Can you eat possum? My in-depth guide

The internet never surprises me with its wealth of knowledge and, of course, this question came up. Can you eat possum? Many of us consider opossums as a bit of a trash animal but they are actually a viable food source. They are high in protein with a whopping 28g per 85g portion! They may not be the most beautiful creatures in the world but you could have the same argument for turkeys… and we eat those ugly things at Christmas.

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Table of Contents

Can you eat possum?

Yes, you can eat possum. However, you need to take extra care in the way you cook them as possums can be a vessel for a whole host of germs, the main one being a bacterial disease called “Tularaemia” (although rare). Possums are a bit chewy and have less of a gamey taste in comparison to other animals in the wild, so a popular way to cook them is to slow roast them which tenderises the meat. That way, you can take advantage of its nutritional value of 26g of protein per 85g portion!

Why do people eat possum?

It’s hard to imagine a world where food isn’t easily accessible. Think about it, whatever one desires to eat is available at a supermarket near you. Even the most exotic foods can be found in big cities. So, given this, why would anyone want to eat something as seemingly unappetising as a possum?

Let’s go back to the late 1920s. It’s thought that Virginia opossum was released into North America during The Great Depression as a viable food source.

A Redditor explains how his friend’s grandfather used to tell stories of him and his brothers going out to hunt rabbits, possum, raccoons, and squirrels, basically anything that moved so that the family could have food on the table. It’s almost hard to fathom that not too long ago, people had to resort to these measures to feed their families. Even the 39th President of the United States “Jimmy Carter” used to enjoy tucking into possum and sweet potato.

So, when you think about it in that context, eating possum doesn’t seem so bad, does it? In fact, it’s quite admirable that people were able to make do with whatever they could find and still manage to survive. It almost makes our COVID-19 2020 lockdown seem inconsequential.

possum hunting

What does possum taste like?

So one of the earliest recipes I found described possum as being a very fat animal with a peculiarly flavored meat. Well, a peculiar flavor isn’t much to go on, is it?

Texture

So let’s start with the texture. Some have compared it to chicken whilst others say it’s comparable to a mini lamb-chop or wild hog. It is quite a fatty meat which is why it’s often slow-roasted as this helps to render some of the fat out. I think it’s fair to come to a conclusion that the texture of cooked possum lies somewhere between a mixture of chicken and pork.

Taste

Now taste has a lot to with what the possums eat before they are killed. If it’s been living off a diet of acorns and other nuts, then the meat is going to taste very different to one that has been scavenging for food by eating your pet food left outside or in garbage cans.

Luckily if you have killed a possum in the wild, then it’s likely that it will have been eating a diet of insects and berries which will give the meat a slightly gamey taste.

The meat of a possum is extremely fatty, which implies what? Flavor! The fat tastes are similar to that of a wild hog, which is comparable to grass-fed beef in terms of flavor.

What Diseases Can You Get From A Possum?

Tularaemia

Tularaemia is a disease caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. It is found in live animals such as rabbits, rodents, muskrats, beavers, and possums. Infection usually occurs through contact with infected wildlife or their carcasses but can also occur via tick or mosquito bites.

Symptoms: fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough, and progressive weakness. In its more severe form, Tularaemia can lead to pneumonia and even death.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It is found in a wide variety of animals including deer, badgers, foxes, and possums. Infection usually occurs via inhalation of infected droplets from coughing or sneezing.

Symptoms: fever, weight loss, night sweats, fatigue, loss of appetite, chest pain, and a cough that may produce blood.

Luckily for us, possums are resistant to rabies because their body temperatures are too low. If the body temperature is too low the rabies virus will not be able to thrive. They can’t contract Lyme disease either from tick bites which is another good thing.

virginian opossum

Preparing your possum

The first thing you need to do is skin the animal. This is best done with a sharp knife. Start from the hind legs and work your way up. Once you have removed the skin, you need to remove the head, tail, and internal organs:

  • Next, you need to soak the meat in vinegar and salt water for 24 hours. This will help to tenderize it.
  • After that, it’s time to cook your possum. Possum can be cooked in a number of ways but the option I’m opting for is to put it in a pan and bake it for 2 hours.
  • Then take the possum out, add sweet potatoes, carrots, onions and sprinkle in a little bit of sage and then put it back in a slow cook it.
  • Once you take it out it will taste just like pork.
possum pork

Possum sausage recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 possum, skinned and gutted
  • 1 pound bobcat fat
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup water

Directions

  • Cut the meat into small pieces and grind it together with the bobcat.
  • Mix in the spices and flour. Add water until the mixture is of a thick consistency
  • Shape into patties or sausage links and cook over medium heat until browned on all sides.
brushtail possums

Conclusion

So now you know that you can absolutely eat possum. So let’s summarise what we have learnt:

  • You can eat possum
  • You need to be careful when you are preparing it as it can host diseases such as Tularaemia and Tuberculosis
  • They don’t taste as gamey in comparison to other wild animals
  • They are a great source of protein with a massive 28g per 85g portion
  • People ate possum during the late 1920s Great Depression as food sources were scarce
  • The texture is similar to that of a lamb-chop, wild hog or pork
  • The taste of the meat all depends on what the animal was eating before and how you cook it
  • Make sure you skin your possum
  • Leave the possum meat in vinegar and salt for 24 hours
  • Add herbs and spices to increase flavor
  • You can make possum sausages
possum in the wild

People also ask

Can you get sick from eating possum?

You can avoid getting sick from eating possum by preparing them in the proper way. This includes skinning them, removing their head, tail and internal organs. You should also soak the meat in vinegar and salt water for 24 hours.

Do possums carry any disease?

Yes. They have been known to carry diseases such as Tularaemia and Tuberculosis. This can be avoided by preparing and cooking them in the proper manner.

Are possums dirty?

It’s a misconception that possums are dirty. In fact, they clean themselves quite frequently and remove ticks they may have brushed up against by eating them. So it depends on how you define dirty!

possum are clean
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Oliver Wright

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