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Oct 7, 2012 06:30 PM

Boar Taint - How many of you have experienced it?

So my freezer is overflowing as we head into braising weather here in Michigan...I decided to do a little fall cleaning by pulling out some pork neck bones and turning them into ragu. They had been purchased in cryovac and tossed in the freezer some time ago...smelled fine when thawed and opened. Absolutely no reason to think that the meat was bad. But I knew something wasn't right when I roasted the bones - the smell was off, but I thought maybe it's just the porkiness of the bones, and when diluted with the veggies and tomato, herbs, and wine...oh, it'll be fine.


A couple of hours later, I have a pot of should-be-amazingness that smells and tastes like stale urine. Luscious, umami-rich stale urine.

Based on what I have read, I believe one (or possibly both) of the two packages of neck bones had boar taint. I also believe I am one of those people who is particularly sensitive to this smell - I have an otherwise insensitive nose, but can detect anything in the ammonia/urine family at VERY low concentration.

So now my scientist self is this population of people who can be quite sensitive to small variance in many of you have personally run into boar taint? And if you are certain you can't detect it...would you like a free pot of ragu????

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  1. Wow, with a name like Boar Taint it sounds like some sort of deadly disease. Hope I never get it.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Tripeler

      Good name for a punk band (or at least Dave Barry would say so!) I very occasionally am gifted venison, elk, moose and the like; but so far, so good. No one has ever mentioned a strange smell. I'm assuming when you say pork, you mean wild pork?

      1. re: coll

        Nope. Grocery store pork. It's an off-flavor produced by some of the sex hormones in the animal - modern farming keeps the incidence of it quite low, it doesn't come through until the meat is cooked, and it's one of those compounds that not everyone's nose is sensitive to (kind of like the asparagus metabolite that not everyone can smell when it exits your body). It's not dangerous...just gross. This is the first time I've run into it to my knowledge, so I'm curious how many other people have run across it in commercial pork.

        And yes, if I ever start a metal band, I'm going to have to name it Boar Taint. But only because Canned Haggis is already taken.

        1. re: Wahooty


          Experienced it.

          Bought two "two packs" of cryo-packed shoulder roasts.

          They all were identically smoked for pulled pork. My saving grace was that the boar roast was larger and took longer.

          The other three were all done and pulled together.

          The fourth was pulled later, and separately, my friends, from Iowa, told me EXACTLY what I had in that fourth roast.

          That fourth roast went in the trash.

          1. re: Monch

            Interesting. This abstract suggests that smoking can mask perception of the offending compounds, if not completely:


        2. re: coll

          Reminds me of that Mr. Show sketch about Taint magazine.

      2. My mother referred to it a "Piss Pig". Every once in awhile fresh pork would show up at our local market that had that special odor and taste. She would first sniff it because it's apperently quite pronounced when fresh and if no other alternative were available,rinse it in lime juice or vinegar which would alleviate most if not all of the offending smell and taste.

        1. I was surprised to see that Pfizer has a new vaccine against boar taint -- see

          1 Reply
          1. re: drongo

            Okay, this I find fascinating. Not sure how I would feel about being vaccinated against my own hormones....

          2. Boar Tis is the real danger.

            1. Once my family bought a pig to roast at Christmas that we had to return, my grandfather sniffed it and said it was no good. Guess it must have been the taint.