A few days ago, we published a master guide to food preservation methods. Today I wanted to zero in on preserving one particular food product: meat.
Meat is crucial to store because besides rice and beans, it’s probably going to be your primary source of calories, protein, and iron, which are essential to actually stay alive and thrive. Vegetables will only provide you so much energy when you’re trying to keep your strength up.
But of course, it can be tricky to preserve. We normally store meat in the refrigerator or freezer, as it can spoil very quickly otherwise. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are three tried-and-true ways to preserve meat without refrigeration.
Canning meat? That’s right! Pressure canning is not just for peaches and apple pie filling, you can actually preserve fresh meat for more than five years, in some cases. To be clear, you need a pressure canner for meat; regular warm bath canning won’t preserve it properly. What’s great about canning meat is it requires little processing other than packing it into the cans (there are many methods, but it can be as simple as this), so you can slowly build your collection by buying meat in bulk or on sale and simply canning some of it for long-term storage, and keeping the rest in the fridge or freezer for short-term use.
We discussed curing in the food preservation article, and it’s a really great one to know. There are several different methods of curing meat, depending on the meat, the cut, and the curing and drying process. Salame, bacon, and many sausages are examples of more complex cured meat processes. Curing is essentially applying salt or salt brine to meat to eliminate all the moisture. You can also smoke meat to cure it, which is very popular and an age-old practice for delicious, long-lasting cured meats. You will have to look up a curing recipe for whatever meat you’d like to cure if you want to give it a try, fortunately, YouTube is full of awesome recipes for curing meat, like this one we shared a few months ago for bacon.
We did not mention this in the previous article, but one food you can dehydrate is actually meat. This is actually how beef jerky is made, and you can make beef jerky right at home! Now, to be fair, jerky can be considered a form of curing, mentioned above, as it is often made with a curing solution. Why is it is worthy of its own mention, however, is that many survivalists and preppers may be considering purchasing a dehydrator, and making jerky is one good reason to do so.
Speaking of buying big contraptions, if freeze-drying your survival food is appealing to you, do keep in mind that you can freeze dry meat. While the above methods are age-old, classic ways of preserving meat, freeze-drying is more modern. It is popular, however, because it renders meat incredibly lightweight, making for easy storage and transport. This is probably only going to be the best option for you if you can afford a freeze dryer and intend to freeze dry all your food.