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Author Topic: Alternative Miscellaneous Food Preservation, Storage, Smokehouses and more!  (Read 7600 times)


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Other than canning, this topic is for alternative food preservation and storage.  In other words, how to survive without your refrigerator and freezer.  For those of us who eat meat, you really need to consider what other options you will use for preserving and storing your meats when you no longer have access to your plug-in appliances.  One excellent alternative is to use a smokehouse for beef, pork and fish.  First, some basic information, per Wikipedia:

A smokehouse is a building where meat or fish is cured with smoke. The finished product might be stored in the building, sometimes for a year or more.[1] Even when people in some rural American areas during the twentieth century, notably where electricity still was not available, did not use smoke, they nevertheless called such a building--typically a small square unpainted wooden structure in the back yard--the "smoke house." Hogs were slaughtered after the onset of cold weather, and hams and other pork products were salted and hung up or placed on a shelf to last into the following summer.

Traditional smokehouses served both as meat smokers and to store the meats, often for groups and communities of people. Food preservation occurred by salt curing and extended cold smoking for two weeks or longer.[1] Smokehouses were often secured to prevent animals and thieves from accessing the food.
Traditionally, a smokehouse is a small enclosed outbuilding often with a vent, a single entrance, no windows, and frequently has a gabled or pyramid style roof. Communal and commercial smokehouses are larger than those that served a single residence or estate. The use of slightly warmed, dry air from a very slow hardwood fire will ensure the proper drying of meats.[2]
A few good videos on smokehouses; usage and construction:

An excellent step-by-step video:

How to make smoker fuel:

More information on salt curing to follow!


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Enlightenme, this is great stuff you posted!  :)
Such an important survival skill to learn.
Here's another video about preserving meat,

Salting, Curing and Smoking your own meat    6:17   203,217


Video Link



  • Guest
Here is a video on constructing a brick smokehouse, followed by an image of a very old
brick smokehouse still being used.  :)
- Yowbarb

brick smokehouse construction   5:12  92,237  Views

Video Link: 

by Chris Cooper  1 video

1891 Brick Smokehouse
 (Still in daily use)
 Historic Green Bay Road
 Howards Grove, WI


  • Guest
Here are some excerpts from an article on food safety...
- Yowbarb

"Keep your food safe in a natural disaster"

Safety and sufficient rations should be your primary concern in a hurricane, flood or tornado but that doesn't mean you can't also eat well.

First off, here's what FEMA - the Federal Emergency Management Management Agency   - says people should have on hand, in addition to a manual can opener and one gallon of water per adult and per pet each day, with a three-day minimum supply:

Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water. If you must heat food, pack a can of sterno. Select food items that are compact and lightweight. Avoid foods that will make you thirsty. Choose salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals, and canned foods with high liquid content.

- Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables
 - Canned juices, milk, soup (if powdered, store extra water)
 - Staples–sugar, salt, pepper
 - High energy foods–peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix
 - Vitamins
 - Foods for infants, elderly persons or persons with special dietary needs
 - Comfort/stress foods–cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, lollipops, instant coffee, tea bags

Read Hurricanes and Floods and Key Tips for Consumers About Food and Water Safety:

Should your home happen to lose power for any length of time, as often happens in a hurricane, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) offers the following recommendations to determine if your food is safe and how to keep it as such:

Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.

The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) and the door remains closed.

Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items after 4 hours without power.

Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40°F or below when checked with a food thermometer.

Obtain dry or block ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for 2 days.

If the power has been out for several days, check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer. If the appliance thermometer reads 40°F or below, the food is safe to refreeze.

If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.

Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water. Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers.

Thoroughly wash all metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils that came in contact with flood water with hot soapy water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water.

Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and retort pouches (for example, flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches) can be saved.

Use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters. If bottled water is not available, tap water can be boiled for safety.

The FSIS also emphasizes "When in doubt, throw it out." A taste-test is counterintuitive.


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Town Hall Member JustWright61 found this article. Good info have,


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Knowledge Weighs Nothing

A dehydrator is a great investment to help preserve meat; alternatively you can use a solar dehydrator or air cure meat as with jerky (click for previous post on making beef jerky without a dehydrator).

