Are Canada Geese Good to Eat? Explanation, Recipes, Ideas

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Video what does canadian goose taste like

Many people have warm, happy memories of a delicious roasted goose on the family dinner table during the holidays.

When you roast a Canada goose, it will likely bring back memories of your grandfather’s old workboots.

Are Canada geese good to eat? Canada geese taste awful if you roast them or cook them similarly to how you would handle a domestic goose. However, there are several things that you can do to make them delicious.

The reason for this is that Canada goose meat is extremely lean, and the globs of fat that are stored around the breast meat are completely rank.

In other words, it’s easy to cook them into a dry brick.

And yet, I’m always happy to get a Canada goose.

What Canada Geese Taste Like

The breasts of a Canada goose are generally considered to be the best part. You can also eat the legs, but they need a bit more work to prepare.

If I had to compare it to anything else, I’d say it has similarities to bison, just tougher and more gamey unless you take steps to counteract it.

Some people I’ve fed it to mistook it for beef, depending on how I prepared it.

All of these are a “kind of not really” type of comparisons, though. Wild goose meat is definitely distinct, and Canada geese are on the far end of the tough and gamey spectrum.

Things That Make Canada Geese Taste Awful

There are a few key things that make Canada geese challenging to cook well.

For one, Canada geese can live a pretty long time. They can live from 10 to 25 years in the wild. Compare that to domestic chickens, which are usually slaughtered when they’re six to eight weeks old.

There’s no question why Canada geese get so tough. They live a hard migratory life, and they’re probably old when they’re harvested.

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Another thing that contributes to their gamey taste is the fact that their bodies are different because of their lifestyle.

Cows barely move when they’re being raised for beef. Their food is brought to them, and their slaughtered as soon as they reach a reasonable size. In other words, they haven’t worked a day in their life.

That’s why you can those tender, fat-marbled cuts of beef that melt down into delicious, rich steaks.

Compare that to Canada geese. Some of them migrate 2,000 miles each year. They’re designed for long distance, high speed migration.

The reason that they can pull this off without dying from exhaustion is that they can soak a ton of blood into their breast muscles to keep them oxygenated. They’re also very lean.

This translates into tough and gamey when they’re on the menu. You might be sinking your teeth into a bird that’s traveled 20,000 or more miles over the course of its life.

All that said, there are definitely ways to make these birds taste significantly better.

How to Make Canada Geese Taste Delicious

After reading all that you might be thinking that Canada geese are horrendous and not at all fit for human consumption. You wouldn’t be alone in that assumption, either.

In my hometown, someone had presented an idea to solve an issue with the exploding population of Canada geese that were making a huge mess everywhere:

Harvest them and use the meat to feed the homeless.

There was public outrage against this idea. People thought that it was inhumane to feed these geese to anyone, regardless of their need. Many voiced that they would not even feed Canadas to their dogs. The idea was dropped.

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It’s true that Canada geese aren’t for everyone, but there are two different things that you can do to turn these gamey bricks of meat into something much softer and tamer on the palate.

Saltwater Brining

This is my go-to. One of the major reasons that Canada geese taste gamey is because of all that extra blood left in their meat.

Saltwater brining allows the blood to soak out of the meat and mellows out the taste dramatically.

When you clean a freshly-harvested bird, the meat is so full of blood that it looks dark purple or eggplant colored. Saltwater brining will turn this meat into a deep red that’s much better to eat.

It’s pretty simple to do, too:

Put the breasts into a container. Add water that’s got as much uniodized salt as it can dissolve. Close the container and put it in your fridge.

Keep the meat in the fridge for 3 days and change the water 1-2 times per day. At first, the water will be dark red at each change. Towards the third day, everything will lighten up considerably.

This mostly removes the gamey taste from the meat. You still need to be careful about how you cook it to make sure that it doesn’t cook hard as a rock.

This generally means cooking it on high heat for a short amount of time, cooked to a rare or medium-rare, or slow cooking it for several hours.

Aging

This is how you can dramatically soften up the meat. This even works on older birds.

Aging is done on many different kinds of meat, including beef. Some of the best steaks have been aged for 28 days.

The way this works is it breaks down connective tissue in the meat. This is a large part of why Canada geese are so tough.

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For geese, it’s a fairly straightforward process, it’s just a bit messy and stinky.

There are differing views on exactly how to do it, but it’s all generally get the same idea.

After harvesting, the goose is hung out in a cool place, between around 35-50 degrees.

Some people remove the organs, some people don’t. Some people insist on hanging them by the neck, some insist on hanging by the feet.

Either way, the goose is left feathered and cool for a range of days depending on the actual temperature. Many people put them in a dedicated refrigerator for 3 days to get the results they’re after.

At the end of this step, the meat is significantly more tender and the flavors are more rich than gamey.

Adding Fat

Since Canada geese are so incredibly lean, I’d highly recommend adding fat in any way that you can.

This might mean incorporating pork into anything ground of finely chopped, or wrapping the goose meat in bacon.

Either way, this will help the meat to not be dry and tough.

Other things that you can do is to slow cook them in something saucy or add something like beef broth to keep it moist.

Recipe Ideas

Ultimately the answer as to whether or not Canada goose are good eating is:

It depends on what you do to them.

If you put in no extra effort, it will be a horrible experience. If you put in the extra effort, they’re delicious.

There are several different recipes that I like to use for Canada geese. Here are a few of them:

  • Honkerneck sausage
  • Wild goose maple jerky
  • Bacon-wrapped honker cubes
  • Pulled goose slow-cooked in beer and BBQ sauce
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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>