Meat Preservation 101: Grinding, Curing, And Smoking

how to cure meat

Many preppers and survivalists not only stockpile long-term storage food to make ready for a SHTF scenario, but they also perfect their aim so they can take down copious amounts of wild game as well. It would be a mistake to assume that because you are an expert shot and a quality hunter, you do not need to grow your own groceries or pile up buckets of shelf-stable food in your basement.

When a TEOTWAWKI situation occurs, everyone and their brother and favorite cousin will take to the woods to hunt for deer and other wild game. The pressure put on wild game could deplete the native wildlife in a single season. Being off of your own property for any reasons is always a dangerous proposition. You not only have to worry about the marauding hordes from cities making their way to your rural hamlet, but you also have to be on the lookout for local punks as well.

It would be far easier to sit in the shade and wait for a hunter to walk by with his kill and take it than it would be to hike the woods in search of your own wild game to shoot for dinner.

Learn how to preserve and grind your own meat to make all the effort and danger surrounding a hunting excursion actually worth the bother. Relying on a refrigerator or freezer to keep your protein-filled meat from going rancid will decrease your chances of survival significantly.

Waste Not, Want Not

Many of us were raised to be thrifty and not to waste food. During a doomsday disaster, using every single bit of the food you grow, raise, and kill is even more important. The purchase of a meat grinder — a manual one — should be added to your “Preparedness Purchases” list.

Meat grinders are a simple piece of equipment and are built sturdy enough to last for decades. Meat parts that would merely be tossed away as waste can be placed in a meat grinder and used in a whole host of recipes.

Survival Recipes From Meat Grinder Scraps

SHTF Burgers
Get creative with your meat scraps, and do not be afraid to mix different types of meat together to make a meal! With just a single pound of ground meat you can make a one-skillet Hamburger-Helper-style meal of six hamburgers. Mix together beef parts, pork rump, and ground turkey pieces for a delicious SHTF burger!

• 1 pound of meat
• ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper – or a favorite seasoning you have on hand
• 1 egg
• ½ cup of dry or stale bread crumbs if not putting the patty on a slice of bread

Mix together all ingredients and either mold them into patties and fry them or fry the entire mixture in a skillet on medium heat for about 10 minutes.


You can use any combination of meat scraps to run through the grinder for this recipe, but it’s a perfect way to make use of small game. A blending of pork rump, pork shoulder, rabbit, and squirrel makes simply delicious sausage.
• 3 pounds of meat
• 5 tablespoons of your favorite spices — oregano, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, and cayenne pepper are recommended
• 1 egg
• ½ cup minced onions
• ½ cup bread crumbs
• 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese or some type of powdered cheese – long-term food supply powdered cheese works well in this recipe also
• 2 tablespoons salt
• ¾ cup chicken broth
• About 8 sausage casings


1. Soak the sausage casings in cold water and squeeze off the excess water. Allow them to dry thoroughly before use.
2. Place all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix them together with your hands.
3. Lightly cover the bowl with a cloth and place it in a cool place for 24 hours.
4. Stuff the sausage mix into the casing and use bread twist ties or string to secure the ends closed.
5. Put about an inch of water in a pan and place the stuffed sausage casings on an open fire, propane oven, or onto a camp stove to bake at around 300 degrees for 60 minutes.

Curing Meat

Meat is cured, or preserved, by adding salt. The salt prevents the growth of bacteria by blocking out moisture and water. This practice was used by our ancestors long before refrigerators were invented. Placing the meat in an ice house also works, but it does not offer the same shelf-stable benefits.

Animal cells and microbes are covered by membranes that allow large molecules to hide inside. The same membranes permit water to flow into the openings. When enough salt is placed on the outer layer of the meat, covering the cell membranes, the water is drawn out of the cells via osmosis. When the water is no longer present inside the cells, the bacteria inside the membrane is killed or becomes dormant and can no longer spoil the meat.

Purchase plenty of curing salt and brown sugar and store it safely in a tightly-closed bucket to prevent moisture from destroying your meat preservation and bartering materials. The sugar also soaks up moisture and prevents the growth of bacteria. It takes about a half pound of salt mixed with only a quarter cup of sugar to cure 10 to 12 pounds of meat.

The sugar balances out the drying impact of the salt and enhances taste. You can use granulated sugar or get a little fancy and flavorful and use honey or maple sugar syrup to create real doomsday dinner treat. Rubbing your favorite herbs and spices onto the meat before curing it will also enhance flavor.

Sodium nitrate is added to the salt and sugar mix in small quantities to prevent the growth of evil bacteria that breeds botulism. Too much nitrate can be toxic to the human body. Watch the video below for specific meat curing steps and tips.

Dry Curing

This curing method is best for the preservation of hams, bacon, or smaller cuts of meat. After the meat has been dry cured, it is placed into a storage container and sealed tightly. The meat must then be placed in a cool space for several weeks, until the curing process is complete. See the video below for dry curing directions.

How do you plan to provide and preserve meat to ensure your family has the amount of protein necessary to remain strong and healthy during a SHTF disaster?

[Image via Biso/Wikimedia Commons]

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