How to cure meat

(1) To show the functions of the various ingredients used in curing.

(2) To demonstrate the chemical reactions involved in the curing reaction.

(3) To acquaint the student with the various uses of the curing process in the meat industry.

Reading material: Principles of Meat Science (3rd ed.), Chapter 7, pages 133 to 171.

Curing — the addition of salt , sugar and nitrite or nitrate for the purposes of preservation , flavor and color .

  • Flavor
  • Antimicrobial
  • Enhances cure transport through meat
  • Flavor
  • Counteracts harshness of salt
  • Energy for bacteria that change NO3 —> NO2

Nitrite or nitrate

  • Flavor
  • Prevents warmed-over flavor
  • Retards rancidity
  • Cured-pink color
  • Anti-botulinal effect

The curing reaction

Myoglobin + nitric oxide –> nitric oxide myoglobin + heat –> nitrosyl hemochromogen

Generation of nitric oxide (NO)

Sodium nitrate (NaNO3) + Micrococcus aurantiacus –> sodium nitrite (NaNO2)

Sodium nitrite (NaNO2) + glucono delta lactone (GDL) –> nitrous acid (HONO)

Nitrous acid (HONO) + ascorbates and/or erythorbates –> nitric oxide (NO)

Present-day ingredients for “uncured” meats

  • Celery powder – natural source of nitrates/nitrites
  • Cherry powder – natural source of Vitamin C and used to speed up the curing reaction

Application of cure ingredients

Dry curing — the oldest way of curing meats. Curing ingredients are rubbed on the surface of the meat to be cured.

Stitch pumping — a long needle with multiple holes around the shaft is used. Needle is inserted into meat and the curing solution (in water) is pumped into the product.

Artery injection — a large needle with only one hole in it is inserted into the brachial or femoral artery and the cure solution is injected into the arterial system.

Needle injection — a machine with multiple needles that injects, automatically, meat cuts with the curing solution. The most common way meat is cured today

Amounts and times

Cure type Mixture Amount Time period
Dry cure 10-0-1 100 lb 5 weeks
Dry sugar cure 5-3-3 1 oz/lb 7 days/inch
Cover pickle cure 80° 9 days/inch
60° 12 days/inch
Injection cure (8 to 15%) 80° 7 days/inch
45° 9 days/inch
Combination cure 80° IC + CPC 4 days/inch
80° IC + DSC 2 days/inch
Industry cure (10 to 34%) 70° IC Smoke immediately

Alkaline phosphates

Sodium tripolyphosphate —> increase water-holding capacity.

Up to 5% of pickle, no more than 0.5% in finished product.

Protein-Fat Free (PFF) Basis — 1985

A prerequisite for USDA label approval of (Product name) and water product — X% of weight is added ingredients is a USDA approved quality control program. The maximum percent of added ingredients in the finished product on a total weight basis would be inserted as the X value. For example: Ham and Water Product — 20% of Weight is Added Ingredients.

How to cure meat

In the age of the Internet and microwaves, we tend to expect ease and instant gratification to be a perpetual way of life. We can buy a hundred pounds of meat, stick it in the freezer and eat off of it for a year without any special preparations or considerations made.

But what if the time comes when our modern conveniences are no longer available? Who among us could say that in the event of a catastrophe, we would be able to do what is necessary to maintain a hearty stock of food for ourselves and our families? Look ahead to a future in which unpredictable electrical blackouts make refrigeration impossible and the inflated prices of commodities make them unaffordable.

This article provides an introduction to the two easiest, most fool-proof techniques for preserving meat – curing and smoking – just like our ancestors did it. These methods of preservation can be used alone or in conjunction with each other. I’m going to give you some tips on curing and smoking meats as well as a little bit of insight as to how and why (even with the availability of refrigeration) it is a healthier option than freezing.

The process is basically the same for all different varieties of meats, although the recipes may differ slightly.

Cure

The process of curing is simply using the benefits of salt to preserve meat. Before refrigeration was available, curing was just about the only way to save up meat in warm weather months. Without salt, bacteria would grow in and on the meat and quickly cause it to go bad. The basic role of salt in curing is to dehydrate the meat just enough so that bacteria cannot thrive. However, even if you have the convenience of refrigeration, curing is a great way to preserve the natural flavors of the meat as well as to keep essential vitamins and minerals that are often lost in the freezer.

