Beavers are ingrained into North American culture, yet very few people eat or consider eating them.
Not only can you eat beaver, but it is an excellent source of nutrition and fat that sustained our forefathers that built this country back in the trapping era.
Is it Safe to Eat beaver?
Beaver is perfectly safe to eat as long as you handle, prepare, and cook it properly.
Many people are afraid to eat beaver due to unfounded fears of becoming sick or contracting illness.
As mentioned above, trappers have lived with beavers as their primary protein and fat source to see them through harsh winters.
According to Canada health and social services, beaver meat is safe to eat with no known diseases associated with it.
The only concern that was ever raised with eating beaver was with eating beaver liver. In 1999 a test was done on beaver liver in a particular area that was found to have an elevated level of the heavy metal cadmium.]
The studies suggest that beaver liver was still safe to eat, with up to 34 livers per year still being within safe levels.
What Does Beaver Meat Taste Like?
As with any meat, ask ten people what it tastes like, and you’re likely to get ten different answers.
The one thing I can tell you for sure is that it doesn’t taste like chicken.
If I were to pick a meat that beaver resembles, I would say a cross between beef and kangaroo.
A lot of times, you may hear people say wild animals have a gamey taste; this is not the case with beavers.
I find beaver to have a very mild, delicate taste.
Beaver meat is a red meat that is lean and extremely tender.
I believe the method you use to cook beaver has a huge factor in the outcome of the taste. Most beavers that I cook I like to braise with the bone in.
Can you Eat Beaver Tail?
Beavertail is edible and one of the most nutritious parts of the beaver.
Back in the traping days, the beaver’s tail was one of the most sought-after parts of the beaver, besides its hide.
Beavers use their tail to store fat, with the highest fat content being just before winter that will all but disappear after winter.
Trappers would catch the beavers before these fat deposits were gone and use the fat as a supplement to aid them throughout winter.
What Does Beaver Tail Taste Like?
Baver’s tail is nothing but fat. It’s not so dissimilar to the fat you would find on the bear, with the only difference being that the beaver fat taking on a slightly different taste because of its diet.
Depending on how you use the fat will also contribute to the taste. If you eat the tail straight off the grill, it has a mild taste. The texture is soft with just enough firmness to keep it from melting.
How to Cook Beaver
There are numerous ways to cook beaver, with each method being just as tasty as the other.
Most people opt for braising or stewing beaver, which I also do and is my preferred method of preparing beaver.
There is not much meat on a beaver other than the legs, so I butcher the beaver and just use the legs.
Some methods of cooking beaver.
Braising – Braising beaver meat is one of my favorite ways to prepare beaver. This method of slowly cooking in the oven extracts all the flavors from the bones and leaves the meat incredibly tender. It’s hard to explain just how tender this method makes the beaver meat, but it’s one of the most if not the most tender meats I have ever had.
Smoking – Smoked beaver is so good it’s almost a delicacy. I like to brine the hams in honey and saltwater for 3 days before adding the beaver to the smoke. You could also sous vide the ham before adding to the smoker for extra tender meat.
BBQ – Barbecued beaver is just as good as smoked beaver. BBQ the beaver just as you would beef. It’s important to baste the beaver every 20 minutes or so to prevent the meat from drying out.
Roast – Roast beaver has a wholesome homely feel to it that is not so different from roast beef, but in my opinion, it’s better. I like to soak the beaver meat in salt water for 24 hours before roasting it.
Pan Fry – The backstraps of a beaver are super tender and are ideal for pan-frying. While there isn’t usually a whole pile of meat in the backstraps of a beaver they still warrant going the extra mile in cooking for the taste and tenderness.
How to Cook Beaver Tail
Beaver tail is a bit different from beaver meat because it doesn’t have so many ways to cook it.
Charred – The best and most well-known method of cooking a beaver tail is to cook it over a flame or hot coals.
By cooking the beaver tail in this way it will char the scaly outer skin. When the tail begins to cook, the skin will char and puff up, pulling away from the fatty part of the tail.
Not many people eat far from a beaver tail anymore; it’s more commonly used as trapping bait.
Beaver is a long-forgotten delicacy that North America once thrived on. The meat is of the highest quality meats you can find and the tail is an excellent source of fat.
Beaver meat is highly nutritious and is a safe and healthy alternative to beef or any other store-bought meat.