You may have heard it before; I know I heard it enough times “hog meat is no good.”
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Properly prepared feral hog is one of the tastiest dishes you could ever have.
Does Feral Hog Meat Taste Good
Feral hog is extremely good meat to eat. In the eastern part of Europe, wild hog is a staple of their diet.
I was fortunate enough to spend some time with hunters in Europe who are experts in hogs. I have eaten wild hog in more ways than I can count, yet I have yet had to receive a hog dish I didn’t like.
Wild Hog vs Feral Hog
Wild hog and feral hog are used interchangeably. However, technically a feral hog can be traced back to domestic pigs.
There is very little, or no difference in the taste of wild hog and feral hog as both live the same lifestyle and have the same diet.
What Size Wild Hog is Best for Eating
Wild hogs can get pretty big, and while a big one can provide a lot of meat, they can be a little tougher to eat.
The best size hog for eating is one between 50-125lb. This size of a hog is extremely tender. A smaller hog also cooks a lot faster and is easier to process.
However, hogs over 125 lb can also provide excellent table fare and should not be dismissed.
By cooking properly, a large hog can be just as tasty as a smaller one. For things like sausages, pulled hog, stew, etc., there is not much difference in taste or texture between sizes.
Wild Hog Meat vs Pork
A common misconception is wild hog is similar to pork. Wild hog meat is very different than pork.
The first thing we should note is wild hog is game meat and not a farmed animal. This means that the two have very different diets.
Wild hogs are opportunistic omnivores. They mostly eat plant matter and spend a lot of time digging, looking for shoots, nuts, and bugs such as insects and larvae.
Most of their diet is made up of plant matter. Their diet has a huge impact on the taste compared to pork.
Farmed pigs are fed a lot of grain with no diversity in diet.
Another difference between hog and pork is that a wild hog has a much more active lifestyle, leading to much leaner meat.
The texture of wild hog is also vastly different from pork. I find wild hog to be more tender than pork.
Wild hog will also have a much deeper color than pork.
The taste of wild hog is not much similar to pork. Wild hog has a deep rich, and nutty flavor. The flavor will vary depending on where the hog was harvested and what it was feeding on.
How to Cook Wild Hog
Wild hog is quite versatile, and you can cook it in many ways. Due to how lean the meat is, in some situations, you may need to add some pork fat, i.e., for sausages and burgers.
- Bacon – Hog belly makes great bacon. You can also smoke it, so make smoked bacon.
- Roast – Roasting is best for hog shoulders or hindquarters.
- Stew – You can use most of the tough parts of the hog for stewing. A slow cooker will turn any part of the hog extremely tender.
- Sausage – The shoulder is the best cut for making hog sausages. The ideal mix is 80% hog meat and 20% pork fat.
- Pulled Hog – The hindquarter or shoulder can be used for pulled hog. This is a great way to get what would normally be a tough piece of meat to a tender, tasty dish.
- Chops– Hog loin can be marinated and cut into pork chops. This is a tender part of the hog, so be careful not to overcook, or the meat will become dry and chewy.
What Are the Dangers of Eating Feral Hog?
As with a lot of wild game, there are some dangers in consuming wild hogs. However, with the right preparation, there is no need to be concerned.
There are more than 24 diseases people can get from wild hog.
Some diseases wild hogs carry:
- Brucellosis – is a disease you can contract from a hog if your eyes, nose, mouth, or any cuts you may have come in contact with blood fluid or tissue from an infected hog. To avoid this disease, it’s imperative to wear proper equipment when handling wild hogs. You should wear protective eye gear and gloves.
- E Coli – There are many types of E Coli and not all are bad. However, E Coli transmitted from feral hogs may cause sickness.
- Salmonella – This is a bacteria that is one of the most common food borne illnesses in humans. Studies have shown that
wild hogs can be a host for this bacteria and pass to on to humans if not properly prepared for consumption before eating.
- Trichinellosis – This is a disease that can be passed to humans from wild animals such as bears and hogs. The disease is caused by the trichinella parasite that is found in raw or undercooked meat.
To prevent catching this disease, you should ensure that all wild hog is cooked to a minimum of 158f for a least 3 minutes.
How Can You Tell if Wild Hog is Safe to Eat?
Most times, through proper field care, processing, and cooking, a wild hog is no threat to human health.
As I mentioned earlier about my experience in eastern Europe, it’s normal there to send a sample of the hog to a veterinarian or lab for testing.
However, it’s not the same in North America.
If the animal looks physically ill, do not handle it. Alert your game warden and follow their advice.
An ill hog may present unusual colors in the meat; it will appear to have a bluish or greenish tint.
Along with unusual colors, any hog emitting bad smelling odors should be avoided. This is not the same as the hogs living smell but rather a smell coming off the meat.
A healthy hog should have no smell or a very faint smell from the meat.
If the hog looks healthy and the meat is not tainted, it’s safe to assume it is safe to eat, following proper processing and cooking procedures.
Handling Wild Hog Tips
- Wear gloves – this can help to prevent any infected fluids from the hog from infecting you if you have any cuts. It also helps to prevent any diseases from spreading.
- Wear protective eye gear. As mentioned above, brucellosis disease can infect you through your eyes. Wearing protective eyewear helps to prevent that.
- Avoid intestines – The intestines of wild hogs can harbor all sorts of nasty bacteria. When field-dressing the animal, it’s important to avoid puncturing the intestines.
- Cool meat asap – Game meat can spoil fast, especially in warm weather. It’s important to cool the meat as soon as possible to prevent the meat from spoiling and any unwanted bacteria from building up.
Wild hog is up there with elk and whitetail deer as one of the best game meats you can eat.
The meat is not like pork and is more in league with great-tasting game meat.
It is a very diverse meat and can be used in a range of dishes. However, precautions should be taken when handling and cooking feral hogs. It does present more dangers than members of the deer family.
I have been eating feral hogs for over 10 years now and fortunately have not had any illness.
With proper care and handling, you can be feasting like a king.