The problems come when the power’s out, the sun isn’t shining and the climate is wet/humid… This is where preserving meat with salt comes into its own and it is for this reason that I recommend all preppers store a good amount of salt.  If you have salt, you can preserve meat in all situations and weather conditions. See below for a basic tutorial on how to preserve meat with salt.

How To Preserve Meat With Salt (Curing)

The Process of Preserving Meat by Curing: From Curing Salt to Finished Bacon, by Stefan M.

Saturday, Feb 12, 2011

A dehydrator is a great way to preserve meat for long term storage. Until the power goes out. Maybe you've built a solar dehydrator. Great! But what if you live in a climate where humidity and rainfall  make dehydration a real challenge? Stored food will run out eventually; at least for most of us.

No matter how stocked up and well prepared you may be, the time will come when it becomes essential to preserve meat. In a survival situation, a recently killed hog or buck must not be wasted, and cannot be easily preserved. Thousands of years ago, man figured out that salting and smoking meat could retard spoilage and improve flavor. One old-fashioned and time-tested method is the salt barrel. Packed in a barrel of salt, meat will last almost indefinitely. However, salt is a commodity like anything else: unless you have access to an unlimited supply of it, the salt barrel is a very resource intensive method of food preservation. Meat is often salt cured and smoked, but by itself, that is more for flavor than actual preservation. Ironically, the relatively low temperatures at which meat is smoked actually encourages the growth of one very serious pathogen: Botulism.

Unless your post-apocalypse plans include the manufacture of Botox for the beauty-obsessed survivalist, you don't want botulism anywhere near your dinner. Even for modern medicine, Botulism is a dangerous illness. Without expert medical care, it would almost certainly be fatal. Botulism is the body's reaction to a bacterial toxin. Unfortunately, only two things kill the bacterium that produces botulinum toxin: heat and nitrites. Potassium nitrates and nitrites have been used at least since the Romans to safely cure meats. As an Italian butcher in Siena told me: “We've made meat this way since before the Romans got here. I won't say it makes you any smarter, but it keeps you strong.” Potassium Nitrate, or saltpeter, is naturally occurring. Modern curing salts contain Sodium Nitrate, which yields a more consistent result.

 Nitrites are the actual curative agents. Nitrates degrade into nitrites over time, which makes Nitrates work better for long-term curing as their breakdown offers continual protection against botulism. If you are concerned about the supposed carcinogenic affect of Nitrites: there are more Nitrites in a serving of spinach than in a whole cured salami. Botulism is a much greater danger.

To effectively preserve meat in a survival situation, you need only have two things: Salt and Sodium Nitrate. With these two ingredients, you can produce an unbelievable variety of cured and preserved meats that are ready for long term storage or immediate consumption, and eaten “raw” or cooked.

In this day of internet access, curing salts are a few clicks away; but curing salts are very susceptible to moisture degradation. This makes them unsuitable for long term storage. Ironic, considering that their only purpose is to preserve meat for storage. Fortunately, curing salt can be easily made with common ingredients. By the end of this article, you will know how to make curing salt, use it in a basic meat cure, and understand the meat-curing process.

You will need:
 -Instant Cold packs containing Ammonium nitrate.
 -Baking Soda
 -A Large Pot
 -Clean Water
 -Table Salt
 -Cheesecloth or other light cloth
 -Meat: Pork, Beef, Game. Anything but poultry.
 -Optional: Sugar, any spices.

To Make Curing Salt:

WORK ON THIS ONLY OUTSIDE. This process will release large quantities of ammonia gas. You will need several instant ice packs, a means of boiling water, baking soda, and table salt. First, you need Sodium Nitrate. Begin by carefully cutting open the cold packs. The pellets inside are Ammonium Nitrate. Do not do this in advance, because ammonium nitrate will draw water from the air. It may be illegal to obtain large quantities of Ammonium Nitrate because of its association with domestic terror plots. That you want it for a purely benign purpose is not necessarily important to the Feds. But there is no law against stocking up on cold packs. Dissolve 80 grams of ammonium nitrate pellets into 150 mL of water (about 1/5 of a gallon). Filter this through a coffee filter or fine sieve into a pot containing 84 grams of baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate).

