ways of preserving meat

The Many Ways of Preserving Meat

While considering your own prepping and preparedness with regards to food storage of meat, consider the following ways of preserving meat:

Freezing Meat

The most popular way to store meat is freezing it. Since the mid 1940’s, freezing has become the most popular way to store meat. It’s quick, easy, and preserves the nutritional value and flavor.

Prepared for Power Outages or Broken Freezer

Obviously though, a freezer depends upon a electricity. Have you ever lost a freezer full of meat because the power went out for too long? Or the freezer broke? From the perspective of prepping and preparedness, it’s best to have a plan for both of those scenarios. Especially if you really do have a freezer full of meat. A loss could be expensive!

[ Read: How To Keep Chest Freezer or Fridge Running During Power Outage ]

I have several gasoline generators. However I also have an alternative energy source, solar power and battery storage. I’ve recently written an article about newer technology that could be a perfect solution to powering a chest freezer during an outage:

[ Read: Jackery versus Gas Powered Generator ]

I also keep an unused chest freezer. Should the meat freezer go dead, I can transfer into the other one. Anyway, I just thought I would mention the potential problems, since freezing meat is the most popular ways of preserving meat.

Freezer Temperature

The best temperature for freezing meat is at least 0 degrees-F for longest shelf life meat preservation. What about colder than that? Yes, colder is better. Subzero in the range of -10 degrees-F.

However in my opinion, the additional cost of energy isn’t really worth it. You should be rotating in and out anyway. So in my view, if you’re consuming the meat within 1 year, it’s fine. I rotate through mine within a year. My freezers typically cycle between -5 and +5 degrees. Good enough…

Here’s how I organize my freezer so I can rotate through it easier…

[ Read: How I Organize My Chest Freezers ]

Vacuum Seal the Meat – It’s Important

Wrap all meat in moisture-proof packages to prevent freezer burn. I vacuum seal all of my meat. It makes a HUGE difference. Zero burn. Tastes great after thawing and cooking, as though it was never frozen. I highly recommend this method.

[ Read: Frozen Vacuum Sealed Meat – How Long Is Storage Life In The Freezer ]

I label every vacuum sealed package of meat. The descriptive cut of meat, and Month/Year of when it was sealed.

Home Canning

Among the ways of preserving meat is home canning. I use this method too.

Canning meat is convenient and economical. And best of all, it’s not dependent upon electricity for storage! From the perspective of prepping, this is huge!

Home canned foods keep well for a very long time (years).

We mostly use this meat preservation method for chicken. It’s easy. Once in awhile, chicken goes on sale real cheap. When it does, and if we’re in the mood, we’ll buy a bunch of it and can it. Here’s an article on home canned chicken:

[ Read: Pressure Canning Chicken | How To Do It Yourself ]

The Ball Book of Canning and Preserving
(view on amzn)


Salt is the only essential ingredient for curing. It slows spoilage by drawing water out of the meat while also killing decay-causing microorganisms.

Meat cured with salt alone will store well (but will be tough and dry). An early salt cure was as simple as storing slabs of meat in a barrel of salt.

Kosher salt. It’s a coarse salt. Usually made without additives. It can be used for one of the ways for curing meat.

Curing salt. It’s a special blend of salt and other ingredients, including sodium nitrite (which has become somewhat controversial regarding potential health issues with large doses).

An MSB Reader said, “42 pounds of Morten’s Tender Quick fits in a 5 gallon bucket. Each ounce of Tender Quick cures about 2 pounds (small cuts) of meat, or about 1,300 pounds of meat for a 5 gallon pail worth!”

Morton Tender Quick is a fast-cure mix so you can cure meat, poultry or game right in your own kitchen. It gives meats a tasty cured flavor and characteristic pink color. Works particularly well with small cuts of meat, such as pork chops, spareribs and poultry.

Morton Tender Quick mix contains salt, the main preserving agent; sugar, both sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite, curing agents that also contribute to development of color and flavor; and propylene glycol to keep the mixture uniform. Morton Tender Quick is NOT a meat tenderizer.

Morton Curing Salt, Tender Quick Home Meat Cure

The Craft of Salting, Smoking & Curing


Curing is the first step in the smoking process, essential for good flavor.

‘Cold smoking’ is best for preservation (and for adding flavor) with temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees F, and is more easily accomplished during cooler months.

The cold smoking process may range from 1 to 14 days. The preservative benefit of smoking is that the smoke contains tar-like substances that are deposited on the food. To a greater or lesser extent, they seal the surface, keeping air from coming in contact with the food. Therefore in theory, fats in the food will not turn rancid because there’s no exposure to air. So smoking is particularly useful for preserving fatty foods. The smoke also kills bacteria.

Smoked meats may still spoil fairly quickly though, depending, so refer to research of your particular meat, recipes, and shelf-life storage.

How to choose the right smoker (or turn the grill you have into an effective smoking machine). Understand the different tools, fuels, and smoking woods. Master all the essential techniques including, hot-smoking, cold-smoking…

Project Smoke

Jerky / Dehydrate

Dried dehydrated meat (jerky). Made by drying meat at a relatively low temperature (140°F – 170°F) for an extended period of time.

