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Storing Meat Without Refrigeration
TwoHoot
Texas, USA
Member
March 20, 2011 - 11:16 am
Member Since: February 8, 2011
Forum Posts: 279
Offline

Reading and thinking is one thing. Actually doing it is another thing

altogether. With Curtis Conrad's excellent guidelines on storing meat

without refrigeration, there are a thousand details that pop up when you

do it.

 

I used a 8 quart kettle on the stovetop to heat the meat in the third

step. With the first batch of beef (brisket) and the chicken, I used a

wet cure in large kettle in the refrigerator. On the second batch of

beef (steak fingers), I used a dry cure in a 2 gallon Ziploc bag in the

refrigerator. I think the dry cure/Ziploc bag method is less trouble and

just as good.

I have a 9 tray Excalibur Dehydrator that I used to dry the meat

after curing and a small Model DZ-280A Vacuum Sealer from Sorbent

Systems to vacuum pack the final product.

I am still unclear on how critical it is to remove fat. Most of the

flavor in meat is in the fat so a completely fat-free product is nearly

tasteless. On the other hand, I am told that fat turns rancid even in a

sterile environment. My approach was to remove all the fat I could

without getting radical about it and hope for the best. Time will tell.

Beef – First Batch

 

9/30/10 Notes:

  1. Bought a 7 lb 13 oz Trimmed beef brisket

     

    and trimmed it some more to get 6 lb 3 oz of lean meat. There is a lot

    more fat and connective tissue in a trimmed brisket than one might

    expect. Original cost = $20.96; Cost of lean meat after 20% trimming

    loss = $3.35/lb

  2. Cut into strips (with the grain) ~ 1/4" thick. Trimming and slicing took about 45 minutes.
     
  3. Cover with water in pan with tight lid

     

    and heat to constant 165 F. (Yes I used a thermometer) and move to oven

    set at 170 F (to hold temp without cooking) for 2 hours.("Broth" was

    reddish and meat was white in color) Temperature did hold above 160 F.

    I think this wet heat treatment will kill all bacteria (I think it was

    a Univ of Ohio study that recommended this). I used the broth to make a

    pot of beans. There was a moderate amount of grease floating on the

    top.

  4. Shook meat strips dry, washed pan and

     

    covered meat with brine (2 lb salt in 3 qts water). Let sit in

    refrigerator for 2 full days. The meat was still whitish but took on a

    leathery consistency. (additional fat floated to the top).

  5. Shook off excess brine and put in

     

    dehydrator for 2 hours at 130 F, turned temp to 145 F for 1 hour and

    then to 155 F for 2 more hours.

  6. Put in plastic bag in refrigerator

     

    overnight to let remaining moisture equalize. Most of the pieces were

    slightly dryer than snack jerky and a lot saltier. Weight at this point

    was 2 lb 5 oz. Cost at this point = $9.06/lb.

  7. Put in dehydrator at 155 F for 4 hours. Finished product weighed 2 lb 2 oz and cost $9.86/lb (not counting time and supplies)
     
  8. Vacuum packed in bags containing 6 – 7 oz each. This represents a little over a pound of lean brisket in each package.
     
  9. In a week or two, I will open one of the packages, make some beef stew and give a report on how it reconstitutes and cooks.
     

2/1/11

After 4 months, the dried beef is about

like it was. I took one of the smaller packages, rinsed it thoroughly in

cool water to get as much salt off it as possible and put it in two

cups of hot water to sit for a couple of hours. It reconstituted to meat

like salty brisket. This needs to have more rinsing and soaking to

remove more salt.

Adding potatoes and onions without any

additional salt made acceptable beef stew. The brisket cut with the

grain is tough even after cooking.

There are 5 vacuum packs remaining. It is hard and brittle.

 

Beef – Second Batch

 

Modifications from above:

  1. Use am 8:3 salt-sugar mixture to cure the meat. This is supposed to reduce the salt flavor without harming the cure.
     
  2. Add Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) to retain red meat color without the toxic problems of nitrates.
     
  3. Use a dry cure in a Zip lock bag instead of a brine cure.
     
  4. Add a little vinegar (2 teaspoons) to keep after there is some liquid in the bag to keep pH low.
     

2/1/11

Cut

about 8 lbs steak (Strip Tips and eye of round) into 1/2” strips,

covered with water and brought to about 140 degrees on stove top.

Covered and put into oven at 170° for 4 hours.

