Meat, warm weather, no refrigeration.

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

  1. Mark Knapp

    Mark Knapp Dealer / Materials Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    Dec 20, 2009
    In some extreme cases where we were not going to be able to get meat back in a timely manor, for instance, on an extended float trip or if it will be a while before the plane comes back, we would put the meat in a large garbage bag and submerge it in the river. We would do this each night, in the morning, take it back out of the bag, resume the float and do it again in the evening. It really helps chill the meat down, up here, our rivers can be much colder than our air temperatures in the fall. The other thing it did is, it helped prevent bears from finding the meat.

    A lot of times salt is more meant to prevent flies from blowing on the meat, not so much for preventing spoilage. Pepper can be used in a pinch against the flies not so much the spoilage.

    If your meat is starting to smell bad, don't eat it. Nothing is worth getting sick, or even dying for. We all know what bad meat smells like.
  2. coote


    Apr 3, 2006
    That is a good point about using cool water Mark. It reminds me that caves, tunnels and cellars generally keep a fairly constant temperature which is often a lot cooler than outdoors summer temperatures. And just last night I had a conversation with a friend who processes 'home kill' meat for farmers in a rural area. He too recommends staying aware of what meat smells like. We talked about the difference between a really rotten smell and the slightly 'old' smell of aged meat.

    I bumped into a couple today who told me about a deer they'd shot on Christmas Eve here in NZ. They had it hanging in a safe that had been covered with a wet sheet to get a bit of evaporative cooling. They had it hanging for about four days and they said the meat was delicious. That is an encouraging story considering that the average daytime hottest temperature would have been around 23C or 73F. The average lowest nighttime temperature would have been maybe 13C or 55F.
  3. docnasty


    Jul 11, 2007
    I worked with several Native Alaskan communities on subsistence projects. I was at a salmon fish camp that fed the village and nearby community and helped to cut the fish into filets that were dried on tall open air racks over smoking alder. Had a tall smokehouse also with alder. While I was there, one of the elders had shot a moose and hung it in quarters in a shed to help keep brown bears at bay. The moose quarters hung with no smoke for about four days as we processed it and all of the salmon coming in.

    Some of the middle-aged and younger guys from the village helped out and one was insisting that everyone cut in the "old way," so we all used knives. After a couple of days of popping joints and re-sharpening knives constantly, one of the elders came by and asked us how it was going. Someone asked if he had tips on doing it the old way. He told us that back in the day they used Sawzalls! We were all eating moose head soup and fry bread a few hours later.

    Anyhow, I asked the elders about how long they would hang moose and they said three to four days was usual without trouble as long as they could keep it in the shade and the grizzlies out.
  4. coote


    Apr 3, 2006
    That's good info thanks Docnasty. Did they hang the quarters with the skin off or on? Do you reckon that they'd hang the moose in summer for that long?
  5. docnasty


    Jul 11, 2007
    The moose was skinned before hanging, and then the skins were treated and wrapped, then stored for the next year, prepping them to be processed for drum making and other hide work.

    This was summer time in the interior - I think it was July and highs were in the neighborhood of 75 degrees F, as I recall. I was struck by the fact that they were hanging for so long in that time of the year, which is why I asked about it a couple of times. While they said 3-4 days was not out of the norm, it was made clear to all of us cutters that we had better get the cutting done ASAP.
  6. coote


    Apr 3, 2006
    That is encouraging information. Gee, it would be interesting to know how they treated their skins to allow them to remain wrapped. Much appreciated.
  7. coote


    Apr 3, 2006
    I have yet another question sorry Docnasty... Am I correct in assuming that the quarters of moose still had the leg bones in them? Thanks in advance.
  8. docnasty


    Jul 11, 2007
    Yes - the bones were still in until we carved off of them. It was basically a situation in which the elder shot the moose, had someone help get it back to the fish camp and quarter it, then told the younger folks to come to the fish camp to get to work on it. Other than gutting, skinning, quartering and hanging, the rest of the work was put to the village.

    I am not exactly sure what the prep/preservation process was for the hide as it was wrapped for the next year. But as some of the previous year's hides were taken out, they had been bagged with a slurry that appeared to include salt and water (but that is a guess). Then they were stretched on racks, dried and scraped thoroughly before templates for the drums were carved straight off of the rack.
  9. coote


    Apr 3, 2006
    Thank you Doc. This sort of first-hand observation is precious..... and it is information of this type that really adds to my enjoyment of what I do outdoors.
  10. heresthedeal


    Oct 3, 2010
    Guessing it wasn't salt slurry, should have been white wood ashes in water, no salt used in brain tanning.
    If they were making drum heads it would have been raw hide, which is the first part of brain tanning, no salt used.
    docnasty likes this.
  11. docnasty


    Jul 11, 2007
    Good to know - thank you. Now that you mention it, ashes sound familiar.
  12. the possum

    the possum

    Jul 31, 2002
    Just the other night I was reading a really cool book called "Alex Stewart: Portrait of a Pioneer". It's in the same vein as the Foxfire type of books. He said in the old days people there preserved meat by laying it in hollowed out log troughs filled with ashes, in pretty much the same fashion you'd do with a salt box. He said black oak and hickory ashes work best since they're "stronger" than other woods, and they'd burn whole trees just to get enough ashes since the fireplace didn't produce enough. He said they had some meat buried in ashes that they figured was about 7 years old, and it still tasted great.
    Freedom Pullo likes this.
  13. Freedom Pullo

    Freedom Pullo Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 31, 2015
    As an undergrad I had a hard time isolating a facultative anaerobe (fluorescent Vibrio sp.) from fresh caught squid. It can be pretty difficult to prevent fresh fish from growing obligate anaerobes if the water content is high.
  14. wildmike


    Nov 17, 2007
    I butchered a steer in warm but not hot weather a number of years ago. Temps in the mid 60's to 50's.
    I hung the quarters in a shed three days. The meat was some of the best I've ever tasted. No spoilage at all.
  15. jmarston


    Dec 6, 2010
    This video may be of interest. The man speaks from first hand experience it seems.

    A video on dressing and butcher in less than ideal conditions.


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