Meat, warm weather, no refrigeration.

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by coote, Jan 8, 2018.

  1. coote

    coote

    Apr 3, 2006
    I'm posting here hoping to get some true anecdotes and common sense replies relating to what you've experienced or heard about using unrefrigerated meat.

    I've hunted since the '60s, and up until recently I've never been too concerned about rushing to get meat into a refrigerator. I observe basic hygiene rules, but I've hung carcasses for a while in warm weather.... I've defied guidelines by packing freshly killed warm meat into a plastic sack prior to carrying it home.... and I've eaten animals that took a long time to find... which may have lain dead with their guts in for 8 to 24 hours. And nobody that has eaten that meat has died as a result, or even had noticeable symptoms of food poisoning.

    Nowadays there seems to be a lot of focus on political correctness and safety. I'm not saying we should throw caution to the wind, but I think that a lot of what we are told errs on the side of caution. It can seem that the rule-makers think most of us have virtually no experience or intelligence. And I'd be surprised if the majority of the rule-makers have ever put a roof on a house or butchered a deer in the wilderness. Anyway.... I guess most of you will know what I'm getting at here. There is a lot of information around on processing meat which has a very strong safety angle, and it seems that this content is more or less regurgitated all over the internet by folks who may have had very little experience with farming or hunting.

    I am well aware of the tradition of hanging game. I don't fancy hanging a pheasant by the head until the body drops away, neither do I relish the idea of hanging a hare until it turns green. But I do like tender meat with good flavour, and I believe that hanging can help us achieve this.

    Besides the eating-quality benefits of hanging, sometimes we have the opportunity to kill game miles from civilisation in warm weather.

    I believe that it is OK to hang meat for a while in warm weather. I also believe that meat is inherently sterile and that bacteria will take a relatively long time to penetrate into dead flesh that is still covered with hide. I'm thinking that the bacteria will travel fastest from a wound channel or the gut cavity. I know for sure that meat like venison can keep for weeks hanging in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place that is protected from flies.

    I am familiar with the views of modern, mainstream health experts. I wish I could talk to some of the old-timer hunters and farmers from warmer climates (eg Africa, Australia, Southern USA). People have been killing and eating big animals for thousands of years. I want to know what their common practices were during warmer periods. I'm interested in the chemistry and biology of meat relating to temperature and time. And I'd like some facts about any significant problems that may arise from using unrefrigerated meat that is cooked properly before consumption. I'm not talking about the threats from parasites or communicable diseases... I'm more concerned about heat spoilage and bacteria growth.

    So.... what stories have you got about meat in warm weather? Thanks in advance for sharing.

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  2. gonebad395

    gonebad395 Ironworker!

    May 19, 2015
    I know that early hunters and before refrigeration salt was used in warmer climates to preserve meats. It basically takes the moisture that the bacteria thrives on away so the meat won’t spoil. You can also add sugars honey and other spices to this dry salt rub for later and it will keep for quite some time.
    There is also a wet salt brine but I’m not to familiar with that type of meat preservation.
    Smoking is another you can cold smoke at around 100 degrees or hot smoke above 150ish to about 225. After 225 you are basically grilling and that isn’t a what you are looking for to preserve meat. With the smoking you are basically forming a dry crust around the outside on the meat in which bacteria that will get you sick can’t thrive.
    Also making jerky on racks high over your fire will preserve the meat it isn’t usable as like say a dinner meat when needed like the above processes I mentioned. But it is a great food to travel with and use as a fast energy boost. Hope this helps all the examples I gave you will work well in warm weather. They have all been used for hundreds of years with great success.
     
  3. coote

    coote

    Apr 3, 2006
    Thanks Gonebad (Geez, that name could describe some of my summer meat :))

    Those are good points you raised. I've smoked fish, but never tried doing meat. I've also made biltong (jerky) which was edible, but not that enjoyable. Just a week or two ago I took some slices from a deer I shot and threaded them on to a stick and hung it in the shade during the day... and in the evenings hung it over the wood stove. I didn't apply salt or anything. The product was intended for dog treats (and the dog loves it). It has dried hard. I tried a small slice of it myself, and it was delicious.

    I figure that if the surface of the meat dries fast, then the bacteria (which presumably prefer a moist environment) can't breed fast enough to create a problem. Of course things like salt and vinegar make it even harder for bacteria to breed.

    Here is a pic I just took of the last of that dried meat. It is very hard now.
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  4. gonebad395

    gonebad395 Ironworker!

    May 19, 2015
    Np at all next time you try a jerky build your self a makeshift rack about 5 to 6 ft over a fire. Let the fire burn hot and go to a ember bed once you have a good bed drop a damp or green log in and let it start smoking. Then drape you slices of meat over the rack that high it should be a nice cold smoke if the slices are then a few hours will be fine. Just doing that will be a treat that isn’t rock hard that you and your dog can enjoy. Don’t hesitate to put spices on it then it’s even better. The smoke will dry the outside of the meat enough to keep bacteria from growing on it and the inside will still be somewhat tender.

    To me if not using a salt to dry out the meat then a heat source of some kind like the cold or hot smoke is just a lot safe then letting it air cure. Some precautions are needed but preserving meats in warm weather is totally doable.
     