Put meat in colander and rinsed with cold water. Let drain. Meat is whitish.

Put meat in large

zip lock bag and added about 2 cups of dry-cure mix (4 lb salt, 1 1/2 lb

sugar and 2 tbs of fruit fresh (ascorbic acid)). After mixing well to

get all meat covered with salt, I put it in the refrigerator to cure.

The salt draws the moisture out of the meat and in about 12 hours, there

was enough water in the bag to dissolve all the cure mix. The ascorbic

acid caused the meat to turn an appetizing red color.

I plan to let it cure for at least 10 days before drying and packaging it.

2/7/11

Added about 1 cup of salt and 1 teaspoon of vinegar to the bag. I have been turning and mixing it every day in the bag.

2/13/11

  1. Removed meat from

     

    bag, rinsed in colander, let drip dry. Meat is firm and reddish brown

    in color. (Discard curing juices and salt in dumpster because I don't

    want that much salt in my septic system). Wet weight = 5 lb 12 oz (23%

    weight loss from fresh)

  1. Put in dehydrator for 1 hour at 140° and 3 hours at 155°. Meat is dry and tough to hard. Weight = 4 lb 5 oz. (41% weight loss from fresh)
     
  2. Put in plastic storage bag in refrigerator overnight so remaining moisture can equalize.
     

2/14/11

Dehydrated at 155° for 4 hours. Final weight = 3 lb even (weight loss from fresh = 60%). Meat is dry and hard.

Vac pack in 8 – 6oz bags, each representing a little over a pound of fresh meat. Put 4 of these bags per gallon bag for storage.

 

 

Chicken Notes

10/1/10

  1. Bought 10 lb (11 pieces) Chicken Leg Quarters (this is just drumstick, thigh and a bit of backbone) for $5.48
     
  2. Removed skin and fat to get 7 lb 6 oz of lean quarters with the bone in. Cost at this point = $0.74/lb
     
  3. Cover with water and heat to 165 F (Yes I used a thermometer). Place in oven at 170 F to hold temp for 2 hours.
     
  4. Bone and separate muscle bundles to get

     

    drying size pieces. This yielded 3 lb 6 oz of lean boneless dark

    chicken meat. Cost at this point = $1.62/lb

  5. Covered with brine (1.25 cup salt, 1.25

     

    cup brown sugar, 2 tsp Cajon seasoning in 2 qts water) and refrigerated

    for 2 days. I skimmed off maybe half a cup of fat during this

    process. (I reduced the salt and added sugar and spices after the

    finding the beef done previously was very salty)

  6. Put in dehydrator for 1 hour at 130 F

     

    and 3 hours at 155 F. Meat was white to light brown and very pliable

    at this point. Wiped some greasy pieces with a paper towel. I was

    surprised to find the chicken was a lot greasier throughout the process

    than the beef brisket dried previously.

  7. Bag and refrigerate overnight to let

     

    remaining moisture equalize. At this point there is 1 lb 13 oz of

    chicken with the flavor and consistency (it is pliable) of moderately

    salty jerky. Cost = $3.02 / lb at this point.

  8. Dry for 3 hours at 155 F. Now there is 1

     

    lb 10 oz of dried chicken that cost $3.37/lb (not counting time and

    supplies). It is hard (not pliable like jerky) and tan to light brown

    in color (the greasy spots are darkest brown). You would classify this

    as dried chicken, not jerky.

  9. Vacuum pack in ~ 5 oz bags representing the lean meat from about 2 Chicken Leg Quarters.
     
  10. In a few days, I will make chicken

     

    noodle soup with one of these and give a taste test report. It will be a

    couple of years before we will know if this is suitable for long term

    storage or not.

2/1/11

After four months in the refrigerator, there is no discernible

difference in appearance. I opened one of the bags and soaked the dried

chicken in water for 24 hours, rinsing and replacing the water 4 times

to remove as much salt as possible.

I boiled it for about 5

minutes. It looks and tastes like fresh cooked boned chicken. The cajon

seasoning flavor intensified as did the brown sugar taste. Otherwise, I

don't think you can tell the difference, certainly not in a soup or

casserole dish.

What I would do different:

Use white sugar instead of brown and leave out the spice.

Use a dry cure in a Zip Lock bag instead of a wet cure.

Add some ascorbic acid to help retain fresh appearance and lower pH.

