How to Remove Smell from Beef Meat: A Comprehensive Guide

Beef can have a very strong and distinct smell that not everyone finds appealing. While the smell is harmless, it can be off-putting for some home cooks. Luckily there are several simple and effective methods to remove or reduce the smell from beef before cooking it.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the causes of the smell, why it develops, and most importantly, the best techniques to make your beef smell as good as it tastes. Whether you prefer quick fixes or longer soaking methods, we have a solution for every preference.

What Causes the Smell in Beef?

Before jumping into odor removal methods, it helps to understand what causes the smell in beef. Here are the main factors:

  • Bacteria: Raw meat contains bacteria that break down tissue and lipids, producing smelly compounds like cadaverine, putrescine, and skatole. These are more concentrated in older, spoiled meat.

  • Blood Residual blood on the meat and in crevices can decompose and release iron-containing compounds that have a metallic, bloody odor

  • Fat: Oxidation of fat and lipids creates aldehydes and ketones that give aged beef an unpleasant smell.

  • Packaging Plastic wrapping traps smelly compounds emitted from meat, Opening the package releases these odors,

So in essence, the smell comes from natural decomposition and chemical processes inherent in raw beef. While you can’t eliminate these totally, you can reduce them significantly.

Quick Fixes to Reduce Odor

If you only have 15 minutes until dinner, try these fast fixes:

Rinse under Cold Water

Run beef under cold water and pat dry. This washes away loose blood, juices, and bacteria on the surface that produce odors. It may not completely remove embedded smells.

Vinegar Spray

Make a solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Spritz vinegar over all surfaces of the beef. The acidity counters amines that cause odors. Rinse after 5 minutes.

Rub with Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural deodorizer. Rub it over the beef, let sit briefly, then rinse away. It will neutralize acids that make unpleasant smells.

Squeeze Lemon Juice

A few squeezes of lemon juice can freshen up beef aroma. Citric acid fights odor molecules. Let lemon sit 5 minutes before rinsing.

While quick, these methods may not totally eliminate odor. For full odor removal, try long-soaking techniques.

Soaking Methods to Remove Odor

For best results, soak beef for 1-2 hours before cooking using the following methods:

Buttermilk Soak

Cover beef in buttermilk and refrigerate 1-2 hours. The lactic acid in buttermilk draws out blood, bacteria, and impurities for a fresher smell. Pat dry before cooking.

Saltwater Brine

Make a salty brine by mixing 1/2 cup salt with 4 cups water. Submerge beef and soak to extract blood and odor compounds. Rinse then pat dry.

Milk Soak

Milk has natural enzymes that help tenderize beef and remove odors. Saturate beef in milk and refrigerate 1-2 hours before cooking. Pat extremely dry.

Vinegar Bath

Make a bath using 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water. Vinegar kills bacteria and washes away odor molecules. Soak 1-2 hours then rinse thoroughly.

Onion Soak

Studies show onion water reduces beef odors. Soak thinly sliced onions in water 30 minutes, then submerge beef 1-2 hours. Refresh onion water periodically.

Wine Marinade

The tannins in red wine lower the pH to extract bloody odors. Marinade 1-2 hours in red wine with garlic, rosemary, and peppercorns. Pat dry before cooking.

While tedious, soaking beef thoroughly before cooking will result in fresher aroma and flavor.

Tips to Prevent Smell

You can also be proactive and take steps to prevent or reduce odor while prepping and cooking beef:

  • Store meat tightly wrapped in freezer until ready to use. Freezing prevents bacteria growth.

  • Avoid rinsing raw beef before marinating or cooking, as this spreads bacteria.

  • Trim off discolored patches and blot away excess blood after cutting.

  • Marinate meat in acidic ingredients like yogurt, wine, citrus to kill germs.

  • Cook beef within 2 days of purchasing for optimal freshness and minimal smell.

  • If boiling meat, change water periodically to purge odor compounds.

When to Toss Your Beef

Sometimes beef can have an off-putting smell that cannot be remedied with any of the above techniques. This likely means the meat has spoiled due to bacteria growth. Signs your beef has gone bad and should be discarded:

  • Putrid, sulfurous odor, like rotten eggs

  • Slimy, tacky texture

  • Green or gray discoloration

  • Mold growth anywhere on the meat

  • Expired sell-by date

If you detect these, it is unsafe to eat the beef no matter what you do to mask the smell. You’ll need to cut your losses and buy a fresh package of beef.

While beef naturally develops an odor as it ages and bacteria grows, there are many methods to counteract this before cooking. With the deodorizing tricks above, you can have beef that smells as delicious as home cooking should. Follow these tips for clean, fresh-smelling beef that makes mouths water instead of noses turn up. What method will you try next time your beef smells overly beefy?

2MED | Day 35 | easy (How to) Remove bad smell from meat


How to get rid of the smell of beef?

Leave a bowl of baking soda or vinegar out overnight. If your dinner left you with stubborn smells, try leaving a bowl or two of baking soda or vinegar out on the counter overnight. You can also cook with one nearby to absorb the odor as it arises.

How to cook beef so it doesn’t smell?

Meat smell comes from the blood or the liquid that comes off the beef when thawed. To get rid of the smell, we suggest boiling the meat in advance before using it for stews. Boil some water in a pot, and heat the beef for about 30 seconds. Remove the meat from the water when it turns brown.

How do you deodorize rotten meat?

Fill bowls with baking soda, fresh coffee grounds, or vinegar. Place the bowls inside of the fridge/freezer and close the door. Allow the bowls to absorb the odors for several days up to a week. Replace them as necessary to keep the odor absorbency strong.

How to remove bad smell from raw meat without vinegar?

If you want to get rid of a strong beef smell before cooking, there are a few things you can try: 1. Rinse the meat: Rinse the beef under cold running water and pat it dry with paper towels. This will help remove any surface bacteria and reduce the odor.

How to remove rotten meat odor?

Baking soda is another natural deodorizer that can help eliminate the rotten meat smell or odor. To use baking soda, sprinkle a generous amount on a plate or shallow bowl and place it inside the fridge or freezer. Leave it in place for a few days, and the baking soda will absorb the odor and freshen up the space.

How do you get rid of blood in beef stew?

Some of my Asian friends soak their beef stew meat in water or even boil it to “get rid of the blood and the bad smell”, as they say. It is my understanding that the red juices in the meat is not blood but myoglobin. The cow has been drained for day, extracting all the blood from the capillaries, so there should not be any blood left.

Can you eat beef fat if you have a smell?

(Though likely none will involve beef fat) You can’t, not at all. It would go against the law of physics. The human sense of smell reacts to the chemical makeup of substances we are exposed to. Not every substance has a smell, but when a substance does have one, then there is no way for that smell to somehow be “turned off”.

Why does rotten meat smell bad?

Other organic compounds like amines and fatty acids also contribute to the nauseating odor. The combination of these compounds, along with the strong presence of bacteria and mold, creates the offensive gag inducing stink associated with rotten meat. It warns us of foodborne illnesses and deters us from eating spoiled meat.

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