Food waste is a major issue in the agricultural and food industries and reducing food waste has been a trending topic for the past few years. Many famous chefs have revamped the concept of cooking using everything from head to tail, which was standard practice in the past. Here we look at traditional and modern approaches to using blood, bones and organs in cooking.


Blood is the first thing you get from a slaughtered animal and, in South Africa, swartsuursop was commonly made from chicken blood. With the industrialisation of meat production, people no longer encounter this versatile and nutritious by-product.

(Photo by Nordic Food Lab)

The Nordic Food Lab recently experimented with using blood in modern dishes and discovered that the chemical composition of blood is very similar to that of eggs. They substituted blood for eggs in recipes for muffins, pancakes and even ice cream.



70g pig’s blood
30g granulated sugar
30g icing sugar
2 pinches of ground cinnamon


1. Beat the blood and granulated sugar together using an electric mixer on a low speed setting.
2. Once the sugar has dissolved, gradually increase the speed.
3. Add the icing sugar while continuing to beat the ingredients, making sure nothing sticks to the sides of the bowl.
4. Once the mixture looks glossy, bright red, and has a stiff consistency, season it with cinnamon.
5. Fill a piping bag with the mixture and squeeze small amounts onto a greased baking sheet to make meringues.
6. Put the meringues in the oven at 93°C until they are cooked, dry and have a dark brown colour.


Today bones are often discarded, but throughout history bones have been used to make stock and brawn, a traditional type of cold cut meat that is made by cooking down bones until the meat falls off. Bone broth has been trending in recent years. Using bones reduces food waste and has major health benefits.  

Bone broth


1 chicken carcass
3ℓ – 4ℓ water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 onion
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
1 bunch parsley
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Herbs and spices to taste
2 garlic cloves


1. Place the carcass in a large stock pot and add the water and the vinegar.
2. Let it sit for 20 – 30 minutes. The acid from the vinegar draws out the nutrients.
3. Roughly chop the vegetables and add to the pot with the salt, pepper, and other spices or herbs.
4. Bring the broth to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until done (two hours or longer).
5. Remove the impurities as the broth boils.
6. Add the garlic and parsley in the last 30 minutes of cooking.
7. Strain to remove the bones and vegetables.


Organs form an integral part of traditional South African cooking and have lately been trending in top restaurants across the globe. This recipe is from the brochure The Heartbeat of Healthy Meat by Lamb and Mutton SA, which is available on their website

(Photo by Lamb and Mutton SA)

A traditional South African favourite that falls into this category is Skilpadjies, which are made from liver, usually lamb’s liver, wrapped in caul fat, the fatty membrane that surrounds the organs of some animals.

Stuffed heart with nuts and herbs


30ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
50g cashew nuts, coarsely chopped
125ml breadcrumbs
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
15ml chopped fresh rosemary, or 5ml dried rosemary
15ml coarsely chopped fresh thyme, or 5ml dried thyme
30ml fresh lemon juice
10ml grated lemon rind
Salt and pepper to taste


600g (about 4) lamb’s hearts
125g streaky bacon
45 ml olive oil
375ml meat stock
5ml dried rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
30ml flour for thickening


1. For the filling, sauté the onion, pepper and garlic until soft. Leave to cool slightly.
2. Add the remaining ingredients for the filling and mix well.
3. To prepare the hearts, trim the excess fat from the surface of the heart, remove the tubes and rinse with saltwater. Rinse with clean water and dry lightly.
4. Stuff the hearts with the filling and wrap with bacon. Use toothpicks to keep the filling in place.
5. Pour oil in a large heavy-based saucepan and brown the hearts on all sides.
6. Add stock, rosemary and seasoning.
7. Reduce heat and simmer for 2½ – 3 hours or until tender. Add more stock if required.
8. Remove toothpicks and carve hearts into thin slices.
9. Thicken sauce with a paste of flour and water.
10. Serve with mashed potatoes and vegetables.

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