How to Keep Meat Unrefrigerated

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By refrigerating your meat below 40 degrees F you can prevent the growth of bacteria, allowing you to keep fresh meat for several days. If you don't have access to a refrigerator, you can still keep meat for long periods of time using a variety of techniques, most of which involve removing the moisture from the meat to minimize the chances of bacteria growth.

Salt Curing/Brining

Salt curing and brining use salt to prepare the meat for long-term storage. The process involves soaking or rubbing the meat for several days in a strong salt solution. Brining uses salt water; curing involves rubbing the meat down with salt and hanging it to dry. This process dehydrates the cells of the meat, preventing bacterial growth and allowing the meat to be stored for long periods of time.


Smoking meat involves hanging it over a fire and allowing the smoke from the fire to permeate the meat. This can be done in a cold or hot environment, and is often used today to impart a pleasant smoky flavor to the meat. Smoking the meat transfers chemicals known as aldehydes from the smoke into the meat. These aldehydes remove the moisture from the meat, inhibiting bacteria growth and allowing you to store the meat indefinitely.


Drying meat removes the moisture from the meat to slow bacteria growth. Often, meats are salted before they are placed in the sun to dry, helping speed the drying process due to the dehydrating properties of salt. Meat should be cut it into thin slices or small chunks to allow the dehydration process to completely dry out the meat. Once meat is dried you can store it indefinitely without refrigeration.


Pickling meat involves soaking the meat in a vinegar solution for several days to allow the vinegar to permeate the meat fibers. This replaces the moisture in the meat with the vinegar, making the meat resistant to bacteria growth. Once the meat has been pickled it can be stored for years without going bad.