Rabbit meat is a highly nutritious type of meat that is sold throughout the year. In the United States, the types sold for consumption include Scottish hares and those imported from places such as China and New Zealand. While inspection of rabbit meat is not mandated by the United States Department of Agriculture (UDSA), some states have implemented their own mandatory inspection guidelines.
Calories and Fat
Rabbit meat is lower in fat and calories than other types of meat. According to USDA, it contains 795 calories per pound, and 63 percent of its fatty acids come from unsaturated fat. Both levels are lower than those of chicken, turkey, beef and pork. This makes it suitable for people who are trying to lose weight or are on a low-fat diet for health reasons.
Protein and Cholesterol
The USDA indicates that rabbit meat is the highest of all meats in the percentage of protein content. It is also lower in cholesterol than chicken, beef, lamb or pork. Rabbit meat contains 164 milligrams of cholesterol per 1000 grams, as opposed to chicken at 220mg, beef and pork at 230 mg and lamb at 250 mg.
Type and Flavor
A rabbit consists of only white meat, which is the main reason it is lower in fat and cholesterol. Farm-raised rabbit meat is mild in flavor, without having the "gamy" flavor often associated with other animals such as water fowl or deer. To obtain maximum size and flavor, rabbits raised for human consumption will be fed a combination of alfalfa hay and grains such as oats and wheat.
A whole rabbit weighing from 2 to 2.5 pounds will take about 1.5 hours to roast. If cooking the rabbit while frozen, cooking time will increase by about 50 percent. The rabbit should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. It is suitable for cooking in the oven, on a range top or on a grill.
If the meat is to be used immediately after purchasing, it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two hours. Otherwise, it should be frozen at zero degrees Fahrenheit. A frozen rabbit should be consumed within a year to ensure maximum quality, although it can be stored indefinitely if it kept at zero degrees and is wrapped in freezer paper.