Introduction: Possum Jerky

Contrary to popular belief, the meat from the common Virginia Opossum (shown above) can be very flavorful if handled and prepared properly. It is very good when added to soups or stews, or just baked on its own.

I also like to make this meat into jerky, and people are often quite surprised when they find out that tasty snack they just sampled was from none other than a possum!

Possum jerky is easy to make, and the exact same recipe can also be used for raccoon, beaver, or other small game meat as well.


Here is what you'll need:

  • 1 large opossum or 2-3 smaller ones
  • Sharpened knife
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Soy Sauce
  • Salt, pepper, and other spices of choice



Step 1: Prepare Your Meat

Proper handling of your 'possum meat begins in the field when you first harvest your animal. I trap all of mine and dispatch them with one single shot to the top of the skull with a .22, which is humane and also avoids damaging the meat.

Skin the opossum as soon as possible after harvest. Remove the skull, feet, tail and organs from the carcass, and trim off any excess fat. Rinse the meat under cold water, until the water runs clear. Result should look like the photo above.

>As an extra tip, I like to allow jerky meat to freeze slightly before cutting it, because this makes it easier to cut thinner slices. To do this, put your meat in the freezer for a few hours or until it feels "firm" to the touch, but not frozen solid.

Step 2: Slice the Meat

Begin cutting the meat into thin, even slices. The thinner the better, because opossum meat can become very tough if you leave it too thick. Quartering the carcass, by removing each leg separately before slicing the meat off, makes this process easier.
There is also some good meat along the spine of the animal, as well as the neck and ribs if it is large enough.

Step 3: Marinate

After you finish slicing the meat, place all of the strips into a fitting container in which to marinate it.

For the marinade, add:

  • Equal parts Worcestershire and soy sauce - measurements will vary depending on your amount of meat, but use enough to thoroughly coat the meat.
  • Salt and pepper to taste (salt may be used sparingly because both the Worcestershire and soy sauces already have a high sodium content)
  • Other spices of choice - I have personally found that hickory or maple flavorings go very nicely with the taste of opossum meat.


Stir your meat and marinade together until all meat strips are coated. Then cover your container and place in the refrigerator, and allow to marinate overnight.

Step 4: Dehydrate

After the meat has marinated overnight in the fridge, you will notice it has turned a darker color than it's original light pink. This is a good thing and means that it's fully absorbed the marinade and is ready for your dehydrator.

All dehydrators are a bit different, but most should have a temperature setting specifically for meat or jerky making. Ours makes jerky at 150 degrees, for 4 hours. Sometimes it may take a longer or shorter amount of time depending on the quantity or thickness of the meat, so check it about two hours in and flip the pieces over if needed so they can dry evenly on both sides. Again, this varies by machine so use your best judgement here.

You will know when possum jerky is thoroughly done, when it has turned a dark brown (almost black) color and is dry to the touch.

Step 5: Enjoy!

After your possum jerky has been thoroughly dried, remove it from the dehydrator and allow to cool at room temperature. Then it's ready to eat and enjoy! To keep freshness, store your jerky in the refrigerator and it will last for several weeks.

This is a high-protein, all-natural snack that you can take pride in having harvested and prepared completely on your own!

Thanks for reading this tutorial, and feel free to check out my other work at Frontier Furs on Facebook!

Comments

author
rorotofu (author)2014-09-24

Hi this is a really great tutorial on everything and survival. though I myself have grown up with the Internet, I am many others don't exactly appreciate being dead things when we don't expect it. There are people out there with possums as pets and friends. Please try to be more respectful with your imagery.

author
BAR3R (author)rorotofu2016-05-20

I Do NOT Think It Is At All "Offensive", It Isn't Like He Showed Them All Bloody & Battered In The First Image!! As Far As Having Them For Pets Ya Better Watch Out Because, I Live WAY Out In The Country & See Possums All The Time And, They Have Some HUGE Fangs On Them & They Will Attack If They Are Cornered & Playing Dead Doesnt Work!!

author
TrapperEllie (author)rorotofu2014-09-24

I am glad you liked the tutorial, however my thoughts are that if you see a posting titled "Possum Jerky", you can pretty much expect to see something dead and being butchered for its meat. It's just the reality of how these things are done, and while I can certainly respect the fact that other people's views will differ on the subject, these folks are under no obligation to keep looking at this page. Personally, if I see something I don't like on another person's site, I simply click the "back" button without comment. Others can do the same here.

Thanks,
Trapper Ellie

author
rorotofu (author)TrapperEllie2014-09-24

Thanks for the reply. I guess I should be more clear, as I said it's not the content of your post that gives me pause, it's the instructables thumbnail. Putting all debates and oppinions aside, you can't unsee things, or avoid it on the phone app, or site if you visit instructables often. Not trying to cause you drama. Just please remember there are people here from all walks of life and belief systems.

author
seamster (author)TrapperEllie2014-09-24

What an excellent, polite response!

author
rorotofu (author)rorotofu2014-09-24

*seeing

author
JeremyGilman (author)2015-11-08

I'd try it. To proceed with the roadkill, not likely.

author
JM1999 (author)2014-10-11

I agree with bullfrog, I even cringe when I hear the term 'possum' used for a much toothier 'opossum'.