There are two ways to salt-cure meat. In both cases, the flavor from the cure is derived from salt and whatever other flavors are added to the curing mixture such as sugars (honey or brown) and spices (pepper, rosemary, bay leaves)

  • Dry curing: Salt and other ingredients are rubbed over the meat.
  • Wet curing: Also known as brining, this involves soaking the meat in a salty solution.

One of the most important ingredients to include when preserving meats by curing is sodium nitrate. Sodium nitrate can be found in all kinds of leafy green vegetables and can be added to your salt mixture in the form of celery juice, ground spinach or pink salt (curing salt #1, which is 7 percent sodium nitrate). Sodium nitrate is useful for warding off the development of one of the worst kinds of bacteria found in food — botulism. Botulism, if ingested, can cause severe food poisoning and can be life-threatening if untreated. So we want to do everything we can to make sure that our cured meats are as safe as possible. Sodium nitrate will also make your cured meats turn a nice shade of bright reddish-pink. One thing to be mindful of, however, is that high levels of nitrates (like most anything) are toxic and you need to be careful about the amount that you are adding to your curing mixture. Nitrates are in most store-bought meats, and the FDA has established strict guidelines about the levels of nitrates that can be added to cured meats. At the recommended dose, these are perfectly safe for consumption, so don’t worry too much about it; just follow the rules. (Note: During the curing process, nitrate turns into nitrite.)

Smoking

How to cure meat

Image source: TheOrganicsInstitute.com

Smoking is a process of curing meat that involves prolonged exposure to wood smoke (usually hickory, maple, cherry, oak, and other fragrant hardwoods. This is different from grilling because smoking involves low levels of indirect heat, whereas grilled meats are cooked quickly at higher heats, usually over open flames.

Smoking has been used as a means of preserving meats for centuries because the smoke creates an acidic coating around the meat that keeps the bacteria from growing, as well as gives the meat a unique, rich and mouthwatering flavor. Smoking also helps to dehydrate the meat, again changing the environment within the meat so that it is less hospitable for bacteria to thrive in. Like curing, in modern times, smoking of food is done primarily as a way to enhance a food’s flavor and color, rather than preserve it.

There are two types of smoking:

  • Hot smoking: Done at temperatures of at least 150 degrees F. The goal is to cook the food at the same time it is being flavored with smoke. It is still cooked much longer than grilled meats, in lower temperatures, but hot enough so that the meat cooks very slowly, making it tender enough to fall right off the bone and melt in your mouth.
  • Cold smoking: Processed at less than 100 degrees F. This method isn’t meant to cook the meat at all; it is merely used to flavor and seal the meat with the smoke barrier so that the bacteria cannot cause it to spoil, but it can still be saved to cook at a later time. This is a really good way to flavor meats that have already been cured if you like that smoky flavor. Salamis and sausages are very good when given the added flavor of cold smoking.

Smokers come in all shapes and sizes to fit your individual needs and are fueled by charcoal, electricity, gas, wood, etc., in order to generate smoke. Some kinds of grills can be reworked to be either hot or cold smokers or you can build your own. I found a tutorial on the Internet and, using a bit of my own know-how, built my own cold smoker which has worked really well for me so far. It was a lot cheaper than many of the store-bought versions. In any case, it is important to have some outdoor space to do your smoking.

By curing and smoking your meat, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your family is eating all-natural, non-processed foods – and the added benefit of enjoying amazingly delicious meals, too!

What smoking and curing tips do you have? Tell us in the section below:

How to cure meat

Food preservation is an ancient technique to preserve food and add flavor. It is prevalent still today not for the original reasons of course, but for the unique taste and flavor, it imparts to foods like meat, fish, and poultry.

Here we’ll share some Bradley tips & tricks on curing and smoking meat for food preservation but before we dive in we need to cover the importance of curing meat.

Benefits of curing meats

How to cure meat

Meat has become an indispensable part of food smoking. The sound of a perfectly charred sizzling steak can make anyone hungry. What many of us don’t know is the little pitmaster secret that lies behind that tender and succulent smoked steak.

