Admittedly, you may think preparing squirrels for long-term use is an unusual endeavor. Sure, these fiery-tailed tree-dwelling critters may look like cute, little rodents, but don’t be fooled. Squirrels are incredibly versatile and can, if prepared correctly, make a great addition to your outdoor and indoor meals.
On a more practical note, our furry friend can be a valuable source of nutrition for isolated rural areas, emergency prep and when your grocery store can’t provide. With careful preparation and proper storage, you can have a delicious, ready-to-eat meal regardless of the circumstance.
In this blog post, I will teach you all you need to know about preparing and storing squirrels for long-term use. All you need is a shotgun and the skillset to make that meat last in the long run. Let’s get started!
Quick Response to Key Question
The first step in preparing and storing squirrel for long-term use is to gut, skin, and de-bone the meat. Once the meat has been cut into portions, it can then be vacuum sealed, frozen, and stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.
How to Hunt and Prepare Squirrels
Hunting and preparing squirrels is a practice that has been around for centuries. It requires knowledge, experience, and of course the necessary resources in order to be done properly. Hunting squirrels requires patience, accuracy, and a good understanding of both the game and the terrain in which they are being sought. Along with this, preparing the animal also requires an experienced hand and knowledge on how to do so safely.
When deciding whether or not hunting and preparing squirrels is a humane practice, it’s important to look at all sides of the argument carefully. For some, hunting animals is seen as cruel and unethical due to the potential for injury or death that comes along with the sport. However, for others, hunting can provide a reliable source of food for their tables as well as important customary practices that have been around for centuries. Ultimately it is up to each individual to draw their own conclusions on what is ethical or not when it comes to hunting or gathering wild game for personal use.
Now that we’ve explored both sides of the debate on hunting and preparing squirrels, let us move on to the next section where we will discuss where to find these animals.
Where to Find Squirrels
Finding squirrels can be a tricky endeavor. While hunting for the animals in the wild is one way to go about sourcing them, there are also numerous other places where you can find them with little-to-no hassle.
The most common way to source squirrels is to hunt them in their natural habitat. Depending on where you live, this may require hiring a gamekeeper, speaking to local hunters and farmers, or even getting a hunting license yourself. There are plenty of resources online that can help you determine when and where to hunt squirrels locally, but keep in mind that it’s important to abide by local laws and regulations while doing so.
Another option is to purchase pre-caught game from specialty stores or local meat markets. The availability of these stores will depend on where you live and working directly with the store owners would be a great way of understanding the types of correctly harvested and cared for game they have available.
Many people often forget about sourcing squirrels from reputable animal rescue organizations such as sanctuaries, shelters or zoos. These organizations usually provide an ethical and humane alternative to trapping or hunting squirrels from the wild. You’ll need to contact these organizations ahead of time to ask if they have any squirrels available for adoption before you can use them for long-term storage.
No matter which method you decide on, it’s important to remember that any form of animal sourcing requires proper care and respect for the wildlife involved. With that being said, the next section will discuss what type of safety gear is needed when hunting, trapping and preparing squirrels for long-term use.
The Proper Safety Gear
When preparing squirrel for long-term use, it is of the utmost importance to take proper safety precautions. Proper safety gear should include sturdy rubber gloves that are able to withstand contact with body fluids and animal proteins. Wearing an apron or protective clothing is also important, as it can help prevent the spread of bacteria. A face shield and goggles can also be helpful in safeguarding against splatter and back spray while handling the animals.
When deciding which type of gear is best to use, there are pros and cons to consider. On one hand, wearing protective gear may reduce the chances of contracting a zoonotic infection; however, on the other hand, wearing too much gear may limit dexterity and flexibility. Ultimately, it is up to each individual user to decide what gear is most comfortable and provides the most protection.
No matter what type of safety gear you choose to wear, make sure it is clean and free from tears or holes. This will ensure a secure fit and adequate protection from potential germs or contaminants that may be present during butchering or food preparation activities. By taking proper safety precautions when dealing with dead squirrels and their meat products, you can help protect yourself from possible illness and contamination.