I like the photos, they are really good (especially the intro!)

Good job on the win!

author
TrapperEllie (author)JM19992014-10-11

They are very commonly called "possums" here, but I suppose it could be regional thing. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos though, and thanks! I was surprised to have made it into the contest finals, I did not even expect to get that far with it :)

author
JM1999 (author)TrapperEllie2014-10-11

Not having high hopes could have contributed to the win, awesome job!

author
Bullfrogerwytsch. (author)2014-09-25

Opossums are not possums They are different animals.
Possums are native to australia, New guinea and Sulawesi.
But were named possums because they resembled Opossums, Which are native to the Americas.

author

While technically you are right, according to wikipedia, colloquially, across the southern US, the Opossum is regularly referred to as a 'Possum'. Mainly 'cause we don't English so good I 'spect.

author
jmcdonald23 (author)2014-09-27

I ain't tried possum yet, or coon, but if someone else prepared it for me I wouldn't say no. I have heard they are both great eating. Great job on your Instructable!!

author
bushman89 (author)jmcdonald232014-10-08

I've never had possum before but I've had coon, didn't even season it , just skinned it and spit roasted it over a camo fire and it was some of the best meat I've ever had. I was super surprised

author
canida (author)2014-10-07

This is awesome, like an awesome possum!

author
stateit (author)2014-10-06

Won't the meat be tough if they've been trapped then despatched? Adrenaline in the muscle tissue from a stressed animal makes for tough eating.
Better to shoot from a distance without a chase for more more tender meat.

author
TrapperEllie (author)stateit2014-10-07

No, because trapped animals are not necessarily "stressed". They tend to just lay down or sit still in the trap once they realize they can't escape, and I am very calm when I approach and dispatch them. I've never had an issue with trapped meat being tough, unless overcooked.

author
themullusk (author)2014-09-24

I believe he was referring to your cover photo. A photo of the finished product would entice more people to actually read the article then just automatically skim by or feel offended.

author
TrapperEllie (author)themullusk2014-09-24

Possibly, but then again if some people are too squeamish to look at a photo of a deceased opossum, those individuals probably wouldn't want to read this whole tutorial anyway ;) I used that photo not only to show the very first stage of this process, but also to help attract my target audience for this article, which is trappers, hunters, survival enthusiasts, etc. So I will leave it up for the time being, as it's getting some positive feedback on my Facebook page at least!

author
lipnstac (author)TrapperEllie2014-09-24

Well gonna se if I can bag a couple tonight. Gamo air rifle though. Nice article.

author
Uncle Kudzu (author)lipnstac2014-09-25

Does .177 air rifle pack enough punch to put them down pretty quick? Any particular pellets that you use?

Yeah, I've never had any possum meat (that I know of), but I've been told on more than one occasion that they have a good bit of perfectly edible lean meat. Visited a man once who was raising them for the eating.

As for the photos, how would somebody know they were dead from the picture. Everybody knows that possums are fakers ;)

author
gunguru (author)Uncle Kudzu2014-10-06

I doubt you would get much of a chance to shoot one of those with an air rifle unless you have a nightvision optic on it! Trapping is about the only way to go but, yes. A .177 pellet will kill a possum. I would recommend the predator pellets. They are ballistic hollow points and are lighter grain for higher velocity and great accuracy!

author
eatonent (author)TrapperEllie2014-09-24

It definitely attracted me to this instructable. I catch a ton of possums in my area and then release them. I've contemplated trying them out for meat.

author
bushman89 (author)2014-10-06

Dude you rock. keep being awesome and screw the haters

author
horseygal2014 (author)2014-10-06

Um...... Good job, a bit gross

author
imtheman47 (author)2014-09-25

Do you know how to skin a porcupine?

author
TrapperEllie (author)imtheman472014-09-26

I honestly am not too sure on that, since we don't have porcupines in my area, I've never had to skin one! My guess would be to split it underneath where there aren't any quills, and peel the skin back carefully! Somebody else may have better tips on this, though, so I'll leave it open to more suggestions here. I have heard from others that porcupine meat is indeed good to eat, though!

author
gravityisweak (author)2014-09-25

I'm guessing this entire process could spawn multiple instructables, from the fur usage, to the skinning process, to the gutting.

author
carlos66ba (author)2014-09-25

Nice instructable, thanks! If one day you also write about how to skin and remove the guts from the animal, that would be great too (i would not know how to start...).

author
Bard (author)2014-09-24

nice instructible, I am not used to seeing dead opossums with out tire treads acrossed the body. The few live ones I have seen did not have the coats of fur those have.

Do you tan the hides as well?

author
TrapperEllie (author)Bard2014-09-25

Glad you enjoyed it. Possums actually do have nice fur if you catch them during the winter. I usually just sell the hides raw to the fur market, but I also get a few of them tanned to sell at events or make into hats, etc. I like to make good use of every part of the animal!

author
seamster (author)2014-09-24

Nicely done. Thanks for sharing this!

author
jlepack (author)2014-09-24

Actually, his cover photo made me come check this instructable out!
But I'm weird like that ;)

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Bio: I am a trapper, crafter, and creator of the bizarre!
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