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Ways to Preserve Meat (2 Easiest Ways)

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Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.

The easiest way to preserve meat is by using the simplest methods and procedures, and this is where I will focus this article.

There are many ways you can preserve meat (like canning, dry curing, etc.), however, the easiest ways tend to need the least effort and resources.

I’ve often got excess farmed or wild meat, so I’ve explored all the ways over the last few decades.

Curing meat has thousands of years of history, whilst in modern times, we have one of the most useful kitchen tools in many Western homes.

I’ll cover what meats I use for the two different easiest techniques of preserving also.

The easiest way of preserving meat (economical ways to preserve) is either using a saturated salt method to create fully salt cured and dried meat, or placing the meat in a bag freezing.

Why? Because for saturation/excess salted meat, you are all using meat and salt only.

To freeze, you need a bag and a freezer.

Now, I’ll elaborate on some useful tips and methods for both of these easy ways.

Easiest Ways of Preserving Meat in Detail

  • salt saturation/excess for preserving meat
  • freezing the meat in bags

Easy Ways of Making Saturated Salt Meat

Encasing the meat with natural sea salt, curing it, and keeping it in the salt at a moderate temperature, preferably below about 60°F/15°C without refrigeration.

After 1 to 2 weeks, you can repack the meat again in salt, waiting for the salt to fully penetrate the middle of the meat.

For a whole pork hind leg, it could take 4-6 weeks.

For smaller pieces of meat, like a few inches thick, this should only take a few weeks (like pork belly for example, which is classic to make salt pork).

Salt pork homemade 1 large
Preserved Salt Pork, Pork placed in Sea Salt

Although, the more fat that is in the meat, the longer that will take to cure. Because, the fat has less water inside, and the salt travels slower through the fat.

Some extra-fatty cuts are more suited to salted meats for this preservation method because after drying the meat, they won’t shrink as much as the muscle meat fiber that isn’t fat.

Once this first stage of curing is done, then you hang the meat, again in a moderately cool area and let it fully dry until it is pretty hard.

Cold smoking (under 89F/30C) can be applied during this drying phase to keep insects off, as well as flavor the meat.

Cold smoke (more I wrote on smoking and how it preserves here) is a layer of protection; it’s a tool that protects the meat as it dries. It doesn’t perform any preservation directly.

Salt saturation is an age-old traditional way of preserving meat, and I still consider it one of the easiest. If kept at a moderately cool temperature, this dried salt-saturated meat product can last years.

I’ve seen salt fish and salt beef all across Europe at markets, that have traveled a long way from Africa (sometimes because it’s cost-effective vs local fish, and since Europe ate most of its fish and stocks are dwindling).

Examples of Saturation Meat Method

  • Salt Pork
  • Salt Beef
  • Salt Fish
  • Salt (any meat)

Steps to Make Salted Saturation Meat

  1. Cover and Surround the meat with salt
  2. Leave in a container, depending on thickness 1 to 3 weeks
  3. Reapply Salt for the second cure, potentially
  4. Let cure for another 1 to 3 weeks
  5. Hang in a moderately cool protected area and dry until hard

The Science Behind Salt Preservation

The main aspects of why the meat is preserved are – Binding and Diffusion

Binding is when the salt attaches to the meat cells, which prevents the movement of water, which unwanted bacteria that spoil meats need to survive.

Diffusion – salt diffuses into the meat, whilst water diffuses out of it.

I can’t really get much more technical than that, and I am not getting AI to explain it either. Let’s keep it simple.

Choosing the Right Cuts of Meat for Easy Salt Meat

Meat to be cured large
All this Pork above and venison below was salt-preserved, in a more subtle way -dry curing.

Fat as mentioned holds less water, meat muscle often holds about 70%. Fat is a lot less than that. Therefore, if you use fattier meat cuts, the meat won’t shrink as much when you are drying it.

Red Meat like venison, beef, or elk are very suitable for salt saturation preserving.

Fish, as well.

Some have also used fresh chicken to make salt chicken.

In theory, any meat can be used. Although, fresh meat that has been well looked after and kept at fridge temperature, to begin with, is advisable.

Ways of Using Salted Meat

You may have heard of salt pork or salt fish, maybe even salt cod.

Here is a classic list of dishes that traditionally use salt pork or salt fish as key ingredients:

Salt Pork
  • New England Clam Chowder: A hearty soup made with clams, potatoes, onions, and salt pork for added flavor.
  • Beans and Salt Pork: Slow-cooked beans with chunks of salt pork for a rich and savory taste.
  • Collard Greens: Braised collard greens cooked with salt pork for a smoky and delicious flavor.
Salt Fish
  • Bacalao: A popular dish in many Mediterranean and Latin American countries, consisting of salted cod cooked with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and spices.
  • Salt Fish Fritters: A Caribbean specialty made by mixing salted cod with flour, herbs, and spices, then deep-frying until golden brown.
  • Salt Fish and Ackee: A traditional Jamaican dish made with salted cod, ackee (a fruit), onions, tomatoes, and spices.
  • Fishcakes: A classic British dish made by combining salted cod with mashed potatoes, onions, and herbs, formed into patties and fried.

Links to Salt Pork and other Meat Resources:

I wrote these,

What is Salt Pork (How to Make it & Use it) – with Pictures

What Can You Use Cured Salt Pork For? (heaps)

Easy Way of Preserving Meat by Freezing

Freezing meat is a simple and effective way to lock in its freshness and extend its shelf life.

By lowering the temperature, we can slow down bacterial growth, preserving the meat’s quality and texture.

The Freezing Basics

  • Temperature
  • Packaging

Tips for Freezing Meat

It’s important to have high-quality freezer-safe bags or airtight containers. These will help prevent freezer burn and maintain the meat’s taste and tenderness.

Proper packaging is key before tossing your meat into the freezer. Start by portioning the meat into sizes that suit your needs.

This will allow you to defrost only what you require, reducing waste. Next, wrap the meat tightly in eco plastic wrap ideally, removing as much air as possible.

Then, place the wrapped meat into a freezer bag or airtight container, ensuring there are no gaps for air to enter. Label each package with the type of meat, cut, and date of freezing for easy identification later on.

Freezing separately sliced meat, then freezing in bag trick.

I make all types of bacon. Once it’s finished, I slice it and freeze it on a tray lined with baking paper. You need a decent-sized freezer for this.

Slicing bacon cold smoked freezing large large
Using both techniques in a way, salt-cured/cold smoked and freezer for easy use!

I then place the sliced frozen meat in a bag, once it’s frozen – the slices of meat won’t stick together in the bag.

When I want bacon, I grab a handful and throw it straight into the frying pan.

Limitations of Freezing Meat for Preserving

I’ve frozen whole goats in a freezer for 2 years without wrapping. The meat was very nice and slow-cooked. However, unwrapped meat will have freezer burn.

Freezer burn doesn’t make meats unedible, it just is localized drying on certain spots of the meat. The meat looks unappealing, however its often still edible.

Meat Preserving in Freezer and Suggested Lengths, see link below.

I wrote a lengthy article on all the ways to preserve meat. The article includes approximate times different meat lasts in the freezer.

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