4 Ways to Preserve Meat

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4 Ways to Preserve Meat
4 Ways to Preserve Meat

If stored properly, meat can be safely stored for weeks, months or even years. Storing them in the freezer is the most obvious method. However, there are other strategies - some of which have been used for over a thousand years.


Method 1 of 4: Freeze Meat to Preserve

Preserve Meat Step 1

Step 1. Prepare the meat before freezing it

To avoid so-called freeze burns, prepare and pack the product before storing it.

  • Beef and poultry can still be frozen in their factory containers, but it is a good idea to wrap these containers in more layers to prevent the product from coming into contact with air. Use plastic bags and thick aluminum foil for this type of application (find more guidance on the labels).
  • Use a home vacuum sealer to remove air from packages. There are several models of these equipments on the market, with different prices. They use special bags (sold separately) to store food.
  • Use hermetically sealed containers, such as plastic or freezer-safe pots and cans.
  • Use products such as thick aluminum foil or freezer plastic or polyethylene bags.
  • Remove any bones you find in the meat before freezing it, as they take up space and can contribute to freezing burns.
  • Put freezer-safe paper or plastic wrap between slices or pieces of meat to facilitate separation after freezing.
Preserve Meat Step 2

Step 2. Know how long meats can be safely stored

These products do not last forever, even when frozen.

  • Raw meats (such as steaks or chops) can be stored for four to 12 months.
  • Raw ground beef can be stored for three to four months.
  • Prepared meats can be stored for two to three months.
  • Sausages, ham and other cold cuts can be stored for one to two months.
  • Poultry meat (raw or prepared) can be stored for three to 12 months.
  • Game meat can be stored for eight to 12 months.
  • Keep the freezer (or even the ice chest) at a temperature less than or equal to -18°Celsius.
Preserve Meat Step 3

Step 3. Label all containers and packages

That way you'll know what's in the freezer and how long it's been in the freezer.

  • The label must state the type of meat (chicken breast, steak, ground beef, etc.), its condition (raw or cooked) and the date of freezing.
  • It might also be a good idea to group similar meats together; this will help you find products more easily in the future. For example: put all poultry meat in one place, as well as all beef and pork.
  • Eat older meats first to avoid wastage due to expiration date or burns.
Preserve Meat Step 4

Step 4. Use an electric freezer to store the meat

This is one of the simplest strategies.

  • You can use the freezer compartment attached to the refrigerator or a free-standing freezer (or freezer).
  • Freestanding freezers are larger than docked compartments.
  • Remember that these freezers use electricity, so your energy bill will be more expensive if you choose to use something like that in addition to the fridge. The increase in this price will depend on the size of the equipment and its efficiency.
Preserve Meat Step 5

Step 5. Use an ice chest if you don't have an electric freezer

These devices are practical as they do not use electricity.

  • You can use an ice chest if you're camping and need to store meat when you don't have energy.
  • To use the box, fill it with ice.
  • Put some ice in the bottom of the box; then the meat; finally, cover the product with more ice.
  • Wrap the meat completely with ice so that it is well stored.
  • If using a box, you will have to change the ice as the rocks melt to keep the meat from thawing too soon.
Preserve Meat Step 6

Step 6. Know how to defrost meat

If done well, this process can reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.

  • Thaw meat in the freezer. Plan ahead, as large items (such as turkeys) take up to 24 hours to thaw.
  • Thaw meat by soaking it in ice water (still in a tightly closed container). Change the liquid every 30 minutes until the end.
  • If you are going to cook meat immediately, defrost it in a microwave. These ovens defrost the product evenly and may even start to cook some of its parts.
  • Before cooking meat, try to find signs of freeze burns. These burns are characterized by discoloration of the product due to the low temperatures it has been subjected to - and do not necessarily indicate that it is spoiled. Cut off the burned parts before consuming the rest.
  • Use common sense. If the meat (beef, pork or poultry) looks or smells suspicious, do not consume it.

Method 2 of 4: Saute the Meat to Preserve It

Preserve Meat Step 7

Step 1. Cure the meat with salt

This is one of the oldest methods of preserving the product.

  • Buy healing salt in any market or even on the internet.
  • Put pieces of meat in hermetically sealed containers (or plastic bags). Create alternating layers of meat and salt, covering the entire surface.
  • Leave containers/bags in a cool place (2, 2-4 °C) for one month. Do not let the product freeze.
  • Use the following formula to determine the time for curing meat with salt: seven days for every 2.5 cm of product thickness. For example: a piece of ham weighing about 5, 5 to 6, 5 kg should be cured for 35 days.
  • Salt-cured meats can be out of the freezer for three to four months - as long as they are stored in hermetically sealed containers, such as plastic bags.
  • Before cooking the meat, rinse it and remove any excess salt.

