Comments Off on How to Cure Meat in the Field

field cure a deerWhen most people go hunting, they are able to quickly field dress any animals they are able to kill, and either take them home or to a processor to be properly butchered.  For many people, especially those in survival situations, this is not an option.  Being able to properly cure your meat in the field will allow it to last for significantly longer without going bad, which could be life saving.

In order to properly preserve meat, you need to act as quickly as possible after a successful hunt.  You need to have raw meat either frozen, smoked or dried so that it won’t go bad.  During the winter months, it is possible to allow the meat to freeze without a problem.  If it is warmer out, however, curing your game is essential, and must be done within a few hours to avoid the meat from spoiling or getting infested with bugs.

Smoking Your Meat

Smoking your meat will cure the outside of the meat fairly quickly, which prevents insects from getting into it, and also significantly prevents the meat from rotting.  When done properly, smoked meat can last for weeks without refrigeration. After a successful hunt, following these simple steps will have your meat smoked in just a few hours.

  • Build a Tepee – Take several long sticks and prop them against each other to form a tepee.  Make sure the sticks are thick and strong enough to support the weight of the meat and a tarp.  Also, make sure they are long enough to make a large tepee so all the meat can fit within. Secure the top of the tepee with twine or another material to keep it steady.
  • Smoking Racks – Using twine, secure several other sticks within the tepee horizontally.  These sticks will be used to place meat on for smoking, so make sure they are strong enough to support the weight of the mat.
  • Containment – Cover about ¾ of the tepee with a tarp, or use thick branches to contain the smoke within.
  • Fire – Build a small fire within the tepee.  Allow the fire to burn until there is a good bed of coals.
  • Prepare the Meat – While the fire is burning, butcher the meat into large, thing pieces.  The thinner the pieces, the more effective the smoking will be, and the faster it will be completed.
  • Place the Meat – Once the fire has been going long enough to have the coals nice and hot, place the meat on the racks.
  • Create the Smoke – Place green branches or leafs on the fire to create smoke.  Try to contain a good amount of smoke within the tepee.  Keep this process going for at least 30 minutes to completely cure the meat.  If the meat is thicker than normal, longer smoking will be required.

Drying the Meat

If you can’t smoke the meat, drying it is another option for curing.  This is a much more time consuming process, but it doesn’t require fire, and can still effectively cure the meat.  Just as with smoking, this should be done as quickly as possible after a successful hunt.

  • Prepare Drying Racks – Drive two tall sticks into the ground. Secure sticks horizontally across the two base sticks.  This is where the meat will go.  You can make several racks if necessary to dry all the meat.  Make sure to place these racks in direct sunlight if possible.
  • Prepare the Meat – Once the racks are ready, begin cutting the meat into thin strips and lay it directly across the drying racks.
  • Allow Meat to Cure – Leave the meat in the sun all day.  The outer portion of the meat will get hard, preventing spoilage and insect problems.  When there is no noticeable moisture, flip the meat over to cure the other side.  Continue to cure until the meat appears dry all the way through when cut or torn.

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