Ask Mar­i­lyn

Chattanooga Times Free Press - Parade - - PICKS - By Mar­i­lyn vos Sa­vant

Why is un­cooked beef so bloody com­pared to, say, turkey? I can’t bear to look at red meat in the gro­cery store, and that’s the main rea­son I never eat it. How any­one can eat any­thing rare enough to have a bloody cen­ter is be­yond me!

—Jenna Jones, Santa Monica, Calif. Con­trary to the hugely pop­u­lar as­sump­tion, that red­dish liq­uid isn’t blood at all. It’s just a wa­ter-sol­u­ble pro­tein (called myo­globin), which is found in more-ac­tive mus­cle tis­sue. This pro­tein turns red when it’s ex­posed to air, which is why butcher coun­ters look like they’re cov­ered with blood. But they’re not! And the pres­ence of large amounts of the brightly col­ored nu­tri­ent is why cer­tain meats are called “red meat” in the first place. (Poul­try and fish con­tain lit­tle myo­globin by com­par­i­son.) The pro­tein turns brown as the meat is heated, which is why red­ness in cooked meat is an in­di­ca­tion of juici­ness—not blood­i­ness.

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