How to Cook Turtle Meat

Add gourmet fare to your menu by learning how to trap turtles and remove and cook turtle meat. Plus, try these recipes for Camp Turtle Soup and Fried Turtle.
By Fred Bouwman
November 20, 2009

Bait turtles with any aromatic meat.
ISTOCKPHOTO/LJUPCO SMOKOVSKI
Slideshow


Content Tools

Related Content

Photo of the Day: Sunbathing Turtle

Photo of the Day blog features a different photo from reader each day. Submit your own photos for a ...

Aprons for the 21st Century Cook

Wearing an apron keeps your clothes cleaner, cuts down on laundry and can make life much easier.

Cooking Is Important

Take control of your food with a return to the kitchen, and learn to love the time you spend there c...

Appetizing Apps Teach Us How to Cook

Learn how to cook with these three great smartphone apps: How to Cook Everything, Big Oven and Ratio...

The following is an excerpt from Camp Cooking: A Practical Handbook by Fred Bouwman ( Skyhorse Publishing , 2009). The excerpt is from Chapter 2: Shore Lunch.

One way that some fur trappers and other rural people maintain their household cash flow during the summer months is by trapping turtles and selling the meat to fish wholesalers and restaurants. While the yards-long, hoop-and-net turtle traps used by the pros are too much work for the recreational natural eater, taking turtles by unattended hook and line, where legal, is a productive method for adding another gourmet treat to the camp menu.

With sturdy hooks, a serious wire leader, and just about anything made of meat for bait, you’re in business. Study the regulations in your state regarding endangered species, and be sure to follow them. For eating purposes, all turtles taste about the same. The snapping turtle is the trophy, and with specimens ranging up to a foot long (measured across the shell) it’s usually the turtle that gets involved in dinner.

Snapping turtles have that name for a reason. Exercise care when handling them. They are very aggressive and can move much more quickly than you would expect a turtle to move, coming almost off the ground when they strike.

Start preparing your turtle dinner by encouraging him to bite a stick. Then while holding the stick away from the body to stretch the neck, have a companion with a good eye and stout arm lop off the head with a hatchet. Hang the turtle by the tail to bleed it.

There are two ways of removing the edible meat from the turtle. The first is to boil the entire animal, shell and all, and as it begins to cook, remove it from the water, slip the skin from the meat, and separate the top and bottom halves of the shell. This procedure is time-consuming and can be quite a hassle in camp.

A quicker way is to lay the turtle on its back, cut away the lower shell, then remove the meat from the tail, legs and neck, and extract the tenderloin that is located by the backbone. You may have to remove the backbone with a pry bar of some sort to get at them.

When you think of turtles, turtle soup comes to mind. If you want to save some time dressing the turtle, just get the meat out of the shell, bones and all. After the meat has boiled for a while, it is easy to separate the bones and gristle and break the meat up into smaller pieces. Turtle can also be breaded and pan-fried just like fish fillets, but it needs a little precooking first.


CAMP TURTLE SOUP

Ingredients: 

Turtle meat from one turtle
1 large onion
Diced carrots, celery, and potatoes (enough to fill pot)
Beef or chicken bouillon cubes
Black pepper

Instructions:

Boil the turtle meat in the water with some of the beef or chicken bouillon until the meat can be removed from the bones. Do that, then add vegetables and cook until just done. Season with the pepper.

FRIED TURTLE

Ingredients:

1 turtle, cleaned and cut into large pieces
Flour seasoned with salt and pepper
Oil for frying
2 beaten eggs
2 pints milk
Dry bread crumbs or cracker meal

Instructions:

Parboil the turtle meat, separate it from the bones, and cut the meat into bite-sized pieces or larger. Coat it with the seasoned flour, dip it into the eggs, and coat it with the bread crumbs or cracker meal. Fry it in an inch or more of hot cooking oil. Break the meat up into smaller pieces.


Reprinted with permission from Camp Cooking: A Practical Handbook, published by Skyhorse Publishing, 2009.

Previous | 1 | 2 | Next






Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.