Whether you’re an avid survivalist, a doomsday prepper, or a responsible individual, learning how to preserve meat is extremely important. When meat is properly preserved, it can last for weeks, months, or even years without being refrigerated.
However, mastering this handy trick is easier said than done. Learning how to preserve meat properly takes time, practice, and an understanding that preserved meat isn’t going to be quite the same as fresh meat.
However, Survival World has the answers in this article if you want to learn how to preserve meat. We’ll explore five fairly common and a few lesser-known methods, so you have plenty of options.
Method 1: Freeze the Meat
The first method we’ll look at for how to preserve meat is by far the easiest. It requires little preparation and little to no skills.
However, while learning how to preserve meat through freezing is pretty simple, it’s still important to prepare it properly.
- Put the meat you plan to preserve into airtight bags or containers. It’s crucial that air can’t get into or out of the meat container.
- To ensure that all air is out of the container or baggie, use a vacuum sealer and appropriate vessels to hold the meat.
- Try to get as many bones out of the meat as possible before storing it in your freezer.
- If you’re layering different pieces of meat on top of each other, you should either wrap each piece of meat or separate them with freezer and meat-safe paper.
It’s also important to understand that meat shouldn’t stay in your freezer forever. Even though it’s very protected and preserved, frozen meat has a lifespan that will eventually run out.
To avoid freezer burn, you should use a freezer that operates on electricity with a backup generator set at 0 degrees F. If the temperature inside the freezer changes too often, your meat might get freezer-burnt and won’t taste very good.
If you follow these instructions and dethaw your meat correctly, preserving it in your freezer is an excellent option.
Method 2: Use Salt to Preserve the Meat
Learning how to preserve meat with salt is a more primitive and time-tested method. Preserving with salt, also known as curing, isn’t overly complicated, but it’s essential to be meticulous and use the proper materials.
- For starters, choose a salt that’s specifically for curing meat.
- Remove as much of the fat as possible before starting the salting process.
- With the fat removed, rub your curing salt all over the meat. You can also add extra spices during this step so that your meat has a delicious flavor when you’re ready to eat it.
- Place the meat in an airtight baggie or container and refrigerate it for a minimum of one week and a maximum of one month.
- The thicker the piece of meat you’re curing, the longer you should keep it refrigerated.
- If you don’t have access to a refrigerator, you can also store it in a cool, dry place where the temperature stays between 32 and 45 degrees F. Keep it out of the sun, which will cause your meat to rot.
- After you’re done curing it, you should unpackage the meat and rinse it with water, making sure to remove all the salt and seasonings.
- Make sure it’s dry before placing it back in an airtight container or baggie.
- You can also wait to rinse the salted meat until right before you plan to eat it.
- Salt-cured meat can stay suitable for up to four months. The main things to remember are to store it in a cool, dry place away from the sun and to keep it in an airtight container.
Method 3: Dry the Meat
Learning how to preserve meat by drying it is also known as dehydration. You should know, however, that the only way to dehydrate meat is to turn it into jerky, which isn’t a favorite of everyone.
However, while dehydrating meat will give it a slightly different taste and texture, it’s still delicious and one of the best ways to preserve meat. Here’s how it works.
- Cut your meat of choice into skinny slices, like how bacon is sliced.
- If you’re using a stove, you should boil the slices of meat for four or five minutes to kill any bacteria it contains.
- Next, dry the meat thoroughly before continuing with the dehydration.
- Preheat the oven to the lowest bake setting, and place your pieces of meat inside it for between eight and twelve hours.
- Leave the meat uncovered while you’re baking it.
- You’ll know it’s ready if the meat feels stiff, dry, and either leathery or sticky.
- If you don’t have an oven, you can also use a food dehydrator and follow its instructions for your type of meat.
Dried and dehydrated meat won’t last forever, but it will stay good for several months. However, you should keep it out of the refrigerator in airtight baggies or containers during storage.
Method 4: Can the Meat
Learning how to preserve meat by canning it is one of the best and most popular methods. Canning meat means placing it in an airtight can or jar to stay good for long periods.
If you’ve ever purchased a can of meat, fruit, or vegetables at the grocery store, this is the method the producers used. Here’s how it works.
- For this method to work, you’ll have to invest in a pressure canner, a pressure cooker. The pressure canner will regulate the temperature during the canning process, which is the key to making it work.
- You’ll have to invest in your cans or jars, so make sure they’re high-quality and airtight.
- Once you have your supplies, start the process by putting two or three inches of water into the canner.
- Take your desired meat and remove as much fat, bone, and gristle as possible.
- Put your selected meat into jars and place the jars into the canner to start the process. Wait to start your canning timer until it reaches the desired temperature and pressure, which will be determined by the type of meat you’re canning.
- Once it’s finished, turn the canner off and remove it from heat.
- Wait, however, to open the canner until it has had time to depressurize on its own. Opening the canner while it’s pressurized can result in an explosion.
- You also shouldn’t try to speed up the process with cold water, as this will ruin your meat.
- Canned meat will stay suitable for up to three years if you store the cans in a cool, dry place.
Canning meat is one of the best ways to learn how to preserve meat. If you have a pressure canner, you can also use it to can fruits, beans, vegetables, and other goods!
Method 5: Smoke the Meat
The last of the most common ways to learn how to preserve meat is by smoking it. Smoking meat is as old as time itself and is easily one of the best methods.
Traditionally, smoking meat was done with the use of a wood-burning fire. Nowadays, however, you can use a smoker to smoke meat, which is much easier and more thorough because you can control the temperature.
Whatever method you use to smoke meat, here’s how it works.
- This step is optional, but you can start by salting the meat and curing it to add an extra month or two of storage time to the meat.
- You can proceed with smoking with or without your meat salted and cured.
- You’ll want to smoke the meat for four to seven hours at a temperature of 145 to 155 degrees F.
- Use the lower temperature for seven hours or the higher temperature for four.
- The goal is to smoke and dry the meat rather than cook it.
- The above rule is a good foundation, but using the meat’s internal temperature as your main guide is essential. Certain cuts of meat will take much longer than others, so check the internal temperature of your meat before beginning.
- Use your meat thermometer to periodically check the internal temperature until it reaches the appropriate temperature.
- Smoked meat can last up to two months if you keep it in airtight baggies or containers.
- Remember to add flavored wood chips or pellets to your smoker so that the meat has plenty of flavors!
Less Common Preservation Options
Now that we’ve looked at six of the more common methods let’s look at a few of the less popular options for how to preserve meat.
Learning how to preserve meat with the biltong method is similar to learning how to preserve meat by drying or dehydrating. Biltong is where you cut thin pieces of meat, similar to jerky, and immerse them in vinegar for two to three hours.
You then rub salt and spices over the meat and hang it to dry for several hours. Meat preserved through biltong can last for several months if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry area.
Brining is another ages-old method of how to preserve meat. To get started, mix water, salt, and brown sugar, if you want to, into a bowl.
Simply drop your desired meat into the bowl and let it sit for three to four weeks. Once the meat is finished, remove it from the mixture and allow it to dry.
You can store it in a cool, dry space in an airtight container. Brined meat can stay good for several years if done correctly.
Wrapping up How to Preserve Meat
As you can see, there are plenty of options when it comes to learning how to preserve meat. While canning, smoking, and freezing are the four most common methods, you can use any of the options in this list.
As long as you take your time and follow the instructions in this article, you’ll be able to preserve meat for your long-term needs. While you’re researching food preservation, take a look at 7 Food Preservation Methods for You to Learn at Home, which includes fruit and veggie preservation methods as well.