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Thread: Questions about meat shelf life and Introduction

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    Default Questions about meat shelf life and Introduction

    Hey everyone,

    My name is Jim, and I am very excited to connect with people who know an awful lot more than I do about going caveman. I am an avid bowhunter and bowyer, and after having to spend an unplanned night under a canoe in the rainy woods, this stuff really sparked my interest.

    My questions is about long storage for meat and fish, when air tight isn't an option and without salt. I've been reading on jerky, tallow and pemmican. I've made deer jerky every year, but not without modern luxury- most of it went in the fridge or didn't stay in the bag long anyways, haha. So get meat totally dry, mix with equal parts tallow, and store- but the fat goes rancid quick, right? Would the meat last longer on its own? Also, for fish, they said even after paper dry it still needs to be cooked; if you rehydrate it to cook it (assuming that's what people do) is it safer to do the same thing with bush jerky?

    Thanks in advance, looking forward to meeting you all! Here's a picture of me doing what I live for.

    Jim

    Canoe deer.jpgCanoe deer.jpg


  2. #2
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    I have made jerky many times as a demonstration of primitive skills at museums ad historic sites. There have been several times when my son and I "jerked" a whole deer and I can tell you that cutting 100 pounds of venison into strips will wear you out and make you scream for help!

    Jerky is made from lean red meats, deer, elk, moose, goat. Those animals have a "hard fat" that renders into tallow. Do not try it with pork or mutton. They have a "soft fat" which renders into lard. Do not make jerky from small game due to parasites contained in most small game which must be cooked. The soft fats go rancid quickly. The hard fats become solid and brittle and keep longer.

    As for the tallow or lard, that is rendered from the fat left after the butchering process and is best when rendered from the "organ fat" around the kidneys, liver and such, but all the fat from ruminants will render to hard tallow.

    Pork fat and bear fat renders down to lard, which can also be stored for extended periods. It will go rancid, in the air but will keep well inside containers for up to a year. If you ever shop for lard in the grocery it will be in the cooking oil section and not refrigerated. We used to place rendered lard into metal containers we called "lard stands". Up to 20 years ago, when I bought my last batch, one could buy them at any hardware store.

    Most meats will keep for long periods if kept away from air. In the old days this was done by cooking the meat and placing it in a container, then covering it with lard. A second layer was added and then covered with lard until all the meat was under a layer of fat and sealed from the air. When needed the meat was removed, the lard scraped away if desired and the meat reheated. I do not remember the shelf life when treated in this manner.

    Both jerky and dried fish will have a one year "shelf life" but you will be hard pressed to have either last that long. The systems were designed for seasonal harvest and seasonal consumption with the supplies being replenished annually.

    You can build a rack from sticks. Cut the meat thin, about 1/8" to 3/16 inch thick and hang it from this wooden grid. It should be about 3 feet above a low smoky fire and keep the meat in the smoke as it cures. You are not cooking the meat, you are smoking it. Turn the strips over about half way through the drying process.

    When making "real jerky" no flavorings or marinades are used, that is a modern concept and was not done by primitive people. Just fresh, lean meat and a little salt if it is available.

    This is an all day job and can not be rushed, however speed of drying will depend on outside temp, sunshine, and thickness of the meat strips.

    Fish can be dried in a similar manner. Cleaned and split leaving the tail attached to hold the two sections, it is hung to dry either in the direct sunlight or in a smoke house.

    Pemmican is a different process where the meat is first dried, then pounded into powder, mixed with fruit (usually berries) and hot tallow, not lard, is poured poured over the mixture and allowed to harden.

    Fish does not have to be cooked for consumption but it is recommended in most cases. Any freshwater fish can be eaten raw, otherwise there would be no sushi industry. Jerky is not cooked before consumption, but can be if desired.
    Last edited by kyratshooter; 04-24-2018 at 09:38 AM.

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    Senior Member Antonyraison's Avatar
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    there is also Biltong.. which is sorta like jerky only A LOT nicer
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    Senior Member natertot's Avatar
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    Good post Kyrat. I thought freshwater fish had to be cooked though and salt water fish could be ate raw. Am I confused about this?
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    I thought I might be confused so I looked it up.

    The FDA now says that ALL fish pose a risk of parasite transfer.

    Their recommendations are to freeze the fish at -35f for 24 hours and then thaw before consumption raw.

    To be safe you could always cook the re-hydrated fish before consumption and it would not matter.

    Honestly, I think I would be more concerned with environmental pollution and water quality than parasites.

    Over here where I live they have shut down consumption of any fish taken from the last 40 mile stretch of the Licking River due to sewage/industrial contamination. The city of Alexandria dumps raw untreated sewage into the Licking and the EPA lets them get away with it!

    The Licking River enters the Ohio just upstream from the Cincinnati water treatment plant. Cinci has sued them several times. If it is polluted in the Licking River it is just as polluted in the Ohio!

    Cincinnati also dumps their sewage/industrial waste into the Ohio. They claim it is treated but are not known for their illustrious past performances.


    I do know that traditionally Cod was dried in the sun in the manner I specified along with Haddock, mackerel, sardines and many other commercially offered fish(almost all of them salt water varieties), and salmon is still dried and smoked in the same manner today.

