There are different ways to store meat long-term. Check out the methods below and give them all a try!
3 Best Methods to Store Meat Long-Term
One of the most important discoveries in the history of man was the preservation of meats for use later. Without refrigerators and freezers, our ancestors relied on methods like sun drying, curing with salt, and storing meat in the snow during the winter months. A successful hunt has almost no value if the meat cannot be used over time.
Today, many hunters have multiple freezers to store their meats for future use. But learning and using multiple methods of meat preservation is always a good idea, especially if you’re interested in minimizing your reliance on electricity, or if you are storing food for longer than a few months.
Today, dehydrating, curing with salt, and canning are all still popular ways to preserve meat for future enjoyment. Whether you’re looking to store for a few weeks, months, or years will influence which method you choose.
Preference may dictate if you choose dry, hardened meats over canned meats that retain their moisture. Trying each method may give you a better appreciation for what those early hunters went through. In this over-processed age, preserving your own meats also gives you more control over your exposure to chemicals and additives.
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Beef jerky is ubiquitous and notoriously expensive per pound. It’s a great road trip snack, packing lean protein that doesn’t require refrigeration – and the good news is that you can make it yourself rather inexpensively!
You can use your oven, but it’s recommended to purchase a dedicated dehydrator to cut down on electricity costs. In a pinch, you can actually dry your meat outside in the sun just like our ancestors did, but you are at the mercy of the weather and bugs that can contaminate your meats.
When dehydrating, be sure to remove all of the fat and skin and use lean cuts. This will prevent the meat from going bad. Cut along the grain and in strips no thicker than 1/4”.
Before transferring to the dehydrator, it is recommended to start the jerky in your oven at 250° for 10-15 minutes. Then transfer to the dehydrator at 165° for 16-20 hours.
Storing your jerky in an airtight container will give it a shelf life of about 2 months. Freezing or vacuum-sealing it will extend that shelf life.
2. Curing With Salt
Salt is anti-microbial and will dehydrate your meat. When curing with salt, you’ll want to use kosher salt to avoid extra chemicals and additives. You can either rub salt into your meat and let the juices run off, or you can add spices and herbs to the process.
Other popular methods include using brown sugar and honey in addition to salt or soaking in vinegar prior to using salt. You’ll want to experiment with different flavors to find your favorites.
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Canning is absolutely your best option when it comes to storing meat for several years. Canned meat does not have to be refrigerated or frozen and will even retain its juiciness when reheated. It can be canned already cooked or when raw. You will need a pressure canner, jars, lids, sealing rings, and tongs to properly and safely can meats.
When hot packing meat, you’ll season and cook the meat until it’s about 60% done, and then pack the jars with meat and juices leaving 1” of room at the top. Remove any bubbles; seal tightly, and then put them in the pressure canner.
Raw packing meat will take longer in the pressure-canner, but all you need is raw meat and salt in each jar.
Be sure to follow the recommended pressure and times based on what you are canning, and at what altitude. Always confirm that the lids are vacuum-sealed.
Preserve Them While They're Fresh
Preserve your meats as soon after the hunt as you can! Fresh meat preserves the best. Quality cuts will shine whenever you choose to enjoy them.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are surviving off of your preserved meats, being able to grill up a juicy burger may be a very comforting and enjoyable experience.
What's your preferred method to store meat long-term? Let us know why in the comments section!
- A Guide To Safely Canning Hamburgers
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