It is the process of curing. Apart from enhancing the flavor of smoked foods, curing has other benefits too. Here are a few of the biggest benefits:

  1. Increases shelf life: Meat tends to decompose faster because it is prone to bacterial growth. Curing slows down the process of decomposition making the meat unfavorable for bacteria to breed. This helps to preserve the meat for longer.
  1. Prevents food poisoning: As curing decreases bacterial growth in the meat, the chances of food poisoning also reduced.
  1. Enhance flavor and tenderness: Curing is a way to add more flavor to the food before smoking it. Curing also keeps the meat juicy even after smoking, preserving the tenderness and enhancing the smoky flavor.

Process of curing the meat

How to cure meat

Curing of meat is done in two ways. The tried and tested method is salt curing and the popular one for food smoking is brining. The most basic form of curing is to preserve the meat in salt. For instance, to cure a 5-pound steak, approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons of salt is required. Sometimes sugar is also used along with salt. It depends on the meat and the recipe.

Just like curing, brining is also used for fermenting, preserving, and pickling the food. Brining enhances the color, flavor, and texture of the food. Generally, a high concentration of salt and water is required in brining. For instance, to brine 15 pounds of meat, approximately 6 tablespoons of salt is required. The water should be enough to submerge the meat in the container. Once the meat soaks in the brine from all sides, it is ready to be smoked to tender succulent steak.

Curing/ Brining Tips for Perfect Smoking

How to cure meat

Curing or brining is a major secret behind perfect smoking. It helps the meat to absorb the smoky flavor preventing it from drying up during cooking. Here a few hacks to ensure you cure/ brine the steak near to perfection.

Don’t stuff the container: When you are curing the meat or brining it, make sure not to stuff too many pieces in a container. The meat pieces should be kept loosely in so that all the sides are exposed and can absorb the brine evenly.

Meat to brine ratio: While curing the meat use a sufficient amount of salt to cover it uniformly from all sides. The same rule applies for brining also. Use enough water to cover the meat so that it absorbs the brine from all sides.

Stick to the recipe: Certain recipes may require adding some spices to the brine or curing to enhance the taste. This can add to the flavor of the smoked steak.

Use a pro food smoker: Lastly but most importantly use a quality food smoker to get the best food smoking experience. A pro smoker is designed to work self-sufficiently without frequent tending to give you the required doneness and perfect smoky flavor.

How to cure meat

Features of a good food smoker

The most important feature of a quality food smoker is that it doesn’t require any babysitting. All you need to do is to fill up the fuel tray and let the meat smoke to your desired doneness.

How to cure meat

Many food smokers available in the market lack one feature or the other. It is difficult to find one food smoker with all the advanced features. Thankfully we have Bradley smoker that stands out from the rest. Bradley is one of the few brands to provide all the advanced features in a user-friendly design.

The Bradley P10 Professional Smoker Features

  • Smoker internal operating temperature range 30 c – 160 c/ 86 f – 320 f
  • Built-In smoke generator with window bisquette compartment and automated bisquette advancement to smoke up to 10 hours with no refilling
  • Professional grade 76l stainless steel body design
  • Improved temperature accuracy and dual temperature problems featuring pdi (proportional-integral derivative) controlled heating
  • Smart smoking with up to 50 of your favourite recipes that can be created or downloaded using a USB stick. Controlling, time, smoke and temperature for the perfect recipe

We hope these simple Bradley tips & tricks on curing and smoking meat have been helpful to you. Years of practice and experience are required to ace the art of food smoking but these hacks on the basics of curing can help beginners to have a near-perfecting food smoking experience.

For more great ideas on how to get the most of your Bradley Smoker, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.

If you haven’t considered what would happen without power, start by looking in your kitchen. Your refrigerator would no longer work. Meats and perishables would spoil quickly. While we all want to think we won’t ever be without electricity, no one can predict when the next major world war or other catastrophe will occur.

A major catastrophe that shuts down power plants would be devastating—that is, unless you are prepared and know how to survive. You should learn how to preserve meat without refrigeration. Salting and brining are two efficient, simple means of preserving meat for your family’s sustenance.

How to cure meatBefore You Start

You are going to need a source of fresh meat. Beef and pork are both good options. If you have gotten into homesteading, you may have your own pigs and cows; however, you can also purchase fresh meat from a butcher or a co-op that sells beef and pork fresh off the hoof.

