© 2018 Flying Blue Dog Homestead & Nursery


Aug 15, 2018

Catching and cooling blood for culinary use


Edited: Aug 24, 2018


I often catch blood from the rabbits as I'm bleeding them out. I use it in for both the garden and for culinary use. Catching blood from an animal that's hanging while bleeding out is a simple task, and I never skip doing anything that's simple to do!


When catching the blood for culinary use, I employ all the tricks I can to get as much useful blood as possible. I start with two nesting bowls. The bottom bowl is full of ice cubes and the top bowl that I use for catching the blood is sitting on top of the ice cubes. Whenever the catching bowl is not in use, it's sitting on top of the ice cubes, keeping it ice cold. I add 1-2 tbsp of vinegar to the catching bowl as the acidic vinegar is going to help to keep the blood from coagulating before it can cool. I also keep a whisk in the catching bowl that's staying nice and cold, I use it to slowly stir the blood as it's being caught in the bowl, keeping it moving also helps to stop it from coagulating.


After a rabbit has fully bled out into the catching bowl, I continue to slowly stir the blood with the whisk until the blood is refrigerator cold to the touch... which I can feel when I put my finger in the blood. When it's cold enough I stop stirring and put the catching bowl back on top of the bowl with the ice, which keeps the blood very cold throughout the butchering process.


Once I'm done catching the last blood from the last rabbit, and cooling it down, I take the time to pour the blood through a small, fine mesh strainer into a clean jar. Putting the lid on the jar, I walk it into the house and refrigerate it immediately as blood has a short shelf life and will start to coagulate if if gets warm. Fresh blood will hold for 72 hours in the fridge, if you can't use it before then you can freeze it for later use.



I catch and cool the blood from one animal at a time, even when it's a small amount. When I catch the blood in the bowl, I use the whisk to keep it moving. It's a slow stirring, you want it to move but you want to minimalism any foaming.



When the blood has cooled to refrigerator temperature, you can quit stirring and strain it into a waiting container. Straining will remove any bits that may have clotted.



Once the blood is in the container, a canning jar in this case, I walk it into the house and put it in the refrigerator. Blood will store for about 72 hours when refrigerated. It's best to use it fresh when making sausages and pasta, but if you can't get to it for processing within 2 days of catching it, you can freeze it for later use.