    I suppose my take on freshwater fish is to not take more than you can eat, eat what you take the day you take it and catch more tomorrow.

    But one of my friends did take one of those 100 pound catfish once. I might have to call for assistance in gobbling one of those bad boys down in a day.

    Anthony, your biltong and our jerky are the same thing except you fellows prefer to slice your biltong thicker than we slice jerky. That is mostly due to our folks not consuming jerky for 100 years and then when it was re-invented in the 1970s we were consuming mostly industrial made jerky, which is made from ground meat paste extruded into thin flat strips and dried in an industrial oven.

    We want our home made jerky to be thin because what we see in the store is thin. If we were slicing it with a butcher knife to get every scrap of meat off the carcass it would be nice and thick like your biltong.
    Last edited by kyratshooter; 04-25-2018 at 10:30 AM.

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    I have heard, that actually jerking the meat (shaddup) pulling strips of meat off with the grain of the muscle. instead of cutting it is better for the whole drying process. That more of the muscle fibers/cells remain intact and it cures differently. I don't know. I always cut it.

    Alan

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Your state's DNR will usually post which waterways are safe for fish consumption and which are cautionary.

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    which is made from ground meat paste extruded into thin flat strips and dried in an industrial oven.
    That somehow takes the fun out of it.............or I just threw up in my mouth a little.
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    The first batch of jerky(deer) I ever made had too much salt, too much pepper and dried for too long. I couldn't cut it with my knife (safely) but I could pinch off pieces with wire dikes and nibble on it. At that time I was doing a lot of outdoor work and sweating profusely in South Texas is not unusual. The salt kept my electrolytes up and also made me drink a lot more water. There was so much black pepper on it that I couldn't eat very much of it anyway.

    Then, I went to brining it with less salt and pepper. I'd soak it in the fridge for a few days and hang it until it was dry to the touch, bag it and freeze it. I haven't made any in a long time.

    I got to an age when I started getting crowns on my teeth and I started phasing out the rough stuff. There's better ways to eat deer meat anywho.

    But, it's a good thing to know if you're ever lost in the woods for months at a time and have to live off the land by making jerky and such.

    Alan

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    But, I will say that there are a good many things that people need to learn how to do and skills and knowledge that need to be kept alive, or it will die.

    Every time these things come up I think about a "hog killin". A person can learn a lot about life at a hog killin.

    Alan

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Of course, there's not too many places in this country you can't walk in one direction and find a road within a few miles. A few, but not many. Like one of our wiser members used to say, he was never lost. He misplaced the truck a few times but he was never lost. I'm sure most of you know who that was.

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    I saw a guy on YouTube, Steve1989mre., eat beef hash from a Korean war era ration. I think the oldest thing he ate was WW2. Each video he features a different ration, gives the history, opens it and goes through each item and eats it if its not too bad. He even makes the coffee, smokes the cigarettes and chews the gum.
    For jerky I soak the strips in Dales marinade for about 30 min., shake them dry and put them on the racks. I've tried a bunch of other recipes but just plain Dales is my favorite. Maybe a little red pepper flakes for bite.
    Last edited by chiggersngrits; 04-26-2018 at 07:27 PM.
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    In the mid 70's we were on field maneuvers (yes, Submarine guys do that from time to time) and the rations we were eating were from the 40's. The were fine, but the Lucky Strikes were stale.

    While doing a stores load out in Guam, one case of steaks that came down the ramp was dated 1942. I'm sure we ate it at some point with no ill effects.
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    You have to remember though Crash, the time frame from 1942 to 1975 was shorter than from 1975 until today!

    When the He!! did that happen?

    Like I have said before, I quit worrying about 30 year shelf life when I realized that it is likely I do not have 30 years left.

    I will settle for the one year rotation on the beef jerky and try to eat up the canned goods before they go out of date to badly.

    One of the things that happens with that Steve 1989 guy is that the canned goods never hold up well. They corrode and leak and eat through the containers pretty quickly. Sometimes he opens the cans and they are so bad it makes me want to puke and I am just watching over the internet!

    I bet he is single. No self respecting woman would let him inside the house after he and opened one of those can, much less tried to eat some of that crap.

    But there are some things he opens that I want to tell him were just as bad fresh as they are 45 years latter!

    The one thing that always makes it through is the instant coffee. I have seen that guy make the instant coffee from WW1 rats and it looks as good as what I have in the cabinet here at home.

    I do have an issue with the removal of the cigarettes from the ration packs. You send a guy out to a combat zone where it is too dangerous to set up a field kitchen to give him a hot meal due to enemy action and shells falling, then you tell him it is bad for his health to smoke and the government can not promote that activity!
    Last edited by kyratshooter; 04-26-2018 at 10:30 PM.

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    I don't know who came up with one year on jerky but the jerky we ate this year was from 2008.

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    I guess Jimbow is busy taking notes.

    Alan

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fixit View Post
    I don't know who came up with one year on jerky but the jerky we ate this year was from 2008.
    If you made jerky in 2008 and it lasted until now all I can say is that you definitely do not have any kids.

    I always had to hide what I made if it was going to last until the next hike!

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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    We smoke salmon strips. Salmon makes really nice jerky but very rich. It's good to have some crackers or pilot bread with them.
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