  5. coote

    coote

    Apr 3, 2006
    Your primitive method of smoking jerky appeals to me thanks Gonebad. I really must try it. I've been involved with cold smoking (fish only), and we had a relatively high-tech smoke cabinet with a small remote fire. The fish dried out quite a bit, but was still easily chewable. It kept for ages in a paper bag in a meat safe. We used to coat it with salt and brown sugar before smoking.

    Jerky seems to continue to dry out until it becomes really hard. Is that the case with your smoking method? There is a brief period when it reaches its optimal chewiness. Do you try to halt the drying in some way?
     
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  6. JD Mandrell

    JD Mandrell Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 20, 2001
    Not sure if this counts, but in 2010, I shot a Whitetail Buck about 3:30pm, we didn't recover him until 9am the next morning, in temps above 60.

    Meat was fine.
     
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  7. coote

    coote

    Apr 3, 2006
    Thanks JD, it does count. An encouraging story about a real experience direct from a trustworthy source.
     
  8. gonebad395

    gonebad395 Ironworker!

    May 19, 2015
    Yeah pull it off while it’s still plyable and it should be just fine. Do some research on salt curing I’m sure you won’t be disappointed and salt in bulk is really cheap. It really keeps meat well and taste great at eating time.
     
  9. coote

    coote

    Apr 3, 2006
    Thanks Gonebad. I must look into the salt thing. I've never tried it.
     
  10. Swampdog

    Swampdog Gold Member Gold Member

    534
    Apr 14, 2007
    I was told by a Seminole Indian many years ago that they would "cache" some of their deer meat high up in a tree to dry out naturally in the sun and wind during the dry season here in Florida. It kept the meat away from most other predators and was cured by the elements.

    Most of the time they would use smoke to cure meats as Gonebad395 has already mentioned.

    (Please keep in mind that this is hearsay information, I'd take it with a "grain of salt")
     
  11. coote

    coote

    Apr 3, 2006
    That's interesting Swampdog, and I see no reason why it shouldn't be a good thing to do. Meat dries out pretty quickly in warm, dry weather and it probably doesn't stay moist long enough for bacteria to build up too much. Plus I understand that direct sunlight can kill bacteria. Thanks for that.
     
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  12. kvaughn

    kvaughn Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Most harmful bacteria have a required water activity level to be able to live,much less grow. The level varies with the type.Some are hardier than others. Reduce the moisture enough, no bacterial growth/decomposition. Salt hastens this process by drawing the moisture.--KV
     
  13. coote

    coote

    Apr 3, 2006
    I guess moisture reduction is another good reason for bleeding an animal ASAP. I wonder why recipes for curing often specify to use plain salt rather than iodised salt.
     
  14. Grubbster

    Grubbster Basic Member Basic Member

    343
    Jan 8, 2006
    Salt not only dries the meat, it kills most bacteria. There are very few halophillic bacteria and they are not very common.
     
  15. kvaughn

    kvaughn Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    True. Unfortunately clostridium botulinum has a high salt tolerance and causes one of the deadlier food borne diseases. Botulism is often caused by salt or vinegar preserved foods.==I'm in the middle of a FDA food service cert course. Can ya tell!!:)
     
  16. coote

    coote

    Apr 3, 2006
    Thanks for the replies. I'd be interested to hear about how anyone actually applies salt to game in the field. It could be a good option.

    I thought that botulism couldn't really happen in 'high-acid' foods. In other words, you might find it in a poorly-sterilised can of garden peas.... but you'd be unlikely to get it in a can of tomato sauce prepared with a high vinegar content.

    I recall reading once that a lot of folks in the far north of America started harming themselves with botulism when preparing fermented ('stinky') fish heads. I understand in the old days the heads were left in a crude basket to ferment. Then when they started to use commercially made bowls instead of baskets, the botulism problem really took off. Something to do, I think, with the pooling of juices and the lack of air circulation. Dunno for sure.

    Something else I've read about, is the option of applying citric acid to the exposed surfaces of game meat. This would raise the acidity, but might also draw moisture like salt I suppose.
     
  17. Grubbster

    Grubbster Basic Member Basic Member

    343
    Jan 8, 2006
    C. botulinum itself does not cause disease. It creates protein toxins which are potentially fatal. The bacteria only produce these toxins under specific anaerobic conditions which means it is unlikely to happen when drying food.
     
  18. kvaughn

    kvaughn Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Right on about the toxins. My text gives improperly preserved foods as a major reservoir for c.b.-Particularly E type which is typically marine in origin-e.g.-Dried,salted or smoked fish. That said, it also says there are normally only 10 to 30 cases a year in the US.--KV
     
  19. coote

    coote

    Apr 3, 2006
    Geez, that is 10 to 30 too many cases. I wonder what could be done better to avoid the problem. Maybe the fish sat around too hot and moist for too long before it dried. Or maybe the smoked stuff didn't dry out enough.
     
  20. kvaughn

    kvaughn Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Might have been too thick to dry properly/quickly. Improperly pickled foods seem to be a major problem with this too.
     

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