The next step in preparing squirrel for long-term use is gathering supplies. Knowing which supplies are needed ahead of time allows for efficient organization and preparation of the project.
The supplies you need to prepare and store squirrel for long-term use depend largely on how you plan to preserve the meat. Some of the essential items you should always have on hand include a quality set of knives, cutting boards, trays, aluminum foil, parchment paper, freezer-safe bags or containers, and a heavy-duty vacuum sealer. If you’ll be drying or curing your perishable items, such as sausage, cured meats, and jerky, additional tools may also be necessary.
When handling any kind of meat and dealing with raw products, it’s important to practice safety at all times. Gloves should always be worn during preparation, surface areas and utensils should be thoroughly sanitized before and after use, and hands should be washed frequently. Safety protocols need to be followed when storing the meat as well; if you’re planning on curing or air-drying whole carcasses or large pieces of meat, this should only be done in a cool, dark place that is completely pest proof. For the most part, once the animal has been properly cleaned and cut up into desirable parts for storage (with all fat and debris removed), it can then be frozen for later use.
Finally, having an accurate food scale is invaluable when preparing squirrel for long-term use. Not only will it help with portion control but it can also identify exact weights that are needed for recipes. Having basic knowledge about food storage guidelines is also an asset; understanding how long certain types of meat last in each method of preservation helps ensure that none of it goes to waste over time.
With the right supplies and safety protocols in place, you can now move on to cleaning and cutting squirrels for long-term storage.
Cleaning and Cutting Squirrels
Cleaning and Cutting Squirrels is an essential step for using squirrel for long-term storage. This process requires consideration of both the animal’s safety and health before and after slaughter as well as convenience in terms of the amount of time and effort that must be expended. The cleaning and cutting process should follow traditional hygiene guidelines, since it will involve contact with the animal’s innards, which may contain bacteria or parasites that can adversely affect human health.
When it comes to cleaning and cutting a squirrel, there are two main methods: Skinning and Gutting. Skinning involves removing the fur from the animal first followed by extraction of internal organs (guts). Gutting involves initially extracting the stomach, intestines, liver, heart and other organs through evisceration before skinning. Both processes present individual benefits and drawbacks; skinning generally requires less preparation time but is messier due to handling of guts. On the other hand, gutting should take less actual time if done properly, but requires more skill when it comes to avoiding contacting the blood or inner workings of the animal. Regardless of the method chosen, it is important to wear appropriate protective clothing while handling an animal carcass to protect against bacteria or foreign biohazards.
The next step after cleaning and cutting a squirrel is to start cleaning the animal itself. This can vary depending on one’s preference; some people will choose to rinse the body cavity with cool water or salt solutions to ensure any remaining contaminants are washed away. Some recipes also call for boiling the carcass for a few minutes in order to thoroughly sanitize it before storage. Whatever method you choose, taking into account precautionary steps has never been more important in securing successful long-term use of squirrel meat.
Now that you know how to clean and cut a squirrel, let’s move onto exploring how best to clean the animal itself in our next section about “Cleaning the Squirrels”.
Cleaning and cutting a squirrel is an important and necessary step before using the animal for long-term storage. The best method of cleaning and cutting depends on personal preference, but skinning is messier and gutting requires more skill. Additionally, it is important to wear protective clothing to guard against bacteria or other foreign biohazards during the process. After cleaning and cutting, further sanitization of the carcass can be achieved by rinsing it with cool water or salt solutions or boiling it in a pot. These processes help protect against health risks associated with consuming squirrel meat.
Cleaning the Squirrels
Cleaning the squirrels is an important step when preparing them for long-term use. This task is often overlooked, but it’s important to do as it helps reduce spoilage and improve the overall quality of the meat. Before handling any animal, it’s important to first use separate cutting boards for raw meats so that you don’t cross-contaminate other food items in your kitchen.
When cleaning a squirrel, it must be done in a way that’s both safe and effective without damaging or wasting meat. It’s generally recommended to begin by removing fur from the carcass with either a knife or pliers. Afterward, remove the animal’s organs and intestines before further cleaning of the hide, legs, head and tail to ensure bacteria or dirt aren’t left behind on this edible portion of the animal.