Next, you should examine your house thoroughly using a thermometer. As you go from one area to the next, record the temperature. Make sure you check the attic, any unheated areas of your house, your storage shed, and any other shelters on your property. You are looking for the coldest areas; this is where you will store your meat.

Salting Pork for Preservation

Many people have forgotten this old method of preserving pork. It is one of the easiest methods available and doesn’t take much time. You will need fresh pork, pickling salt, brown sugar, and crocks or jars for storage.

First, cut the pork into slabs. Generally, four- to six-inch slabs work best. Mix 1/2 pound of pickling salt with 1/4 cup of brown sugar. This is enough to cover twelve pounds of pork. Liberally cover the pork with this mixture. Next, pack the meat into sterilized crocks or jars. You should make sure it is tightly packed. Cover the meat with cheesecloth.

Using the temperature chart of your house, determine where to store your crocks. You need to keep the meat in an area that is about 36°F – no higher than 38°F. You also do not want an area that could see freezing temperatures. Leave the meat in this cool storage for at least one month. After that time, you can wrap the meat in plastic or moisture-proof paper and leave it stored all winter. You now have salt-cured pork for any occasion.

Many older people remember having a smokehouse on their land when they were young. Meat would be salted and hung to cure in these cool, dry areas. You could build a storage room for handing meat without too much work. The room should have excellent air circulation and stay cool without freezing.

Brining Pork

Brining is a reliable method of preserving pork, although it takes a little more time than salt preserving. Start out the same way you do for salt preserving by cutting the fresh pork into slabs. Next, you need to pack the pork into a sterilized container like a crock or jar.

Dissolve 1 pound of pickling salt and 1/2 cup of brown sugar in 3 quarts of water. Pour this brine over the pork and ensure that the meat is completely covered in liquid. If you have a problem covering the meat completely in brine, add a weight to the meat to keep it submerged. A plate with something heavy on top will work nicely. Store the covered pork in one of your rooms that will stay an average temperature of 36°F.

After the first week, remove the pork from the brine. Stir the brine well and repack the meat. Leave in the cool room and repeat this process for the next four weeks. If the brine is thick or stringy on any of the weeks you open it, remove the meat. Empty the brine and sterilize the crocks. Wash each piece of pork well before repacking. Mix a fresh batch of brine for the meat, and put back into storage. At the end of four weeks, your meat is ready to be cooked.

Canned Meat

If you are familiar with canning fruits and vegetables, you should know that you can also can meat. You have to make sure you get the temperature of the meat high enough to kill bacteria before it seals. Chicken and beef are good options for canning, as are fish. You can cook the meat before you can and seal it. For example, you could make beef stew and preserve it in cans. Stewed chicken also cans and preserves well. Raw packing is another option you can try as well.

Dehydration

While most of us tend to think of jerky as a snack food, dried meat is another viable option for preserving meat without using refrigeration. Although you’d probably have trouble rehydrating enough meat to prepare a Sunday roast dinner, you could definitely use jerky that has been broken into small pieces as a welcome addition to soups, stews, and chilis. Beef, pork, venison, and turkey all make excellent jerkies.

Live Animals

If you are trying to get back to the basics of homesteading and want to be prepared for any emergency situation, you may want to consider having some live sources of protein. You can easily raise rabbits and chickens. A small pond can be stocked with fish. If you have room, you can add a dairy cow for milk and a bull to slaughter. However, once you slaughter the bull, you will need to cure some of the meat so that it doesn’t all go bad.

Part of getting back to the basics involves knowing how to hunt animals for food. Venison is an excellent meat, and deer can be found that are small enough to provide you with plenty of meat without the need to preserve large amounts of meat for long periods of time.

No one wants to think about losing electricity and all the luxuries that it brings. However, nothing is promised, and it wouldn’t take much to shut down electricity. You don’t want to be one of the people who are not prepared for basic survival.

Preparing your family for catastrophe doesn’t mean you have to stop living with your refrigerator. However, it does mean knowing what to do in the event you don’t have a refrigerator. Additionally, knowing how to preserve meat can save you money by raising and preserving some of your own meat. Put the tips here to use and ensure you know how to keep meat from spoiling.

