Connective Tissue

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Connective tissue is the physical harness for all the other tissues in the body, muscle included. It connects individual cells and tissues to each other, thus organizing and coordinating their actions. Invisibly thin layers of connective tissue surround each muscle fiber and hold neighboring fibers together in bundles, then merge to form the large, silver-white sheets that organize fiber bundles into muscles, and the translucent tendons that join muscles to bones. When the fibers contract, they pull this harness of connective tissue with them, and the harness pulls the bones. The more force that a muscle exerts, the more connective tissue it needs for reinforcement, and the stronger the tissue needs to be. So as an animal’s growth and exercise bulk up the muscle fibers, they also bulk up and toughen the connective tissue.