New Posts
  • I'm a big advocate of doing short term wet or dry aging of meat prior to freezing or other processing so it has time to come out of rigor mortis. There are two exceptions , grinding or canning the meat, in both cases the meat doesn't need to age to tenderize as grinding and canning processes take care of that. There's a section about this topic in my ebook Backyard Butchering with Laurie Levey - Rabbits. Every year I cull a number of older rabbits that are anywhere from 9 - 36 months old. Any of the meat from these older rabbits that I don’t intend to grind is dry aged to naturally tenderize it. Once they are properly dry aged, I can do anything I want with the 7-8 lb dressed out rabbits, including throwing them on a hot bbq without any additional hydration for a summer cookout. The meat will be as juicy and tender as you’d expect from a younger rabbit and it will have with enhanced flavor from the dry aging process. Aging meat is an old school practice and something most of us need to relearn. It's not tricky, but most of our homes aren't set up for properly aging meat anymore. Confined feed lots (CAFO) practices have made buying small quantities of packaged meat for a low price easy, so easy that we got away from raising and butchering our own meat. With that basic living skill removed from our lives, we started living in dwellings that don’t take meat processing into mind when they’re built. The other thing CAFOs have created is a deep fear in us about the safety of eating meat that's been properly aged. I too would hesitate to age grocery store meat for a long time without very strict conditions, simply because I don't trust that the meat was handled well before it was in my hands, or that the animal it came from was healthy to begin with. My home grown animals are a different story. I know how they lived, what they ate, if they were subjected to abnormal stresses in their environments, and if they were I would have rectified that quickly. I don't trust that to be the case in a CAFO situation. With home grown animals, I ended their life in a fast and humane manner, skinned and gutted them, looked at their internal organs which tells me a lot about their physical health. I can smell the freshly butchered meat as I work the body and feel it with my fingers, utilizing both the sense of touch and smell to determine if everything is as is should be with the meat. I know the quality of the meat I've butchered so dry aging it for long periods of time doesn't give me any health concerns. Personally, I don't trust the commercial meat industry to make sure only healthy animals with uncompromised meat make it into packages that we can purchase at grocery stores. I do believe grocery meat is acceptable and safe to consume if handled and cooked properly when you get it home, and the USDA has made sure we all know what those safeties are as they are listed on the packaging, yet that's also the source of the belief that all meat needs to be handled the same way in order to be safe to consume. When in fact the ‘safe meat handling’ practices are there as a broad, inclusive recommendation so meat from stressed out, unhealthy animals can be sold to consumers. When I say unhealthy I'm talking about the ill health from stress alone. People who are experiencing stressful conditions for long periods of time have compromised immune systems and often develop health issues due to their low immune response. Usually their health issues are remedied by removing the stress that caused the issues in the first place. Animals are the same. A stressed out animal that doesn't have a healthy immune system is likely to have minor illnesses brought on by a compromised immune system, and it's enough to degrade their bodies, which compromises the vitality of the meat once the animal is butchered. Back in the day, when people were eating meat they obtained through hunting, fishing and raising themselves, they were much more relaxed about how they stored the meat and for how long. I have seen a picture of my grandmother that was taken sometime in the late 1930s, in a downtown business district of a big city, standing in a corner butcher shop picking out a chicken to buy. The chickens were plucked and gutted, the heads and feet were still on the bodies and they were all hanging by their necks in the front window. That was a common practice and it wasn't thought of as odd and unhealthy, it was also before we all became accustomed to packaged grocery store meats that comes from CAFOs. Now, leaving a hunk of meat at a moderate temperature after butchering for even a few hours can make people so nervous that they put it in the freezer right away, or cover it with ice as soon as it’s gutted and cleaned to keep it as cold as possible until they can get it into the fridge or freezer, which creates the condition of the meat being tough when it's finally cooked. I do follow many USDA guidelines when I'm salt curing meats. I know the conditions that botulism is prone to grow in, an environment that's oxygen free, slightly acid, warm & moist with the high danger zone being 78 - 95 F. I know it cannot be seen, smelled or tasted if it's present. I don't mess around with that when it comes to curing meats, and since I'm not afraid to consume nitrites and nitrates, I utilize them in safe amounts to prevent botulism from occurring. When it comes to dry aging meat, I'm a bit more relaxed. When dry aging meat, enzymes present in the meat are breaking down the muscular structure. The longer it ages the more the enzymes can do their work of collapsing structure, which is a natural tenderizing of the muscle meat, it also creates concentrated flavor in the meat that you won't get any other way. As the meat ages it starts to have a strong smell which is normal. We’re not use to smelling properly aged meat, so the smell can make you wonder if something’s gone wrong with the process, it made me wonder that the first time I did it. Most people only have household refrigerators to utilize to dry age meat in which has a temperature setting of around 34 - 35 F. That temperature works fine for dry aging any meat, even grocery store purchases. Back in the day, people had sheds near running creeks on the north side of the property that stayed cool that were utilized to age meat in, or a cellar under the house, or something similar built into the hillside where the underground temperatures were many degrees cooler than the surface temperature is. They had ways of hanging meat, just like the chickens in the butcher shop my grandmother shopped at, that allowed for full air circulation around the meat while the juices drained away from the body as it hung. It was only after a certain amount of time hanging for natural tenderizing and