How to cure meatCuring meats is a great way to preserve them. It may seem like a difficult chore to get into, but in reality, curing meat is not that complex. Curing simply means preserving meat. For thousands of years, people have cured meats by drying, salting, or smoking them. Any kind of meat can be treated this way, but pork usually gives the best results. Because this type of preservation has been used for so long, it is a method that you can rely on even if you have no power. Of course, there are modern pieces of equipment you can use to make curing easier and safer, but you can still use traditional methods as a safe way to get well-cured meats.

How Curing Works

Commercially-cured meats often contain many objectionable chemicals. You can make the same product at home with fewer preservatives and with a better flavor. All you have to do is dry the meat out. When all or most of the water is gone from meat, bacteria cannot live in it, and you have a safe product that lasts a long time. Getting your meat dried out relies on several factors:

  • Size. The larger the piece of meat, the longer it will take to dry it out.
  • Temperature. Higher temperatures will speed the process of curing.
  • Fat. The more fat a piece of meat has, the longer it takes to cure.
  • Salt. Salt is the primary drying agent when curing meats. The more salt you use, the faster the meat will cure.
  • pH. A higher pH means a slower curing process.

Essentially, you introduce salt to your meat and let it dry out until it is cured. Of course, there are several considerations beyond this simple premise, especially to ensure that you end up with a product that is safe to eat.

The Ingredients

While it is a simple process to cure meats, there are some ingredients that are absolutely essential to get a tasty product that looks appealing and is free from dangerous bacteria.

  • Meat. Of course, you need a meat to cure. You can use pork, beef, veal, lamb, poultry, and fish. Various cuts of pork will give you the best color and flavor. Lamb, veal, and beef can be cured, but they lose much of their protein and nutrients in the process. Poultry and fish do well in the curing process.
  • Salt. Salt is the most important ingredient in curing, next to the meat of course. Table salt, or sodium chloride, draws the water out of the meat. It also draws water out of and kills microorganisms in the meat.
  • Sugar. Sugar is not a required ingredient for making cured meat; however, you will want to use it for flavor. It acts to cut the harsh flavor of the salt.
  • Nitrates and nitrites. It may seem as if these ingredients are modern preservatives, but in fact, people have been using them for centuries. Saltpeter, or salt with nitrates, has long been used to cure meats, even before people knew what nitrates were. Nitrates and nitrites act to kill bacteria in the meat, but they also give the meat a nice pink color. Without them, you will have gray meats. These compounds can be harmful to people in large quantities, so follow recipes carefully and never use more than is suggested.

The Set Up

It is possible to cure meats by simply leaving them to hang in a garage, barn, shed, or similar outbuilding. However, you can get much better results by creating a space in which you can control humidity, temperature, and airflow. To make a tasty and safe cured meat, you need to be able to control all three factors. The temperature for your curing area should be between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. At temperatures above 60 degrees, bacteria will be able to grow, and below 50 degrees, it will slow the curing process too much. Humidity needs to be between 70 and 75 percent. If it gets below 70, your meat will dry out too quickly on the outside while the inside will become spoiled. If the humidity is too high, you run the risk of the meat not drying out and of growing bad mold on it. Airflow is necessary because it helps to dry the meat and prevents the growth of these bad molds.

To get all the right conditions, you can either use a location you already have that meets the requirements, or you can create one. Get a temperature and humidity sensor to determine when you have the right conditions. If you have a cellar or basement, you may be already there. Check the temperature and humidity to find out. If so, simply fan your meats a couple of times a day for air flow.

If you don’t have a good location already, you can make one. An old refrigerator works well. You can use a timer and sensor to turn the fridge on and off in an effort to keep the interior at just the right temperature. You should be able to find such a controller with a quick online search. To get the humidity level right, you can place a bowl of salt water in the bottom of the fridge and monitor the humidity with a sensor. It can be tricky to get it just right this way, so alternatively, you can put a small humidifier in the fridge with a controller that keeps it set at the right percentage. For airflow, drill a few holes in each side of the fridge and cover them with mesh to keep rodents out.

