Book Review: The Complete Book of Butchering, Smoking, Curing, and Sausage Making

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One self-reliant project that I enjoy, but haven’t got around to videotaping is home sausage making. I believe that the ability to cure and store meat is a vital skill to anyone interested in producing a majority of their own food (vegans and veggies excepted). I can deal with a lot of things, but a life without bacon and sausage are just not worth dealing with (IMHO).  All preppers need to know how to How to Harvest Your Livestock and Wild Game Luckily I found this little gem. The Complete Book of Butchering, Smoking, Curing, and Sausage Making is a

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6 Ways to Store Food Long Term

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When preparing food for long-term storage, consider how much is required, how long it needs to last, its nutritional value, and the resources available for preparation. Depending on your goals, there is a long-term food storage method for you.

Freezing

  • Depending on the emergency, freezing may be an acceptable option. Storage times vary depending on the type of item and its packaging, but meats can last up to two years when frozen properly. Blanch fruits and vegetables to halt quality-compromising enzymatic processes before freezing them. Most of the nutritional content remains stable when frozen items are stored in air-tight packaging.

 

Dehydrating

  • Dehydrated items maintain much of their nutritional content. Herbs, which are both beneficial to health and flavorful, are good candidates for dehydration. Fruits and vegetables also store well when dried. Blanch vegetables and fruits first to extend their shelf life. You can use a dehydrator or your oven on low heat to dehydrate items.
  • The key with dehydration is to ensure that all of the moisture has been removed. Food fresh off the dehydrator may still feel soft or moist. Follow instructions for each food, and take a sample off the dehydrator to cool for a minute or two in order to test its dryness. Dehydrated items should be stored in cool, dry, dark places. Use glass jars and vacuum-sealed pouches to extend the life of dehydrated foods.

 

Curing

  • The curing process harnesses the power of salt to eliminate moisture and prevent the growth of bacteria. Curing can be time intensive at the outset, but it will enable you to preserve flavorful meat for extended periods of time.
    • Dry curing involves coating a cut of meat in salt and other herbs and letting it set for an extended period. Smoking is another method of curing which adds flavor to meats. Brining is a wet curing method in which meat is soaked in a salt-rich solution. Research instructions for dry curing, brining, and smoking before using any of these methods. If cured incorrectly, items can harbor botulism, which can lead to food-borne illness.

Canning

      • Canning is a time-tested method for preserving fruits and vegetables. The acidity of the food will help you determine how to process it. Most jams and tomato-based products are safe to prepare through boiling. Low-acid vegetables and meats necessitate the use of a pressure canner. It is wise to look for updated canning recipes to ensure that new food safety measures are included in the instructions. Once food is canned, check to make sure that the jars are sealed. Store canned items in a dark, cool, and dry environment. With regard to shelf life, items with a high acidity can last one to one and a half years. Foods with a low acidity can last up to five years.

 

Fermenting

      • Fermented foods have been making a comeback in recent years. Their popularity is likely due to the health benefits associated with consuming them. Items like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, and pickles are rich in pro-biotics. During a disaster, the benefits that fermented items have on the immune system make them must-haves.
      • The fermentation process involves many considerations. Fermenting can extend the life of your foods for months or years. While the items may be safe to consume after extended periods, their health benefits may decrease as they age. Using a fermentation pot is the most common way to get results.

Vacuum Sealing

      • Vacuum sealing may be performed on nearly any food. It is important to remember that vacuum sealing is most often used as an adjunct to other preservation methods. For example, you may vacuum seal meat, but you will still have to keep it in the refrigerator or freezer in order for it to be safe. Jerkies and dried fruits and vegetables may also be vacuum sealed to increase their shelf lives.
      • Vacuum sealing can be accomplished with equipment such as the Food Saver, but Mylar bags may also be used without a special machine. If you are not using a machine to suck the air out of the packaging, oxygen absorbing pouches can be used to achieve the same effect. This method is great for processing bulk grains. Vacuum sealed bags can be placed in five-gallon plastic buckets to make them easy to store and protect them from pests.

 

There are so many options for long term food storage. A conscientious prepper will take advantage of multiple food preservation methods in order to reap the benefits of each type. With proper research about storage environments, recipes, and food safety guidelines, it is possible to maintain a safe, balanced, and flavorful food supply – even during a disaster.

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5 Proven Ways Our Ancestors Preserved Meat Without Refrigerators

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5 Proven Ways Our Ancestors Preserved Meat Without A Refrigerator

Stockpiling food and other supplies is central to being prepared for an emergency, but there are some foods – such as meat — that are harder to pack for long-term storage than others.

I’m sure there are some people out there who think that they can live off of rice and beans, getting all the protein they need from the beans. While that may be technically true, I, for one, don’t want to try it. Not only am I not a huge fan of beans, but I also am a huge fan of meat. So, I need to have ways of preserving that meat and ensuring that I’ll have it available when a disaster strikes. Fortunately, there are actually a number of ways of preserving meat which work quite well — ways our ancestors used.

The Key to Preserving Meat – Salt

If there’s any one key ingredient for preserving meat, it’s salt. Salt is one of the few natural preservatives, and it works ideally with meat. Salt draws the moisture out of the cells in the meat in a process known as osmosis. Essentially, osmosis is trying to equalize the salinity on both sides of the cell wall (which is a membrane). So, water leaves the cell and salt enters it. When enough water leaves the cell, the cell dies.

