Why Beef Tripe Smells So Bad and Ways to Rid the Smell

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Luigi Published: March 19, 2021 Modified: September 22, 2021

Beef tripe is something you don’t usually find in many dishes. Most people wonder what is tripe and some tend to avoid this nutritious exotic meat due to its taste, texture, and smell. But surprisingly, beef tripe is the star in must-try delicacies such as trippa alla romana, a Roman-style tripe dish. 

Learn why beef tripe smells and how to get rid of the foul smell before using it to make delicious dishes like Kare Kare, a Filipino-style tripe dish.

Cooking Beef Tripe

Beef tripe comes in four types: blanket, honeycomb, book, and reed. The most commonly used types are book and honeycomb. Book tripe is usually used in some stew and soup recipes while honeycomb tripe is typically cooked in dishes with sauce.

Despite not being as famous, book tripe and reed tripe are also used in certain cuisines. Book tripe can be found in Chinese cuisine while reed tripe is commonly used in Italian recipes.

Beef tripe makes a variety of enjoyable dishes in Mexican, Italian, Caribbean, French, and Asian cuisines. Aside from being widely used in making soups and stews like Mexican Menudo, it can also be used to make sausages like French andouille and can be fried and stir-fried to make iconic street foods.

In terms of taste and texture, beef tripe has a tough, chewy texture and has no taste on its own. But no worries! This texture softens and turns velvety once it’s cooked. However, despite these characteristics, beef tripe is highly nutritious.

Why Does Beef Tripe Smell?

beef tripes

While you can use tripe to cook mouth-watering dishes, its foul smell when not yet prepared or cleaned might be a huge turn-off to home cooks and foodies. It is described to smell rotten, fishy, or just plain pungent.

But these odors are natural, so there’s no need to worry if you bought smelly tripe. The tripe’s odor varies depending on the cow’s diet. Some say that beef tripe smells like dirt and wet hay while others compare the scent to grass.

Another factor that may affect the beef tripe’s stench would be the cow’s freshness. Tripe tends to smell when it is left to rest in the freezer for a long time. On the other hand, tripe from newly slaughtered cows doesn’t smell as bad.

If you’re planning to serve a dish that uses beef tripe, the secret to removing its scent is by cleaning it well.

How To Clean Beef Tripe and Get Rid Of Its Foul Smell

how to clean beef tripe infographic

Unbleached and bleached tripe have different methods of cleaning. Salt and vinegar can remove the germs and bacteria of unbleached tripe. Bleached tripe, on the other hand, needs to be washed in order to get rid of the chlorine.

Although pre-cleaned and canned tripe is sold in groceries nowadays, it’s best to clean them again before cooking. That way, you’ll be sure that the tripe’s foul odor is gone.

Bleached and Unbleached Beef Tripe

Additionally, the tripe’s color can also indicate its state of cleanliness. The most natural state of tripe, that is, it has not been cleaned or bleached is the green tripe. It is not fit for human consumption. Rather, it’s a superfood for dogs and cats. Only yellow and white tripes are meant for humans to eat.

Unbleached tripe has a yellow color. Stomach contents in unbleached tripe have already been removed and it also has been initially cleaned. However, unbleached tripe still has to be cleaned thoroughly to remove tripe’s natural bad odor. 

White tripe is also called bleached or blanched tripe. Groceries mostly sell bleached tripe which has been boiled and bleached in a chlorine solution by a skilled dresser.  This gives tripe its white color. 

However, while it’s free of stomach contents and harmful germs, you’ll still have to rinse bleached tripe well to get rid of the remaining chlorine. Chlorine can affect the tripe’s odor and taste, and if unwashed, chlorine may ruin your recipe. But unlike yellow tripe, there’s no need to rinse it with vinegar. You just have to wash the bleached tripe in water as many times as you can.

Cleaning Beef Tripe Makes Way for Enjoyable Dishes 

The smell and texture of tripe can be unappealing at first, but with simple cleaning tips, you can enjoy it in many delicious dishes. You’ll be able to create the most amazing beef tripe pho recipe once you get rid of its natural foul smell. So, if you’re going to get yourself some beef tripe, don’t forget the tips and tricks we mentioned!



Luigi is a content writer, workout enthusiast, cosplayer, and avid fan of rock and metal music. He has a background in news writing, feature writing, and data research. Outside work, he enjoys playing guitar and computer games, learning different languages, and occasionally making memes. He enjoys learning new things about food and anything related with health or diet and sharing this acquired knowledge to others.

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