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Aug 15, 2018

Catching and cooling blood for culinary use

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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.

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  • 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. 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  • 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. 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