Method 3 of 4: Dry (dehydrate) the meat to preserve it

Preserve Meat Step 8

Step 1. Cut and dry pieces of meat

For this, use your oven or stove.

  • Cut thin slices of meat crosswise to 1 x 1 cm.
  • Boil these slices on the stove for three to five minutes to kill bacteria.
  • Remove the meat from the water and then let it dry.
  • Roast the meat in the oven (on the lowest setting) for eight to 12 hours.
  • If you prefer, use a professional food dehydrator instead of an oven.
  • Well-dehydrated slices of meat will look sticky, hard and leathery.
  • Meat dried in this way lasts about one to two months in hermetically sealed containers (outside the freezer).
Preserve Meat Step 9

Step 2. Smoke the meat to prevent it from spoiling and enhance its flavor

  • Cure the meat with salt before drying it to extend its shelf life.
  • Place the meat in a smoker at 63°C for seven hours or at 68.5°C for four hours. Do not exceed 68, 5 °Celsius. Otherwise, the product will be cooked instead of dry or smoked.
  • Some types of meat may take longer in this process. For example: beef brisket can take up to 22 hours.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check that the product is at the proper temperature before removing it from the smoker. Poultry meat must reach an internal temperature of 74 °C; pork and ground meat, 71 °C; steaks, roasts and chops should reach 63°Celsius.
  • Professional smokers work on gasoline, electricity, coal or wood.
  • Add pieces of wood such as mesquite, hickory, oak or cherry to enhance the flavor of the meat.
  • Smoked meat can last one to two months in hermetically sealed containers.

Method 4 of 4: Canned Meat to Preserve It

Preserve Meat Step 10

Step 1. Use the right tools for canning meat:

a pressure cooker and preserve jars.

  • Use the pan to regulate pressure during the process.
  • Use quality pots to store meat.
  • The hot, high-pressure steam cooks, seals and sterilizes the meat in the pots.
  • Fill the pan with 5 to 7, 5 cm of water.
  • Start timing the process when the pressure gauge reaches the desired level.
  • When the process is complete, remove the pan from the stove and wait for it to cool.
  • Do not open the pan until it is completely cold and naturally pressurized. If you pour cold water on it to try to speed up the process, the meat can spoil or the lid can bend.
  • Canned foods stored in a cool, dry place can last up to a year.
Preserve Meat Step 11

Step 2. Canned poultry meat to preserve it

Use hot or raw product packaging methods.

  • Pack meat at hot temperatures. Boil, steam or bake the product until 2/3 of the process is complete. If desired, add a teaspoon of salt for every 900 ml of pots. Fill them with pieces of meat and hot broth, leaving a free space of 3.1 centimeters.
  • Pack raw meat. If desired, add a teaspoon of salt for every 900 ml of pots. Fill them with a few pieces of raw meat, leaving a free space of 3.1 centimeters. Do not add liquids.
  • You can leave or remove the bones. If you leave them, the process will be slower.
  • This method also works for rabbit meat (although its consumption in Brazil is not as common).
  • Remember that at higher altitudes you should use higher pressures in the process.
  • Process the meat for 65 to 90 minutes, depending on the altitude where you live.
Preserve Meat Step 12

Step 3. Can ground or minced meat

Use fresh, cold products.

  • Form the minced meat into hamburgers or meatballs. Cook it until it is lightly browned.
  • You don't need to change the shape of the ground beef to sauté it.
  • Before canning the product, remove excess fat.
  • Fill the pots with pieces of meat.
  • Add broth, tomato sauce or boiling water to the pot and leave a 2.5 cm clearance. If desired, add two teaspoons of salt for every 900 ml of container.
  • Process the meat for 75 to 90 minutes, depending on the altitude where you live.
Preserve Meat Step 13

Step 4. Can strips, pieces or cubes of meat

First, remove all large bones.

  • The hot temperature packaging method is ideal for these types of meat.
  • Pre-cook the product until it is rare (roasting, cooking or browning the meat in a little fat).
  • If desired, add a teaspoon of salt for every 900 ml of container.
  • Fill the pots with pieces of meat and add the boiling broth, product fat, water or tomato sauce. Leave 2.5 cm of free space.
  • Process the meat for 75-90 minutes, depending on the altitude where you live.


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