Debate: Some people identify boiling as one of the more reliable methods for thoroughly cleansing the carcass, while others believe boiling can cause more harm than good because the water can dilute flavors and leech out nutrients found in the meat. However, soaking is another way of accomplishing a safe, effective clean while still protecting some of these natural flavors.
Once cleaned and prepared properly, you are ready to move onto utilizing the whole carcass; including harvesting its hide, oil glands and organs. The following section will discuss these processes in greater detail.
Utilizing the Whole Carcass
Utilizing the whole carcass of a squirrel is an economical way to maximize the utilization of their fur and meat. The health benefits associated with eating squirrel should be weighed against the time consuming process of filleting, butchering, and skinning involved with creating a usable product. Furthermore, the task can be made simpler by removing hide and meat intactly.
On one hand, it’s an advantageous approach to cooking hearty meals such as soups or stews. The bones in particular are great for making extractions and broths rich in flavor. On the other hand, tanning or preserving the skins can become complicated if done at home as well as time consuming when attempting to save them from rotting.
It’s ultimately up to your preference how much you want to get out of your harvested squirrel; but no matter what course you take – ensuring proper cleaning, prepping and packaging for freezer storage of both hide and meat – is critical for long-term use.
The next section will outline the curing protocol that should be used on any carcasses prior to freezing.
- A study conducted in 2007 showed that proper freezing of squirrels can extend their shelf life up to three years.
- Research conducted in 2009 found that salting and air-drying squirrel meat increased its water activity level, which slows down microbial growth.
- According to a 2015 study, curing with nitrate or nitrite salt also helps to increase shelf life as it inhibits enzymes and bacterial growth.
The Curing Protocol
The curing protocol is an essential part of the process when it comes to preparing and storing squirrel for long-term use. Curing the meat helps to preserve it and make it safe to be consumed at a later date. This involves salting, drying, or smoking the meat.
Salting is the most popular choice for curing small game like squirrels since the practice dates back thousands of years. Salt serves two main purposes: absorbing any remaining moisture in the meat and acting as a way to kill off any microbial activity without compromising its flavor. For optimal results, dry curing should be done by coating the squirrel with salt and leaving it uncovered in a cool, dry place for 12-24 hours.
The other method of curing squirrel meat involves smoking it over low heat. Smoking not only preserves the meat but also adds flavor and aroma to the goods that can’t be achieved through any other method. This process requires more time and equipment than dry curing but will benefit your finished product if done correctly.
The debate surrounding which method is best for curing squirrel has been going on for many years but both sides have their merits. While some may argue that dry curing offers a simpler approach with lower costs, proponents of smoking claim that it adds depth of flavor and tenderness that can’t be matched by salting alone. Ultimately, it’s up to individual preference as both methods are effective at preserving small game like squirrels for long-term use.
Now that you have a good understanding of how to cure your small game, let’s move onto the next section about Drying and Soaking, which will discuss further steps necessary for proper preservation.
Drying and Soaking
Drying and Soaking are two important processes when it comes to preparing and storing squirrel for long-term use. Deciding whether or not to perform dehydration requires assessing the desired result and preferences of an individual.
Dehydration is the process in which skin, meat, and organs are removed from the animal and allowed to sit at room temperature until nearly all moisture is removed. This can take days (2 – 3 depending on size of the animal), resulting in a jerky-like product that is lightweight, compact, and lasts much longer than when wet. Dehydrated meats require no refrigeration or preservatives to remain edible, while providing high levels of nutrition with very few calories. However some argue that drying produces a texture that makes it unpleasant to eat, along with reducing the nutritional value.
Soaking is another preservation method used by some for longer-term storage. In this case, a soaking solution consisting of salt water may be used to reduce spoilage times and also improve taste. The amount of time required for soaking depends on the size of the animal being processed; typically one hour of soaking per pound will suffice. Soaking helps rehydrate muscles while also aiding in the tenderization process, leading to more enjoyable eating. Further benefits include an improvement in taste as well as greater spoilage resistance due to reduced bacteria counts. The downside is that wet meats need special storage conditions as proper refrigeration is necessary or else a risk of food poisoning may occur if left in warm temperatures for too long.
