Would you eat fermented meat?

by 1208 · April 16, 2014 at 04:38 PM

So, we are all over fermented food in our house; veggies, fruit, dairy, you name it. I found myself with some extra little bits of fatty lamb pieces (from in between the ribs), and instead of rendering the fat, I decided to try my hand at curing or fermenting it. At first, I thought of bacon, but then decided to go super simple and just salt it with a bunch of sea salt and a bit of whey (IME, the whey does a great job of introducing the lactobaccili that makes such awesome fermented food). So, my question:

Would you try this? Would you cook it first? Anyone else done any cultured meat experiments? My plan is to let it cure in the fridge for a couple of weeks, then try it. I will wait a couple of days before offering it to anyone else :)

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18 Replies

18373 · October 11, 2010 at 02:33 PM

This reminds me of Stefansson's experience acclimating to Inuit life, in which he realizes that it is quite normal even in his culture to eat fermented milk or game, and he gets used to the idea of eating fermented fish.

After some three months as a guest of the Eskimos I had acquired most of their food tastes. I had to agree that fish is better boiled than cooked any other way, and that the heads (which we occasionally shared with the children) were the best part of the fish. I no longer desired variety in the cooking, such as occasional baking - I preferred it always boils if it was cooked. I had become as fond of raw fish as if I had been a Japanese. I like fermented (therefore slightly acid) whale oil with my fish as well as ever I liked mixed vinegar and olive oil with a salad. But I still had two reservations against Eskimo practice; I did not eat rotten fish and I longed for salt with my meals.

There were several grades of decayed fish. The August catch had been protected by longs from animals but not from heat and was outright rotten. The September catch was mildly decayed. The October and later catches had been frozen immediately and were fresh. There was less of the August fish than of any other and, for that reason among the rest, it was a delicacy - eaten sometimes as a snack between meals, sometimes as a kind of dessert and always frozen, raw.

In midwinter it occurred to me to philosophize that in our own and foreign lands taste for a mild cheese is somewhat plebeian; it is at least a semi-truth that connoisseurs like their cheeses progressively stronger. The grading applies to meats, as in England where it is common among nobility and gentry to like game and pheasant so high that the average Midwestern American or even Englishman of a lower class, would call them rotten.

I knew of course that, while it is good form to eat decayed milk products and decayed game, it is very bad form to eat decayed fish. I knew also that the view of our populace that there are likely to be "ptomaines" in decaying fish and in the plebeian meats; but it struck me as an improbable extension of the class-consciousness that ptomaines would avoid the gentleman's food and attack that of a commoner.

These thoughts led to a summarizing query; If it is almost a mark of social distinction to be able to eat strong cheeses with a straight face and smelly birds with relish, why is it necessarily a low taste to be fond of decaying fish? On that basis of philosophy, though with several qualms, I tried the rotten fish one day, and if memory servers, like it better than my first taste of Camembert. During the next weeks I became fond of rotten fish.

From Adventures in Diet (Part 1), Harper's Monthly Magazine, November 1935, By Vilhjalmur Stefansson

30 · November 22, 2010 at 08:48 AM

I once ate raw lamb left out in room temp for 24 hours or so. It smelled horrible and took quite a bit of effort to stop myself from spitting it all out. I felt fine afterwards- no food poisoning or any other ill effects but no positive effects either. You can ferment organs as well.Some people on the raw paleo forum eat much older fermented meat (think 2-3 weeks or more!) and claim they experience a feeling of high. I've also read there that fermented meat improves digestion.

So to get the most benefit from fermented meat, I would try eating meat that's been aged for at least a few weeks or so. Fermentation speed will depend on the temperature so adjust the fermentation time accordingly. You should obviously make sure the meat is from a clean source. Use lean meat/organs because fat will go rancid. Also, its very important to air the meat (expose uncovered meat to air for a few minutes) every 12-24 hours or so. This will hinder the formation of anaerobic bacteria, which can lead to serious illnesses such as botulism.

3886 · September 23, 2012 at 08:56 PM

Aren't pastrami and salami technically fermented meats? I'd eat those...

20469 · October 11, 2010 at 03:58 AM

I would consider trying it if I felt the person who prepared it knew what he/she was doing and it probably was not poison. Plus it better taste good. I am usually up for experimentation. But in the case of meat, other than possible improvements in taste, I don't see any particular advantage to fermentation. There is no phytic acid or toxins that need to be eliminated.

1513 · July 07, 2013 at 08:13 PM

i age all my meat in the fridge, just by leaving it uncovered on a nice natural clay dish or even on racks. ill age it anywhere from a few days to 6 months, it gets a rind after a while and is amazing and delicious, it tastes more like cheese and get totally tender. or it just dries out and is like jerky. I eat this raw, as with all meats, and its absolutely filling and nutritious.

if it smells putrid you are doing it wrong, make sure your fridge is clean (which it should be anyway) and try to get your meat fresh instead of frozen, although it all works.

as far as true fermenting, I have a friend who use whey to ferment raw cow hearts, with a little honey and spices. they said it tasted like tender roast beef and looked "cooked" although they ate it raw

598 · September 23, 2012 at 10:04 PM

I get nervous just leaving meat in my shopping bag on a hot bus for a few hours...

