How To Cook And Eat A Placenta Pizza

WARNING: The following article contains images that some people may find disturbing. What has been seen cannot be unseen...

No really. I'm not even kidding about this. There's a high chance that the below photos will make squeamish readers violently and repeatedly ill. If Lifehacker articles were movies, this one would be a double feature of Caligula and 120 Days Of Sodom. By comparison, it makes our infamous bacon milkshake post look like My Neighbour Totoro. Consider this your final warning.

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Last month, I welcomed my baby daughter Claire into the world. I then cooked and ate her placenta for the express purpose of this article. (Never let it be said that Lifehacker journos aren't committed to their jobs.) The experience was... unusual, and not something I'm likely to ever forget.

Placenta consumption is a complicated process — it involves more than just rummaging around in the afterbirth for something to eat. Below are the key steps you need to be aware of if you're keen to join the placentophagy club. On tonight's menu: placenta-and-tomato pizza!

STEP 1: Psyching Yourself Up

The first thing you need to do is formulate a satisfactory answer to the question: "why the HELL am I doing this? Am I CRAZY? Or what???"

The main reason to partake in human placentophagy is nutrition: the placenta is the main source of nourishment for the fetus in utero and is chock-full of iron, along with traces of hormones including progesterone, oxytocin, testosterone and estrogen.

The health benefits of the placenta are undisputed — why do you think other animals eat them? In fact, there are even professional services available that will encapsulate your placenta in the form of vitamin pills, as recently championed by Playboy bunny Holly Madison.

Placenta consumption is also supposed to help with mood, particularly post-natal depression, although this is disputed by some medical bodies. But even if it is a placebo, it will probably put a spring in your step; just like those heart-eating warriors of old.

If you happen to have Chinese ancestry, you could also use cultural tradition to convince yourself: placentas has been used in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years (so has ground tiger penis, but we won't go there.)

On a final note, if you go through with this, you'll always be the "winner" whenever a group of people discuss the weirdest/grossest thing they've ever eaten. (Especially if you cryptically answer "human", which is technically valid).

We recommend embarking on Step 1 a few months before the actual birth — it will probably take this long to effectively psych yourself up.

STEP 2: Procuring The Placenta

This is more difficult than you might think. In the midst of the agony, beauty and chaos of childbirth, your placenta snacking plans are unlikely to be at the top of your mind. Priorities shift, and when you hold your newborn for the very first time, every other thought goes out the window.

Even if you do remember about the placenta, it's an incredibly awkward thing to ask about (approximately 1,000 times more uncomfortable than buying condoms as a teenager in my estimation). Nobody is going to ask if you'd like to take the placenta home either, so you're going to have to bring up the subject yourself. If you want to feel like a serial killer, pay close attention to their facial reactions — as you can imagine, it's not a request they receive often.

If you manage to drum up the courage, one of the midwives will eventually hand you a medical waste bucket containing your future meal. Handily, the container is airtight which means you can spend some quality time with your new baby instead of rushing home to the fridge. (Mine was sitting at room temperature for at least six hours and I didn't get sick.)

STEP 3: Choosing Your Recipe

Imagine if you only got to eat steak once or twice in your lifetime: how would you prepare it? How much research would you do?

This is arguably the most important step in the process and one that requires plenty of thought. After all, you only get one shot at this — if you muck things up, you'll need to wait at least a year before you get to try again. (Note: We don't condone making babies for the sole purpose of culinary afterbirth, in case you were wondering.)

The internet was actually less helpful than I was anticipating. Most online recipes appear to have been concocted by a gaggle of new-age hippies trying to out-gross each another. Here's a sample recipe:

Placenta Cocktail: 1/4 cup raw placenta 8oz V-8 juice 2 ice cubes 1/2 cup carrot. Blend at high speed for 10 seconds

I might be hardcore, but I'm not that hardcore. If you do some hunting, you'll be able to uncover some vaguely appetising options — placenta lasagna seems to be a popular option (if you're squeamish, it also hides most of the offending meat from view). In the end, I plumped for a placenta pizza using my own recipe.

It's a good idea to prepare all the other ingredients before you even look at the placenta — in addition to ensuring cleanliness, this will also decrease the odds of you backing out at the last minute.

STEP 4: Preparation

This is where shit gets real. Up to this point, the concept has been sufficiently abstract enough to seem palatable. But the moment you open that bucket, everything changes. You now have human organs on your kitchen bench — and your hands are about to get dirty. Seriously. Just look at that thing above. It looks like a photo-realistic Krang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Before you start slicing and dicing, you need to remove the placenta's outer membrane. This is a hideous undertaking, and the only moment when I considered pulling the (mucus) plug on the whole process. But I somehow managed to persevere.

