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

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.

How to Preserve Meat With Salt for Survival

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?

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.

How Is Salt Used to Preserve Meat?

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?

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:

How to Preserve Meat With Salt? – the Process
  • 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.

Can you preserve raw meat with salt?

Yes, raw meat can be preserved with Salt. Salting is one of the oldest and most reliable preserving methods and is often used by us even today. Moreover, it is neither difficult nor time-consuming, making it the tastiest method to preserve raw meat.

To salt the meat, first of all, cut it into slabs of 4 to 6 inches. Following this, coat all the pieces properly with the salt mixture. Once done, pack the meat tightly in the jar and cover it with cheesecloth. 

Further, keep the packed meat in the refrigerator at a temperature not more than 38 F. Well, this way, you can store the meat for at least a month. However, if the weather turns too hot or cold, move your meat at least once. 

What is preserving meat with salt called?

Preserving meat with salt is known as curing. Curing not only contributes to preservation but also greatly influences flavor. Apart from meat, other organic food items like fish and vegetables can also be preserved by salting or curing. 

Salt is mainly used in this process to draw moisture from the foods through osmosis and help them survive for a long. Moreover, adding salt decreases the survivability and growth potential of microorganisms like bacteria and fungi. 

Well, researchers have confirmed that salt preservation eliminates the growth of Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium that may cause fatal diseases like botulism.  

How do you preserve meat for years?

Sounds impossible, but yes, you can easily preserve your meat for years when processed with the right methods. In terms of preserving meat, there are several methods that you may feel like trying. From dehydration to raw packing, every technique has its way of keeping your meat safe and secure. 

In dehydrating, you must remove all the moisture from the meat using an electric dehydrator and store it in an airtight container. Following this, we have to cure it with salt. You just have to cut your meat into suitable slabs and mix them adequately with salt. Well, this is one of the oldest techniques still in use.

For long-term preservation, canning is also a preferred method. You just have to sterilize the meat and seal it against external contaminations in canning. 

Apart from these, hot packing and raw packing are also essential processes that might help you to store meat for years. The meat has to be pre-cooked in this method to talk about hot packing. However, if raw packing interests you more, pack the chunks of meat into the jar after adding salt. 

How was food kept fresh 300 years ago?

Even before 300 years, salting was the most desirable way to preserve all types of meat and fish. This was done because salt drew out all the moisture from the food and killed the bacteria. Moreover, the absence of moisture also prevents the growth of microorganisms like fungi and bacteria. 

How was food kept fresh 300 years ago

Well, as a replacement for refrigerators, ice boxes were used. These ice boxes were made of wood and larger than the modern fridge. 

How did they preserve meat in the 1800s?

In the 1800s, meat was preserved by placing it on a layer of salt and then covering it with more salt. Apart from salt, other ingredients like pepper and brown sugar were also used in the preservation process. 

Some years later, it was found that people buried meat in shelled corn to preserve them as the corn was a good insulator.  

Final Thoughts

We’ve tried and tested this method time and time again and have had great results. A huge favorite has always been different assortments of jerky and biltong. There’s something satisfying with the idea of playing around with flavors 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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