The Red Liquid in Steak: What Is It?

Let’s discuss that red liquid in steak. Your first thought (if you’re like most people) is this must be blood. That makes sense, right? It’s meat, after all. But surprise! It’s not blood at all. …

red liquid in steak

Let’s discuss that red liquid in steak. Your first thought (if you’re like most people) is this must be blood. That makes sense, right? It’s meat, after all. But surprise! It’s not blood at all. So what is it? How does it affect steak? Is it safe to eat? Or even good for you? Let’s break down all you need to know about that red juice so it’s no longer a mystery on your plate.

Table of Contents

What is the red liquid in steak?

The red liquid that you see in steak is actually called myoglobin. Myoglobin is a protein that helps to store oxygen in muscle tissue. When the muscle tissue is exposed to oxygen, the myoglobin turns red.

Does myoglobin have anything to do with blood?

Myoglobin is often confused with blood because it can give meat that reddish color. But myoglobin is actually not related to blood at all. Blood contains an entirely different protein called hemoglobin, that helps transport oxygen throughout the body.

So why does myoglobin make steak red?

Myoglobin is a protein that stores oxygen in muscle cells. When these cells are damaged or die, myoglobin is released into the surrounding tissue. Myoglobin then reacts with oxygen to form oxymyoglobin, which gives meat its red color. The more oxygen myoglobin is exposed to, the redder the meat will be.

So, when you cook a steak, the oxygen in the air reacts with the myoglobin in the meat, which causes it to turn red and create that red “juice.”

It’s worth noting that not all meats are red. For example, chicken and pork contain very little myoglobin, so they don’t usually turn red when cooked.

Is there myoglobin in a well-done steak? It’s not red.

There is. It just happens to be a different color. As the meat is cooked, the myoglobin changes color from red to brown. It’s why a rare steak still has the red “juice,” medium-rare less so, and well-done steaks very little or none.

It’s also why some well-done steaks take on an ashen-gray shade. That brownish myoglobin can make the steak look a little flat in color.

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09/30/2023 12:52 pm GMT

Is it safe to eat myoglobin?

Yes, it is perfectly safe to eat myoglobin. In fact, if you’re eating while reading this, you may be eating myoglobin right now! Myoglobin is a common protein found in muscle tissue, so it’s present in all types of meat.

Is myoglobin healthy?

The red hue may give this somewhat away, but myoglobin is iron-rich. And as such, it’s a great source of dietary iron. So, if you’re looking for a way to increase your iron intake, myoglobin-rich foods are a great option.

Does myoglobin affect the taste of steak?

Myoglobin does not have a traditional flavor, but it is, as mentioned, iron-rich. That iron can affect the taste of steak, especially when there’s a lot of myoglobin present. It’s why some steaks taste slightly metallic or gamey compared to other cuts. It’s the impact of that iron that sometimes affects the taste of the meat.

What other benefits does myoglobin have (when it comes to steaks?)

The color of red myoglobin is a big selling factor in a steak’s presentation. The red color looks more appealing to many compared to the brownish, ashen hue it takes with prolonged cooking. That’s a significant aesthetic factor when presenting a memorable steak dinner.