Once the membrane and umbilical cord had been removed, I began to chop the placenta into bite sized cubes — some medical authorities recommend avoiding the inner side due to possible contaminants from the baby.

Alone in my kitchen (my wife wisely wanted no part in this), I started to go to some pretty dark places. Is this how convicted cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer felt as he prepared a midnight snack? Your mind becomes curiously detached from the horror in front of you, until you realise your hands have become too sticky to hold the knife. Sticky with human blood.

Once you've finished the grim deed, you'll probably need to have a sit down for a bit. I know I did. But the worst isn't over... you're still going to have to cook and eat this thing.

STEP 5: Ready, Steady, Cook!

I opted to sauté the placenta pieces in olive oil with diced onions and garlic. I ended up overcooking the meat due to paranoia (by this point, the placenta had been in our fridge for six days). The aroma was actually delicious, although that was mainly due to the onion and garlic which basically makes anything smell great.

Once thoroughly cooked, I arranged the placenta meat on my pre-prepared pizza and whacked it in the oven. There was no turning back now. I was about to tuck into my wife's afterbirth.

STEP 6: Taste Test

The moment of truth. I endeavored to get my wife to join me in my feast but she steadfastly refused. "But it came out of you", I argued. "So does feces," she replied. Touché.

I have to say, the meal wasn't nearly as gross as I was expecting. It tastes somewhere between veal and liver, though with a slightly tougher consistency. It's also a lot more flavoursome than your average supermarket meat; I was still smacking my lips hours afterwards.

While it's definitely an acquired taste, I'd say placenta makes for a perfectly serviceable pizza topping — provided you don't think too hard about what you're eating.

All in all, I'm happy I embarked on this experiment. It's one thing I can strike off my bucket list — and I still have the placenta bucket to prove it.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten? Share your stories in the comments section below.


Comments

    AAGHGHAAHAA... You should film the whole thing. Could be the new 2 girls one cup.

    for the love of god why!!!! oh man ohhh things that have been seen...

    Havent Had Kids Yet, Only 20, But Looking At That Pizza Made Me Huuungry...
    And Im Seriously Considering Saving My Placenta And Trying That Cocktail
    Placenta Cocktail:
    1/4 cup raw placenta
    8oz V-8 juice
    2 ice cubes
    1/2 cup carrot.
    Blend at high speed for 10 seconds

    And Possibly Placenta En Papillotte With A Bit Of Red Wine (;

    We just gave this a go today after our fourth child earlier last week. We had a completely natural home birth so getting the placenta was no problems. We just fried it with leek and garlic. Tasted fine, bit livery bit steaky. For reference my wife was driving it a bit more than myself, which is good as I did the cooking and her enthusiasm helped me get through the queasy bits. She's also having little regular frozen bits of raw placenta for other benefits. I think it's worth trying and not as gross as live baby octopus.

    I understand that the placenta is not the most attractive piece of meat you have ever seen. However it is very natural for mammals to consume it. It is nutrient-rich, helps with hormonal imbalances and blood loss post-childbirth. It seems the majority of modern day culture is confused about and repulsed by the most simple, natural parts of animal life. Newsflash, y'all: humans are animals! Kudos to the writer of this article for playing to modern day culture's ideas and completely dramatizing the process. Quite unnecessary drama in my opinion, though. What surprised me most is that his wife wanted no part in it. People are strange..... And I must be pregnant and hormonal otherwise I would never write a post like this. I am not completely jaded. I do think people are lovely in general. Just a bit misguided especially in the way of natural living.

    Almost all mammals, with notable exceptions, do eat their placenta. There's some evidence showing that they get some benefits like in rats they can feel less pain when they eat it, more milk production in some cases, nutrition can be a reason hypothetically. But none of this has been proven with humans, there's only anecdotes and it doesn't work for all women. A lot can come down to self belief and placebo effect especially with these types of women, who already think it's an amazing medical cure. The placebo effect would be very likely in the areas of pain and using it to treat depression of sorts, depending on the type of "depression". Higher milk production can be from the hormones, but not necessary and those hormones can throw your balance off and make you feel really shitty too as mothers have reported. There's also no regulations around it which can be dangerous for reasons I'll get into later.

