An adventure in the wild, such as hunting, always promises a good time and new experiences. Yet, there are multiple precautions you must take beforehand so that you can have the most adventurous time. One of these precautions is ensuring that the meat you catch or take with you to eat remains intact. If not, your survival in the wild will become extremely difficult.
Learning how to preserve meat in the outdoors is one of the most important skills to learn before heading into the wilderness. After all, no other food can provide you with as much energy and nourishment as meat. So, in this article, I’ll explain how to preserve meat in the wild, along with some additional insight. So, stick around till the end!
What Are Five Methods To Preserve Meat In the Wild?
Before you learn how to preserve meat, you need to ensure a few things first so that the meat is safe to consume. No matter what preservation technique you use, the first thing you need to do is lower the temperature of the meat. Otherwise, the meat can attract bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella, etc.
To reduce the temperature of your meat, you can start by removing the pure insulators such as connective fat, tissues, and bones. Then you will have to cut the meat. The pieces should be small so that the heat from them spreads out faster and the whole thing gets cool very fast.
After the meat has cooled down, you can get ready for the preservation of the meat. Below, I have listed five of the most effective methods you can utilize to preserve meat in the wild. These are the ways in which you can dry the meat and preserve it. Keep in mind that due to the drying procedure, the meat will shrink in size.
Curing is when you dehydrate the meat by using table salt. It is also sometimes known as “corning.” The salt assists in removing the moisture from the meat. This is done so through a process called osmosis. In osmosis, the interior moisture of the meat is transferred to the exterior, towards the salt. Thus, there is an electrolyte balance.
As there is no more internal water, there are no more chances of bacteria. In this process, you do not require additional materials such as sunlight or fire. The process is quite fast. Just make sure that you pack a lot of salt with you. I would suggest using pink curing salt.
You can achieve curing with the use of a dry or wet rub. I have offered more insight about dry and wet curing below. There are basically two ways in which you can apply the salt.
Dry curing: For dry curing, you apply the salt directly to the cut meat. Leave the pieces of meat to air-dry afterward. Leave the pieces of meat for air drying afterward. You can use gamebags to protect the meat from insects etc.
Wet curing: The foundation of a wet rub should consist of a 20% saltwater solution and you will place the meat in this solution. You can also add sugar or spices to make up for the salty taste. After soaking the meat for 5 minutes, take it out of the mix and leave it to air dry.
Once the meat is properly dried, store them in bags or containers that are airtight. If you are stacking several pieces of meat in one container, you should ensure that there is a fat layer of slat between each piece.
One of the most effective methods is to simply cut your meat into small pieces and place them to dehydrate under the sunlight. You can also place rods or racks of wood between trees to hang the pieces of meat. Do use game nags or fishnets to protect the drying meat from flies or insects. Do not forget to flip the meat pieces every now and then.
Afterward, place the meat in airtight bags to prevent bacteria from getting in. You should know that this method might result in a lack of flavor compared to other methods.
In order to smoke the meat, you will have to keep the meat on the fire. As this method takes a long time to preserve the meat, be prepared to keep the fire going for quite a while. With smoking, the surface of the meat will get an acidic texture, which will prevent the buildup of bacteria.
Firstly, you need to pick a good hardwood such as oak or maple. If they have a good smell, the meat you plan to consume will have a good smell as well. Avoid the use of pine, as it will offer an extremely bitter flavor to the meat.
Make sure that the wood is dry, that is, do not use fresh wood as it can be wet. Wet wood does not burn properly, and it can be harmful to your health too.
Secondly, to keep as much smoke around the meat as possible, you have to create a canopy. Materials that are fire-resistant can be used for this purpose. If you do not have them, you can use pieces of lumber. The meat should not be placed too close to the fire as you want to preserve and dehydrate it, not cook it.
For proper preservation, the meat should be kept at a temperature of 110–160 °F. So, make sure you have a thermometer with you.
If you want the easiest option, you can simply opt for preservatives. They consist of a mixture of citric acid and form a crust on the surface of the meat that makes it impossible for bacteria to grow. You will have to apply them regularly, every other day. Make sure you remove the acidic crust before cooking the meat.
You can store the meat in a brine mixture. It is similar to the curing method. By depriving the meat of oxygen, they prevent bacteria and protect the meat from its surroundings. One of the biggest benefits of using brine is that it enables you to hold onto the natural tenderness of the meat.
Make sure you soak large pieces of meat in the brine unless they will develop a very salty taste. You do not want to eat pickled meat. You can also add sugar, spices, or herbs to get a better flavor.
How Long Can You Preserve Meat In The Wild?
The time for meat preservation varies depending on a lot of elements, such as the temperature of your surroundings, the amount of meat, etc. To give you a basic idea, I’ve listed the duration of meat preservation for the methods I have mentioned above.
Sunlight: Drying the meat in sunlight usually takes 12-16 hours. Afterward, you can have the meat preserved for weeks. Sometimes they can also last up to 2 months.
Curing: The curing process can help preserve the meat for multiple weeks.
Smoking: Smoking the meat for a day can make it last for a week at a minimum. If you do it for two days continuously, it will last a whole month. Be careful not to do it too regularly, as it will heavily distort the flavor of the meat.
Preservatives: Preservatives do not make the meat last very long. They last for 2-3 days and then you will need to apply them to the meat again.
Brine: Using a brine solution can help the meat last for weeks given that you use the correct measurements.
After reading this article, you should have a proper idea of how to preserve meat in the wild. You have a multitude of options to choose from, after all. Just make sure you clean and dry the meat properly so that you are not exposed to any bacteria.
I wish you all the best for your adventures in the wild!