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Red spots in meat--improperly bled?


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19 replies to this topic

#1 Anna Friedman Herlihy

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Posted 29 June 2007 - 06:40 PM

Hello,
Any butchers out there tonight?

I finally got my organically-raised Berkshire pig today, and I've started cutting it up (so far just into primals for the most part). I started cutting part of the loin into chops, and I noticed they are spotted with red flecks. This doesn't seem normal to me, so I searched the internet, but couldn't find anything. It looks different than when you get a section of carcass that's been improperly bled and is bloodshot (I've had plenty of experience with that)--this is more like small spots rather than large sections of coagulated blood. The outside of part of the belly had spots too.

Anyone know if this is a problem? I'd hate to butcher the entire thing (290 lbs. live weight) to find out it's not going to taste right (or worse, have some sort of health issue).
If a photo would help, let me know and I can take one (although trying to get as much of this butchering done tonight as possible, so hoping someone knows what I'm talking about via the text description).

Thanks for you help from an amateur butcher! (Done several deer, a lamb, half a cow, several cooked pigs, but this is my first raw pig.)

Kind regards,
Anna

#2 annecros

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Posted 30 June 2007 - 05:08 AM

I'm not a butcher, but I do try to be helpful! :biggrin:

The USDA has a fact sheet of color variations in meat:

Click here for USDA fact sheet

If you have seen and recognize bloodshot meat (you never forget it, do you?) I think you have enough experience to rule that out, so I would trust your judgement on that.

According to the USDA, meat coloration can be very variable, even in the same animal. I remember the sort of color variation you are describing in the pigs my grandfather butchered. Of course it has been a very long time, and I am not sure I could even look at a photograph and be able to pass judgement. Can you get in touch with your purveyour, who might be able to reassure you?

I am sure there are other member's who have had much more and recent experience here than I have and will chime in.

Good luck.

#3 Anna Friedman Herlihy

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Posted 30 June 2007 - 08:42 AM

Thanks for the reply post.

I think I've determined the spots are some sort of small-scale bloodshot phenomenon, rather than the larger areas that I've seen in the past. I'm adding pics, in case anyone who has more experience can weigh in (two of the spots--one on a loin chop, the other on a trimming of butt/shoulder, and then a third of an obviously bloodshot section of butt).

So far, I've encountered this in the sirloin part of the loin (the rest of the loin seemed okay, but I left it as roasts, not chops), the butt part of the shoulder (haven't cut up the picnic part yet), and a bit on the surface of the "skirt steak" part of the belly (the flap that hangs off of the spareribs).

I can call both the farmers and the slaughterhouse, but I'd like to have a confirmation first about these spots being unacceptable and the cause of the problem the carcass being insufficiently bled (if in fact that is the problem), before contacting them.

So my real question is: are these little pockets of blood okay to leave in? Will they affect the taste like a larger area of bloodshot meat would? Is it okay, for example to grind the spots into sausage that will then be dry cured? Or if the hams have the same problem, will this be an issue (and I won't know until after they're cured, smoked, and dried)?

I'm guessing if I brine the chops the blood will dissipate (like when you soak marrow bones). But I don't want to have to brine everything, nor would that be appropriate for all the cuts.

I guess I don't have the ability to post images (not seeing any "attach file" option), unless I'm missing something. If anyone knows how I can do this, that would be great. I did take some pics today.

Thanks for any info!
Like I said, butchering's a new hobby, and usually a google search answers my questions, but not this one.

#4 jayt90

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Posted 30 June 2007 - 05:08 PM

There is a whole routine to posting photos, and I'm not the best person to explain it. There is a tutorial to help you; basically you start your post, then go to Image Gullet at the top of the page, establlsh a pig album, bulk upload the images (always use "bulk"), then one at a time, view an image by left click, then "copy image location" by right click; then go "back" to your half done post and add the image by clicking on IMG and pasting the url.
It's complicated but it works.

#5 Anna Friedman Herlihy

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Posted 30 June 2007 - 07:36 PM

Thanks for the photo instructions, trying them now. Hope it works.

So it's definitely trapped blood (I fried up a sample to taste it, and the larger spotted parts have a definite liverish taste). The areas with tiny spots taste okay, and, of course, the non-spotted parts taste fine (very good, in fact).

So I guess I'm going to be tossing some parts (such a waste!), or (assuming the meat is safe to eat) seeing if I can incorporate the livery taste into sausage (but I'm the only one in the house that likes livery-tasting things). Some parts did not get spotted, as far as I can tell, e.g. with one of the hams, it's just one of the muscles--the others seem clear, the belly seems fine, the fat was beautiful, some of the loin cuts are clear, etc.