Boil this down until its volume is reduced to 100 mL. This removes the ammonia. You really do want to be outside for this. After it is reduced, remove from heat and leave it to dehydrate. You will be left with something resembling salt crystals. You may want to dye it with food coloring or natural dye, so that you don't confuse it with regular salt. Sodium nitrite is harmless in small amounts: it is dangerous in the quantity that would be ingested by someone mistaking it for table salt.

Now a calculator may come in handy. To make curing salt, you simply mix table salt with the Sodium Nitrate you have just distilled. You want the mixture to be about 6% Sodium Nitrate and 94% Salt. Nice round number? No. But this is the proper ratio.

To Make a Basic Meat Cure:

Mix ½ pound of table salt with ¼ pound sugar and 5 teaspoons of the curing salt. The sugar is more for flavor than preservation; it is not necessary but highly recommended. Brown Sugar may also be used. Also, feel free to use any spices that are available. Obviously, this is not a high priority in a survival situation, but if you happen to have some spices, this is a good place for them. Black Pepper is always good.

The Basic Curing Process

This will work with virtually any meat. Pork is ideal. Fatty cuts of beef will also work well. Just remember: the leaner the meat, the dryer it will be. Duck actually is fantastic cured, but I do not recommend you try to cure poultry. Ever.

Once you have your cure prepared, pour it in a non-metallic container.  To minimize waste, it is helpful to put the cure in the pan a little at a time. Prepare the meat by cutting it into a size that is easily handled. Dredge the meat on all sides in the cure. Just enough to coat it. Gently shake off any excess cure. Seal the container and place in a cool, dark place, turning every day or two. When the meat is firm to the touch, not squishy, it is ready for the next step: Dry Curing or Smoking.

First: Thoroughly Rinse the meat. Get all the cure off of it. It has already absorbed the flavor and the salt of the meat. After rinsing, dry it off.

You really have two options here. The first is to smoke the meat. Just hot- or cold smoke the meat until done. This adds flavor and helps to preserve it, but is not as effective for long term storage as dry-curing.

To dry-cure the meat:
 Wrap it in cheesecloth. This is to discourage insects. Hang it in a humid, cool environment. 70% humidity and 55 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal. Humidity may be increased by placing a container of salted  water near the meat. Somewhat paradoxically, higher humidity actually yields better results. It may slow the curing process a bit, but in the absence of sufficient humidity, the outer surface of the meat will dry and lock moisture in, causing spoilage. A cellar or even an uninhabited cave is an ideal curing chamber. An unused refrigerator will work as well.

Depending on climate conditions, size, and type of meat, this can take anywhere from a week to several months. A ham should be cured for six months; a pork belly or duck breast only needs a week. It is ready when it has reduced its weight by a third, or just feels “cooked.” You may cook the meat after it is cured, or eat it as is. You can store it by leaving it to hang in the curing environment. It should last almost indefinitely, and add flavor and variety to your diet.
 Even leaf fat or back fat from a hog may be cured in this way. Especially in cold climates or a situation where high levels of activity must be sustained, cured fat (or lardo, as the Italians call it) can be an excellent source of energy and fat soluble vitamins. There is some evidence to suggest that the chemical structure of the fat is changed by curing: the chains are shortened, rendering a healthier fat.

A little bit of white mold may grow on the outside of your meat. This is not a problem, as it actually prevents harmful molds. If you see green molds, discard the meat. For this reason, it is helpful to practice and produce small batches of cured meat so that if one goes bad, there is always another right behind it. Like any other skill, if you master the process of dry-curing meats now, then you will be prepared and confident if a crisis situation arises. And you can stock up on cured meats just as you would any other food item.

Obviously, no one food solution will work for every situation. I hope that this has provided one more tool in your preparedness arsenal. With a little practice and a little luck, you will be able to cure and store meat in all kinds of survival situations.

Copyright 2005-2012 James Wesley, Rawles - All Rights Reserved


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Note: this article on making saurkraut could be posted in one of many different topic subjects, as it is about food, about food preservation, long-term food storage, and more.

