It is always safe to assume that everyone likes meat in all forms – unless you’re vegan. Beef, mutton, venison, and chicken – we like to eat them all – and we often keep them preserved in deep freezers, where they may remain for years if all goes well. But what happens if a storm knocks out the power grid and there is no electricity to power your freezers for many days? That thought informs the need to seek traditional ways to preserve meat without refrigeration.
Africans and South American tribes as well as those in the Caribbeans preserved their meat the traditional way in ancient times. But there is nothing ancient in preserving meat using those ancient techniques today since they remain the best and durable means of keeping food for longer periods.
How to Preserve Meat without Refrigeration
So, have you ever wondered if there were other ways to keep your food preserved without refrigeration? Let’s explore some of these ways using a food we all love – meat.
Africans love to preserve their meat and fish by smoking them over open fires. They place the meat or fish on a grill placed over a low fire to smoke the meat for up to 24 hours. Fish is smoked for an hour or two to get it preserved for up to a week. But smoked meat can last for several months if done the right way.
Americans also love to smoke meat, but always for immediate consumption during social events or outdoor activities. At any rate, you could buy a grill and smoke your meat for many hours to get it very dry and ready for storage.
Needless to add that you could also try a modern dehydrator if you like. The smoke from burning logs of wood adds a unique flavor to the smoked meat, but health experts warn that smoke is carcinogenic and that smoked meat should be consumed in moderation.
2. Salting to cure
Meat can be preserved for many months when cured with salt. Salted meat is dried in the sun to cure naturally, and it may also be smoked to speed up the curing process.
Africans add salt to almost any food item to preserve it, and the same works for meat curing. Just be sure to dry out the meat in the sun or a airy place after salting it, and you may equally smoke it further to lock in the salt preservative.
Brine is a strong solution of salt and water used for pickling. You may add vinegar to the salt-water solution if you like. Meat can be preserved by submersion in brine.
The meat soaks up the brine and remains preserved for as long as it remains in the brine – it will also be good for a few days if taken out of the brine after soaking for nearly one week.
Cooked and fresh meat can be preserved in lard for a long time without any damage. Lard is a soft and white semi-solid fat substance obtained from pigs. Larding, therefore, means to cook meat in lard as a method of medium-term preservation.
According to food experts, lard makes it impossible for bacteria to grow on the meat since it naturally prevents air from reaching the meat.
Pemmican is lean and dried meat that has been pounded to be very flat and then mixed with melted fat. It is common among North American Indians and was said to be a favorite of European sailors and settlers since it could last for many years.
Pemmican is also loved by some people because it can withstand extreme temperatures and rough handling without getting spoilt.
Most food items in supermarkets today are canned. Canning preserves food for up to 10 years without damage or loss in taste. It is the process where meat, fish, beans, juices, and soup are sealed in airtight cans and put away for many years.
Most corned beef today are canned to make them last for many years and to aid shipping to other countries on export. Canned meat or food can withstand rough handling and whatever temperatures without spoiling since it is perfectly airtight.
7. Sugar syrup
Many people do not know that meat can be preserved for a long time in sugar syrup. The meat must be cut into small pieces and then placed inside a big mason jar which is then filled with sugar syrup. The lid must then be secured tight to prevent air from getting in. The sugar syrup makes it impossible for air to reach the meat, so bacteria growth is prevented. Meats such as beaf, ham, pork, and bacon, or even fruits can be preserved in sugar syrup.
This is meat that has been soaked for a long period of time in a solution of vinegar or oil and wine that has been flavored with various spices and seasonings. The marinated meat in vinegar is put out to dry in the air after it has been seasoned for improved flavor. Biltong makes for delicious meat whenever it is eaten and it is a favorite of many Americans who know how to prepare it.
This method requires the use of a freeze dryer which must be purchased. Meat and most food items can be freeze-dried after which they can be stored in jars. To effectively freeze-dry your meat, you must cut it up into thin slices which are then put on the dryer to dry. The machine completely dries out the moisture in the meat and leaves it dried and perfectly frozen.
Freeze drying your meat for preservation is similar to using the dehydration method. With dehydration which also requires the use of a dehydrator, the meat must be sliced into thin strips and dried out by have its water removed by the machine. It is then dried out in the open to improve its taste.
There you have it: ways to preserve meat without refrigeration when you want to try out the traditional ways of meat preservation. Try any of the methods today and let’s hear about your experience.