Protein is a huge part of our diets and meat provides an ample supply of it. If disaster strikes, unless you live on a sustainable farm, your meat source will be cut off. It’s a good idea to work on preserving meat right now, as well as learning how to preserve the things you hunt and trap after the SHTF.
I use 4 basic ways to preserve meat: salting, drying, smoking and pickling. Begin by cleaning the meat and trimming all of the visible fat. The fat will make the meat spoil faster. If you have fresh game, skin it first or pluck the feathers and remove the entrails. You can usually keep the heart and liver if they appear healthy.
To salt meat, first dry it thoroughly with a paper towel. Cut it into thin strips. Rub thoroughly with salt until every single square inch of meat is covered. Place in a ceramic dish and cover completely with salt and wrap in cheesecloth. Put in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Keep refrigerated. If you are bugging out, you’ll have to use salt and substitute the dish and the cheesecloth. Hopefully, you can find a cool place to put the meat (you can always try digging a small cellar to hide it from animals and direct sunlight).
To smoke meat, fashion a rack and hang strips of meat so they don’t touch each other. Make a fire using hardwood materials. If the wood is too dry, you need to soak it in order for it to smoke properly. Create an enclosure around the fire/rack using tarp or other available material in order to trap smoke. Keep a close eye on the fire and don’t let it get too hot. You don’t want to catch your tarp on fire. If you smoke the meat for about 10-12 hours, it should last you a week. If you smoke it for about 48 hours, it will keep it fresh for close to a month.
Another way to smoke meat is by using a pit smoker. You simply dig a pit, make a fire and again, hang the meat so that the pieces don’t touch each other and cover with a “roof” (tarp or poncho). Use the same time guidelines as you would with the tent smoker.
People have dried meat for centuries. It’s a proven method to preserve meat, not to mention it produces a delicious jerky that you can flavor to taste. You can air dry meat (best to do it in a relatively cool place) or you can dry it by placing it in the oven for several hours. Simply cut meat into thin strips with the grain, marinate in a vinegar solution, and dry until it is completely free of moisture and has that rich dark pink color.
You can also pickle or marinate meat, but that’s a topic for another day.
If you’re just getting started with your food preparations, I suggest you check out the 72 Hour Emergency Food Kit. It’s an excellent resource that you can keep handy as you begin planning your survival food strategy.
To your survival,