Other notes:

I heated the meat to 165 F in water before curing because I read that

botulism bacteria will go dormant with dry heat and grow later. Higher

temperatures than about 170 F begin to cook the meat, changing both

flavor and consistency.

Several studies mentioned that removing

the fat was very important because it will go rancid by a

non-bacterial chemical process over time and give the meat a bad

flavor.

Since you can store a lot of dried meat in a very small

space, I am keeping it in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator for

now. If the power goes off for an extended period, it won't spoil for

several years.

TwoHoot
Texas, USA
Member
March 20, 2011 - 11:25 am
Member Since: February 8, 2011
Forum Posts: 279
Offline

I apologize for the odd spacing. I copied this article from the private portion of my website. I just can't face retyping it all to get the formatting right here. Maybe you can get the idea even if the bulleted lists didn't copy right.

Cordially,

TwoHoot

Crab Apple
Member
March 20, 2011 - 11:48 am
Member Since: March 18, 2011
Forum Posts: 25
Offline

Thanks I am going to give that chicken a try. I get cheap and sometimes free chicken, next time I will have to give this a try.

Grab The Apple Refugee
Robert
Member
March 20, 2011 - 12:39 pm
Member Since: March 16, 2011
Forum Posts: 61
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One of our friends has been canning cooked chicken in quart size Ball jars. She gave us a sample and we made chicken pot pie – delicious! You wouldn't know that the chicken was cooked months ago. I'm pretty sure stored safely in a dark, dry place it would keep for at least a year.

I mentioned elsewhere that I was making venison jerky. But everyone likes it so much I can't keep any around to store.

Jarhead
US
Member
March 22, 2011 - 6:36 pm
Member Since: March 17, 2011
Forum Posts: 184
Offline

It will keep much longer than a year. There are many places you can use canned chicken….chicken and dumplings, chicken and rice, chicken pot pies, the list is endless. Thanks to a friend of mine from GTA, I now can all kinds of meat, including bacon.

"  The Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."    John Adams 
 
Lambykins
Currently, El Paso, Texas
Member
March 23, 2011 - 2:59 pm
Member Since: March 15, 2011
Forum Posts: 70
Offline

My maternal grandmother used to can sausage in a simple manner. She would cook up the sausage patties as usual, then fit them down into a quart canning jar, then pour in the sausage grease to cover. Then she'd process in a pressure cooker canner.

To fix, just open the quart jar, remove patties and heat up on the stove in a cast iron skillet and serve!

No one in the household ever got sick from it, so I guess it worked!

Might be that she also slaughterd, butchered out and ground her sausage up herself!

Dr Prepper
North America
Member
August 31, 2011 - 5:09 pm
Member Since: August 22, 2011
Forum Posts: 429
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Thanks TwoHoot. A dehydrator is in my immediate future and I had been pondering the meat question. Right now I stock up on commercial pork jerkey.

 

To help ammortize the cost of the fat removal, you can always feed that to your dog.  smile

"Three is two, two is one,one is none."  Prepper's Creed
spider
Member
January 23, 2012 - 5:47 am
Member Since: January 19, 2012
Forum Posts: 18
Offline

Meat has been preserved for hundreds of years before the advent of refrigeration. Today the most popular ways of preserving meat include making jerky, which is basically a dehydration method, and the age old art of sausage making. Dehydrating meat for jerky and then storing it in an airtight package will keep the meat fresh for later use and is easy to pack. Sausage utilizes hog casings to create an airtight environment where spiced meat can be preserved without refrigeration for future enjoyment. Both methods allow you to experiment with herbs and seasonings to your liking so you can create your own customized preserved meats without the need for refrigeration.

kappydell
Member
April 13, 2014 - 11:19 pm
Member Since: March 19, 2014
Forum Posts: 3
Offline

I have been canning meat, poultry, pork, ground meat (both wet & dehydrated) and fish for years.  Last summer I also did some salt fish and it was both easy to do and very effective.  It does take a considerable soak time to get all the salt out before you cook and eat it, but the east of salting it down makes it a keeper for me.  I have also made jerky, but simple dried meats (simpler, no smoking or marinating) but do not find them as palatable (even after soaking & cooking) as the canned.  I guess it is what you are used to.  I have even canned meatballs, meatloaf and cured hams – very nice, you can control what goes in the jars in terms of salt, sugars, seasonings and preservatives, and they are as easy to serve as heat and eat.  So canned gets my vote.

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