The Red Juice In Rare Steak Isn’t Blood And People Are Just Realising

The red juice in rare steak isn't blood at all, according to experts. 
Credit: Alamy

The red juice in rare steak isn’t blood at all, according to experts. 

When date night comes around, many opt to skip the reservations and ignite their passion with a perfectly seared, home-cooked steak.

Everyone has their favourite way of serving it, whether it’s rare, medium or well done. Beautiful!

But before that, in the shops still encased in its packaging, it can look pretty unappetising.

Turns out, that red liquid oozing out of your steak – which you likely thought was blood – is not blood at all.

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So, brace yourselves for a meaty revelation that might just change the way you look at your favourite cuts.

Now, before you start rethinking your love for meat, let’s dive into a quirky trend known as ‘high meat’.

Some adventurous eaters willingly consume meat that’s already begun to decompose. Yeah, you read that right.

While this might not be everyone’s cup of tea (or plate of steak), it just goes to show that tastes and preferences vary widely in the foodie world.

Beef steak.
The red liquid in your steak isn’t blood. Credit: Alamy

Now, you might have noticed that steaks tend to shrink a bit as they sizzle away on the grill.

When meat is frozen, the water content within it forms ice crystals.

As the water undergoes this chilly transformation, it expands and develops spiky edges, which can inadvertently cut up muscle cells.

When you defrost that icy goodness later, the water escapes the meat, carrying some myoglobin along for the ride.

And since myoglobin loves to bind to iron and oxygen, it brings that classic blood-red hue we associate with the real deal.

Raw beef roast.
Myoglobin creates the blood-red hue we associate with the real deal. Credit: Alamy

The crimson juice soaking into the packaging diaper is actually a natural byproduct known in the biz as ‘weep’ or ‘purge’, according to the American Meat Science Association.

Sounds appetising, right?

Don’t worry – it’s all part of the meaty magic that happens during transportation and defrosting.

You see, while it might seem plausible that blood could seep from a slab of muscle, the truth is far more scientific.

That red liquid is a mix of water and myoglobin – a protein that binds to iron and oxygen – found in the muscles of most vertebrates, including the beloved cows, pigs, and sheep that grace our dinner plates.

And here’s the science behind it…

Cooked bison steak.
The red juice is perfectly safe to consume. Credit: Alamy

It’s all because as meat cooks, the proteins lose its grip on the water, allowing more myoglobin-laden liquid to leak out.

So, that’s why your steak looks a bit smaller after cooking – it’s all in the science!

And there’s more…

When you hit up your local farmer’s shop or market, you might notice a small amount of blood seeping from fresh cuts.

But hold up – the animals are bled after being killed, removing most of the blood from the equation. So, what could it be?

Well, meat from larger stores has quite the journey to make before landing on your plate.

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To survive the trip without going bad, it’s typically frozen and defrosted. And that’s when the ‘weep’ or ‘purge’ kicks in, adding that juicy red touch to your package.

Don’t fret, though – it’s all perfectly safe to consume.

In fact, that little towel you find in the meat packaging is there to soak up the myoglobin juice and keep things tidy.

‘No mess, no stress’ and all that.

So, the next time you sink your teeth into that perfectly cooked piece of meat, you can impress your friends with the fascinating science behind the deliciousness. Bon appétit!

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Written by Cal Gaunt

Cal is a former content editor at IGV who specialised in writing trending and entertainment news. He previously worked as a news reporter at the Lancashire Telegraph and earned an NCTJ in Sports Journalism.