I've found the terms "aspic" and of course "drippings" and "gravy", but I don't think any of those quite describe what I'm asking about — for example, we just baked some meatballs and between each one there was a mix of both liquid fat and a grey-ish/pink-ish sludge. With chicken meat it tends to be whiter. It has a texture somewhere between cooked liver and jello.

Is there a proper name for this "sludge"? Are there any particularly traditional uses for it?

UPDATE: another question calls this same thing "scum", and the answers deal with what it is: What's that scum at the sides of my home-made burger when I cook it?

I'm wondering here what it's called, i.e. if there's a more generous term for it than "sludge" or "scum".

  • 1
    Aspic definitely isn't the right term (it's a gelatin dish that's made on purpose), but I have never heard a consistent name for the protein sludge. "Goop" might be more generous, but it's certainly not official :)
    – Erica
    Feb 27, 2015 at 12:23
  • 1
    There is no "more generous" term. Scum is the right cooking term for it, and is originally neutral. People have made it a curse word in other contexts, derived from the cooking use.
    – rumtscho
    Feb 19, 2018 at 7:50
  • @rumtscho That sounds like it's my answer, then?
    – natevw
    Feb 19, 2018 at 14:56
  • @natevw indeed. I didn't think of posting it as an answer since it felt like part of the question, but taking a step back, I think it should be one. I'll write it. If you wanted to self answer, ping me when you have written it and I can self delete.
    – rumtscho
    Feb 19, 2018 at 16:02

2 Answers 2


Scum is the correct answer here, even though it sounds strange to modern ears. Originally, it is a cooking term, which denotes the stuff which floats on something you cook (protein in stock, the foamy stuff in jam) and can be gathered and removed with a skimming spoon if one wants to.

The derogatory use is more common in general conversation, and it is related, it probably arose as a metaphor. But in cooking jargon, it clearly has this meaning. It does have a little bit of a negative association, in the sense that you want to remove that scum, but I think there is no purely neutral word for it, since people who care about this kind of detail usually prefer it gone.

  • 2
    +1, but I disagree on the origin of scum. It is derived from words meaning froth, or foam, and is simply a 'layer of unpleasant or unwanted material that has formed on the top of a liquid'. The derogatory use comes from algae growing on stagnant water which would be the most common definition of scum to the non culinary.
    – mcalex
    Feb 20, 2018 at 8:59
  • As you wrote, scum refers to the froth floating on liquid. The stuff that collects around meat is obviously not that. Scum can now be used to describe any undesirable residue but I can't believe it would be an official culinary term for this and would be no better than stuff, junk, gook, etc. The only official word I can think of would be fond if it were deglazed. Feb 21, 2018 at 4:58

The sludge you speak of is actually proteins called myosin (denatures at 120f) and actin (denatures at 150f) going through the stages of denaturing, coagulation and ultimately gelantization. Protein coagulates when it is denatured, that is destroyed. Gelatization is a follow on the process of breakdown in connective tissue.

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