But what I really want to know now is, did the slaughterhouse really screw up with bleeding the carcass (there were some "normal" areas of bloodshot meat near the major arteries). Did they miss cutting a major artery or vein? Or is this due to something else (let's hope the blood speckles are not due to some disease, since I ate a sample)? I'm, of course, going to call the farmers tomorrow, but would really like to be informed as to the cause of my spotted pork.

And, of course, some input on my earlier questions re: Safe to use in sausage, for dry curing, etc.? Small amounts okay? Or do I have to cut out every last bit of blood? Will brining get the blood out?

OK, photos (let's hope this works):
http://forums.egulle...4817_247653.jpg
http://forums.egulle...4817_394074.jpg
http://forums.egulle...4817_704663.jpg
http://forums.egulle..._4817_93344.jpg
http://forums.egulle...4817_284092.jpg

#6 dockhl

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Posted 30 June 2007 - 08:08 PM

I don't know any answers to your butchering questions but those photos bother me a lot ! :wacko:

I'd have a hard time eating that meat unless someone gave me an explanation that I truly believed......

#7 CalumC

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 03:24 AM

I'd have to say i agree with dockhl, looks a bit funky to me. Hopefully someone will reply with a reassuring answer, itd be a waste of what looks like fantastic meat otherwise.

#8 annecros

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 03:36 AM

Eh, that looks bloodshot to me. I would offer those pics to the farmers. As much as you are paying for Berkshire, you shouldn't have this sort of problem, and they need to make it right.

I will PM you some information this morning on embedding pics using ImageGullet.

#9 prasantrin

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 03:48 AM

Eh, that looks bloodshot to me. I would offer those pics to the farmers. As much as you are paying for Berkshire, you shouldn't have this sort of problem, and they need to make it right.

I will PM you some information this morning on embedding pics using ImageGullet.

View Post


Noooooooooo! Please don't teach anyone how to embed those pictures! They gave me the shivers, and I was terribly glad they weren't embedded!

Definitely go to the farmers with your pictures (and some of the meat). Don't discard any of it just yet, because they may ask to see it in person.

#10 qrn

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 02:17 PM

I don't know any answers to your butchering questions but those photos bother me a lot !  :wacko:

I'd have a hard time eating that meat unless someone gave me an explanation that I truly believed......

View Post


Nah, if its cooked, its good......
Bud

#11 Anna Friedman Herlihy

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 02:39 PM

Update--I emailed the farmers the pictures (I know they're going to be really disappointed, so I figured that was the easy way to break the news--these folks really care a lot about their product, and the beef, lamb, and chickens I've gotten from them have been excellent). So I'll be sure to post what the verdict is.

I did some intense internet research, and I think what happened to this pig is something called blood splashing. This is usually caused by the animal not being bled soon enough after being stunned, but can also result from the use of electric prodders or other stress on the animal pre-slaugher. If it is this blood splashing, the non-spotted parts are fine, and the spotted parts are fine for animal feed (so the dogs will be eating well for a while). So let's hope that's what it was, and I can still use the meat in some way without having to just throw it away.

#12 annecros

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 03:55 PM

Yeah, if they are raising Berkshire and take pride, they are going to take the situation hard. No need to be pushy.

I think they will make it right.

Lucky dog! Mine thinks it's really cool to get a bit of jerky!

#13 jayt90

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Posted 01 July 2007 - 05:46 PM

Yeah, if they are raising Berkshire and take pride, they are going to take the situation hard. No need to be pushy.

I think they will make it right.

Lucky dog! Mine thinks it's really cool to get a bit of jerky!

View Post

What a reasonable response :smile:

Anna, you could look into the inspection done at the abatoire. In most districts it will be done by a veterinarian on site and bad animals or problems will be rejected. How was yours slaughtered?

Edited by jayt90, 02 July 2007 - 09:34 AM.


#14 Anna Friedman Herlihy

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 06:54 PM

Hello again,
So it was indeed "blood splashing". I guess it happens in a certain percentage of hogs/pigs, and because I got mine minimally processed (just gutted, cleaned, and cut down the backbone) so I could butcher it myself, there was no way to tell. But all the non-spotted parts are fine. The rest can go to the dogs (got some cooking up for them right now). And so I guess I'll be making a lot of sausage from the spotted areas (although with the loin, I can cut the non-spotted parts into chunks for kabobs on the grill, or probably grind for lean pork meatballs or something). It will make me be more creative with what I do with the meat, so I guess that's the silver lining to the cloud.

The farmers had kept a hog and a half for themselves out of this batch (although they had it completely butchered by the processor and frozen), and they're going to give me an extra half a hog (one of the 400 pounders--mine was 290 pounds) as compensation for the parts I can't use (which seems to be maybe a quarter to a third of my pig).