flavor development that they took the next step in processing the meats. Rabbits, being a small animal, are easy to dry age in a home refrigerator, and I have found 7 - 9 days of dry aging to be long enough to make even a heavily muscled, 3 year old rabbit tender. The temperature in the refrigerator is already controlled and low enough to be in the safe temperature zone, but not so low as to slow down the process. The only other things you need to do are to make sure the rabbit has full air circulation around the body and the juices drain away from the body. If you have a second refrigerator in your garage it can be rigged up to hang rabbits by the rib cage with a pan under the meat that catches the juices, that’s the easiest way to get the aging job done. If you need to rely on your kitchen refrigerator, you can lay the rabbit on a wire rack with a pan or bowl under the rack to catch the juices. If you’re laying the rabbit on a wire rack, you want to lay it rib side down, spreading the belly flaps and hind legs open as much as possible and arch the back at the base of the rib cage so all the juices being released during the aging process drain away from the body. That’s it. You can go a step further and have a spray bottle of a 50/50 water/vinegar solution to lightly mist the meat with every day as it lays on the rack or hangs by the ribs. The vinegar/water solution will help to keep any unwanted bacteria from forming on the surface of the meat, and will also help to keep it from drying out too much. The obvious problem with dry aging a rabbit in the kitchen refrigerator is how much space you have to get it done, and how far away you can keep it from other foods and containers in the refrigerator so they don’t end up spilling on the rabbit or interfering with the full air circulation. I’ve made temporary walls out of cardboard that I placed next to a rabbit, so all the foods and jars in the refrigerator never came into contact with the meat, I find that an easy solution for the issue. After the 7-9 days are up, remove the rabbit from the refrigerator. The outside of the meat will feel dried out a bit, if it’s been laying on a rack the belly meat and hind legs will have the impression of the rack in the surface of the meat, and that most likely won’t go away. At this point you can cook or cure the rabbit meat in any manner you like. With the flavor of the meat being enhanced from the dry aging process, it’s nice to utilize the meat is a way that show cases that flavor. The first time I tried properly dry aging a 3 year old rabbit for 9 days, I cooked it in the sketchiest way I could think of to see if it really was as tender as I was told it would be. I took it from the fridge and was immediately skeptical when I noticed how dry the outside of the meat was. I rubbed it with salt and pepper and tossed it on a hot bbq like it was a fatty chicken. I cooked it on both sides then hit it with a little bbq sauce at the end, just for that bbq flavor. Much to my surprise and delight the meat was exceptionally flavorful, very tender and even juicy.
  • Debonig rabbits can be mystifying. They seemingly have two or three million small bones and removing them feels like it would take forever. Larger animals with chunky bones seem easier, the bones are right there, easy to see and when you cut them out you're usually left with a decent hunk of meat. With rabbits the bones are small and fragile, they break in your hand with very little pressure, and cutting out a bone like the scapula is maddening as there's very little meat around it to begin with, so it's easy to inadvertently cut through the skin whether you want to or not. My recommendation is to practice, practice, practice. If you're really wanting to debone rabbits often enough, invest in a good knife. Took me a few years to buy a good knife for the job and when I used the right knife for the first time I felt like I was cheating because it was so much easier. I use a Victorinox 5" Curved Boning Knife, Semi-Stiff. It was recommended to me by a professional butcher who's been butchering meat for over 50 years. I trusted his opinion so much that I bought it the day he recommended it to me after seeing a whole rabbit I had just deboned using my run-of-mill kitchen knife. Deboning the ribs isn't hard, although it looks like it. You can sheet the meat off the ribs quickly leaving a small amount of meat on the bones, or you can pop the ribs out of the body one at a time. Popping them takes longer than sheeting, but it may be something you want to do depending on how you want to use the meat. The pictorial process for sheeting the rib and deboning a whole rabbit for easier grinding is in my ebook, Backyard Butchery with Laurie Levey - Rabbits. When I'm sheeting the meat off the ribs I utilize the meaty bones in broth, use them to make rillettes, give them to my raw fed dogs or they can even be tossed to the chickens that will happily peck them clean. Even in sheeting the ribs there's no waste. Here, I'll show you how to debone the rib cage in a way that doesn't leave any meat on the bones. This is 6 picture process for popping the rib bones from the meat to fully remove them from the body and then how to get the breast plate removed, leaving all the meat intact when you're done. The first step is to use your knife with the blade edge flat against the ribs, and scrape each rib from inside the cavity starting at the spine and moving outward, scraping off the thin membrane that holds each rib in place. Completely scrape each rib on one side of he body. You'll want to run some steel over the blade when you're done to sharpen it back up a bit. When you've successfully scraped the ribs well enough, you can pop each rib out of the meat by placing your hand under the meat and pushing it up with your fingers. The ends of the ribs will readily push out of the meat for an inch or so. Once the ends are free of the meat you can use your fingers to gently move the meat away from each rib all the way to the spine. Pulling on the ribs to remove them from the meat often times breaks the ribs, it's better to move the meat away from the ribs then it is to try to pull the ribs out of the meat. Once all the ribs are free on one side, feel around for the breast plate on the outer edges of the meat. This is a 3 yr old rabbit with a well developed breast plate. My finger is pointing at the small red dots in the meat where the rib bone was connected to the breast plate, it's easy to see in an older rabbit. The red dots mark the edges of the breast bone. Making small, shallow cuts with your knife, cut under the edge of the breast bone starting at the neck area and moving toward the belly. The younger the animal the smaller the breast bone will be. It won't take much cutting to free it from the body. When the breast bone has been removed repeat the process on the other side of the body. You'll be left with an exposed rib cage, fully extracted from the meat. From here you can continue to debone in pieces as shown in my ebook for easier grinding, or debone the entire spine leaving the body of meat intact for stuffing or curing. All the legs were removed from the body and being used for another purpose. The entire spine was removed in one piece, leaving the rabbit body fully deboned and ready for stuffing or curing
