Mar 21 2016

Drying Meat

Published by at 5:59 pm under Expeditions and Experiences

It was common amongst northern native groups to freeze their catches in big pieces over the winter. Meat was simply chopped off as needed. Especially in the milder parts of the boreal zone, the meat from autumn kills would ferment as the winter progressed.

When the spring thawed out the meat piles, the remaining was dried in big pieces for summer use. At this time there are few flies, the air dry and the sun reflects strongly off the snow. Some groups used a light smoke or salting prior to the drying to keep flies and birds off.

This method saves a lot of work compared to drying meat in summer when it has to be cut really thin and smoked continously to avoid spoilage. The latter method is the one I have largely been using until now.

I could ideally have started drying the meat a bit sooner than I did. Night frosts are now not quite as hard and some flies have appeared. I used no salt or smoke and am looking forward to testing the results soon.

The meat in the photo are the legs and heart of a wild reindeer.



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5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Drying Meat”

  1. matton 22 Mar 2016 at 4:13 am

    Torjus, what exactly do you mean dried in large pieces? The way its in the pic, on the bone and let hang? I’m sure the meat would spoil that way when the summer comes.i must be misunderstanding what you are saying.

    Ps been following your blog for years. Glad you are still at it, and things seem to be working out well for you

  2. Torjus Gaarenon 22 Mar 2016 at 9:01 am

    Hey Matt

    The meat was dried either like in the picture with the bones in or they were removed. Either way, when it is dried through it should be like other dry meat and will store even during the summer. The fats might go rancid, but this is generally very lean meat, making it less of a factor.

    I’m glad you’re finding this blog interesting. 🙂

  3. matton 22 Mar 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Im really surprized to hear such thick pieces actually dry. Especially the hind quaters. Ive let meat hang (deer) in quaters in the fall. I really dont remember the temperature, but it was above freezing mostly, but fairly cool weather. After 2 weeks the exterior got a dry crust, and the meat aquired a bit of a strong smell. Still edible. It definitely lost moisture but was still nothing that could be called dry, and i assume it would spoil soon in warm weather.

    Im curious to learn what i could do different? Maybe conditions were too warm and humid? It was hanging in outdoor shed that was well ventilated.

    Pursuing an unconventional lifestyle that involves harvesting resources from the bush yourself can be challenging. I think its great that people like yourself find ways to do it even on that crazy continent of Europe.

  4. Torjus Gaarenon 22 Mar 2016 at 8:28 pm

    I think drying such big pieces is very climate dependent. In the north is was common, preferably as a freeze drying. I started a bit late this time, but there is plenty of snow around so I think they will be fine. You might want to try salt curing them if you don’t have the appropriate climatic conditions.

    In Scandinavia it is very possible with the right alliances. I was lucky to be born in a good area, which helps. About 80% of all the food consumed by me and my friend Jon is currently from the wild or grown (vegetables). The remaining 20% is consumed mainly as a variety issue, rather than for calories. Without access to a lot of hunting liscences and free fishing, it would be very difficult though. Virtually impossible.

  5. matton 23 Mar 2016 at 8:03 am

    Nothing like dried meat. I can eat it every day. I usually jerky all the lean meat from a deer. My favourite way to eat deer meat. Although a steak or roast is good for a change.

    Here in Canada you would have no issues harvesting enough meat to live off of. In good areas ofcourse. IF you are a native. Otherwise the laws make it impossible. Although you could get all the beaver meat you can hadle with a dozen beaver traps. Trapping is one way to live in the bush. But its only a winter occupation

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