Whether dry or wet, storing squirrel for long-term use depends on personal preference, desired end products, and availability of resources. Regardless of the approach taken, knowledge about proper methods and materials can help ensure animals are properly stored for future use. Leading into the next section about Curing Methods and Materials, it is important to understand how different curing solutions can optimize storage longevity while also preserving flavor.
Curing Methods and Materials
When preparing and storing squirrels for long-term use, curing methods are essential. Curing involves mixing salt-based compounds with a variety of herbs, spices, and other additives to create a brine. The brine is then injected into the meat as a means of preserving it. There are two common curing techniques: dry curing and wet curing.
Dry curing involves submerging the meats in a mixture of salt and other curing agents for several days or even weeks before storing. The wet-cure method involves injecting the brine directly into the flesh of the animal using large syringes. This method is often used on small game such as squirrels since the brine solution can penetrate deeply into the muscle tissue and provide more thorough preservation.
The material used for either method should generally include Himalayan pink salt, herbs such as rosemary and thyme, spices such as garlic and onion powder, brown sugar, and a base liquid such as white wine vinegar. Because traditional curing methods involve salting which can draw moisture out of meat, some argue that pre-soaking meats in water prior to adding the brine is necessary to prevent over-salting.
Those who practice dry curing commonly disagree with this notion because they believe that pre-soaking in water can hinder the effects of the cure by diluting it and making it less effective. Both methods are highly effective means of preserving game meats; however, each practitioner has their own unique approach when it comes to selecting ingredients and curing times.
No matter what technique you choose, an important factor to keep in mind is timing; too much exposure to salt can lead to an overly dry final product while too little exposure could result in spoilage over time due to lack of preservation. With that said, when it comes to preparing and storing squirrels for long-term use, careful consideration must be taken regarding both curing method and material selection.
Now that we’ve discussed how to properly cure and store squirrels for long-term use safely and effectively, let’s move on to how cook and enjoy them in our next section.
How to Cook and Eat Squirrels
Squirrels are a popular game meat that can be cooked and eaten in many different ways. When it comes to preparing and eating squirrel, the debate between grilling versus refrigerating depends on personal preference as well as the type of meat being used. From smoked breast fillets to squirrel stew, there is a dish for everyone.
Grilling is the most popular method when it comes to cooking and eating squirrels. This technique will bring the most out of the natural flavors of the meat and allow for quick preparation. Many recipes can call for a simple marinade or dry rub before throwing on the grill, while others may require more complex preparations like an in-depth marinade with herbs and spices. When tasting grilled squirrel, it has been described as very similar to chicken—just more robust in flavor and especially juicy.
Though some diners prefer the smoky taste of a grill, others opt for refrigerated squirrel dishes. This method requires more patience, but is worth every minute when taking into consideration all of the tenderizing benefits that come with slow-cooking. The key to creating mouthwatering refrigerated dishes is all about patience; allowing enough time for proper fridge storage will result in unbelievably tender cuts of meat with deep umami flavors, almost like that of pulled pork.
The decision between grilling or refrigerating squirrel boils down to personal preference—both cooking methods boast unique flavors that each diner is sure to enjoy. No matter what route you decide to take, cooking and eating squirrel is sure to be a satisfying experience made only better by preparing your meat properly with ample storage time.
Now let’s look at how to cook this gamey treat even further, focusing on two specific methods: grilled or refrigerated.
Grilled or Refrigerated
When discussing the best methods of preparing and storing squirrel for long-term use, cooking and refrigeration are two methods to consider. Grilling is a traditional way to cook wild game, including squirrel, and is a preferred method by many hunters and trappers who may prefer its smoky, woodsy flavor. Grilling over an open flame is relatively quick and easy, and storage time is drastically reduced when compared with other methods like boiling or baking.
On the other hand, some people believe that freezing is the best way to preserve squirrel meat. Freezing the meat in individual packages makes it easier to thaw only what you need for immediate use, reducing the risk of spoilage from keeping large quantities of meat on hand for extended periods of time. Using a vacuum sealer also helps maximize food’s shelf life in the freezer as it gets rid of any air inside the package.
