Variety Meats

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Buying Tips

Calf’s liver should be pale and pinkish in color; beef liver is darker and has a stronger taste and odor. Pork liver has the strongest flavor; chicken liver has the mildest. Liver should have a bright color with a moist but not slimy surface and a fresh smell. Beef, pork, lamb, and poultry hearts tend to be tough; younger hearts are more tender. Hearts should have a fresh smell and red color—not brown or gray. Veal or lamb kidneys should be firm, pink or pale red rather than purple, and should not have a uric acid smell. Calves liver should be a deep rose color, not red or purple. Look for kidneys that are evenly colored and do not have dry or dull spots. Beef, pork, and lamb brains should be firm, plump, and pinkish-white. Veal, beef, lamb, and pork sweetbreads should be plump, firm, and white. Tripe should be pale white.

Varieties

Variety meats include beef, pork, lamb, and poultry liver, kidneys, sweetbreads (thymus gland), brains, heart, tongue, tripe, feet, and tail. Generally variety meats from young animals are milder and more tender than those from older animals.

Liver and heart are available frozen as well as fresh.

Tongue is available fresh, pickled, corned, and smoked.

Sweetbreads consist of two lobes—the throat lobe and the heart lobe. The heart lobe has a more delicate taste and texture.

Tripe, the lining of a cows’ stomach, comes in three kinds: honeycomb, pocket, and plain or smooth tripe. Honeycomb is considered the most tender.

Pigs feet, or trotters, are available fresh, pickled, and smoked.

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The information presented in the Food Guide is for informational purposes only and was created by a team of US–registered dietitians and food experts. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements, making dietary changes, or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.

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