Rabbits have long been identified with Spain. Phoenicians were so surprised by their abundance that they called this land Isepania, meaning “rabbit land”. This term lead to Hispania, from which the present name. Later, with the Romans, rabbits appeared on some coins representing the Iberian provinces.
Between 2 and 3 kilos of rabbit meat per person per year is consumed in Spain, a relatively low figure compared to other types of meat. Spain is eminently a producer, with the autonomous communities of Catalonia, Castile-La Mancha and Aragon in the lead. Rabbits were traditionally raised on small rural farms, where they were bred for self-consumption or to be sold directly to the consumer. This tradition is continued nowadays: small rural farms are responsible for about a quarter of the meat consumed.
Rabbit meat is appreciated for its gastronomic and nutritional qualities, especially for its pleasant taste and because it is easy to prepare. It also stands out because of its composition: it is one of the meats with the highest protein content and the lowest fat levels including cholesterol, lower even than chicken. This is why consumers concerned with their diet find it attractive. Another characteristic that should be stressed is that it has never been involved in any scandal or crisis involving food.
When buying rabbit meat, consumers should pay attention to the size or weight of the slaughtered rabbit, as it is found in butcher shops, depending on the recipe they are going to use: the smallest ones, weighing between 800 and 900 grams, should be used for grilling. Rabbits of around 1 kilo are ideal for paella, other rice dishes or escabeche (pickled in oil, vinegar and herbs). And for casseroles and stews it is better to use rabbits weighing from one kilogram seven hundred grams to two kilograms.
In some areas rabbits with dark eyes are rejected because this is considered to be a characteristic of home-raised rabbits. Some rabbit breeds have clear-coloured eyes, so eye colour cannot be used to assess the quality or their meat, given that it has no influence on it. The same may be said for the fat content, because rabbit meat does not have much. So only the freshness of the meat and the weight, depending on what it is going to be used for, should be taken into account.
Don’t miss our video on the veterinary profession
Information for the public
Watch our videos here
The Veterinary Channel
Colegio Oficial de Veterinarios de Alicante
Mendez Nuñez, 38 · 03002 Alicante
Tel.: 96 521 41 11 · correo electrónico