[ Read: Safe Jerky In A Home Dehydrator ]


Especially among the old traditional ways of preserving meat… Biltong.

Biltong is a form of dried, cured meat. Various types of meat are used to produce it, ranging from beef to game meats. It is related to beef jerky in that they are both spiced, dried meats; however, the typical ingredients, taste and production processes may differ.

The meat was prepared with vinegar and spices then hung to be air-dried for a fortnight during the winter, when the colder temperatures further inhibited bacterial and fungal growth. Once suitably dried the biltong was ready for packing in cloth bags which allowed air circulation to help prevent mold.

~ wikipedia

First, ideally the meat is marinated in a vinegar solution for a few yours. Grape vinegar is traditional, but balsamic and cider also works well. The solution is then poured off prior to flavoring the meat.

The spice mix traditionally consists equal amounts of: rock salt, barbecue spice, whole coriander slightly roasted and roughly ground, black pepper and brown sugar.

This mix is then ground roughly together. Sprinkle liberally over the meat. Rubbed in.

Set for a few hours. Or refrigerate overnight. Pour off any excess liquid before the meat is hung in the dryer. Traditionally a fortnight, or, two weeks.

Lard Covered Pork

An MSB Reader said, “My grandmother, born 1896 and raised on a Midwest farm told me that when they butchered a hog, they would lay slices of pork in a crock and pour lard over each layer then store in cold dark place.”

Apparently the lard method was used by pioneers many years ago, and by soldiers during the Civil War as a way to preserve their meat.


Pemmican is a nutritious, preserved food created by Native American Indians. It consists of a mixture of cooked, dried and shredded buffalo meat, or fish, which is combined with melted fat.

How to Make Pemmican – The Pemmican Recipe

The buffalo meat was first dried.

The dried meat was heated through over a low fire, and then beaten with sticks or stones into shreds.

Buffalo tallow was melted and the shredded meat stirred into the hot fat to create pemmican.

The pemmican was 50 percent meat and 50 percent fat.

Berries and dried fruit was sometimes added to the pemmican.

The pemmican would then cool and harden.

Pemmican would last for over a year and was eaten dry or boiled in water.

“Whether you are faced with an extreme survival situation, or you’re simply wanting to obtain animals without hunting or trapping, this book will show you how to find, process, and preserve meat without anything but a knife. You’ll learn how to safely assess an animal carcass to determine whether it’s safe to eat – a vital skill that could save your life.”

“There are also special sections on roadkill and making pemmican – the most nourishing and long-lasting survival food.”

A Guide for Safe Scavenging, Pemmican Making, and Roadkill
(view on amzn)

Share your own ideas, opinions and experiences about preserving meat:


  1. Right now ….go and buy all that beef which is on sale for the Xmas holidays….the $6 dollar a pound PRIME RIB, or Rib Roasts, like I am finding.

    This is the SAME price as CHUCK ROAST!!

    Cut the roast into Rib Eye Steaks, which cost $15 dollars a pound…selling right NEXT to the sale priced Prime Rib roasts!! Cut off the bone rack before cutting your steaks…and have some nice BEEF RIBS, too.

    One Rib roast will give you about 7 thick, good-sized, rib eye steaks, which you can freeze…and eat all year long.

    It is not going to get any cheaper!!

    1. It’s always intriguing that people will buy a package of pork chops and completely disregard the pork loin (20 or more pork chops) sitting beside the package-of-four in the case.

  2. I asked my Father one time when I was young how they preserved meat. I was too young to know to ask follow up questions but the basics were when they slaughtered a hog and cut it up a barrel was used to salt the pork. A layer of salt, a layer of meat, more salt a layer of corn shucks then repeat. After salting (where I should have asked how much salt for how long a time) it was taken to the smoke house for a cold smoke (again for how long). He was remembering how good it was! A good memory for him!

    Father in law use to talk about smoking salting and smoking pork and his neighbor didn’t use enough salt. He still laughs about it. Unfortunately dementia has caused him to forget so much I can’t ask him any specifics.

  3. Most cultures found ways of preserving meat, from fish sauce (NOT a sauce for fish!) to burying it in the permafrost. Pemmican is similar to the larding process, but made mobile for a nomadic culture.

    I’ve done wet (corned beef) and dry salt cures, bacon and so on, but I want to try sausage. If there’s enough warning of a disaster, I’ll be doing both canning and curing as long as I can.

    1. Lauren
      If there’s enough warning of a disaster, I’ll be doing both canning and curing as long as I can.

      The “disaster” is here, no more warnings, SHTF has arrived

      OBW, good luck, canning and curing is a LOT of work, we both know this.

  4. a great source of know how is if you have any Amish or Mennonite communities in your areas, ask them.
    if you are humble and polite, they will be glad to help you and give you any advice they can.
    they have been living the lifestyle for generations.
    they are wonderful people, if you have the right attitude.
    Deep South,salt it for at least 2 weeks in a cool place i do the cold smoke method for about 2-3 weeks, depending on the weather.
    i have never heard of using corn shucks but i can see that working rather than the cloth we use. it’s just to keep the meat separated and to get an airflow between it. honestly corn shucks may work better. and you can’t put to much salt on it. just wash it well before you hang it to smoke. it works for me.
    won’t be long now!

