Food Preservation

How To Smoke Meat



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During a food shortage in the wild, it is essential to know how to smoke meat despite little means or resources. With simple tools and the will to survive, you will be able to preserve and consume meat for an extended period of time. Check out our Survival Life guide on how to smoke meat for use in emergency situations.

How To Smoke Meat

Smoking meat is typically combined with salt-curing or drying to extend the life of the meat as long as possible. Smoking removes moisture from the meat which results in a longer shelf life. Smoking and drying meat is a very efficient way to ensure you have food in the wild or in the case of a food shortage. There are many ways to preserve meat in any situation. Using the resources you have and a little help from this article, you’ll learn how to smoke meat in no time.


1. Gather Materials

Gather materials | How To Smoke Meat For Survival

Besides hunting, you need to prepare a primitive smoker, materials to start a fire, and sharp tools for trimming the meat. You will need something like a shovel for digging. Collect small twigs and dried leaves for easier combustion. You should be able to start up a fire using a bow drill. Much better if you can find a large board to be used as a cover for the in-ground pit smoker.

2. Choose Your Wood

Choose Your Wood | How To Smoke Meat For Survival
The depth of the flavor of the meat also depends on the wood chips used for smoking. The type of wood you use for smoking will add a unique flavor to your meat. There are certain types of wood that pair better with the meat of your choice. For example, Hickory is known to pair well with red meat.

The types of wood commonly used for smoking are alder, maple, mesquite, hickory, apple, cherry, and oak. You could also combine a few types of wood to create the perfect taste. Avoid using pine wood or other soft woods for smoking unless you don’t have any other choice. Soft woods like pine can taint the flavor of your smoked meat though it won’t hurt you.

3. Build A Smoker

Dig A Pit | How To Smoke Meat For Survival

Be creative and resourceful in building your smoker. A viable option is to build a pit smoker, an advantage of this is the soil will act as insulation for the meat to cook. To start with, dig a pit approximately two to three-feet deep. Light up a fire on a stack of twigs or paper, then add the wood chips you’ve collected. Alternatively, if you don’t want to dig a pit, you could also build a tripod and the hot bed of coals could be underneath it.

4. Prepare The Meat

Trim The Meat | How To Smoke Meat For Survival
Smoking meat is like turning it into jerky for a longer storage. The process breaks down the fat and connective tissue slowly, which makes it extremely tender. It’s important to choose a meat that would taste good with a smoky flavor. In the wild, fish, large reptiles, and large mammals can all be smoked for later use.

You need to trim the available meat and strip off the skin, fat, and bone. The fat can spoil your meat and ruin the cuts so it needs to get trimmed. Cut the meat into strips of about 1/4 inches thick. If there’s salt available, add some of it to the meat’s surface.

5. Remove Meat’s Moisture

Remove Meat's Moisture | How To Smoke Meat For Survival
To do this step, you have to skewer the strips of meat onto a stick and position it about 2 feet above your hot bed of coals. Keep in mind though that you’re not cooking the meat but only removing the moisture from it so don’t let it sit for too long. By removing the meat’s moisture, it will not rot easily, plus the heat kills the bacteria in it.

6. Smoking Meat

Smoking Meat | How To Smoke Meat For Survival
Now, you can start with the smoking! Your goal is to avoid smothering the fire while having a lot of smoke and by choosing the right wood as mentioned earlier, you’ll be able to achieve this. Both the smoke and heat create a film-like covering over the meat, preventing bugs such as flies from laying eggs and warding them off too.

7. Have Faith And Be Patient

Patience Is A Virtue | How To Smoke Meat For Survival
The amount of time you’ll need to smoke your meat depends on the temperature of the smoker. Usually, smoking meat takes 6-8 hours time. The best way to know if you’re done with the process is by feel. Check it often for dryness. If the meat bends, this means it’s not done yet. If the meat cracks, this means it’s already dry enough.

For safety purposes, it is still recommended to cook smoked meat before eating to ensure the bacteria is killed. Also, you must remember that while smoking meat can prolong the meat’s life, it should still be properly stored. Since there’s the slightest chance you’ll have a refrigerator in the wild, remember that leftover smoked meat won’t be kept edible forever and has a high chance of spoilage due to bacteria build-up.


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Watch this video to learn how to build your own smokehouse for smoking meat:

Always remember to use meat with less fat for better preservation. Cutting your meat into strips and separating into portions could also help you in budgeting your meat intake when subject to a survival situation. The next time you’re planning to go on a trip outdoors, you can now use your newly acquired survival skill by smoking meat beforehand!

How To Smoke Meat

Do you have some tips on how to smoke meat successfully? Share them in the comments section below!

Up Next: Emergency Food Storage Fails

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  4. Anonymous

    January 28, 2019 at 11:51 AM

    What is the best temperature?

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