2053 · October 11, 2010 at 01:22 PM

I would definitely eat it. Use your nose to tell you if it's rancid or unsafe to eat. I've found that fermented meat usually smells really strong (but not totally rotten-foul), but tastes very mild. That being said I am more likely to prepare fermented fish than meat. There are great recipes in Nourishing Traditions for salmon and mackerel using whey and lots of citrus, sort of a combination of ceviche and fermented.

130 · July 08, 2013 at 01:46 AM


From John Jewitt's account of the Nootka (a Vancouver Island tribe who had captured him):

The spawn of the salmon, which is a principal article of their provision, they take out, and, without any other preparation, throw it into their tubs, where they leave it to stand and ferment, for, though they frequently eat it fresh, they esteem it much more when it has acquired a strong taste, and one of the greatest favours they can confer on any person, is to invite him to eat Quakamiss, the name they give this food, though scarcely anything can be more repugnant to an European palate, than it is in this state; and whenever they took it out of these large receptacles, which they are always careful to fill, such was the stench which it exhaled, on being moved, that it was almost impossible for me to abide it, even after habit had in a great degree dulled the delicacy of my senses. When boiled it became less offensive, though it still retained much of the putrid smell, and something of the taste.

Interestingly, though, this attitude did not extend to all animals, only some:

They are always careful to examine these traps every day, in order, if a bear be caught, to bring it immediately, for it is not a little singular that these people will eat no kind of meat that is in the least tainted, or not perfectly fresh, while, on the contrary, it is hardly possible for fish to be in too putrid a state for them, and I have frequently known them, when a whale has been driven ashore, bring pieces of it home with them in a state of offensiveness insupportable to anything but a [165]crow, and devour it with high relish, considering it as preferable to that which is fresh.

0 · July 07, 2013 at 04:32 AM

Well, I just ate some fermented meat. As it turns out, it was a bit of an accident.

About a month ago, I made some white rice with tomatoes, onions, garlic, spices, and of course, ground red meat from Whole Foods. I had some left overs, and I put it into one of my canning jars (I always use them for my food storage), and I popped it into the fridge.

Then, I forgot about it.

Today I made a big rice-flour chocolate cake, and I needed space in the fridge. I the process of clearing out some space, I came across my meal from a month ago. It looked fine, but I was a little wary.

When I opened the jar, I thought that surely I'd be repulsed. Instead, I was surprised when the smell of sauerkraut - or maybe kombucha - came wafting up.

I thought, "Fermented meat? Never had that!"

So I decided to eat it - and it tasted great!

That was about 5 minutes ago, so if you read an article entitled, "Los Angeles Man Dies from Fermented Meat," then you'll probably not want to try that.

But seriously, I'll be fine. The bugs (bacteria and fungi) that ferment foods are actually friendlies.

692 · May 28, 2013 at 07:09 PM

I grew up eating many fermented foods, including fish. I do not care for it (texture) but it's fine. Particularly to be pleasant to my mother, I'll eat a piece for her (and yes, I'm middle-aged!).

I prefer fermented veg.

1185 · September 24, 2012 at 02:43 AM

I'm a foodie first. And if Anthony Bourdain hates the Icelandic fermented shark, than we should all take heed and avoid.

What he does love? Raw meat.

77340 · September 23, 2012 at 09:57 PM

Fermentation requires sugar. You are talking about cured or rotted meat.

Yeah, I'd try 'em but it ain't fermented, don't kid yourself.

80 · June 20, 2012 at 07:31 AM

I just mentioned over on IPMG that I was once offered meat cut off a side of beef that had been hung in the roof space of a barn for 5 months over the winter months (Auchtermuctie, Scotland). It had developed a green rind, like a cheese might, and the very very dark meat inside was extremely tender, and like a condiment food. It was really tasty, but nothing like beef, and in small slices with a glass of wine was a really awesome dish. I did the same myself with a side of venison and that too was really excellent. I'm not sure it would count as fermented, but it had undergone lengthy bacterial action.

4524 · October 15, 2010 at 07:01 PM

Check out this guy - perhaps not before lunch, though.



Self-proclaimed nutritionist Aajonus Vonderplanitz eats what he refers to as a "high" meat diet. "High" meat refers to meat that is well past its sell by date (i.e. rotten). Vonderplanitz claims that "high" meat inspires a natural high. Also favoured are rancid unpasteurized yoghurt and fermented vegetables.

Vonderplanitz recommends that those following his diet should start with fresh raw meat. One follower says that it took him a while to eat the "high" meat because "it stinks like hell and it tastes like an aged raw cheese." He says he had diarrhoea after the first experience but now he is used to it and regrets not having done it sooner as it has cleared up all of his health problems.

Pretty paleo, I guess, but... ew!

77340 · October 12, 2010 at 07:54 PM

Heck no. I don't even have a sense of smell but it would gross me out anyway texture-wise.

820 · October 12, 2010 at 07:23 PM

Meat maybe, fish, not so much:



(Melissa, any experience with this?)

I don't think there's enough


in the world that would help me get that down.

5888 · October 11, 2010 at 01:59 PM

It depends on the smell and taste of the fermented meat. Traditionally made salami is fermented, and it's delicious. But, I don't even want to be in close proximity to fermented meats that are basically just stinking rotten meat.

3482 · October 11, 2010 at 09:08 AM

I would try it. I'm always trying to find new ways to introduce some lactobacilli in my diet. I'm curious about the process of how to fermenting meat. Fermented fish seems fun also, although the smell must be a bit less enjoyable.

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