Power outages may do well to the environment but not to the 90 pounds of deer you just hunted, and which you must keep cold. No electricity means no refrigeration, and it could easily lead to your game meat decaying and rotting. So, how do you preserve raw meat without freezing?
The answer is simple: you go back to the meat preservation basics. Refrigeration has only been around for a bit over 150 years. Before that, people would come up with ingenious ways of conserving raw meat for weeks and even months.
Read on to discover how to keep raw game meat fresh without a fridge!
Why Preserve Raw Meat
One of the first survival skills that humans learned is how to preserve raw meat. Even before the Stone Age, people discovered that game meat decays rapidly. Depending on the climate, it may remain edible only for a few hours and at most a full day. After that, it develops toxic bacteria that, if you consume, may cause anything from indigestion to death.
Learning how to keep meat edible for a long period helped our species survive and evolve. Before the discovery of electricity, people used various methods to maintain meat edible for months and even years.
If your electricity is out, and you have a great quantity of raw meat, you need to take care of it before the bacteria settles in. Therefore, you need to learn how to preserve meat as our ancestors did.
Methods to Preserve Meat without Refrigeration
When it comes to meat preservation, there are three rules of thumb:
- Don’t let it get warm.
- Don’t let it get wet.
- Don’t let it get dirty.
If you respect these simple instructions on how to preserve game meat, you will outlive any power outages without too much hassle. However, keeping your meat fresh without electricity is not as simple as it sounds.
Even if you are at home, without refrigeration, it is as if you were some time in the 18th-century. So, survival skills like knowing how to preserve raw meat in the wild will come in handy. Here are some of the easiest methods to keep that game meat fresh based on the rules above!
How to Cook and Preserve Game Meat
We’ll start with the easiest scenario. You just came back home from hunting only to find out that the power is out. More so, the electricity company says that the problem will persist for one or two days. However, you have a full deer to preserve, and nowhere to refrigerate it.
If you don’t have a backup power generator, your best choice is to cook all the raw meat you have. Use a gas stove, a grill, or a wood fire to cook it. The heat will create a powerful layer of protection against bacteria and keep the meat edible for at least a couple of days.
Keep in mind that cooked meat may only be good for a couple of hours in warm climates. So, make sure that you preserve it in a cool and dry place. Preferably, you should store cooked meat in lard, brine, or salt, and into a cold and darkroom.
How to Preserve Meat with Salt
Let’s say that a severe power outage affects your neighborhood. The electricity blackout may last for days or even weeks. In this case, the raw meat in your freezer will thaw and allow for toxic bacteria to overcome it.
Salting is one of the oldest meat preservation methods. Salt absorbs all the moisture in the meat, thus removing the birthplace of bacteria. Furthermore, it delays spoilage and improves the flavour. In other words, it cures it, which is why this practice is also known as curing or corning.
There are two ways to salt raw meat:
This process involves creating a saline solution from 80% water and 20% salt. You may also add sugar, peppercorns, and other spices to induce various flavours to the meat. Next, dip the meat in the resulting brine for at most 10 minutes. Take it out and hang it to dry in the sun.
Exposure to powerful sunlight dries the meat while keeping a protective layer of salt on top of it. After a few days of drying, you can hang the meat into a cold and dry room.
This technique is similar to wet curing but without water. Simply put, you mix plenty of coarse salt with sugar and other spices. Then, cut the meat into strips and rub it thoroughly with the salty mix. Finally, leave it to the sun and wind to dry it and protect it from spoiling.
How to Dry Wild Game Meat
One of the simplest ways of preserving meat is drying it. This technique works best in hot climates and, preferably, in the summer.
Clean the raw meat and remove all of its fat. Next, cut it into thin strips. Otherwise, if the pieces are too thick, they will take a long time to dry. Finally, hang the meat slices from a high beam and make sure that they get enough sunlight and wind. In just a few days, natural dehydration will remove all the moisture and prevent bacteria from developing.
While drying meat, keep a close eye on it to keep wild or domestic animals, birds, or insects from devouring it.
How to Smoke Raw Meat
Another effective method to dehydrate meat is by smoking it. For millennia, our ancestors used smoke to preserve game meat. Even today, in some areas of the world, people rely on smoke to keep raw meat edible for months.
Keep in mind that smoking meat is different from cooking it. With this technique, you use the smoke from burning wood to dehydrate the meat. Smoke also creates an acidic layer on top of the meat that keeps any toxic bacteria at bay.
To smoke raw meat, you will need dry or rotten wood. Also, you can choose different types of woods to give meat various flavours. For example, some popular choices include maple, cherry, oak, and hickory.
If you don’t have a smokehouse, dig a hole in the ground that should be around 3 ft. or 1 meter deep. Build a campfire in it using the dry wood, and cover it partially with fresh foliage and reed. Then, hang the meat above it. The smoke will penetrate the meat without burning it.
If you smoke the meat for a full day, it will last you at least a week without refrigeration. Even more, if you smoke it for two or three days, you can eat it without any risks for up to a month or more. However, too much smoke may destroy the flavor. So, don’t overdo it.
These easy ways to preserve wild game meat when the power goes out should help you store raw flesh even in the most difficult situations.