How To Clean Chitterlings

How To Clean Chitterlings

If you want to earn a Southern Granny’s respect, learning to clean and cook chitterlings (chitlins) is the ticket. This soul food delicacy has a unique and irresistible flavor when properly prepared. Serve them up with fried chicken, cornbread, collard greens, and a good vinegar hot sauce, and you’ve got a true-blue Southern meal that will knock your socks off.

What Are Chitterlings?

Chitlins are a more appetizing name for cooked pig intestines. People have been cooking these guys for centuries, and some of the oldest recipes originate from Africa and Asia. It’s a no-waste dish that takes a cut of meat the wealthy might throw out and turns it into a delicious dish you wouldn’t want to pass up.

What Do Chitlins Taste Like?

Honestly, chitlins have a very mild flavor, meaning they take on the flavors of the herbs, veggies, and seasonings you cook them with. Some people say the texture and flavor are like certain types of seafood, octopus or squid, for example, but I think they have a taste all of their own. Bottom line, you’ll have to try them to find out!

Chitlin Cleaning Supplies

Chitlins – You’ll need a tub or bag of chitlins to start. Choose a brand that has been “hand-cleaned,” and they’ll be a little cleaner straight out of the package, saving you some time at home. Baking Soda or Vinegar – Either of these ingredients will help sanitize the intestines and neutralize the smell.

How to Clean Chitterlings

Start by boiling the chitterlings in water for five minutes. This isn’t long enough to cook them, but it’s what the CDC recommends because it will kill most if not all of the bacteria on the chitterlings. When they’re done boiling, drain the pot and allow them to cool off. Place them in a bucket or bowl of cold water with two tablespoons of baking soda, then let them soak for a few minutes.

Now you’ve boiled off all of the bacteria, but the chitterlings still need cleaning. You’re going to take one piece at a time and remove any feces, straw, or anything else that might be attached that isn’t edible. The last preparation step is to separate the fat from the chitterling. There is a very thin layer of fat attached to the chitlin which should be pulled off and tossed. Once the fat is removed and the chitlin has been cleaned, you’re ready to cook.

Chitlin Cleaning Tips

Some people use salt when scrubbing their chitlins clean. Its abrasive nature helps remove the fatty lining inside the chitlins. To clean the inside of the chitlins, you can turn them inside out, which takes a little practice, or you can cut them open, so both sides are easily accessible. Either way works! When you pre-boil your chitlins, try adding some chopped onions to the water to reduce the bad smell.

Storage Instructions

You can store cleaned raw chitlins for two days in the fridge or three months in the freezer before cooking.

Recipes to Serve with Chitlins

– Collard Greens with Ham Hocks

– Hot Wings

– Southern Fried Okra

– Skillet Cornbread


Q: Can you get sick from eating chitterlings?

A: Yes, you can get sick if the chitterlings have been contaminated with Yersinia enterocolitica, Salmonella, and E. coli. It is vital that you clean the chitterlings thoroughly.

Q: How do you keep from gagging while the chitterlings are cooking?

A: Rub your nostrils with soy sauce; it blocks the smell very well.

Q: After boiling water, how do I clean and cut chitterlings?

A: Place in cold water and pull the fat and debris out of the inside. Turn them inside out if possible, and be mindful to remove any brown discoloration. Move clean chitterlings to a clean container as you work. It takes at least 2 passes.

Q: How long can you store cleaned raw chitlins?

A: You can store cleaned raw chitlins for two days in the fridge or three months in the freezer before cooking.

Q: What are some recipes to serve with chitlins?

A: Collard Greens with Ham Hocks, Hot Wings, Southern Fried Okra, and Skillet Cornbread are some popular options to serve with chitlins.

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