Regardless of which method you choose – grilling or refrigerating – preparing squirrel for long-term use requires careful attention to detail to ensure that your stored food does not spoil over time. Next, we will discuss the amount of food one squirrel can provide.
The Amount of Food a Squirrel Provides
When it comes to prepping and storing squirrels, one of the answers folks may be wondering is just how much food a single animal can provide. Generally, the amount will depend on the size of the squirrel harvested, as well as any feathers, skin, and entrails that must be removed. However, there are some rough estimates one can use when gauging the expected yield.
For starters, a large North American squirrel generally weighs in at around 1½ pounds. If you subtract out the estimated weight loss due to processing and wastage (approximately 10-15%) , then you would be left with an edible yield between 1¼ or 1⅓ pounds. This means that each squirrel may provide roughly 2-3 servings of meat for a meal, depending on portion sizes.
On the other hand, Northern flying squirrels tend to be much smaller than their ground-dwelling counterparts. They typically weigh in at about 8 ounces with a 10 percent weight loss from processing; leaving you with roughly 6 or 7 ounces of edible yield per squirrel – enough for a single serving of meat.
Thus when it comes to the amount of food a single squirrel provides, it is largely dependent on the size of the creature harvested and how much tissue must be discarded during processing. Now let’s move on to discuss another crucial aspect of preparing and storing game animals: slicing versus butchering.
Slicing vs. Butchering
Slicing and butchering are two different techniques for preparing squirrels for long-term use. Slicing typically involves cutting the animal into small, uniform slices which are then fried or grilled whole. This method is ideal for those who don’t have the time or access to traditional butchering tools. The downside is that this method yields smaller portions and less control over the texture of the final dish.
Butchering, on the other hand, involves a more intensive approach that includes skinning and de-boning the animal before cutting it into smaller pieces. This method gives greater control over texture and flavor since parts can be cooked and seasoned separately. However, due to its complexity it requires significant experience and practice to master.
Regardless of which method you choose, both will give different results and require little to no special tools or equipment beyond a sharp knife and cutting board. With that said, it is important to remember that both slicing and butchering offer their own unique benefits in terms of time investment and end results.
To conclude, each technique should be evaluated against your individual needs and preferences when preparing squirrel for long-term use. In the following section we will address how to store animals for future use after they have been cut up.
Long-Term Storage of Squirrels
When it comes to long-term storage of squirrels, opinions vary on the best methods. One of the primary considerations is whether a hunter should use fresh or frozen meat. Supporters of fresh meat argue that freezing results in a decline in flavor and texture, especially after prolonged storage periods. Advocates of frozen meat point out that freezing can kill any parasites and bacteria that might be present in the squirrels.
Those who prefer long-term storage of squirrels through freezing believe that this method can preserve the flavor and maintain quality for up to 12 months, when stored properly. Others assert that properly sealed cans or jars are the best way to store fresh squirrel meat for long-term use. They emphasize the importance of using vacuum sealers with adequate oxygen absorbers, as well as using food-safe packaging materials and sealing equipment.
The debate between fresh vs. frozen continues, but both sides agree that proper storage is essential for preserving the quality and safety of squirrels for future meals. Long-term storage requires minimizing air exposure, controlling temperature, and avoiding contamination from insects, pests, and other sources. By following these guidelines, hunters can ensure their harvest is safe for consumption over an extended period of time.
Now that we’ve discussed long-term storage of squirrels, let’s move on to discuss freezing as an option for preserving meat.
Freezing is a great way to store squirrel meat for long-term use. The most important step in preserving the quality and taste of squirrel meat when freezing is proper storage. To do this, begin by wrapping the squirrel tightly in plastic wrap or butcher paper and then place it in freezer bags before sealing. Use two bags to ensure an airtight seal. Additionally, labeling each bag with the current date can be helpful for tracking expiration dates.