  5. Although many have taught me helpful hints on processing meat, teaching me their recipes for sausage has not been shared. Many that own and run their butcher shops make a lot of their money by repeat customers buying their sausage and the recipe is a family secret that frequently goes back for multiple generations. I have observed that even within some ethnic communities, there are some groups that excel at the trade of butchering and producing sausage from old country recipes. (within the German Catholic community I saw, the butcher shops were run by polish families).
    Before I went pig hunting in California, I thought about what kinds of sausage I was going to have made because a 180 lb pig will produce a fair amount of sausage. Due to batch processing, one cannot order a variety pack or tasting tray. Paying somebody to make sausage from a feral pig was worth it.

  6. All of my momma’s relatives cured country hams. My grandaddy did, rubbed the meat in salt, pepper and sugar. Let hang in the smoke house. I do not have any other info. Sugar of course is a type of anti-bacterial also. A jerky can be made from the cured hams too.

  7. Call for help to all the good cooks out here in MSB land

    I gotta cook the chicken before I can freeze dry it, except I need some help on what spices or what ever to put on the chicken when I cook it. It’s all white meat cut into 1/2 thick strips and nuggets.

    I’ll have to re-hydrate in some kind of liquid so shake&bake ( I love shake&bake) is out, it will just get soggy.

    Thanks in advance for a redneck who does not know spices.

    1. Stand my Ground:
      Personal I would not us any spices.
      You may use the FD for a lot of different things once reconstituted.
      Easier to add spices later than to remove trying to make something.

      1. NRP & Blue

        Ok, I’ll try that, but I still don’t know what spices go with chicken. I re-hydrated some in Teriyaki sauce, gotta cut it some more, was really strong. I also re-hydrated some in chicken gravy, surprisingly good.

        1. Stand my Ground:
          Might I also suggest you cook up that Chicken Teriyaki in full with all the spices and stuff,
          Than Freeze Dry it.
          Check out Augason Farms and Mountain House for the ideas of pre-cooked meals one can make than FD them.

    2. SMG, i would use very light poultry seasoning or meat tenderizer that has papin and bromelin …MccormicK has one and so does dollar general..there are several different ingredients that would be recipe friendly and not give off taste.. avoid HEAVY sage or garlic..(using lightly should be ok…is in canned chicken.). paprika, celery powder, basil oregano, and white/and black pepper are somethings i found in my mixes.)

    3. SMG
      As NRP has stated, no spices. Unless you are in the market for the simple salt and pepper on the meat before freeze drying it. Even then I would be very careful on the amount you would use on the meat before this process would occur.

  8. Stand my Ground, Over on a pig blog I frequent folks like to use an InstaPot or Power Cooker to render lard quickly. (Slower renderers seem to prefer crock pot.) Put the lard in the InstaPot and pressure cook/pressure can it for 2 hours. Then use an immersion blender to liquify the remaining bits. Then pressure cook it for 10 more minutes. Let it cool and lard will solidify on top of broth. Then spoon out solid lard, melt, strain, and can it. Per Jack Rowland, AGHA.

    1. Anony Mee
      Well, Jack Rowland is dead wrong. Wonder if He ever melted pork fat before. I do not mean to run you down, it’s just that Jack is wrong. I do thank you for at least posting, trying to help.
      If you use that kind of heat melting your fat, it’s gonna come out a light gray color and taste strong, I’ve already tried a higher heat setting and it ruins the lard. Rendering lard requires a low heat, give the fat enough time to break down into solids/liquids, My temps are between 150/170 degrees, my lard has been ground with a #2 plate, it’s very finely ground. You do NOT, “can lard”. You fill the jars to the very top, lid them, turn them upside down on a towel on the counter, let them cool.

      Been doing it this way for 50yrs, my Grandmother taught me this and she had been doing it for 50yrs. Just opened a pint from 2017, 5+yrs old, and it’s just fine, snow white with no odor.

      Most people don’t render twice, I do. Why? Well to make sure there is no water left in the lard, any water left in lard will cause in to go rancid, and to run it through 3 layers of 90 mesh cheese cloth to catch all those little tiny bits of crackling you can’t see and any other impurities.

      1. Jar info. I wash jars in the dish washer, then I boil them in my canner for 10 min, then I place them in the oven a 170, then I fill them. If you pour the hot lard into a cold jar, it will break. Clean jars are a key to long storage, If they are not clean and sterile, the lard will go rancid.

        Storage. Lard HAS to be keep cool in storage, ideal is below 60 degrees, Well that’s real hard to do out here in the desert. My storage is climate controlled at between 60/70 degrees, depending on the time of the year. From Sept to May I have no trouble maintaining 50 degrees, but summer, it get to 70+ on occasion, So far, it has not effected my long term lard, I store it on the bottom shelf which helps a lot.

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