How to Preserve Meat With Salt for Survival: 4 Simple Steps

Himalayan salt used for preserving meat

There are so many emergency events that can potentially put you in situations where you are without life’s luxury’s for a period of time. For example, your power gets cut off all of a sudden. What goes through your mind? Darkness? Or possibly no communication with the outside world? Who knows? A situation like this could also mean that all of your food goes bad as your refrigerator will switch off. Fruit, vegetables and dairy products can be a little bit easier replaced than meat as meat would generally be the first to spoil. Knowing how to preserve meat with salt could be the very skill that saves our life.

But alas, spoiling of meat can be prevented by using some simple but effective old-fashioned techniques. In this post we’ll look more specifically at how to preserve meat with salt by method of curing. Furthermore, we’ll go into depth on how to preserve meat with salt in the wild so you have a bit of extra time if you lose power. Sugar can also be used but in this case, we’ll be looking into using salt as a preserving method.

How to Preserve Meat With Salt – Methods

how to preserve meat with salt - jerky

There are a few different ways that you can prolong the life of your meat. Of course you can’t make them last forever as the methods just won’t allow it, we’ll get to that. The most common procedures being curing, brining and smoking.

Curing – Involves preserving the meat in salt

Brining – Similar to curing except instead of keeping the meat dry, the aim is to submerge it in a salty solution. So it’s basically wet curing.

Smoking – Slow smoking or hard smoking meat as it’s called is a process of cooking meat so the finished product is almost like a jerky and requires no refrigeration.

The methods that require drying of the meats can last indefinitely. This is of course if you dry correctly and use proper methods of storage.

How Is Salt Used to Preserve Meat?

Why salt you ask? Well, meat spoils because it is a good place for bacteria to thrive in. Bacteria needs water, and there is a lot of water content in the meat, especially the muscle fibers. So, using salt hinders and almost fully prevents microorganisms from developing. It effectively draws any water out of the microbial cells through a process called osmosis.

It creates an environment where bacteria cannot develop and expand. It’s recommended that up to 20% salt concentration is required to destroy most species of unwanted bacteria.

Generally speaking, most meats can be preserved using salt. Salted meat and fish are staple diet foods for North America, Southern China, Scandinavia, Coastal Russia and in the Arctic. The end result depending on the chosen method can resemble many different types of tasty foods. Jerky, biltong, cured hams and bacon as well as prosciutto to name a few.

How Long Can Salt Preserved Meat Last?

How to preserve meat with salt - dried bacon

This is a question that cannot be measured without a few variables in mind. For example, what type of cured meat is being referred to? Basic dry rubs? Wet brining? Also, what is the end product? Prosciuttos, salamis, jerkys, etc. Lastly, the amount of salt used will play a big role. In theory, if you used enough salt or sugar when doing this, you could preserve the meat for decades, although not recommended as a process of this nature would most likely make the meat unpalatable.

Meats that are classified as “hard dried” like jerkys and biltongs can last many years. This is as long as they are stored correctly. Dry conditions and with the perfect crust of salt or nitrates can do the job just fine. Meats that are brined like salt pork or bacon can last several years. Again, it depends of course if they are prepared and stored correctly. They are usually salted and packed in barrels. This method requires soaking the brined items in fresh water before eating to reconstitute and leach out any remaining salt.

How to Preserve Meat With Salt – the Process

Understanding how to preserve meat with salt in the wild is a top rated skill to master. Furthermore, it could be the difference between starving and keeping your belly happy. Here is a simple 4 step process in dry curing your desired meat:

Step 1: Rinse desired fresh meat in cold or lukewarm water (never use hot or boiling)

Step 2: Pour thin layer of salt, preferably/generally kosher salt all over the meat and rub it in.

Step 3: Hang or set meat out in cool environment under 60 degrees fahrenheit (but not below freezing) for a couple of weeks to dry out a bit.

Step 4: Before cooking the meat, rinse off the salt with water

At the minimum, if you’re only using salt or sugar to preserve and no other methods such as smoking, it’s generally considered that about a 20% salt concentration on the surface of the meat is enough to kill off most types of microbes and fungi that can spoil food quickly.

The best salts to use are readily available at most supermarkets. They are generally sea salts or specifically created curing salts.

How to preserve meat with salt - hanging ham during drying process

Final Thoughts

We’ve tried and tested this method time and time again and have had great results. A huge favourite has always been different assortments of jerky and biltong. There’s something satisfying with the idea of playing around with flavours and smoke scents using this method. In saying that, don’t forget to throw some dry jerky or biltong in your bug out bag for when you need that extra protein boost! A definite for bug out bag essentials. If you have tried any other way of preserving meat. Including smoking using flavours, let us know in the comments so we can give it a try and post the results! Hopefully that has helped you to understand how to preserve meat with salt! Salt is definitely a must on your survival supplies list.

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