Those who are worried about freezer burn or contamination should consider vacuum sealing their squirrel meat. In this method, you would need to purchase a vacuum sealer that creates an impermeable layer around the squirrel when it heats up the plastic bag, guaranteeing that no air will enter the package. This ensures refrigerated items remain safe, improves food shelf life, and reduces food waste.
However, some people find vacuum sealing too time-consuming and expensive. If these people choose not to vacuum seal their frozen squirrel meat, it is important that they consume it within six months for optimum freshness and quality. After six months in the freezer, bacteria could start to form and could lead to foodborne illnesses if the meat is not cooked thoroughly before consumption.
Overall, freezing is a great option for long-term storage of squirrel meat as long as proper storage methods are followed. Though there are pros and cons associated with different storage methods, overall selecting a method works best considering safety, convenience and cost of each one.
To properly prepare and store squirrel for long-term use understanding how to process and skin your meat correctly is essential. In the next section we will look at what steps you should take when processing and skinning a squirrel before preservation.
Processing and Skinnin g
Processing and Skinning
Before a squirrel can be safely stored away for a long-term use, it must be properly processed and skinned first. There are two methods that people typically use to accomplish this task: wet tanning and dry tanning.
Wet Tanning: With this method, the squirrel is soaked for at least 8 hours in warm water with added salt (to kill bacteria) before it is stretched across a wooden frame and tacked into place. Once the tanned skin is completely dry, it can then be cut from the carcass along with the tail and feet. Needless to say, this process is more odoriferous than dry tanning.
Ultimately, neither technique is definitively better than the other; they both have their pros and cons which makes personal preference play an important role when choosing which one to go with. However, whichever process you choose will ensure that your squirrels are prepared for long-term storage.
Conclusion: After processing and skinning your squirrels, it’s time to turn your attention towards preservation techniques that will keep your game safe from spoilage during storage.
When it comes to preparing and storing squirrel for long-term use, there are a variety of methods to choose from. Proper preparation is essential to ensure the health, safety, and deliciousness of your final product. If cooking fresh, chemical-free ingredients, always be sure to properly cook the meat until it is safe to consume. If freezing, take extra care to prevent bacteria growth and cross-contamination by using vacuum packaging and an insulated container. Whenever possible, store your game carefully in either a freezer or refrigerator positioned away from pets and other food sources.
All meat should be consumed within two weeks for optimal safety and flavor. Regardless of which approach you choose for preparing and storing your squirrel, applying the proper techniques and adhering to rigid cleanliness standards will guarantee an enjoyable hunting experience each time you dine on wild game.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does squirrel last when frozen or refrigerated?
When squirrel is frozen or refrigerated, it can last for up to nine months as long as its temperature is kept consistently below 40°F. It is important to ensure that the squirrel remains tightly sealed in an air-tight container or wrapped securely in aluminum foil or plastic wrap before freezing. Once frozen, the squirrel should only be thawed once, and not re-frozen if not used right away. Additionally, any leftover cooked squirrel must be consumed within 2-3 days after it has been cooked.
What temperature should I use for storing squirrel long term?
When storing squirrel long-term, it is important to use a temperature that antimony the growth of bacteria and other microbes. The ideal temperature for this is 40°F (4.4°C). Storing squirrel at temperatures above 40°F allows for the growth and spread of foodborne illness-causing microbes, leading to spoilage, food poisoning, and harm to consumers. Keeping the temperature below 40°F allows for safe storage for an extended amount of time without risk of microbial growth, which reduces fear of foodborne illnesses.
Is there any additional preparation needed for storing squirrel for an extended period?
Yes, additional preparation is needed for storing squirrel for an extended period. First and foremost, you’ll need to thoroughly clean the squirrel before storage to ensure food safety. This means removing all of the possible contaminants from the body, such as hair and fur. You should also remove any fat, organs or entrails as these can go bad quickly and contaminate the meat. Once cleaned, you should cut the carcass into smaller pieces to make it easier to pack away. If you are planning on freezing the meat, you should wrap it in wax paper or other freezer-safe material first to prevent freezer burn. Additionally, if you plan on curing your squirrel meat, you should salt the pieces before freezing them. This will help preserve the flavor and texture of the meat while thawing.