Normally, we have gray squirrels visiting our bird feeders in the spring and summer. This year, though, all of our squirrels have been red.
They’re a smaller version of the grays but every bit as nimble and pesky. Not only are they able to climb the screens to reach our hanging platform-style feeders, they can shimmy down the metal hook that holds our more isolated pottery feeder.
This feeder is designed for the smaller birds who are usually crowded out from feeding stations by “bully birds”. Up until recently, it had been successful.
Now – if it were a little later in the year and these were gray squirrels, perhaps I could do something about this. Gray squirrel hunting season begins in September. But, no. I’ll have to wait. And, it’s a pity, considering I have at least four recipes for cooking squirrel. Some of the recipes even have diagrams.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac Colonial Cookbook calls squirrel meat “fine, tender, and mild in flavor”. Its author suggests broiling the squirrels, then serving them with lemon and gravy.
Joy of Cooking suggests stuffing and roasting squirrels as you would a pigeon (gray squirrels being preferred, as red squirrels are “quite gamey”).
The Yankee Cook Book recommends using a bicycle pump to help skin the squirrel. Once that job is done, you can make squirrel pie. (At least four squirrels are needed. The pie will serve six).
And, finally, The White House Cook Book (from 1900) says that squirrels “are very good in all the different styles of cooking similar to rabbit”. Always good to know.
Now – Will I be trying any of these recipes in the future? No, of course not. I don’t think I could ever shoot a squirrel – even if I wanted to. But the squirrels don’t know that, and it’s nice to have something to threaten them with now and then. Not that I suppose they’ll listen.
From the dining room table – with the squirrels curiously absent from the feeders as I type,