(NOVEMBER 2005)

PRESERVING MEAT

 

Because it is hunting seasons, I thought now would be a good time to cover preserving meat, If you have that deer, turkey, geese, ducks, or what ever else, there are ways to store the meat. The most common way is freezing, but with limited freezer room other options can be of great benefit and storage can last longer.

There are several types of Preservation Techniques: Freezing, Cooking, Dehydration, Chemical, Fermentation, and Irradiation.

Freezing Optimum temperature of 0* F or lower. Works by stopping Enzyme activity. Remember to always thaw meat at refrigerator temps or in a microwave, never at room temps. Frozen meats usually will last aprox 12 months for Beef, 6 months for Pork, 6-9 months for Lamb, and 3-6 months for poultry.

Cooking – Works by heating to high temps to kill microorganisms. There are 2 methods of this. 1, Pasteurization- Cooked to 150-170* F. Meats still must be refrigerated. 2, Sterilized- Cooked under pressure to 250*F, meats shelf stable, like canned hams, and canned meats. Great site for how to Preserve Game and Fish is at http://www.ext.nodak.edu/extpubs/yf/foods/he155w.htm#canning they have charts for time tables for canning game, also how to’s for curing meat, pickling fish, making sausage, deer jerky, and also corning, corning game tenderizes even the toughest meat and removes the heavy musky wild flavor. They even show how to field dress game. There is just too much information to add it all here in this newsletter.

Smoking- Grilling is cooking meat by the direct application of high heat with a gas burner or an electric heater. Grilling is simple since temperature is easy, but doesn't bring any new flavors to the party.

BBQing is cooking meat by the direct application of heat with charcoal or wood. The burning of the fuel adds flavor to the meat. BBQing requires more skill since the flames must be managed to prevent burning or low temperatures.

Smoking is cooking meat by the indirect application of heat with wood at low temperatures. Low temperatures are considered around 225°. The smoke of the burning wood adds significant flavor to the meat. Due to the lower temperature, smoking meat takes a longer time than grilling or BBQing. Using different woods leads to different flavors being imparted into the meat.

Curing- nitrite provides protection against the growth of botulism-producing organisms, acts to retard rancidity and stabilizes the flavor of the cured meat. Extreme Cautions must be exercised in adding nitrate or nitrite to meat, since too much of either of these ingredients can be toxic to humans. In using these materials never use more than called for in the recipe. A little is enough. Federal regulations permit a maximum addition of 2.75 ounces of sodium or potassium nitrate per 100 pounds of chopped meat, and 0.25-ounce sodium or potassium nitrite per 100 pounds of chopped meat. Potassium nitrate (saltpeter) was the salt historically used for curing. However, sodium nitrite alone, or in combination with nitrate, has largely replaced the straight nitrate cure. It is strongly recommended that a commercial premixed cure be used when nitrate or nitrite is called for in the recipe. The premixes have been diluted with salt so that the small quantities, which must be added, can more easily be weighed. This reduces the possibility of serious error in handling pure nitrate or nitrite. Curing meat by using salt brine was a widely used method of preserving meat before the days of refrigeration. This recipe was taken from a tiny homemade recipe book, "Remember Mama's Recipes." It was put together by the women of the Stirling, Alberta, LDS congregation back in 1973 Brine Cured Pork 100 lbs. pork: 8 lbs. salt (Note: 1 part salt to 48 parts water): 2 oz. salt peter: 2 lbs. brown sugar: 5 gallons water: Mix salt, brown sugar and salt peter, add this to the water and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir to dissolve sugar. Skim off any scum that may form while boiling after everything is dissolved. Remove from heat and chill until quite cold.
Pack the pieces of meat into clean barrels or earthenware crocks, placing them as close together as possible. Now pour the cold brine over the meat making absolute certain the meat is completely covered. Put a board over the meat that just fits inside the container and place weights on it to make sure that the meat is emerged in the brine. When curing larger and smaller pieces of meat at the same time, place the larger pieces on the bottom and the smaller ones on top. This is so the smaller ones can be lifted out without disturbing the larger pieces. The small pieces do not take as long to cure as the bigger ones.
The meat should be cured in a temperature that is just above freezing. If the meat is cured at a warmer temperature the brine may show signs of souring. If this should happen, remove the meat and soak it in lukewarm water for an hour or so. Wash the meat in fresh cold water and be sure to throw out the soured brine. Clean out the container, repack the meat and make fresh brine in original proportions. Bacon sides and loins require 2 days per pound in this brine. Shoulders will take 3 days per pound. Hams will take 4 days per pound. After the meat is cured the pieces should be soaked in warm water and then washed in cold water or even scrubbed with a brush to remove any scum that may have accumulated during the curing process. Hang the meat by very heavy cords in the smokehouse and allow to drain 24 hours before starting the smoking. Hard wood is the best to use for smoking and the temperature in the smokehouse should be 100-120 degrees F. the ventilators should be left open at first to allow any moisture to escape. Smoke until desired flavor and color is arrived at.

 

 

 

Dehydrating- Works by removing water, water is required by all microorganisms for growth, no water = no growth. Dehydrate by air drying, heating or freezing. Like Jerky. Jerky removes the moisture and can store meats like Beef, Venison, Buffalo, Elk, and others. Jerky is a food known at least since ancient Egypt. Humans made jerky from animal meat that was too big to eat all at once, such as bear, buffalo, or whales. North American Indians mixed ground dried meat with dried fruit or suet to make "pemmican." "Biltong" is dried meat or game used in many African countries. Our word "jerky" came from the Spanish word "charque." The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline’s current recommendation for making jerky safely is to heat meat to 160 °F before the dehydrating process. This step assures that any bacteria present will be destroyed by wet heat. But most dehydrator instructions do not include this step, and a dehydrator may not reach temperatures high enough to heat meat to 160 °F. if making Jerky, be sure to follow instructions for prevention of Salmonella and E. coli. Home-dried jerky can be stored 1 to 2 months. Commercially packaged jerky can be kept 12 months. Pemmican is the classic survival ration. It is really a paste of powdered jerky mixed with dried berries, nuts, and meted suet rolled up into balls. To make pemmican you must first make jerky and locate a source of fat for the suet. Beef or pork fat can be used, as other animals often do not have enough fat to use with their meat. Other fats, such as from vegetable sources, generally do not harden and are not recommended for use in pemmican. Pemmican prepared properly will last for many years and is a highly nutritious food source. It can be used in stews with tubers and corn meal added, cooked by itself, or eaten raw. If a mold forms on the pemmican ball, it is merely washed or scraped off, and the rest of the pemmican used. By itself, pemmican will keep people fit on long hikes or in other strenuous activity (because of the high fat content), and if used in conjunction with corn meal provides almost all of the nutritional needs required for continuous living and working. Only fresh greens need to be added to make a complete, well rounded meal! (http://www.endtimesreport.com/storing_meat_1.html)

 

Chemical- Chemicals inhibit microorganism’s growth; examples are salt, sodium nitrite, sodium lactate.

Fermentation- changes sugar into acid, acid prevents microorganisms from growing, one example is pepperoni.

Irradiation- works by exposing meat to radiant energy. Destroys most but not all microorganisms. Irradiated meat still must be cooked.