The Recipes

Recipes for curing meats are very detailed and require more attention than the space of this article. Once you have a good set up ready, though, you can start looking at recipes to use. Make sure you find a reliable source and that you follow the measurements precisely. You need to get the ingredients right to make a safe product. Rest assured, though, that after you have tried curing once or twice, you will find it easy to make delicious meats and sausages.

Safety

Safety is more important than any other consideration when making cured meats. This is a very safe way to preserve meat, but as with any type of preservation, there is always a risk. If you do it right and follow some guidelines, you should have no safety concerns.

How to cure meat

From the time people roamed the earth as hunter-gatherers, their very survival might have depended on preserving meat — their main source of protein — to tide them over in times of scarcity.

Burying portions of the kill deep in the snow in winter, and drying it crisp over the rocks in the blazing heat of summer, he would have managed to stay alive from season to season. His meat preservation methods may have been crude, but they are successfully employed even today, the only difference being the technological advances that have delinked the processes from the vagaries of nature.

Even with round-the-year availability of fresh and processed meat, it is not a bad idea to keep a good storage of meat as a hedge against possible emergencies in the future. Moreover, in this era of highly processed food, by storing your own meat you get to control what goes on your plate.

Dehydrating

A chemical-free way to preserve meat is to dehydrate it until it becomes too dry for microbial action. Compared to traditional sun-drying, using an electric dehydrator is faster and safer. Whether you like the chewy texture of beef jerky cut along the grain or the more crumbly cross-cut chips, the slices need to be thin to ensure thorough drying inside and out.

Fat in the meat may go rancid when kept, so be sure to remove all skin and fat before slicing the meat into strips not more than one-fourth of an inch in thickness. Lean cuts and chicken breasts are preferable to fattier portions.

Make sure your dehydrator has a temperature setting of 165 degrees Fahrenheit required for heating the meat strips to destroy harmful bacteria like E.coli and Salmonella. It is much safer if you thoroughly heat the prepared meat in an oven set over 250 degrees F for 10-15 minutes before transferring it to the dehydrator. Continuous running of the dehydrator at its maximum temperature for 16-20 hours will make the jerky sufficiently dry. Store the dried jerky lightly packed in airtight containers. It will stay good at room temperature for up to two months. Extend its shelf life by storing in the freezer or by vacuum sealing it.

Curing with salt

Common salt is the dehydrating agent that helps preserve the meat here. Meat cured with salt is safe, as salt acts as an anti-microbial. There are basically two ways to salt-cure meat. Rubbing salt on the meat and letting the juices drain off will result in a dry product. The process is as easy as mixing salt with the meat, but for better flavor, spices and herbs are often used. Meat can be preserved in salt solution, too; it is called “brining.” You can add brown sugar or honey for extra taste. Another traditional curing process called “biltong” involves marinating the meat in vinegar prior to salting and drying.

How to cure meat

Image source: prepared-housewives

Commercially available salt-cured meat products contain several additives to improve their texture. You can cut down the chemical load by curing the meat with “kosher salt,” which is free of additives. Specially formulated “curing salt” contains about 6 percent sodium nitrite, a chemical that’s known to offer some protection against botulism, but bad for you over the permitted limits. USDA’s recommendation is one ounce of curing salt per quart of water.

Canning meat

For long-term preservation, meat is best canned. Since it can be stored at room temperature for years, there is nothing like canned meat to enhance your crisis preparedness. Canning essentially means sterilizing the food within a container and sealing it against external contamination. Jars with lids and sealing rings are a prerequisite – and so is a pressure canner that ensures thorough heating of the contents of the jar.

Traditionally, the cans were sterilized in a water bath, but it is no longer considered safe, especially for meat. There are two ways to go about it: hot packing or raw packing.

Hot packing

Meat is pre-cooked in this method. Salt and spices are added while boiling meat. Transfer the pieces into the hot jars when they are two-thirds done. Pour the hot broth over the pieces, leaving just over an inch of headspace. Check for large bubbles and release them with a skewer. Wipe the jars clean and cap them tightly before processing in the pressure canner.

Raw packing

Raw meat chunks are packed into the jars after adding salt. There is no broth or liquid to pour in, but the meat will release some as it is processed in the pressure cooker. Raw packing requires longer processing time.

