Smoking and Curing Wild Game, Fish and Fowl
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Welcome to this week’s Survive The Coming Collapse newsletter, brought to you by David’s often imitated, but never duplicated Urban Disaster Water Purification report. In it, you’ll learn how to take the nastiest water (even urine and sewage) and make it purer than freshly fallen Arctic snow using both store bought purifiers AND everyday, ordinary items that you will find lying around after a disaster. Don’t fool yourself by thinking that a cute little backpacking water filter will purify water that you’ll find in a town or city–urban water purification is a completely different ballgame and you can learn how to quickly and easily purify almost any water by getting the report >HERE< now.
(David’s Note: Happy Easter! This is the holiday that I’m most thankful for every year and I hope you enjoy yours.
As a matter of trivia, Easter weekend is also a pivotal weekend (along with Chinese New Year) that helps determine how strong and what strain of bird flu we’ll face for the fall. In short, it’s a holiday where both farmers who live in close proximity to chickens AND global travelers congregate in urban areas.)
Part two of Chapter five is available, click here to continue reading.
Survival Diva here to continue how to preserve food without refrigeration. The smoking and curing of wild game, fish and fowl is nothing new. It’s believed that it was used by early man when the use of fire was discovered. Since then, man has cured and smoked meat for safekeeping to get through long winters and times when wild game was scarce. When done right, smoking offers a way to preserve meats, fish and fowl without the need for refrigeration and the benefits don’t stop there because smoking meats adds wonderful flavor!
For preppers interested in keeping meat without refrigeration, hard smoking is the best approach. Hard smoking is a method of preparing meats much like jerky that is smoked at low temperatures until most of the moisture is removed.
Without hard smoking or home canning meat, you would need a way to store it in temperatures of 34 to 37 degrees without freezing to safely keep meat—a difficult task without refrigeration. It comes down to either cold smoking the meat for long term storage, long-term salt curing (prosciutto), home canning it, or freezing it over winter if you live in a far northern climate where freezing temperatures can be counted on.
Before we get started with the various designs and uses of a smoker, it needs to be pointed out to never use pressure-treated wood or galvanized metal in the building of a smokehouse. If you design a cold smoker, where there will be pipe run from a covered fire pit to the smokehouse, use metal pipe, never PVC which can melt and emit off-gasses.
With the remainder of this post, the word “meats” includes fish and fowl. We’re tackling smoke houses first followed by several sites that give in-depth information on salt/sugar curing meats. If you’re not familiar with preserving meats without electricity, meat is sometimes cured with salt first, then cold smoked for longer shelf life.
The Two Methods of Smoking Meats
There are two methods of smoking meats; cold smoking and hot smoking. Just as it sounds, hot smoking involves higher heat which cooks the meat while the smoke flavors it. Cooked meat, including cooked meat done in a hot smoker, must be refrigerated.
Cold smoking will preserve meat indefinitely without refrigeration. How it works is through putting to use the preservative quality of the smoke itself, and by slowly removing as much moisture as possible from meats to avoid spoilage.
It’s a common practice to place a pan of water in a smoker during the smoking process. This is great way to “cheat” on a brisket or turkey that you’ll eat as soon as you pull it out of your smoker, but moisture when you’re wanting long-term meat preservation must be avoided because excess moisture will aid in the growth of creepy crawlies that will spoil the meat.
It’s advisable to use a thermometer when cold smoking meat to keep an eye on the temperature that should not exceeded 155 degrees. The length of time needed to cold smoke meats completely depends on the amount and the type of meat.
(David’s note: This is a much lower temperature from when you’re cooking with smoke rather than preserving with smoke.)
Traditionally, hickory, apple, mesquite or cedar chips are used when smoking because of the wonderful flavor these woods offer to smoked meats. In an emergency situation, the type of wood used would be secondary, but the choice between cold smoke and hot smoke isn’t as forgiving—cold smoke, using smoke at low temperature to harden the meat is the surest way to preserve meat for long shelf life of up to one year.
(David’s note: In general, you want to smoke your meat with hard woods, as mentioned above, and avoid soft, sappy woods like pine & fir because of the nasty, bitter taste they impart.)
We’ll start with emergency smoker that can be used quickly in a yard or the wilderness under stressful conditions.
Making an Emergency Fire Pit Smoker
Note: The following information on how to smoke meat for survival situations comes from the US Army FM 21-76 Field Guide.
