Meat comes in a variety of different forms – beef, pork, turkey, you name it – and as such there are endless ways that you can prepare it. As such, meat is a common product among households and is typically eaten a few times a week, if not more. If your family is particularly carnivorous, you might keep quite a bit stocked up in your freezer. Anything from frozen chickens to preserved bacon might be stuffed into the back, and can last well up to a year within the cold environment. Because of this, freezers seem like the ideal method of preservation for meat.
Unfortunately, as with everything, there is one small problem that can out you thousands of dollars and leave you with a ton of spoiled meat to get rid of. That’s where relying on a freezer can be a massive mistake when, in reality, anything from a power outage to a bad storm can cause it to stop running, and suddenly you’re looking at a pretty big investment loss.
Thankfully, there are many other alternatives that have been worked through trial and error without the need for relying on electricity. When the power goes out – you’ll know what to do.
1. Salting – Perhaps not the most favorable choice depending on your circumstances, salting meat is an older method that can preserve meat for up to six months. By cutting up the meat and shrouding it in salt, the mineral will work to dehydrate the meat and therefore keep it lasting longer. Because of this, the meat will become tender and dry and must be soaked several times in water before preparing for a meal. In addition to that, the longer it is left in the salt, the harder it will be to restore it to its original, and edible, state but salting is a relatively inexpensive and reliable method all around.
2. Drying – Jerky probably comes right to mind when you think of “drying” meat, and that’s exactly right. By taking the moisture out of meat, you can therefore preserve it for up to six months. Similar to salting, by cutting the meat into slim strips and optionally using a salt mixture to pull out more of the moisture, you can create a well-preserved and delicious form of dried meat. Ensure that you use meats that are anti-fat, as that will not dry and instead spoil, and add the dried meat to soups, meals, or just eat it alone – it’s great for all forms of cooking, and won’t spoil for quite a long time.
3. Pressure Canning – Perhaps one of the most effective methods to storing meat, pressure canning will preserve it for up to years at a time, and it’s fairly easy. Plan out a time to do it and make sure you’ve got some jars and their lids at the ready as well as a pressure canner. Instructions will be provided, but the basis is simple – cut up the meat into chunks that are small enough to fit in the jar. Fill it up to the top and throw in a teaspoon of salt. The rest of the directions should be included with your pressure canner, and then you’re well on your way to long-lasting and delicious meat.
4. Cold Smoking / Curing – Possibly the best way to preserve fattier meat types, the process of curing and then cold smoking is a two step process. As most preservations go, injecting and saturating the meat with salt and brine mixtures is necessary to draw out moisture and keep the meat from potentially spoiling. Meat purchased at the grocery store
is sometimes called “cured meat”, though when actually curing meat for preservation purposes as opposed to flavor purposes you’re going to need a lot more salt. Following meat curing, the process of cold smoking must be completed, where the meat must be smoked at no more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit to seal the preservation and retain flavor. After these steps, keep the meat in a dry and cold area, where it will last for up to six months depending on the temperature and space.
5. On the Hoof – The “On the Hoof” method is probably not the most popular, especially among households that are typically very busy and don’t have a lot of space, however for some, using this old way to preserve meat is a wonderful and fresh way of doing so. By harvesting the meat from livestock when you need it, and only then, you can save on quite a bit of meat throughout the year. Keeping up on continuously breeding and butchering can be a bit time-consuming though, so if the “on the hoof” method doesn’t work for you, one of the others might.
Storing your food in a freezer is great, but relying on that amount of electricity can sometimes be the opposite of a good thing. Instead, try out the above methods, and find out what works best for you!