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    How To Store Meat Without A Refrigerator

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    How To Store Meat Without A Refrigerator

    In today’s world, it has become extremely important to prepare your family for disasters. Even something small like an ice storm could knock out power and close roadways for days at a time.

    To prepare for events like this, many people are beginning to realize the importance of having local food sources and keeping stored food on hand. Unfortunately, even if you raise your own animals, preserving meat the modern way involves a large, reliable source of electricity.

    Over the last year, we have seen supply chains disrupted, massive social unrest, and steeper political divides than at any point in recent memory. Preparing your own food supplies should consist of three primary parts: producing your own food, stockpiling your food, and preparing part of your stockpile to ensure it can last as long as possible.

    Buying plenty of meat and stockpiling it is only part of the process. If the power grid goes down, your refrigerator and freezer will go down with it, and your meat will thaw out and go bad in a matter of days. This is why you should figure out how to store your meat without freezing or refrigeration as an investment.

    Thankfully, you don’t have to be a farmer or even an off-grid homesteader to put up meat using reliable methods. There are many ways of preserving meat without electricity that are feasible for those with root cellars in old farmhouses and those living in inner-city apartments.

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    1. Smoking

    Smoking is one of the oldest methods of preserving meat. It was most commonly used in areas that had too much humidity to air dry or dehydrate meat (without the aid of a modern dehydrator of course). It can be really tasty.

    However, modern recommendations are to consume smoked meat sparingly as smoke contains carcinogens. That being said, it may still be a good choice for some of your harvest or an emergency situation. Smokers can be purchased or made at home. Obviously, this method is better suited to those with access to a backyard.

    2. Curing (salting)

    Curing meat is another old preservation method that is still used today. It involves quite a bit of time and effort but it’s how traditional favorites like bacon and pastrami were preserved.

    It’s also a cheap and easy process to master, perfect for the new homesteader . You will need a cool area and a place where meats can be hung out of the way. Some curing recipes are used in combination with smoking for flavor.

    Man Sprinkling Salt On Meat Stakes

    3. Brining

    It's very simple and is a traditional method of preservation. Brine is typically a simple mixture of water, sugar, and salt. The meat is preserved by being weighed down in a crock completely surrounded by brine. As with curing, you’ll need a cool area, and if you’re doing any large quantities be sure you have room to store your crocks.

    4. Pressure Canning

    First, it’s important to note that you absolutely cannot water bath can meat! It’s not acidic enough. However, if you have a pressure canner any type of meat can be easily pressure-canned. This is probably one of the most popular methods today as once the meat is canned it requires no further work.

    You just reheat it when you’re ready to eat and the jars are portable. Pressure canners are affordable, perfect for even apartment homesteaders, and are great for putting up vegetable harvests too.

    5. Dehydrating

    This is probably one of the easiest, healthiest methods of storing meat (and vegetables too). Meat can be dried with the help of an electric dehydrator or a solar dehydrator. If you opt for an electric dehydrator, it’s probably best to purchase a larger one.

    Even though they’re cheaper, constantly running a small one trying to preserve all your food will take a lot of electricity. Solar dehydrators obviously have the benefit of not requiring electricity, but they are weather dependent.

    Solar dehydrators can be purchased or there’s a lot of DIY plans available online. With either, you’ll need to make sure your meat is fully dried. If it’s left too moist it can mold.

    6. Storing in Lard

    This method may be very practical for those butchering an animal with a lot of fat. Both raw and cooked meat can be layered in a crock with melted lard. The lard prevents the growth of bacteria by keeping air from getting to the meat. It’s a cheap and effective storage method and involves no equipment.

    7. Freeze Drying

    This method is probably the least practical for a small homestead because you’ll need to purchase a freeze dryer. That being said they do make home models and freeze-dried food comes with a lot of benefits.

    It’s lightweight, anything can be freeze-dried including leftovers, and freeze-dried food retains almost all of its nutrition. As it’s so light, freeze-dried food is perfect for backpacking or emergency travels.

    Related Article: 15 Food Storage Methods – Which One Is Best?

    8. Keep Heritage Livestock

    For those who keep livestock, obviously you may want to consider heritage breeds. Unlike modern livestock, heritage breeds are typically smaller. This was because a family would be able to use most or all of the animal before it went bad without having to preserve it.

