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!