Knowing how to smoke meat for survival could prove to be truly handy when it is imperative to preserve food in the absence of modern contraptions. You could be trekking in the wild or might have been stranded somewhere along the road with no immediate rescue mission in sight for the next few days. In such a situation, preserving food is crucial for survival and smoking meat is one of the best ways to achieve this objective.
Ways of Smoking Meat
There are two ways that are universally used for smoking meat, and they are described as follows –
Cold Smoking – The purpose of this method is not so much to cook meat but to prepare it for long-term storage so that it would remain fit for consumption for a longer duration. In this, the meat is dried till it assumes a brittle texture but care should be taken to ensure that it is not totally dehydrated. Following are the conditions for cold smoking to be effective –
- Ideally the temperature should be under 100 degrees Fahrenheit and at times even lower than 80;
- Meat needs to be seasoned with salt and spices before being exposed to smoke;
- To ensure that the meat is enveloped with adequate smoke, it should be enclosed within a room, a shed or a box that is big enough to accommodate the meat;
Cold smoking can be carried out in the open air too, but it would be effective as long as you are able to maintain a constant flow of smoke for the entire day. That being said, food scientists have pointed out a few potential risks associated with cold smoking, wherein the meat might become contaminated with microbes that thrive within this particular temperature range.
Hot Smoking – Meat that is subjected to this method is cooked gently while being permeated by smoke for an extended length of time. Hot smoking requires the following conditions to be met in order to be effective –
- Temperature should range between 150 and 220 degrees Fahrenheit and must remain constant;
- Ideally it should be conducted within a closed box so that both the smoke as also the heat are retained;
- Meat should be subjected to dry/wet cure, with each having a unique method;
When cooked in this manner, meat should be consumed on the same day or the next at the most. Likewise, curing – irrespective of whether it is wet/dry – should never be carried out in a metal container since the reaction could cause the meat to become contaminated.
Guidelines for Safe Smoking of Meat
Listed as follows are some important safety guidelines that you must bear in mind while smoking meat –
- Before taking the first step, sanitize your working area using a solution of chlorine bleach in warm water;
- Ensure that the equipment, utensils, meat cleavers and so on are not contaminated with dirt, grime, cooked food or any other pollutant;
- While refrigerating meats, store the raw and cooked versions separately;
- Always maintain temperature, as even the slightest fluctuation could trigger the growth of harmful micro-organisms and lead to poisoning;
- Smoking is best carried out on fresh meat;
- The smoker should be in proper working condition, especially in terms of temperature and retention of smoke and heat;
Your smoking exercise will have been successful if –
- The smoked meat is brittle enough to bend but does not snap;
- You have left the meat to be smoked undisturbed for the duration, as checking in between can make a difference to the quality of the finished product;
- Longer the duration of smoking, the more effective it is as it will serve to dry up the meat well. Although this will render the meat saltier, it will also extend its shelf-life, meaning the meat would be fit for consumption for more number of days.
- Temperature should be within the prescribed range – higher temperature might reduce the smoking time but meat smoked in this way will not last much, thus defeating the entire purpose of smoking;
Imagine how the earliest cave dwellers managed to survive without having any refrigerators, cooking appliances or storage options. They preserved their meat using whatever resources were readily available to them so that they could consume it for days at a stretch and smoking was one such method.
As one of the oldest methods known to mankind for preserving meat, smoking has endured through centuries not just because it is effective but also because meat cooked in this way carries a distinct smoky flavor and tastes good. All you need to do is select a way that appears most suitable to you and follow the cardinal rules to derive the best possible results.
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