Edible Parts of the Carcass

edible offal

Offal is the name given to the parts taken from the inside of the carcass: edible offal includes liver, kidney, heart, and sweetbread. Tripe, brains oxtail, tongue and head are sometimes included under this term. Fresh offal (unfrozen) should be purchased as required and can be refrigerated under hygienic conditions at a temperature of - 1-degree Celsius, at a relative humidity of 90 percent for up to seven days. Frozen offal should be kept frozen until required.


Tripe is the stomach lining or white muscle of beef cattle. Honeycomb tripe is from the second compartment of the stomach and considered the best. Smooth tripe is from the first compartment of the stomach and is not considered to be as good as honeycomb tripe. Sheep tripe, darker in color, is obtained in some areas. Tripe may be boiled or braised.


Oxtail should be 1.5-1.75 kg, lean and with no signs of stickiness. They are usually braised or used for soup.


Beef suet should be creamy white, brittle and dry. It is used for suet paste. Other fat should be fresh and not sticky. Suet and fat may be rendered down for dripping.


Bones must be fresh, not stick; they are used for stock, which is the base for soups and sauces.


Calves' liver is the most expensive and is considered the best in terms of tenderness and delicacy of flavor and color. Lambs' liver is mild in flavor, tender and light in color. Ox or beef liver is the cheapest and, if taken from an older animal, can be coarse in texture and strong in flavor. Pigs' liver is full flavored and used in many pate recipes.
Quality: Liver should appear fresh and have an attractive color. It must not be dry or contain tubes. It should be smooth in texture.
Food value: Liver is valuable as a protective food; it consists chiefly of protein and contains useful amounts of vitamin A and iron.


Lambs' kidney is light in color, delicate in flavor, and ideal for grilling and frying. Calves' kidney is light in color, delicate in flavor and can be used in a wide variety of dishes. Ox kidney is dark in color, strong in flavor and is generally used mixed with beef, for steak and kidney pie or pudding. Pigs' kidney is smooth, long and flat in comparison with sheep's kidney; it has a strong flavor.
Quality: Ox kidney should be fresh and deep red in color. Lambs' kidney should be covered in fat, which is removed just before use; the fat should be crisp and the kidney moist.
Food value: Kidney is a rich source of vitamin A and iron.


Ox or beef hearts are the largest used for cooking. They are dark colored, solid, and tend to be dry and tough. Calves' heart, coming from a younger animal, is lighter in color and more tender. Lambs' heart is smaller and lighter and normally served whole. Larger hearts are normally sliced before serving.
Quality: Hearts should not be too fatty and should not contain too many tubes. When cut they should be moist.
Food value: Heart has a high protein content and is valuable for growth and repair of the body.


Tongues must be fresh. They should not have an excessive amount of waste at the root end. Ox tongues may be used fresh or salted. Sheep's tongues are used unsalted.


Sweetbreads is the name given to two glands, one is the pancreas, and is undoubtedly the best as it is round, flat and plump; the other is the elongated sausage-shaped thymus gland.
Quality: Sweetbreads should be fleshy, large and creamy white in color.
Food value: Sweetbreads are valuable foods, particularly for hospital diets. They are very easily digested and useful building body tissues.
On any matter relating to your health or well-being, please check with an appropriate health professional.
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