Can you eat jackrabbit?
In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Can you eat jackrabbits?”. We will further elaborate on the habitat of jackrabbits, different recipes involving jackrabbits, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of jackrabbits.
Can you eat jackrabbit?
Yes, you can eat jackrabbits. The meat of the jackrabbit is dark and tough, so we have to cook it slowly and for a long time. It has a strong flavor. Consumers consider that rabbit meat has good sensory properties: it is tender, lean and delicately flavored (wild taste). The main cause of a potential refusal is its typical taste of wild game meat sometimes perceived by consumers (1).
Jackrabbits sometimes carry a disease called tularemia, but we can prevent ourselves from such diseased rabbits by carefully looking at their liver. There will be no danger in its meal, so long as you braise it properly.
The habitat of jackrabbit
Jackrabbits reside in desert scrubland, prairies, farmlands, dunes, and in open areas where there is no grass or in negligible amounts. Jackrabbits prefer arid regions and areas with short grass.
The black-tailed jackrabbit is distributed throughout much of the western United States and Mexico and in the Chihuahuan Desert they are most numerous in grasslands interspersed with shrubs. The white-sided jackrabbit is endemic to the Mexican Plateau region, occurring in extreme southwestern New Mexico, U.S.A., south to Jalisco, Mexico. Both species of jackrabbits are nocturnal and retreat to diurnal bedding areas, or forms, during the day (2).
Most of the jackrabbits reside in the same types of habitat, but they can also reside in a number of different habitats. But this depends on food availability.
The taste of jackrabbit
The taste of jackrabbits depends on how we cook them. If the meat of jackrabbits is cooked under the right conditions, it will taste fantastic. On the contrary, if it is cooked under the wrong circumstances then it will taste like shoe leather. Although the meat of jackrabbits is red, we can’t treat it like steak.
A study based on the sensorial analysis of rabbit meat (roasted in convection oven at 175°C), in a score from 1 to 7 (as 1 being the lowest and 7 the highest), the participants attributes for smell, color, tenderness, juiciness, flavor were high (above 5) anf for after-taste of rabbit flavor was low (below 2) (1).
The nutritional content of jackrabbits
Following are some of the nutrients that can be availed by eating jackrabbits (5).
Rabbit meat is rich in proteins (20.0–21.9 %), its amino acids have high biological value, its energy values are relatively low (427–849 kJ/100 g fresh meat) compared to other widely consumed red meats. Fat content in rabbit meat varies between 0.6 and 14.4 %, differing according to genotype and sex. On the average intramuscular lipids of rabbit meat contain a larger proportion (29.8%) of palmitic (C16:0), 25.1% linoleic (C18:2 n-6) and 23.3% cis-oleic (C18:1 n-9c) FA. Stearic (C18:0, 6.98%), palmitoleic (C16:1 n-7, 4.64%), á-linolenic (18:3 n-3, 3.78%), myristic (C14:0, 2.74%), behenic (C22:0, 1.95%) and trans-oleic (C18:1 n-9t, 0.53%) FA are present as minor components. The cholesterol content of rabbit meat is between 45 and 85 mg/100g (1).
Different recipes in which jackrabbits can be used
Following are some of the recipes in which you can use jackrabbits as an ingredient.
After putting all the ingredients in an oven which must be a heavy-lidded pot, these are simmered and cooked gently. As soon as the meat starts to fall off the bone, it is pulled out of the pan and shredded in a large container. Bones are discarded.
It can be served hot on tacos or in burritos. If you desire, the meat can also be laid out in a large frying pan and seared crispy on one side, then served.
After turning on the oven at medium heat, a tablespoon of duck fat is added. After it becomes hot, jackrabbit is added and is browned on both sides.
Onions are added to the pot and are sautéed. Garlic is added after some minutes of cooking. Liquids are added after returning the jackrabbit. Mushrooms and onions are simmered by using salt, pepper, and vinegar. This is then spread on a sheet and is roasted.
Jackrabbits are served with roasted mushrooms, extra thyme, and pearl onions. Besides this extra carrots or fingerling potatoes can also be roasted.
Rabbit noodle soup recipe:
Vegetables are cut into small pieces. These pieces are mixed with salt and pepper. Two tablespoons of vegetable oil are heated in an oven over medium heat.
Rabbit is browned for two to three minutes to develop a rich flavor. Chopped onion, celery, and carrot are added to the hot oil. These are seasoned well with salt and pepper and are cooked for ten minutes. After adding the garlic, heat is reduced.
Chicken broth is covered after returning the browned rabbit to the pot. The mixture is boiled and is cooked for a further two hours.
The health benefits of jackrabbit
Rabbit meat is one of the most nutritious white meats available for human consumption. The meat is lower in fat, cholesterol, and calories, and higher in protein than beef, chicken, turkey, or pork. Because of its nutritional attributes and easy digestion, rabbit meat is often recommended for low-sodium and weight-reduction diets and in diets geared toward senior citizens, persons with heart disease, and those having difficulties digesting other meats (3).
Following are some advantages of jackrabbit:
- Digestible protein: Jackrabbit has a high proportion of digestible protein. This protein provides a lot of benefits including enhancement of bone strength.
- Low sodium content: Sodium is much dangerous for health when taken in a high amount. The meat doesn’t contain much sodium content.
- High content of calcium: As compared to other types of meat, the calcium content of jackrabbit meat is high. This calcium provides a lot of health benefits.
- Good for heart patients: As cholesterol is negligible in the meat of jackrabbit, that’s why it is good for heart patients.
- Productive animals: Jackrabbits are one of the most productive animals. For instance, they can provide six pounds of meat on the equivalent feed and water as the cow will provide one pound of meat on the equivalent feed and water.
The disadvantages of jackrabbit
Following are some of the disadvantages of jackrabbit
- Tularemia: Jackrabbits can carry a disease known as tularemia which can affect the various organs of humans, such as the CNS, heart, and liver resulting in meningitis, endocarditis, and hepatitis. Tularemia is a zoonotic disease caused by the small, gram-negative bacterium, Francisella tularensis. In the terrestrial cycle of the disease, rabbits and hares typically serve as amplifying hosts and ticks or biting flies are arthropod vectors (4).
- Taste of jackrabbit: Although not all but some people feel the taste of jackrabbit meat is awful.
In this brief article, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat jackrabbits?”. We have further elaborated on the habitat of jackrabbits, different recipes involving jackrabbits, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of jackrabbits.
- Gasperlin, L., et al. Effect of genotype, age at slaughter and sex on chemical composition and sensory profile of rabbit meat. World rabbit sci, 2006,14.
- Desmond, Martha J. Habitat associations and co-occurrence of Chihuahuan Desert hares (Lepus californicus and L. callotis). Am Midland Natur, 2004, 151, 414-419.
- Beal, Meghan N., Patricia E. McLean-Meyinsse, and Cheryl Atkinson. An analysis of household consumption of rabbit meat in the Southern United States. J Food Distrib Res, 2004, 35, 24-29.
- Petersen, Jeannine M., and Martin E. Schriefer. Tularemia: emergence/re-emergence. Vet res, 2005, 36, 455-467.
- Długaszek, M., and Krzysztof Kopczyński. Elemental composition of muscle tissue of wild animals from central region of Poland. Int J Environ Res, 2013, 7, 973-978.