuts will keep from six to eight months.

Preparation: North Shore Kauai Beef offers filet, which is extremely tender and flavorful.

“It will melt in your mouth,” says Karin. “It’s my favorite!”

Other cuts include New York, which comes from the most tender section of the cow, the short loin, and packages contain two steaks. Rib eye is rich and hearty in flavor because of fat marbling, and some say it’s the most flavorful cut. Sirloin is a lean cut that is usually served as steak but also makes good stew meat. Barbecue cuts are thin slices that locals like to marinate in teriyaki sauce and lightly grill. Flank steak, a specialty cut used in Southern barbecue, also works well when quickly seared over high heat and used in fajitas or wraps. Tri-tip is excellent when rubbed with salt, pepper, fresh garlic and other seasonings and cooked over a wood fire.

Grass-fed beef never should be cooked past medium or it will become tough and chewy. Four minutes per side and a seven-minute rest produces an exceptional steak. For stews, cook it low and slow. The meat may take up to six hours to break down and become succulent.

Health benefits: Grass-fed beef is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for human growth and development, higher in Vitamin A and E than grain-fed beef, three to five times higher in conjugated linoleic acid (may prevent cancer) than grain-fed beef, lower in saturated fat compared to grain-fed beef and safer to eat because the animals are not given antibiotics or growth hormones.

North Shore Kauai Beef can be found at: Grocery: Harvest Market, North Shore General Store, Healthy Hut, Hoku Whole Foods. Restaurants: Bar Acuda, Kauai Ono food truck. Visit PrincevilleRanch.com or email info@PrincevilleRanch.com. You also can buy beef from the Ranch Store at Princeville Ranch Adventures.