    With the advent of refrigeration and factory farms, livestock was bred to be bigger and bigger which is not necessarily helpful for the small homestead. Some heritage livestock was also bred to have a higher fat content than their modern counterparts, which can be helpful in preservation.

    9. Natural Refrigeration/Freezing

    Though this is not the most reliable method, it is worth mentioning. In colder climates, it’s possible to store meat outside in the winter, but you’ll need to keep an eye on the thermometer if the weather warms up. You’ll also need to keep it in a secure building or container.

    Leaving meat out, frozen or not, can attract predators. Some people also have used hand-dug wells as refrigerators. Simply put the meat in watertight jars and sink them in the well for short-term refrigeration. Again, you’ll need to watch the temperature carefully.

    Related Article: Easy Way To Preserve And Store Eggs

    10. Biltong

    Biltong is when pieces of meat are marinated in vinegar for several hours. The meat pieces are then flavored further in a mixture of black peppercorns, whole coriander, brown sugar, cloves, and rock salt. The meat should then be left to sit for several hours, before being left hung out to dry.

    If this method sounds similar to the process of making jerky, it’s because it is. However, the main difference is that with the biltong method, the meat can last a long longer outside of the freezer or the refrigerator. If you needed to bug out in an SHTF situation and bring meat with you, the biltong method is best. Here's how to make it.

    Related Article: 6 Ways People Stored Food Before Refrigerators

    Final Thoughts

    Producing a lot of food is often one of a homesteader’s first goals, but if you rely on electricity to keep your harvest, you risk losing it all to a power outage. Knowing how to keep your food good when the power goes out using a combination of modern and traditional techniques can save you money and keep your family healthy.

    No matter what method you choose, the most important part is safety. For our ancestors who preserved food on a near-daily basis during the harvest season, it was no big deal. But until you’re confident, it’s important for the modern homesteader to find and follow credible recipes and preservation methods.

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    If you want to learn more about storing meat, you should read The Carnivore's Bible. This book will teach you how to preserve almost anything along with how to use your emergency food to cook a delicious meal the whole family will enjoy.
    The Carnivore's Bible

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      8 thoughts on “How To Store Meat Without A Refrigerator”

      1. “Better than all the ways mentioned, we find storage for months in a commercial vacuum container to be tops. We’ve had this device for about 1/4 century including small plastic vacuo hand pump. Recently I put plenty of sausages in one of the many sized containers, pumped out the air, checked weekly & pumped again if the pressure rose slightly, & months later ate all those delicious sausages.

      2. Smoking does NOT preserve meat. Methods of smoking are, hot and cold. The main reason for using smoke in past was to keep the insects away. Slow cold smoking also helps a drying process, and flavoring at the same time. Drying sliced meat is very practical in an old tent with mosquito screens on the walls, and a small fire pit. I have seen it with native Caribou hunters in the Yukon Territory. Nothing beats good old salt, period. If you by a slab of ”smoked bacon’ now a days, rest assured, you will glow at night from all the chemicals in it, that will ”preserve” you !

        • We smoked salmon every year in Alaska and it absolutely preserved it. It does partially dehydrate but none the less it stops bacteria and preserves it. It has also been used by my native ancestors for generations for many other types of meat. Some of my family recipes involve brime before smoking others do not.

      3. I wish the article would have given some rough time frames that each method would keep meat preserved. Also additional safeguards to keep from spoiling.

      4. Wow, being in South Africa, I was glad to see the biltong entry. Besides being a wonderful way to preserve meat, there are many other ways of enjoying the biltong. Here in South Africa we make a potato bake dish the usual way but add snippets of biltong and sun-dried tomatoes. We add snippets of biltong to a Caesar salad, turning the salad into something more substantial. If you like a traditional potato salad, try snippets or powdered biltong in the salad. We also make biltong from bacon – hanging it for about two days. We often add powdered biltong to muffin mix! Lastly, we also dry sausage (called boerewors) which then becomes “droëwors” (“droë” meaning dry and “wors” meaning sausage). Enjoy!

      5. One of my patients was raised on a farm. She said that in her day, they made sausage from the pork they raised. Then they canned it in lard. Don’t know if they used a pressure canner or not.


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