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Should Smoked meat be bloody?


Joined Nov 29, 2013
We have a friend who smokes meat frequently.  A couple of months ago, he gave us a smoked ham.  It was frozen when he gave it to us, and I defrosted it over the last 24 hours.  The ham is probably about 4 lbs, and has about 3-4 tablespoons of blood in the bottom of the bag.  Is this usual, and is it safe to eat?


Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
Joined Nov 24, 2011
Is it a cooked smoked ham (ready to eat) or is a uncooked smoked ham (ready to cook)?  And to make it even more confusing, they also make "partially cooked" hams.  What you have could be any of them.

Is it one he fully smoked and would have been ready to eat prior to him freezing it or is it a "smoked ham" he bought from the store and gave you? A cooked ham should not be bloody.  But one that is cold smoked after curing but not fully cooked might still have a little color to the juice/liquid when thawed. Was it red blood or pinkish liquid?


Fire Starter
Joined Feb 23, 2017
Not sure what your friend gave you, but unless it was killed within 24 hours of you getting it, it wasn't "blood" you were seeing. Here's a little primer on the proteins that make up what we call meat -

Muscle cells.
Muscle cells are more frequently called muscle fibers because they are shaped like tubes. Fibers bundled together are called sheaths, and sheaths bundled together are called muscle or meat.

The fibers, about the thickness of a human hair, are filled with water and several types of protein, among them myosin and actin which bind water and act like motors by contracting and relaxing on command. Myoglobin is another important protein in muscle fibers. Myoglobin receives oxygen and iron from hemoglobin in blood, fuel necessary for muscles to function. Myosin and actin are not water soluble, but myoglobin is and myoglobin dissolved in water is the pink liquid we see seeping out from a package of raw meat or spilling onto the plate when we cut into cooked meat. It also contains other proteins, enzymes. It is not blood.

chef jimmyj

Gone but not forgotten. RIP
OTBS Member
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★ Lifetime Premier ★
Joined May 12, 2011
All commercial pork is stunned and bled out live, so no blood in the animal. If he Butchers his own hogs the animal is shot preferably in the brain and the throat slit with most of the blood pumped out but gravity has to finish the job. If the ham came from a Feral Hog he shot, they get hung for gravity to do the work albeit inefficiently. In either case there can be a little blood left in the rear leg blood vessels that could be pushed out when defrosted. Experienced cutters Massage this small amount of blood out when breaking the carcass down. Regardless, Red Juices or Blood, it is safe to eat if it was properly handled, cured, smoked, and frozen by your friend. Red liquid coming from a defrosted piece of meat is not an indication of spoilage...JJ

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