Beavers live across a wide range of marshy areas and lakes across North America. If you’re looking for new game to hunt, beavers can be an ideal catch since they’re often considered nuisance animals due to their tree damage.
Many people are interested to try eating beaver for a change. Thing brings up the question: is beaver good to eat?
Without further ado, let’s get into answering if beaver is good to eat, why it may be good to eat, and how you can use it to make a delicious meal.
Table of Contents
- Beaver Meat is Edible and Nutritious
- Does Beaver Taste Any Good?
- What Texture Does Beaver Meat Have?
- How to Butcher a Beaver for Meat
- How to Cook Beaver
- Is it legal to Trap and Hunt Beavers?
- Are There any Risks to Eating Beaver Meat?
- Final Thoughts
Beaver Meat is Edible and Nutritious
Historically, beavers were most hunted for their pelts and not their meat – it still isn’t a common food choice. But just like other meat, it’s edible if it’s cooked properly.
Like other wild game, it’s a good protein source, made of around 20% protein. Their livers are especially high in protein.
Besides protein content, beaver is a great source of vitamin B12 and vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids, and iron. However, like other red meat, it’s also high in cholesterol, so it shouldn’t be eaten in large amounts.
Does Beaver Taste Any Good?
There are controversial opinions on the taste of beaver meat.
Some describe it as “swampy,” while others claim it has a mild flavor. A common opinion is that it tastes like duck, similar to the dark meat from a chicken.
It varies depending on whether your taste buds are used to gamey flavors or not. Like other wild game, beaver has a stronger flavor than farmed meat since their diets are more natural and varied.
From eel to lamb to duck, beaver meat has been described as tasting similar to many other animals.
What Texture Does Beaver Meat Have?
Like most meat, the flavors and texture of beaver varies depending on how it’s prepared and cooked.
As wild game, it’s generally a leaner meat and has a tougher texture as a result. But if tenderized well and mixed with some fat, its texture can become more enjoyable.
If chunks of beaver meat are thrown into a stew, or marinated, then it can be indistinguishable from beef in both texture and flavor.
Beaver tails are sometimes the piece of meat most prized by trappers. Beaver tails store massive amounts of fat, especially during the winter.
Because of this fat, fried beaver tail has been compared to bacon. But beaver fat has a milder flavor, tasting just like plain lard. It will quickly soften as it’s cooked, so it can easily melt into a gelatinous mess.
Here are tips on how to best prepare beaver meat, and a few recipes to help you get the best taste and texture out of it.
How to Butcher a Beaver for Meat
Once you’ve caught and killed a beaver, you’ll need to process it quickly to prevent it from rotting. You can dress, clean, and butcher a beaver the same way you would a deer or any other game.
First, Remove the Beaver’s Pelt
- Cut the feet off and slice under the skin of the legs, separating the skin from the flesh with a sharp blade.
- Slice open its belly all the way down the middle. You’ll want to be careful as you near the base of the tail – beavers have a sac full of castor near the groin area. If it’s punctured and castor spills onto the flesh, the meat’s no longer edible.
- Now, skin the beaver. Slowly peel away the hide starting from your middle cut with a skinning knife. Save and tan the pelt if you want to get the most out of the beaver.
Once the Hide is Removed, Begin Butchering
- Make a long cut down the middle of the beaver’s back. With a filet knife, remove the backstrap (cut a long rectangular piece a few inches wide from the shoulders to the hips on either side of the spine).
- Cut the hind and front legs off at the joints. The front legs can be tricky to remove. The best way to disconnect it is to use loppers to snap it apart.
At this point, you’ll have the backstrap and leg pieces – great for grilling or grinding into beaver patties.
To get the most out of the beaver, continue taking it apart. You can save the liver (for that extra protein boost!), the ribs, the cheeks, and the tail.
How to Cook Beaver
There are many creative ways you can cook up all these beaver pieces.
Marinating beaver in vinegar and spices overnight will tenderize it well and give it a better flavor. Since it is generally tough-textured meat, slow cooking is also a great way to cook it.
Backstrap and four legs are good cuts of meat to use to make patties. Grind the pieces with a meat grinder (beforehand, remove the bones, cut the pieces into small chunks, and freeze them to make it easier).
Mix some fat (like butter, or fat from the beaver tail) into the ground meat. Mix in a couple of eggs to help keep the patties together.
Add other spices and flavorings, like minced onions and salt to season, then form into patties and throw them on a barbecue. Cook until well done.
Pulled Beaver Meat
If you want tender meat that falls off the bone like pulled pork, use the chunk of meat between the beaver’s hips and the start of its tail.
Boil it in a large pot of water for 2 hours along with creole seasoning. The outer layer of fat can be easily peeled away, and the meat will be very tender.
Grilled Beaver Tail
Since the tail is made of fat, it must be cooked differently. A good way to make a tasty beaver tail is to roast or fry it. If it’s slow-cooked it will become too soft and soggy. The skin of the tail is too thick to eat.
Over a hot grill or fire, roast the tail for 20 minutes, regularly turning it over. Remove the skin, then cut the fatty meat away from the bone. Fry the fat for a bit if you want it crispy.
Beaver is also a good option to throw into chili and stews. The chili masks its gamey flavor, and you won’t be able to tell whether the chunks of meat are beaver or beef.
Is it legal to Trap and Hunt Beavers?
With the appropriate trapping permit or hunting license, it’s legal to catch beavers for food. Regulations vary depending on where you live, but generally hunting season for beavers goes from October to May.
Are There any Risks to Eating Beaver Meat?
As with all wild game, beavers can carry parasites that are harmful to humans.
As long as the meat is well-cooked to an internal temperature of 165˚F, there are no major risks to eating beaver.
Beavers are not often thought of as food, but their meat is totally edible and can taste like beef if you cook it right. You can throw it into a stew, roast it, or make beaver burgers.
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