Food Science: Lamb, Dark Blood, and Shelf Life

Yesterday we were at the grocery buying lamb for an evening supper. There was only a small selection of lamb loin cuts and chops, and we asked the butcher if they had more. She said no, and then she told us something very interesting about lamb, veal, and other meat.

She said that lamb has particularly dark blood, so it goes bad much more quickly than other meat. Veal is similar. We don't really eat veal at all, so we hadn't encountered this, but we do eat lamb frequently and have trouble finding the cuts we like. We just assumed that this was because lamb is less popular in the United States than pork and beef, but apparently the shelf life is also an issue.

The butcher told us that the dark blood causes the meat to spoil much more quickly and so they keep much less lamb in stock. We did some cursory research and found some references to a different pH levels in lamb and veal, as well as wild game like deer. We also researched in Harold McGee's tome, but didn't find any references to this.

We're curious - what do you know about dark blood, shelf life, and lamb and veal?

Related: Mini Lamb Burgers on Roasted Potato Rounds

(Image: Flickr member This Year's Love licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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Shopping, Food Science, Lamb, Meat

Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.

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