What do you do now that you’ve finally caught the woodchuck that’s been bothering your garden all season? It seems a pity to throw away nice meat, especially when it’s been properly fed on the food that should have been on your family’s dinner.
What Is A Groundhog?
The groundhog, often known as a woodchuck, is a rodent in the Sciuridae family that belongs to the marmot family of giant ground squirrels. The groundhog is a North American lowland creature that can be found in much of the Eastern United States, Canada, and Alaska.
The Taste Of Groundhog Meat
Groundhog meat is delicate, like rabbit meat, but dark and faintly gamey, like wild boar meat, and it lends itself well to braising. The meat becomes quite soft and falls off the bones after being cooked in liquid for around 2 hours, and most groundhog recipes require you to do the same.
If properly cleaned and served, groundhogs are not only edible, but also tender and delectable. They consume a purely vegetarian diet and are free of any human-transmitted diseases. Groundhogs contain smell glands that, if not removed promptly, can lend an off-flavor to the meat.
What Is The Best Way To Cut & Clean A Groundhog?
- Make a small incision at the sternum with a sharp knife to begin. To avoid puncturing the meat or viscera beneath the skin, only go skin deep.
- This is one situation when having a field hunting knife with a gut hook for skinning comes in handy. The groundhog can be “unzipped” from his skin by looping the hook on the backside of the hunting knife through that small slit. To open the skin down the centerline of the stomach, carefully draw back with your hunting knife hook.
- A tiny high carbon steel knife is also a fantastic choice if you don’t have a hunting knife. In either case, make a short incision with a razor-sharp knife to avoid puncturing the viscera and spoiling the meat. Remember, you’re only going skin deep, and you want to leave the abdominal muscles intact to keep the viscera contained.
- After you’ve opened the skin down the centerline from the neck to the crotch, cut down each leg in a “X” pattern. Work your fingers between the skin and the meat to ease the skin away from the meat as you open up the skin down each leg. At this point, there’s no need to use a knife to separate the skin from the meat; doing so would simply risk causing holes in the hide.
- The skin should come away from the meat fairly easily, but if you run into a particularly sticky place, make very small cuts using the point of your knife to help it along. Take caution not to pierce the hide.
- Separate the skin from the leg meat by working your fingers around each leg. The skin on the feet should be the only thing holding the legs together once the skin has peeled away from the leg meat.
- Cut outward from the opening made between the skin and the leg meat to remove the last shreds of skin that are still connected towards the foot. This should loosen the skin and make it easier to remove.
- If you’ve used your hands to separate the skin from the meat starting at the stomach and working your way around to the back, you should be able to pull the skin away from the meat at the back and work your way forward to separate the skin from the meat up around the shoulders once the hind feet have been removed.
- Cut off the skin at the neck and remove your finished hide after the flesh has been liberated from the hide around the shoulders.
How To Remove A Groundhog’s Scent Glands?
- The scent glands are the fundamental difference between rabbits and groundhogs. Groundhogs contain smell glands that, if not removed promptly, can lend an off-flavor to the meat. The smell glands, which are small kernels around the size of a pea and found beneath their skin along the back, armpits, and tail, are small kernels about the size of a pea.
- Around the armpits, along the back, and around the genitals, each animal will have a number of musk glands. The nodules are small, roughly the size of a pea or somewhat smaller.
- Remove the scent glands as soon as possible after gutting and skinning your groundhog to prevent the meat from developing a musky off-flavor. Because some of them are difficult to spot, soak the woodchuck in salted water overnight to remove any lingering musky flavour.
Some Useful Facts To Know
- Is groundhog safe to eat?
In Mother Earth News, Everett J. Castro states, “The plain reality is, groundhogs are extremely edible and tasty.” Whistle-pigs, like rabbits and squirrels (both of which are prized food animals), are vegetarians. As a result, when properly prepared, its meat is exceptionally flavorful and delicate.”
- The best way to prepare a groundhog
Brown the groundhog in a skillet with hot oil and sugar. Reduce the heat to low and add 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Remove the lid and continue to cook for another 10 minutes.
- Usefulness of Groundhog for The Nature
Groundhogs aerate the soil by digging. Roots, like all other plant parts, must breathe, taking in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. Roots deplete their limited oxygen while CO2 accumulates in the soil, making it difficult for them to ‘breathe.’
- Groundhogs eat a variety of foods.
Herbivores, groundhogs are. Plants such as grasses, flowers, and other vegetation are their primary food sources. Groundhogs have also been reported to devour chipmunks or other small mammals that they have discovered dead or killed themselves.
- Is it possible for groundhogs to be aggressive?
In the worst-case scenario, you don’t want to try to manage them on your own because some groundhogs are rather violent. Groundhogs have also been known to carry rabies, making them much more aggressive and dangerous. So keep them away from your face if at all possible.
While groundhog is safe to consume, be sure to cook it well to enhance the taste more. They don’t possess any known danger to humans so go ahead and savor it if you feel like. Bon Appetit!!