In North America, bear meat has been a staple on the dinner table for centuries and is widely appreciated for its many uses. Despite the rise in commercially raised bear meat, there are plenty of myths and safety concerns surrounding the consumption of this game. If you ever find yourself in a sticky situation that requires you to eat bear meat for survival, you’ll need to bear a few things in mind.
What Is Bear Meat Called?
Putting it simply, bear meat is called bear meat. Once upon a time, you may have heard it being called a variety of ‘venison’ (wild game meat), but nowadays, that term refers to the meat of deer, antelope, and elk.
Bear meat is similar in appearance to venison or beef but is not as red. The color is far darker than that of white meat, therefore placing bear meat in the red meat category. The meat has large fibers and a slightly chewier texture than most other red meats.
What Does Bear Meat Taste Like?
The taste and texture of bear meat vary in the different species of bear you find. The diet of the bear will determine the taste and texture. A plant and fruit-eating bear tends to be tastier than a fish-eating bear.
The meat is much sweeter than venison and is far more tender when spruced from a Spring bear. Spring bears feed on the young vegetation. In the fall, bears develop a layer of fat, making the meat coarser and harder.
Many view bear meat as a greasy protein source which is true when considering the layers of fat bears have. When looking at beef, the fat tends to enhance the flavor of the meat but with the bear, removing the fat is best before you try to cook it. Bear resembles a leaner, stronger-tasting beef with a far more dense texture.
Removing the bear’s fat is a lengthy task, but the fruits of your labor are worth the effort. Leaving the fat on the meat will produce an off-tasting meal that very few will enjoy.
How to Cook Bear Meat?
When cooking bear meat, the number one rule is to do it slowly; whether you’re stewing the mat or grilling it, taking your time will ensure your meal tastes good and is safe to eat.
Bear meat is known to carry a certain parasitic disease, called Trichinella, and can carry other infections depending on the diet of that specific bear species. In order to kill the potential Trichinella, the meat has to be cooked at around a 375-degree temperature and reach 160-degrees internally.
As mentioned earlier, since bear meat carries so much fat, which can alter the taste of your meal, it is recommended that you remove all the layers of bear fat before cooking it. If the bear meat you managed to get your hands on is hard, you can grind it up and cook it that way.
Bear meat spoils very quickly and shouldn’t be hung or stored as you would venison. Bear meat can be frozen once butchered and cleaned and will defrost the same as other meats.
Is Bear Meat Good For Health?
Bear meat contains around 20g of protein per serving and has far more fat than elk, at roughly 8.3g per every 100g serving. One serving comes to about 160 calories 10.73mg of iron.
Everyone has their own nutritional needs and beliefs, which will dictate whether or not certain meat is good for you. Bear meat contains above-average iron levels and has quite a high-fat content. Elk and Buffalo are far lower in fat when compared side by side to bear meat.
When living or surviving in the wild, if you manage to take down one of these grizzlies, the meat will provide plenty of sustenance and nutritional value that the body needs to survive.
Why Is Bear Meat Poisonous?
A well-known fact in the hunting and survival community is that consuming bear meat can be risky if not done correctly. Trichinosis is nothing foreign or particular to bear meat. I’m sure you’ve come across a piece of pork that’s been left for too long.
This parasite is commonly found in animals who consume other animals or carrion. It can create a nasty infection that you’ll want to avoid at all costs when preparing a meal around the fire. All you have to do is make sure your meat is cooked through and through. Meat thermometers are handy with making sure this is done correctly, but you won’t always have one of those in the wild.
A handy trick is the touch test. Touch the cut of meat with your finger, and then feel the fleshy part of your hand that is located underneath your thumb. By touching your finger to your thumb and feeling the part of your hand, you can determine how far along the meat is. If when touching your little finger to your thumb replicates a similar texture to the meat, the meat is raw. A thermometer will always produce more accurate results, but this trick will have to suffice when in a sticky situation.
If you happen to have a thermometer, you need to make sure that you have cooked the meat to at least 170 degrees as Trichinosis is killed at 375 degrees in an average of 15 seconds. It’s always a safer choice to leave it a little bit longer over the flame to make sure the meat is safe to eat.
Trichinosis is not something to shy away from. The parasite is just as common and threatening in pork and is 100% avoidable when done right.
Can Bear Meat Kill You?
Bears are omnivores and often carry the larvae of a parasite known to many as Trichina Spiralis. Eating undercooked bear meat increases your chances of contracting Trichinosis, which can cause severe sickness or possible death.
Freezing your bear meat won’t kill all types of trichinella. The only effective way to rid the meat of any parasites is to cook the meat to an internal temperature of 160-degrees and is achieved by cooking the meat for around 25 min at 375-degrees.
There are a number of good protein and nutrition sources that you can access while living out in nature. Bear meat is rarer to come across and can be dangerous when attempting to harvest. Bears are extremely unpredictable animals, and the risk of getting an infection from their meat is far lower than being mauled while bear hunting by one that is alive. Keeping this in mind, it is essential to make sure you cook any bear meat properly before consuming it to avoid getting extremely sick.