In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you eat a squirrel? We will weigh in the reason for eating squirrels as well as the reasons to avoid them. Then, we will discuss safe ways to prepare squirrels and some popular cooking methods.
Can you eat a squirrel?
You can eat a squirrel; however, you need to be aware of certain diseases and parasites that squirrels carry. Many Americans are making squirrels a part of their meat intake due to their sustainability. Squirrels are included in restaurant menus and; dishes introduced by popular chefs.
In the US, squirrels roam in abundance. It is not a recent trend but an old American tradition where squirrels are hunted for their game meat and then cooked into a stew with okra, tomatoes, and lima beans.
What is squirrel meat like?
Squirrels taste like a cross between rabbit and chicken, with a subtle taste of nuts. The texture of the squirrel is quite fine and soft. It is also slightly sweet.
Before preparing squirrels, they are first skinned and sometimes cooked whole as a casserole. The hind legs are the densest part of the squirrel where most of the meat is found.
Is squirrel safe to eat?
The risks that squirrels carry are Tickborne diseases, Flea borne diseases, parasites, and environmental toxins. When you hunt, be sure to watch out for ticks that can cause Lyme disease. It could also give you flea-borne or some parasitic illness.
The squirrel’s meat could also have environmental toxins from the pesticides and herbicides from its diet.
It is best to avoid eating squirrels in summers because it is the season in which squirrels harbor fleas, mites, lice, and ticks. If you hunt during winters instead, there is a low risk of parasite infestation in squirrels.
Another common prion disease common among these rodents is Creutzfeldt-Jakob or Mad-cow disease. It eats up the squirrel’s brains and, if consumed, can be fatal. A man was reportedly diagnosed with muscle problems, severe memory loss, poor mental functions by consuming an infected squirrel.
When you prepare the squirrels, you need to get rid of the spinal fluids and brains to prevent yourself from contracting any such disease. Even if a squirrel does not carry the disease, it could be a carrier and potentially harm a person who eats any part of the squirrel’s nervous system.
Also, get rid of the glands in the limbs and the mange of the squirrel before cooking.
How to cook squirrel?
Squirrel needs to be cooked thoroughly to preventing contracting any form of poisoning, including salmonella. Also, squirrels are tiny creatures and, after cooking, they shrink to an even smaller size. The serving size of the squirrel is one per person.
A squirrel can be cooked with plenty of different techniques, the most popular choice would be tomato sauce or creamy dishes. A squirrel can be cooked together with bacon or sausages and served beside nuts and berries.
The herbs used for seasoning squirrels are rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley alongside spices such as cayenne, paprika, and chili.
Slow-cooking at a low temperature is the most popular way of cooking a squirrel. First, let the squirrel bake between 100ºC and 150ºC for 4–8 hours, or until it turns brown. Then mix vegetables, stock, wine, and tomatoes to prepare a casserole.
Alternatively, you can braise the squirrel in milk, which can then be made into a sauce and served next to the squirrel.
To roast the squirrel, let it cook for 45–60 minutes in an oven at 190°C. If you decide to roast squirrel, you need to brush it with oil or fat to prevent it from drying out.
Before you fry the squirrel, first parboil and then fry Southern Style in breadcrumbs. As squirrel meat is lean and tender, the purpose of parboiling; is to make it easy to remove the bones.
Make a buttermilk batter, add flour, salt, and pepper. Add some baking soda and then coat the meat pieces and deep-fry on a skillet until they turn brown.
Some people like to barbeque the squirrel by marinating the meat overnight, then serve it alongside barbecue sauce. Squirrels are also made into jerky, sausages, kabobs, and country-fried squirrel steaks.
Some common items served alongside squirrels are biscuits and gravies for breakfast and also for dinner alongside deep-fried squirrels. Also, add some green peas and mashed potatoes as a side dish or, if you want to go all out, then oven-baked potatoes and carrots with garlic.
In this brief guide, we answered the question, can you eat a squirrel? We weighed in the reason for eating squirrels as well as reasons to avoid them. We discussed safe ways to prepare squirrels and some popular cooking methods.