  • A series of 32 picture with descriptions of how I break down a whole rabbit into 9 - 12 parts. Fully gutted rabbit that's been aged for 3 days in the refrigerator, allowing the muscle meat to come out of rigor, making it that much easier to break the body down. Removing the belly flaps: I like to find the last rib (the shortest one) and feel it with my finger. I tend to run into this rib with my knife when cutting the belly meat otherwise. Once I've got it between my fingers I make the first cut at the top of the rib cage. This is where I make the first cut to release the belly meat, at the top of the rib cage. I take the knife from this point, following the end of the rib bones down to the loin. This is what that looks like. Do the same thing on the other side. This is what it looks like when both sides are done. Next, go to where the belly meat is attached at the inside of the rear leg. My finger is pointing at the spot you're looking for. Cut along the inside of the leg muscle, freeing the belly meat, and then do the same thing on the other side. This is what that looks like when both sides are done. Next, you want to cut the belly meat off the loin which will remove it from the body completely. Start your cut at the edge my finger is pointing to. As you make your cut the belly meat will be released from the body. Do the same thing on both sides. The body with the belly flaps removed. Removing the front legs: The front legs are not attached to the body with a bone.. odd as that sounds. They are very easy to cut off with a single knife stroke. First, I pinch the shoulder bone between my thumb and forefinger and pull it upwards so the space between the front leg and the ribs is obvious. Then I make the cut between the shoulder bone and the ribs. You won't hit any bones, it'll be an easy. smooth cut. Continue cutting all the way through between the front leg and the ribs and the front leg comes right off. Do the same thing on the other side, removing the other front leg. This is what it looks like when both front legs have been removed. Removing the back legs: I make my first cut in the meat between the thigh and the tail bone. You wont' run into any bones in that narrow area. I start where my finger is pointing. Cut along the narrow, boneless strip between the thigh and the lower part of the spine until you get to the top of the thigh. At the top of the tight you may run into a bit of bone. It's possible to miss the bone, but running into happens. If you run into it, you're at the joint and it's easy to cut through a joint. Move the leg back and forth a little at the joint and cut where it moves. Once through the joint, cut around the top of the tight to release the leg. Leg released from the body. Do the same thing on the other side, removing the other hind leg. This is what it looks like when both hind legs have been removed. Removing the loins: You can cut the loins off the spine for a boneless loin, or you can leave them with the bones. I'm going to show you both ways. To debone the loins I cut along the full length of the spine, from just below the neck to where the thighs started, I start the cut where my finger is pointing. I've cut on both sides of the spine, making sure my knife went deep enough to hit the bones underneath, from the neck down to the thigh area. This is what that looks like. Rabbits have odd spines, almost star shaped. After your first cut along the spine, get under the loin meat with your knife to remove it, you're going to hit what will seem like a 2nd spine right next to the first one. Just use your knife to get under the loin meat and cut the meat away, always from under the meat, from all bones. Use your thumb to pull the loin away from bones to get a better view of where to cut. Pulling the meat away from the 2nd part of the spine. This is where the chunky part of the loin is and you can easily remove it in a large mass with a long, smooth cut. Keeping your knife under the loin meat, cut it away from the remaining spine bone, which is fairly flat at this point. Once that part of the loin has been released from the body, I continue to cut from under the meat all the way to the neck. It should cut away in a single strip with ease at this point. Do the same thing on the other side, removing the 2nd loin. This is what it looks like when both loins have been removed. Flip the rabbit over and you'll find two small loins under the spine. It is possible to remove these bits when you remove the larger loin on top, and with practice it'll become clear to you how to do that. For now, you can remove these smaller loins separately. It's the same process as the larger loins from the top of the spine, only easier. I make my first cut, getting under the meat with my knife, at the base of the ribs, where my finger is pointing. You won't run into any bones here, it's easy to remove these small piece with a single cut, if you keep your knife under the meat as you cut. This is what it looks like when the small loins have been removed. This is what you're left with. Sparsely meaty bones. You can use these bones for stock, bone broth, dog or livestock food, burn them for ash to add back into the garden, cook them for rillettes. If I plan on freezing the bones until I can do something with them, I like to break them down a little more for the sake of conserving space in a container or the freezer. It's easy to do and you don't need a knife. Breaking down the bones by hand: Bend the spine below the rib cage up, toward the neck, it'll bend with ease. Bending it is going to crack the spine making it easy to pull the lower part of the spine off the body. This is what that looks like. Removing a bone-in loin: Using the same bending / cracking of the spine, you can remove the whole intact loin without using a knife. Bend and pull at the base of the ribs, then do the same thing just below the loin to remove the small, tail bone piece. You now have a full bone-in loin. The undersides of the loin can have a bit of fat on then (if you're lucky!) which makes them a great option for the bbq. Your fully butchered rabbit. From left to right: 2 hind legs, 2 front legs, 2 belly flaps, 2 small loins, 2 large loins, the spine, the rib cage.