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How To Preserve Meat Like The Pioneers

How To Preserve Meat Like The Pioneers

Food preservation is a huge problem during a survival situation. Imagine if you do not access to refrigerators (that work) or to food with preservatives that will stay edible when left on the shelf. What would you do to keep food edible?

Fortunately, answers to questions like this can often be found by studying a little history, and I don’t mean the overview and indoctrination that too many people get in school. You need to study the day-to-day lives of people in older times such as the pioneers in the old west to find useful answers to these kinds of problems. With that in mind, here are four forgotten meat preservation methods from the 1800s:

  • Fat cap: Bacteria needs oxygen to do their damage in breaking down food. Fortunately for us, fat is incredibly useful as a sealant for food, keeping out oxygen to help preserve meats. James Walton writes,

One of the best ways to take advantage of this fat or fat cap is to create a stock or broth. Bone broth has become very popular and would work here, as well. As you simmer the bones in your stock or broth, try not to skim off the fat. (Although you do need to skim off the foam and impurities.)

As this mixture cools, you will see the fat cap begin to rise, form and solidify. Store this somewhere cool. A refrigerator is ideal for the modern homesteader, but a cool basement will work, as well, particularly in colder temperatures. In the fridge, you will get up to a month if you leave the fat cap undisturbed; you could get up to two weeks in a nice cool area.

  • Salt cure and hang: Salt has long been prized as a preservative. Using salt to cure meat can take months, but it will then stay good for an extended period of time in which you can use it.
  • Rillette: This is basically seasoning and shredding your meat, and, then, mixing in fat that then cools and seals the meat in to help preserve it. The primary difference between rillette and a meat cap is that the meat cap is applied on the outside. Rillette is mixed in with the meat.
  • Confit: This is slow, low-termperature cooking, again submerged in fat. The fat surrounds and, basically, seals in the meat, helping to preserve it.

There you have it: four ways to preserve meat that don’t require a refrigerator.

What is your favorite way to preserve food without a refrigerator? Tell us below.

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