11 Effective Ways To Preserve Meat

meat preservation

With 31% of the world’s population, or 375 million people being vegetarians, this means that you are more likely to be a part of the remaining population who are meat eaters. This being the case, it’s probably best that you’re aware of how you may preserve your meat. We all know that meat is bulky!

Therefore, it is usually preferred to be consumed periodically, which leads us to the process of preservation. When it is done correctly, meat is able to be conserved for weeks, months, or (that’s right) even years.

Let’s take a look at some of these meat preservation methods:

1. Freezing

I’m pretty sure this is the most common, as well as most obvious method. Freezing is a straight-forward method that simply involves placing your meat in a freezer/cooler. However, as simple a method as it may be, there are still some advisory steps to bear in mind when freezing meat.

For example, you may want to ensure that the meat is well packaged before storing it in a freezer so as to prevent freezer burn. Make sure that it is wrapped tightly so that air can’t get it in the packaging. Freezing your meat at 0-degrees Fahrenheit will be best for preserving its nutritional value and flavour.

2. Smoking

This does not refer to rolling yourself a meat cigarette! Smoking meat is a delicate process which involves exposing the meat to smoke from burning plant materials, usually wood.

Firstly, the meat must be cured by adding salt to it. This is done to extend its shelf-life. The meat can then be exposed to the smoke from the burning wood, which is usually oak, maple, or hickory.

The wood smoke adds flavour to the meat. Smoking meat aids in the reduction of bacteria growth, and consequently allowing it to go longer without spoiling.

The two methods of smoking meat include: hot smoking and cold smoking.

3. Canning

Considered to be a convenient and economic method of preservation, canning meat involves storing the meat in a tightly sealed can or jar. The canning process involves a few materials as well as precise directions that need to be followed to ensure it is carried out efficiently.

The meat can either be raw packed or “hot packed”. Raw packing is done by filling the sterilized jars with raw meat with no liquids, while hot packing is done by filling the jars with pre-cooked meat and boiling broth, water, or tomato juice, leaving an inch of headspace.

Canning is a suitable method for times of no electricity!

4. Salting

A rather old preservation technique. In this process, meat is cut into small chunks and placed in a barrel with salt with each piece of meat totally surrounded by salt. The salt extracts the moisture from the meat and creates an environment that is unconducive for the growth of bacteria.

This method ensures the preservation of meat for up to 6 months. When properly salted, the meat will become very firm, and will have to be soaked in water for a lengthy period to rinse all the salt out before it can be prepared for a meal. An old method, but surely an effective one.

5. Dehydration

Another old-fashioned method of preserving meat which is ideal for situations where refrigeration isn’t an option. Dehydrated meat is often referred to as “Jerky”, and can be eaten as is.

The dehydration method consists of removing all water/liquid content from the meat so as to make it difficult for bacteria to grow. Jerky can be prepared by using three different methods, namely: the saucepan method, the oven method, and by using a food dehydrator.

Each of these methods, when done correctly, will result in your then dehydrated meat which can be sealed in vacuum sealed packaging for later use. Although, it might be a little difficult to resist eating that jerky straight away!

6. Brining

Usually done to preserve pork, brining is a reliable method which takes a little more time than preservation by salt. Similar to the salting method, the process begins by cutting the fresh pork into smaller slabs or chunks and then packed into sterilized containers.

The brine is made by dissolving 1 pound of pickling salt and ½ cup of brown sugar in 3 quarts of water. After the brine is prepared, it is then poured over the pork ensuring that it is completely submerged in the liquid.

You should remove the pork from the brine after the first week, stir the brine, then repack the meat. This process is repeated for four weeks.

7. Biltong

This method originated in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. The meat is marinated in a vinegar solution for a few hours, then the solution is then poured out prior to the meat being flavoured with salt and spices.

A spice mix which consists of: rock salt, black pepper, whole coriander, and brown sugar, amongst other ingredients, is then ground roughly together and rubbed into the meat. It (the meat) is then left for a couple hours, or refrigerated, before being hung in a dryer.

There are varieties to this recipe which may include the meat being marinated in the solution for a longer period, and different spices than the ones listed.

8. Hot Packing

As previously mentioned, hot packing is a form of canning. It is the process of heating freshly prepared food to boiling, letting it simmer for 5 minutes maximum, then immediately filling the jar(s) loosely with the boiled food.

The broth, water, or tomato juice added to the jars should also be heated to boiling prior to being added. This method is ideal for acid foods that need to be processed in boiling water as opposed to a pressure canning method.

It helps with the removal of air from the food tissues, shrinks the food, aids with preventing the food from floating in the jars, and improves the shelf life.

9. Pickling

This is a simple method that requires immersing the meat in salt brine. After the meat is placed in a container, it must be stored in a cool place until the brine is prepared.

The brine is made with pickling salt or kosher salt; as regular table salt contains additives that may affect the end product. Add the salt to water that is enough to cover the meat. The meat is then placed in the container before being covered with the brine.

With the meat submerged, the container is covered and kept for a week at 36 degrees Fahrenheit. Every week the meat is removed, the solution stirred, and the meat repacked. Basically the same as brining right?

10. On The Hoof

On The Hoof Meat Presevation

Probably the most primitive and least popular method of preserving meat. The “on the hoof” method involves keeping the animal(s) alive until one is ready to harvest. Essentially, rearing them on your own.

It is most effective with smaller animals such as; chickens, quail, and rabbits. Although this method also involves more planning and work than the others, if done correctly it may result in a continuous supply of fresh meat.

With a little patience and focus, it shouldn’t prove too difficult to raise rabbits and chickens, or maintain a pond of live fish. Who knows? It just might become a hobby! Definitely worth keeping in mind should you find yourself in a situation with no electricity.

11. Confits

A term derived from the French word “Confire”, which means “to preserve”. In this method, the meat is first salted and seasoned with various herbs, and then slowly cooked while submerged in its extracted fat. A bit questioning, if I do say so myself.

Afterwards, the meat is then preserved by allowing it to cool off and then storing it whilst still in the fat. It is a method used not only to preserve meat, but fruits as well (obviously not using fat of any kind!). Take a look above at how to make a chicken confit for instance.

Summing It Off

Whether you’re someone who eats meat, enjoys cooking, or just someone in the food business, eventually you’ll be concerned with meat preservation. Preserving meat can be tricky, and should definitely be done mindfully to achieve the best outcome-the meat being successfully preserved.

Perhaps you were already privy to freezing meat as a means of preserving it, but are you positive that you’ve been doing it correctly? Probably you’ve only ever heard of a few other methods or wondered if any others existed.

After reading this article, hopefully you are now positive if you weren’t, and have become aware of other methods you hadn’t known about!

About the author

Colin

Colin is a freelance writer and editor. A fan of The Walking Dead. It led him to think what if SHTF and what does it takes to survive. Colin hobbies includes gears, tech gadgets and rehearsing different "End Of The World" situations in his head.

1 comment
Nick Trout - May 1, 2017

this is an excellent article, well done.

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