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This happens with bacteria, as well. Any bacteria that are on the surface of the meat go through the same osmosis process that the cells of the meat do. This dehydrates the bacteria to the point of death. Unfortunately, the salt won’t travel all the way through the meat quickly, killing off the bacteria, so salt is usually used in conjunction with other means of preserving.

1. Canning

Probably the least complex form of preserving meat is canning it. Canning preserves any wet food well through a combination of killing off existing bacteria in the food and container, while providing a container that prevents any further bacteria from entering.

Canning uses heat to kill off bacteria. All you have to do is raise the temperature of the bacteria to 158 degrees Fahrenheit, and it dies. This is called “pasteurizing,” so named for Louis Pasteur, a French microbiologist who discovered the process in the mid-1800s. To kill viruses, you raise the temperature a bit more, to 174 degrees Fahrenheit.

The only problem with canning meat is that it has to be canned at a higher temperature than fruits and vegetables. This is accomplished by canning it in a pressure canner, essentially a large pressure cooker. The higher atmospheric pressure inside the pressure canner causes the water to boil at a higher temperature, thus cooking the meat.

Meats that are canned tend to be very well-cooked. You have to at least partially cook them before canning, and then the 90 minutes they spend in the canner cooks them further. That makes for very soft meats, but they do lose some of their texture.

2. Dehydrating

Dehydrating takes over where salt leaves off, removing much more moisture from the meat than just salting it will. However, dehydrating of meats is usually combined with salting the meat with a rub or marinating it with a salty marinade. The salt on the outside of the meat attacks any bacteria that approach the meat once it is dehydrated. Meat that is dehydrated without salt won’t last, as the bacteria can attack it.

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5 Proven Ways Our Ancestors Preserved Meat Without A RefrigeratorThe American Indians used dehydrating as a means of preserving meat, making jerky. While a very popular snack food today, jerky is excellent survival food. Not only will it keep without refrigeration, but it can be rehydrated for use in soups and stews. That takes it beyond being a snack and makes it possible to use jerky for part of your meals.

Dehydrating can either be done in the sun, in an electric dehydrator or in a solar dehydrator. The American Indians used the sun, hanging strips of meat on poles. However, there is a risk in dehydrating meat as they did, in that the meat may start to spoil before it dries. All fat should be removed from the meat, as the fat can turn rancid.

3. Salt fish

Salt fish is another means of dehydrating meat, something like making fish jerky. It has been done for centuries and is still a popular dish in some countries. Salt fish uses the concept that the salt draws the water out of the fish, starting the drying process. This is accomplished by packing the fish fillets in alternating layers of salt and fish. Then, the fish is sun dried to complete the process.

4. Smoking

Smoking is another method that combines salt with a secondary method of preservation. For preserving, one must use hot smoking, which cooks the meat, and not just cold smoking, which is used to flavor the meat. Typically, the process consists of three major steps: soaking the meat in brine (salt water), cold smoking and then hot smoking.

When meat is smoked, the proteins on the outer layer of the meat form a skin, called a pellicle. This is basically impervious to any bacteria, protecting the meat. However, if the meat is cut, such as to cut off a steak from a chunk of smoked meat, the open surface can be attacked by bacteria.

In olden times, this problem was solved by hanging the meat in the smokehouse once again. In some homes, the kitchen chimney was large enough to be used as a smokehouse, and meat was hung in it, where the constant smoke helped to protect it. Most of the fat was usually trimmed off the meat, so that it would not turn rancid.

5 Proven Ways Our Ancestors Preserved Meat Without A RefrigeratorOne nice thing about smoking meats, besides that it adds that lovely smoke flavor, is that the smoking process is a slow-cooking process, much like cooking meat in a crockpot. This helps to break down the fiber in the meat, turning otherwise tough cuts of meat tender.

5. Curing

The deli meats we pay top dollar for today are actually cured meats. Curing is a process that combines smoking, with salt, sugar and nitrites. Together, these act as an almost perfect preservative, protecting the meat from decay-causing bacteria. Technically, smoking is a type of curing, but normally when we talk about curing, we’re referring to what is known as “sausage curing,” which is the method used for making most sausage and lunch meat.

The curing process is all about killing the bacteria and is done mostly by the addition of salt to the meat. For sausage curing, the meat is ground and then mixed with fat, spices salt and whatever else is going to be used (some sausage includes cheese). It is then allowed to sit, in order for the salt to permeate all the meat and kill the bacteria. Cooking or smoking is accomplished once the curing is done.

Curing meats, like smoking, tenderizes it. So, traditionally, the tougher, lower grade cuts of meat were usually used for the making of most of what we know today as lunch meats. One nice thing about properly cured meats is that they can be left out, with no risk of decay, even when they have been cut. That is, if it is properly cured. I wouldn’t try that with commercially prepared lunchmeats, as they are not cured with the idea of leaving them out.

What meat-preserving methods would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below:

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Episode 58 Food Preservation

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James and Mike A Day In THe Woods Autoimmune Diseases

James and Mike

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This week we discuss Food preservation methods. We go down the list of different ways to preserve food both on grid and off. Canning and pressure canning are brought up. James talks about only how he has only ever canned ground beef and tried butter once. The butter method is not recommended. We talk about salt curing and how it makes everything on a pig taste better. James mentions how proscuitto taste like gym socks.

Smoking meats is another great way to preserve food. It is both easy and can be done off grid. Larding meat or potted meat is an ancient way. It is nothing like it’s modern day counterpart.

 

Links

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