So it all works out. I won't have my giant ham to cure as I wanted (they had the hams cut up into smaller hams), but I'll certainly be getting lots more practice making sausage (I just recently bought a new wine fridge that I'm turning into a curing box for dry-curing meat). Or maybe I'll just try curing the ham anyway, and see when I slice into it, what parts are affected. I doubt the blood taste would carry through the whole piece.

And if anyone else has this problem in the future, hopefully they'll search on egullet and this will help them!

#15 Qwerty

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Posted 02 July 2007 - 10:55 PM

Glad to hear everything worked out. I'm sure you are disappointed, but it sounds like the farmers did a good job of making it right.

And homemade sausage is, of course, worth all the effort.

#16 annecros

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 04:42 AM

Hey Anna,

Some of the folks on the "Charcuterie" topic can advise you on what would happen with the ham, I'm sure:

http://forums.egulle...c=79195&st=2490

The topic is 84 pages long :rolleyes: but that link should take you to the last page.

Good to hear that the farmer's you were dealing with are making efforts to do the right thing by you.

Be sure and tells us about how everything turns out with the sausage!

#17 cdh

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 05:41 AM

Since the topic is right before us, I was wondering if anybody actually knows what the bloody spots in the flesh do the its flavor? They look bad, and are acknowledged as a fault, but how do they affect the way the meat tastes? Do they add iron flavor? Do they promote mealy texture? Do they accelerate spoilage? What exactly makes blood spots so undesirable and renders meat containing them suitable only for pet food?
Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

----- De Gustibus Non Disputandum Est

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

#18 annecros

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 06:15 AM

Since the topic is right before us, I was wondering if anybody actually knows what the bloody spots in the flesh do the its flavor?  They look bad, and are acknowledged as a fault, but how do they affect the way the meat tastes?  Do they add iron flavor?  Do they promote mealy texture? Do they accelerate spoilage?  What exactly makes blood spots so undesirable and renders meat containing them suitable only for pet food?

View Post


That's a great question, and I am looking forward to hearing from someone who really knows what they are talking about.

I've heard everything from brining (draws the blood out) to "that's not fit to eat" to "just cook it up"

It would be interesting to find out what the effects of curing will have on the ham.

#19 Anna Friedman Herlihy

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 09:19 AM

Since the topic is right before us, I was wondering if anybody actually knows what the bloody spots in the flesh do the its flavor?  They look bad, and are acknowledged as a fault, but how do they affect the way the meat tastes?  Do they add iron flavor?  Do they promote mealy texture? Do they accelerate spoilage?  What exactly makes blood spots so undesirable and renders meat containing them suitable only for pet food?

View Post


That's a great question, and I am looking forward to hearing from someone who really knows what they are talking about.

I've heard everything from brining (draws the blood out) to "that's not fit to eat" to "just cook it up"

It would be interesting to find out what the effects of curing will have on the ham.

View Post


Well, being an adventurous eater, and figuring it's just blood, I did fry up a sample to see. The blood spots taste like, well, blood (kind of livery, but not in the good way of liver or blood sausage). Not particularly palatable. I'm actually guessing that there's probably no harm in eating them (in fact both the processor and one website I looked at noted that if the splashing is minor, it's okay to eat).

The bigger issue is the looks--the spots turn quite black when cooked, and I can't imagine many consumers being comfortable serving meat that looked that way. I do have a picture, but if the others caused cringes, this one surely would, so I will just use the link again, and not embed:
http://forums.egulle...4817_543619.jpg

Right now everything's frozen solid, so I can't answer the accelerating spoilage question.

But, being an experimenter, I'm going to try some experiments! Brining the spotted chops, curing the ham. Why not? (PS--I LOVE that charcuterie topic.)

I'll be sure to post results.

#20 cookingkid

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Posted 03 July 2007 - 10:18 PM

I sometimes have the bloodshot happen when I've bought pork racks from a local butcher. Sometimes these guys get overwhelmed on their butcher days by just the addition of a few extra pigs. You have to remember that the smaller shops divide their butchering responsibilities by type of animal to slaughter on particular days since that also helps with USDA inspection requirements.

As for weighing in on flavor and appearance...I think your appearance is shot if you are looking at it from a fresh steak perspective. Then again, you're also shot if you wanted to cure whole legs. The meat would cure ok, but it would look ugly. As for flavor when you get into cooking a steak that is bloodshot, you have a more mineral flavor, slight iron, but for the most part it can be masked if the steak is large enough. In other words, I don't think that it has to all become dog food. I know someone mentioned it before, sausage is a great alternative unless you think your dogs just really deserve it.