Unfortunately, many people are unaware of how to preserve meat without a refrigerator and have completely forgotten how our grandfathers preserved their proteins. If you are stranded in the wild, it is important to act fast to preserve the meat. In fact, it can start to go bad in as little as a few hours.Luckily, there are a number of food preservation techniques for preserving meat in the wild. Here are several techniques that I feel are especially effective:
Wet Curing Meat
One way to cure meat is to use a saltwater solution with 15-20 percent salt. Place small cuts of meat in this solution, and let it soak for around five minutes. Then, take the meat out of the solution and hang it out to dry.
You shouldn’t hang the meat in a sunlit area. This can result in certain parts of the meat curing more quickly than the rest. Also, the area that you choose for drying must be well ventilated. The hooks that you use for the drying process must be made of materials that will not rust.
The curing process usually takes around five days. During this period, it is unlikely that you will have any issues with insects in the meat. The salt naturally repels them.
Dry Curing Meat
Dry curing meat is another effective way of preserving it. When you use this method, the salt is rubbed over the meat and it’s dried. You also can add other flavorings to the dry rub, such as pepper or other spices.
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What To Do After It’s Cured
After either curing process is finished, the meat can be rehydrated if it’s cooked by boiling. After boiling the meat, the nutritional content is nearly unchanged. While I don’t find boiled meat to be particularly tasty, this method is highly effective at preserving meat. However, it’s essential to store the meat in an environment that is dry.
Smoking Meat In The Wild
If you smoke your meat, you’ll be able to enjoy a savory, barbeque flavored meat in the wilderness. The longer it’s smoked, the longer the shelf life is likely to be. When meat is smoked overnight, it’s likely to remain good for a week. However, two days of constant smoking can allow meat to last for anywhere between 2-4 weeks. I feel that the only downside to smoking meat for a long period of time is that the smoky flavor tends to be stronger.
Find green wood or dampen the wood you use for the fire. When you are smoking meat, it is the amount of smoke that is more important than the fire. However, avoid wood that is resinous.
It’s also important to cover the fire. There are a couple of ways to do this. One is to dig a hole in the ground and drape a poncho, sheet, part of a parachute, or other covering over the fire, but you can also create a ‘teepee’ surrounding the fire. The meat should be cut into thin slices, and the strips should be around 6 centimeters thick. Additionally, the meat should be placed high enough above the fire so that it’s smoked rather than cooked.
After the meat is smoked, it should be dry and quite brittle with a curled appearance. It also shouldn’t feel cold to the touch. When it’s done, the meat can be eaten without being cooked.
If the temperature is below freezing, simply leaving the meat outside can be essentially the same as bringing a working freezer with you into the wilderness. Frozen meat is well preserved until it thaws. However, the meat must be cooked after thawing to avoid food poisoning.
Making Jerky In The Wild
In order to make jerky, you can place meat on a rack over a flame for the drying process. It’s important that the meat racks are not too close to the flame to ensure that it’s dried rather than cooked. Over time, the smoke will turn the meat into jerky. This will happen faster if you cover the fire. Below you can watch a video that goes into more detail:
However, you can make jerky without using a fire if the meat has been cured before you begin drying it. If the meat is hung inside a box while being dried using a fan, you can get exceptionally tasty jerky that’s safe to eat even if you eat some before it’s been fully dried. I find that the taste of jerky made this way is far better than jerky that is available in stores.
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About the Author
Aaron Sven assists the NinjaReady team source and evaluate emergency preparedness supplies and gear. He’s a novice bow hunter but has a professional appetite for smoked venison and homemade jerky.