To smoke meat, prepare an enclosure around a fire. Two ponchos snapped together will work. The fire does not need to be big or hot. The intent is to produce smoke, not heat. Do not use resinous wood (soft/sap) in the fire because its smoke will ruin the meat. Use hardwoods to produce good smoke. The wood should be somewhat green. If it is too dry, soak it. Cut the meat into thin slices, no more than 6 centimeters thick, and drape them over a framework. Make sure none of the meat touches another piece. Keep the poncho enclosure around the meat to hold the smoke and keep a close watch on the fire. Do not let the fire get too hot. Meat smoked overnight in this manner will last about 1 week. Two days of continuous smoking will preserve the meat for 2 to 4 weeks. Properly smoked meat will look like a dark, curled, brittle stick and you can eat it without further cooking. You can also use a pit to smoke meat.
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Convert An Old Refrigerator Into a Cold Smoker
Converting an old refrigerator is something I learned about as a little girl when my mother converted an old fridge into a cold smoker in preparation of a caribou hunt. I can still remember her going in to a meltdown after we took the first bite of our pan fried caribou steaks. It was melt in your mouth tender and unbelievably flavorful. She was close to tears when she said “Why did I smoke all of the meat?!” It was too late for do-overs. The meat was already smoking in that converted refrigerator, now turned smoker. But we had a choice at the time between smoking the meat or storing it in an old-school, round-topped propane fridge whose pilot light continually went out and had to be watched constantly—and why much of our food was kept in a food cache.
During a time of grid-down, we may not have the luxury of choosing between refrigeration or smoking or home canning meats.
Most of us are partial to saving money whenever possible because prepping isn’t cheap and the goal for many of us is to get it done as soon as humanly possible, so we can rest a little easier. It took a bit of searching to find plans to convert an old refrigerator that didn’t include a hot plate of electric fans to circulate smoke. None of that is necessary, and for grid-down, it’s best to be set up for a smoker that doesn’t rely on electricity.
Making a cold smoker from an old enamel refrigerator is an inexpensive approach because old fridges can sometimes be found free or for very little at scrapyards, especially when you aren’t looking for a working fridge.
Click here for the E-How instructions titled How to Build a Cold Smoker From a Refrigerator, written by B.T. Alo, eHow Contributor
Note: It isn’t recommended to use newer refrigerators that have plastic interiors.
Building Instructions for a Wood Structure Cold Smoker
If you enjoy building, here are great instructions to build a cold smoke house from DIY Guides, titled Building a Smoke House, contributed by Mike. Click here to go to the site.
The plans are fairly simple and the materials are not terribly extensive: 2 X 4’s, Chalk line, soaked wood chips, 18 pieces of 1.5 X 1.5 inch pine boards, a cast iron pan, a 5/8 inch deck screw, a utility knife, a steel sheet, (5) 1 X 6 5-foot pine boards w/ 9-inch tongue and groove, pencil, measuring tape, saw, two-inch strap hinges, screwdriver, and 15 pieces of 1 X 6-foot tongue and grove boards.
Do-It-Yourself Hot Smoker from a 55 Gallon Barrel
This method to build a hot smoker requires cutting and welding. However, it is a relatively inexpensive design and should you have the skills, or know someone who does, it may be worth the effort.
These plans were found on The At Home Welder. Click here for the step-by-step instructions.
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Brining (Pickling) & Dry Rubs
To write even a portion of what’s available on the web could fill a library, so I am sharing some of my favorite sites for you to pick and choose from. If there’s one common thread regarding smoking and curing meat, everyone’s opinion on the perfect method varies greatly, so here is where practice is important for success.
For a site that has information on processing wild game, smoking and curing all types of wild game, fowl, fish, and making jerky and sausage, Wedliny Domowe has the most thorough site I’ve found to date. He also gives instructions on larding meat. Click here to go to his site.
For another great site for processing and curing wild game and fish, click here for the Penn State Extension publication, Proper Processing of Wild Game and Fish.
The home and Garden Center, Clemson Extension offers a free download on curing, smoking, corning, home canning, and how to preserve meat in a sweet pickle cure, as well as how to make jerky and sausage. Click here to visit the site.
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(David’s note: I have several smoking books and have trolled hundreds of sites on smoking and my favorite book, by far, is Smoke & Spice: Cooking with Smoke, the Real Way to Barbecue. I usually use it as a foundation and adjust the recipes to the taste of everyone who will be eating with us and the time available. If you have published any smoking books or have others that you love, please share below.)
If you missed the email yesterday on how to power your essentials after a disaster and cut your utility bill in the meantime, click >HERE< to learn more.
This would be an excellent time to hear from hunters and those who are familiar with smoking and curing wild game, fowl and fish. Please share your tips, recipes and how-to’s so everyone on the forum benefits by commenting below!
God bless and stay safe,
David Morris and Survival Diva
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