Preserving meat w/o refrigeration


We get a fair bit of meat each year from hunting and roadkill. We have pressure canned, frozen (at a friends house), and made jerky. Canning destroys lots of nutrients, freezing requires electricity which we don’t have, and jerky is wonderful but is often too salty and seems more like a snack sometimes.

Does anyone know how to preserve meat without a refrigerator or too much salt? We have smoked lots of meat and sun dried it but always in very thin strips. We are hoping to learn how to cure large cuts.



I usually smoke my meat when I have large quantities. I may salt it lightly, or not, depending on how I feel.


I believe my dear friend porcupine palace is asking if you can cure large cuts of meat whole, without slicing them up into jerky. I also would love to know if this is possible.


In “olden times” (pioneer/settlers that is, hence the bunny-ears), salting meat to dry it worked pretty well, and when it came time to use the meat, the person preparing it would soak it in water for [some length of time] to help get the salt back out.

Smoking is another option, which basically involves slow-cooking the meat thoroughly in a smoke-filled environment. The smoke repels the insects and seals off the meat in tree-resin (vaporized and collected on the outside of the meat like a skin), and the slow-cooking largely takes care of bacteria, etc. There is a limit to the size of meat you can cook this way, though, and I only know the basics of the procedure, so it’ll probably take some more research to perfect a technique. There is also the type of wood to consider - some wood resins can be toxic (or so I’ve come to understand - please correct me if I’m wrong).

~ SW


Virginia Hams


Wood resins in general are carcinogenic. But smoked meat is fucking delicious.


we slice our meat and hang it to on strings between the rafters. no salt - it dries slowly - you can do this in any room provided it is somewhat warm and there is good ventilation. it takes 2 days usually - and is not salty or smoky, very easy to eat as a staple.
as far as keeping big chunks, you can age meat/ let it rot for quite a while - and it gets incredibly digestible / delicious. ive let deer legs age for 14 days, occasionally scraping the green film off and eating some of the meat raw - it gets incredibly tender and flavorful. makes freezing obscelete if deer is a staple in yr diet and you live w/ a group - the meat just keeps on getting better and better until it all gone.


Wow…we’ve eaten some slightly spoiled meat before but never to the degree that you’re describing. I am always disappointed in the lack of info on what is and isn’t safe to eat. The health dept folks would have us believe that nothing is safe unless it is highly processed industrial food. No one seems to be willing to go out on a limb and say what is safe out of fear of legal bullshit.

So thanks for sharing your experiences. I’m wondering if anyone else out there has let large chunks of meat sit out and rot and then eaten them raw or cooked. There are enough of us that we can go through most of the meat fairly quickly but we like to save some for later.

Is there a limit to how long you can let it sit (assuming that maggots don’t eat it first)? I am assuming here also that the meat is always exposed to air (not surrounded by plastic or anything else that would provide anaerobic conditions.

Thanks for the info.


Back in the early 80"s I worked at a fried chicken place. We would throw the left overs out at closing and I met an “urban outdoorsman” at the dumpster. When asked, he said he ate green ham all the time as long as there were no maggots or mold on it and had never gotten sick from it. Maybe he worked his way up to that gradually.


regarding maggoty meat: pick out the maggots, clean thoroughly, cook and eat

good source of fat


[quote=“jhereg, post:10, topic:457”]regarding maggoty meat: pick out the maggots, clean thoroughly, cook and eat

good source of fat[/quote]

aha! i have a jar that had a few leftover goji berries in it sitting next to the toaster oven. now it’s transformed itself into a very busy goji berry worm farm. i almost just threw the whole thing in the compost pile, then the thought entered my head to maybe destroy the larva first as potentially unfriendly invaders from another continent. what to do?

thanks for the solution! i don’t suppose any parasites or other nasties could lurk in the larva that i didn’t already eat with the berries, right? whatever kind of fruit-moth-fly they might grow into, they look more like meal worms than maggots.

have you really eaten maggots? i think i’d have to disguise them heavily to get that down.


deliberately? not yet, but it’s on my list.

along w/ ants.

my daughter was surprisingly interested in eating ants.

hmm. i wonder if it’s too cold for them yet…?

but, no, seriously, i’m just thinking about something I read about Fukuoka:

One day, Fukuoka was asked, 'If we grow our fruit trees the way you recommend, without pruning, how do we harvest the apples and what do we do with them?' Fukuoka's answer was "You shake the apples out of the tree and make cider, or feed them to pigs.' His point was, you go in a whole other direction.


aged meat is really good. you can age meat longer if the temperature is lower, too. warmer weather will spoil meat quicker. you can tell the difference b/w good aging and bad rotting. if youre not sure just eat a little bit to see how you feel.

you can always just eat the maggots.


Have you eatin maggots? If you have, prove it. I want to see. :smiley:

I have never eating maggots but once in cookies. I had turned seven that year.

Anywho, I’ve never had the pleasure of eating them off of a rotting carcass in, what I’d call, 3rd phase stinch. How do they taste? And do they digest well with your stomach?


the longest ive let meat age was i think 15 days - i just scraped the green mold off and it was actually really delicious raw. it will age best if A: it isnt too warm, B: it isnt bruised or contaminated with bile. the bruised and biley stuff is what i eat fresh, everything else gets alot better w/ age.
maggots are an amazing source of fat. i find them very digestible, i cook them, and appreciate that they can turn lean meat into fat (their bodies). they do spoil meat though after awhile, cause they secrete digestive juices on the meat, digesting it before they eat it cause they dont have stomachs or something.
i thought for a while that i would grab every rotten hunk of animal i could find and bring it home so that it would transform into maggotts - now its a bit cold for them though.


How do you cook maggots? What do they taste like? Would they go well in tomato vodka sauce?


Pan (or hot stone) parched with a little salt…yummy. Well, that’s how the acorn grubs taste really good and my two younger daughters are in agreement.


jhereg offered some good information over on this thread for raising/eating worms and other insects:

Anyone want to experiment?!


I remember a lot of maggots in our garage once… I think my brother cooked them (and his leg) with some gasoline and a match, on concrete floor.


I’ve eaten some pretty rank meat and aside from the occasional intestinal distress it hasn’t hurt me.