Yesterday I learned the most fascinating thing: Each animal's brain contains exactly the right amount of lethicin required to tan its own hide. Frequently hunted animals - all with the perfect ratio of brain to hide - include deer, raccoons, beavers and rabbits. It is as if they are asking to have every part used! And we should listen.
Tanning is the process whereby rawhide is soaked in a brainy solution, which strengthens it and changes it to leather. If this process is not completed, the rawhide will quickly begin to decompose and will be useless.
I know that fur and hide are not food, but it is all connected. I recently discussed in my article about offal, that it is important (and possible!) to use every part of the animal.
I especially hope this information reaches all the chefs who like to forage and hunt for their food but who may be too excited about the gamey interior to take the time to do something with the hide. If you have time to sit in the forest, perhaps keeping warm with a little hot toddy, why not enjoy nature a little longer by taking care of that hide once the animal has been skinned.
After skinning the animal, the hide requires a process called wet-scraping. It is then cleaned, then soaked in the brain solution, and then stretched to dry. All instructions can be found if you click here.
Do not get depressed thinking about the leather industry’s chemical run-off; Instead, get excited about the opportunity to naturally tan your very own hide with zero pollution. What chef wouldn’t want to wear a leather jacket custom made from a the same animal that was also braised in red wine and juniper berries or perhaps aged and devoured with a silky blueberry demi-glaze.
For more information, check out: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SKINNING AND TANNING: A Complete Guide to Working with Pelts, Fur, and Leather by Monte Burch
Or take a look at the Two Wolves website
*I am in NO way promoting hunting for sport. I despise the idea of killing for fun. The instructions I am providing are for those who kill responsibly and in a sustainable manner, meaning no part of the animal is wasted and the animal is not shot in an area where it is illegal, nor is the animal endangered.