The pressure and time required vary with the altitude and the quantity of meat processed at a time too. Follow the USDA guidelines for safe canning. Check the lids to ensure vacuum sealing. You need not refrigerate canned meat, but storing it in a cool place increases shelf life. It will keep for years as long as the seal is intact.

Safety first

Whatever method you use, the success of meat preservation hinges on the quality of the meat used. Always go for the freshest cuts. Process the meat immediately, keeping it chilled in the meanwhile. Closely follow the recipes and the USDA guidelines for food safety.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Have you ever canned meat? What tips would you add? Share them in the section below:

How to cure meat

I have been reading a Confederate recipe book published in Virginia in 1863 and have found some good ideas. There is a section on preserving meat without the use of salt that I found to be quite interesting. It is something I have wanted try for some time. If any of you have done it, let me know.

Here is the article, note the old-fashioned spelling.
There are some advantages to preserving meat without salt. Many of us older individuals are supposed to be on a salt free diet and in some areas salt may be hard to get after TEOTWAWKI. Another useful bit of knowledge.

3 thoughts on “Preserving Meat Without the Use of Salt”

I would like to have bacon without nitrites. Are you going to cure bacon? As for hanging meat at the side of a house, how do you keep flies from blowing it? I have a dehydrator. Could meat be cured in it without the marinade the dehydrator book calls for in recipes?

Good questions, yes I am going to try bacon and like you I will try and avoid the nitrites. I have have dried quite a bit of food outside and found that as long as the food is in the direct sunlight the flies stay away. As soon as the sun starts to go down I cover it to keep them off. I have dried meat in my dehydrator with no salt. Here is a link to another article on jerky. https://preparednessadvice.com/food_storage/making-jerky-under-primitive-conditions/#.UxinvfldViI
Howard

I dehydrate meat all the time and never use added salt. I make my own marinades as well. I guess you dont technically need a marinade, but it will make it taste better. I marinade for no less than 12 hours, more it sits, the more the flavor.

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How to Cure Meat in the Field

How to cure meat

When most people go hunting, they are able to quickly field dress any animals they are able to kill, and either take them home or to a processor to be properly butchered. For many people, especially those in survival situations, this is not an option. Being able to properly cure your meat in the field will allow it to last for significantly longer without going bad, which could be life saving.

In order to properly preserve meat, you need to act as quickly as possible after a successful hunt. You need to have raw meat either frozen, smoked or dried so that it won’t go bad. During the winter months, it is possible to allow the meat to freeze without a problem. If it is warmer out, however, curing your game is essential, and must be done within a few hours to avoid the meat from spoiling or getting infested with bugs.

Smoking Your Meat

Smoking your meat will cure the outside of the meat fairly quickly, which prevents insects from getting into it, and also significantly prevents the meat from rotting. When done properly, smoked meat can last for weeks without refrigeration. After a successful hunt, following these simple steps will have your meat smoked in just a few hours.

  • Build a Tepee – Take several long sticks and prop them against each other to form a tepee. Make sure the sticks are thick and strong enough to support the weight of the meat and a tarp. Also, make sure they are long enough to make a large tepee so all the meat can fit within. Secure the top of the tepee with twine or another material to keep it steady.
  • Smoking Racks – Using twine, secure several other sticks within the tepee horizontally. These sticks will be used to place meat on for smoking, so make sure they are strong enough to support the weight of the mat.
  • Containment – Cover about ¾ of the tepee with a tarp, or use thick branches to contain the smoke within.
  • Fire – Build a small fire within the tepee. Allow the fire to burn until there is a good bed of coals.
  • Prepare the Meat – While the fire is burning, butcher the meat into large, thing pieces. The thinner the pieces, the more effective the smoking will be, and the faster it will be completed.
  • Place the Meat – Once the fire has been going long enough to have the coals nice and hot, place the meat on the racks.
  • Create the Smoke – Place green branches or leafs on the fire to create smoke. Try to contain a good amount of smoke within the tepee. Keep this process going for at least 30 minutes to completely cure the meat. If the meat is thicker than normal, longer smoking will be required.

Drying the Meat

If you can’t smoke the meat, drying it is another option for curing. This is a much more time consuming process, but it doesn’t require fire, and can still effectively cure the meat. Just as with smoking, this should be done as quickly as possible after a successful hunt.