Most states have several species of freshwater turtles. Southern states have dozens of kinds. Most are small or seldom found. Many are protected by law. Normally only a few species are caught for food. These are snapping turtles and soft shelled turtles. Turtle meat is light in color and flavorful. Frequently it is very tough and requires several hours of cooking to be tender.
Tips for preparing a snapping turtle for soup:
Be very careful when handling the turtle head after separating it from the body. It can still inflict a nasty bite! Snapping turtles take a while to stop moving after they've been killed and his body will still try to walk away.
When all movement has stopped, dip the body in boiling water and scrape off the outer skin and shell. You should now have a clean carcass. Next, remove the shell by cutting along the groove on the sides between the front and back legs. The top of the shell contains most of the meat as the tail, legs and neck are attached there. Remove the meat from the top and bottom shell and begin to remove the fat. You must remove every bit of the fat by rolling back the skin with a knife and scraping it out from between the skin and flesh.