    There have been studies on this. But not many legitimate scientific studies at all to be making judgment calls eating a placenta. A study published in the periodical Archives of Women's Mental Health, reviewed 10 published articles on placenta eating in humans, and it found no data to support claims of preventing depression, reducing pain or increasing energy. "Our sense is that women are willing to ingest something without evidence of its benefits and, more importantly, of its potential risks to themselves and their nursing infants," said the study's lead author, psychologist Cynthia Coyle from Northwestern University in Illinois.

    a study of 178 human cultures found essentially zero evidence exists of placentophagy (placenta eating) in any historic or prehistoric culture. Apart from maybe in a famine if they knew that was a thing you could eat without dying or something lol. A study in "Ecology and Food Nutrition" says "If placentophagia is not a biologically determined behaviour in humans, we should assume that there must be a good adaptive reason for it's elimination."

    It's not even that common of a practice, one hospital in DC found, of 3,500 annual births, only 2 mothers took their placentas home and some of these women in general, theoretically ate their placenta (surely not all would have succeeded and maybe some are using them for other strange reasons). Really not enough to gain strong anecdotal evidence from actual firsthand experience. Especially since not many of those already small number of women would write about their experience.

    Placentas are a life support filter, so they can contain high levels of bacteria, selenium, cadmium, lead and mercury to name a few that are filtered out of the blood. This is partially what makes it risky and can be dangerous especially when the whole practice is not regulated and often the meat isn't stored or treated up to meat safety standards since it is often left out for far too long before it is cooked, which makes it a dangerous risk to your health.

    Meat left out for about an hour should be thrown out according to general food safety guidelines. A lot of mothers have a long drive from the hospital, and you can't leave the hospital for at least number of hours for natural birth and for a caesarean you can expect from 3 to 4 days. Bringing an esky would be better than relying on the hospital to keep a placenta cold, but that doesn't seem to be common among mothers, it's usually just in a bucket left out during the whole cooking process too which is all far too long. Some mothers (or fathers sometimes eat the placenta), will have this on lockdown, but certainly not all.

    Also to get these effects mentioned, studies showed you would need to eat the whole raw placenta in it's entirety, directly after birth to do it properly. Cooking or drying then grinding it up for tablets most likely destroys at least a number of the contents giving these effects to various animals. Also if it was the case that these effects can be seen, it would be better to treat that post partum depression, etc. instead of eating an organ that may or may not do so. Or harm you/make your mood worse when you need to care for a baby.

    NOW, onto the, "animals do it" aspect. Yes it can provide nutrients and other benefits, but that doesn't appear to be a driving factor as to why they do it generally. Animals that do eat the placenta appear to mainly do it because it eliminates the scent of a new born and the smell of food, they will also completely lick clean the baby. Therefore it helps to conceal the new born from predators. Among the land mammals that don't eat their placenta.. are chimps for one.. which are as close as you can get to humans evolutionarily speaking. Which says a lot. They generally carry the baby, cord and placenta around with them for about a day until it naturally breaks off from the baby and then they throw it away since they have no use for it the same as humans, mainly because we both have a quite varied and nutritious diet already. Camels also don't eat their placenta.. I assume since they don't need to hide it from predators since they're usually in the desert a thousand miles from anything.. and they have energy stored in their humps..

    But also it seems rather instinctual for no great reason.. like a house cat and dog will often but not always eat the placentas after birth at home where there's no need to eat the placenta.. there's no predators.. they already have a good diet. Must just be a biological thing they do like an instinct for no real reason sometimes. But remember not all domesticated animals do this.. so some seem to have kicked the habit. Which suggests they aren't doing it to get the benefits I mentioned much earlier with pain, milk production and depression etc. just an instinctual carry over from hiding the scents of a newborn.

    So all of that appears to point towards nutritional reasons for some animals, pain reasons in rats at least, but they're not the main reasoning, being to hide the scent of the baby unless that isn't required, and if they have good diets as well.. then they generally have no reason to eat the placenta, such as many scavenger animals, camels, some domesticated animals like cats and dogs, chimps and humans.

    My husband and I both ate the placenta after our first was born. I grew the damned thing, and I wasn't about to let it go to waste! How else could we explore cannibalism without committing a crime? ;) The prep work was gross, but far less so than processing game or livestock for consumption. Seriously, people in this country are way too removed from the origins of their food... We cooked it the first time, but I think we'll go raw with this next one, maybe give it the carpacccio treatment. And no, I'm not kidding. I want those hormones back.

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