Why does game taste "gamey"?

Venison, elk, pheasant–all these game foods have the reputation of tasting a little gamey, and there are many marinade recipes that promise to eliminate the gamey taste.

I know what that taste is. What I’m wondering is why wild animals have it and cultivated animals (beef, buffalo, chickens) don’t.

What are we eliminating when we raise the food, as opposed to hunting it?

when animals eat acorns, bark and twigs for part of their diet during parts of the year they taste different from animals on a grass or grain diet.

Acorns, bark, and twigs? That’s it? Hmm.

On, and tulip bulbs. Let’s not forget the tulip bulbs.:mad:

Have you ever eaten grass fed beef? Not something that is advertised at a store as free range or grass fed, but actually meat that you know the source of and hasn’t been finished off by grain feeding? It has a much different and stronger taste than what you buy at the market.

Most of the gamey taste with wild meat is in the fat. If you trim off all the fat you will eliminate most of the ‘wild’ taste.

The other important factors are the stress the animal is under at time of death and how well it is able to be bled.

Domesticated animals are at rest when they are killed, and they are bled while they are still alive and the heart is still beating. That means the muscles have plenty of glycogen reserves and there is very little blood left in the tissues.

In contrast game animals are often running/flying when they are killed so they are full of adrenaline and have depleted adrenaline stores. They are also only normally bled after they dead, and in the case of birds they often aren’t bled at all. All of that results in chemical changes in the meat (that I won’t go into here because I only half remember it) that contribute to the gamey taste. That;s also the reason why abattoirs go to such lengths to avoid those factors

So it’s not entirely diet, though diet’s a large part of it.

What an informative post. I had always assumed it was just diet. - THANKS!

Some of it is affected by the treatment of the carcass/meat after killing - game (pheasant especially) may be hung for days or weeks - specifically to develop a ‘gamey’ flavour (well, and to tenderise it too). The same is generally not true of, say, chicken.

Not sure about chicken abbatoirs, but meat from mammal abattoirs is usually hung for several as part of the maturation process.

people do bleed deer immediately.

That’s revolting.

Some of it is also the age of the animal. As any thing grows older it gets stronger flavor(gamey) and a bit tougher. Any Prime, Choice, or select meat in the Supermarket must be less than a 3.5 year old animal. And anything over 5 years is pretty much only going to be found in the Dog food aisle.

Hunter acquired animals are very often considerably older than that. If you go to a ranch and try a steak from some 12 year old bull or diary cow that broke its leg It will taste very gamey too.

How do they convince them to stand still while this is done? All the deer I’ve seen killed have died of bullet wounds, not blood loss.

At least reindeer and venison has a higher percentage of iron than beef, making them taste faintly of liver.

Yes - that’s why I chose the specific comparison of pheasant and chicken. Chickens typically enter alive at one end of the processing plant and exit packaged and blast chilled or frozen at the other end a few tens of minutes later.

Beef is indeed often hung for days or weeks (although not always, if it’s a budget operation).

Not sure about lamb and pork - seems like the hanging of those two is a feature of quality butchers, rather than abbatoirs.

Sheep and goats taste gamey, and they’re not wild. I’m guessing may be due to diet.

Or maybe metabolism and body chemistry. Lamb fed on grass still tastes like lamb, whereas beef fed on similar grass does not.