Make the Perfect Home Fermented Sauerkraut – It’s All in the Temperature

★ 5.00 out of 5 [2 Votes]

Did I mention that I love fresh homemade fermented sauerkraut? It’s tangy, crispy, and uber-flavorful. When I was a little girl, I remember my dad buying canned sauerkraut at the store and eating it. He always offered me some and I ate it once in a while because it tasted like pickles, and I liked pickles, but I was not in love with canned sauerkraut. Fast forward about 20 years, and I invested in my first German crock for making sauerkraut because I had heard it was really good for a body and I was doing everything I could be be healthy. Following the recipe that came with the crock, I was able to produce some of the best, most mouth-watering deliciousness I had ever tasted. So, I was hooked on home fermented sauerkraut. Luckily my first attempt was in the winter because unbeknownst to me at the time, turning out great sauerkraut all depends on the room temperature.

Perfect Sauerkraut is All in the Temperature

I turned out multiple batches of extraordinary sauerkraut over the winter and spring, but by the time summer rolled around the heat was hitting temps of 90-100+ degrees outside. Even though our straw bale house maintained temperatures that were comfortable for us, and far below the extreme temperatures outside, it was still in the 80-83 degree range indoors. So when my sauerkraut failed to blurp like normal, I suspected something was not right. After 3 weeks had passed I opened my crock. I was not a happy camper to find moldy, slimy, disgusting yuck. It was disappointing to say the least. So I did some research to find out what had happened. That is when I found out that the room temperatures for fermenting sauerkraut must be in the range of 65-72 degrees constantly. Now, I am not a pessimist, so I will not say that you cannot make sauerkraut in the summertime. But you will have to make sure you can maintain the ideal temperature to do it. We live in a Mediterranean climate; cool winters and hot summers. We also live off grid. But everyone doesn’t live in that kind of climate or situation, so if you live in a place that maintains nice cool temperatures all year long, you could probably ferment your sauerkraut all year long. And likewise, if you live in a hot humid climate but you keep your air conditioning nice and cool all year long, you probably wouldn’t have any problems either.

Learn More

In our Mediterranean climate we have a hard time growing cabbage in the summer. It just gets too hot, so cabbage availability is limited or nil if we home grow it. The good news is that cabbage is always available in the stores. It usually takes about 6 heads of cabbage to make a crock full, so it is not too pricey to purchase the cabbage at the store. In the cooler climates where cabbage does grow well in summer, it should be possible to make sauerkraut all year long right from the cabbage you grow in your own garden.
I usually make up a tightly packed gallon of sauerkraut for each batch, and it keeps well in the fridge for 2+ months. I’m not sure how much longer it will last, because it never lasts that long at our house before it is all gobbled up.

How to Make the Perfect Home Fermented Sauerkraut, With or Without a Crock
If you are thinking about trying to ferment your own sauerkraut but you are a little hesitant about investing in a crock because of the price, there is a good home made option. Try using a glass canning jar with a plastic screw on lid. You can drill a hole in the the lid and use a gasket to secure a fermenting airlock device like the ones used to ferment alcohol. The airlock can be purchased online and they are very cheap. You can put together a home made solution like this for under $5, or go to the Perfect Pickler site and order one from them that is already put together. I use this method frequently, especially if I don’t want to wait the 3-4 weeks it takes in the crock. This method takes about 4 days fermenting time outside the fridge, then it gets refrigerated for another week, and it continues to ferment in the fridge. The flavor is really good, but not quite the same as true crock fermented sauerkraut.
Another trick I learned while making sauerkraut is that when I am preparing the cabbage, I make sure to slice it thin, and then I add 1 1/2 teaspoons of pink Himalayan salt to each head of cabbage, after shredding it. The salt cannot have iodine in it, so regular table salt will not work. Iodine discourages the growth of the good bacteria. Plus, the Himalayan salt has lots of good minerals in it.
First, I slice up the cabbage. You can use a mandolin, a food processor, or just a knife and a cutting board. Just make sure it is not all chunky and somewhat uniform in size. Uniformity makes for good consistency in the finished product. Now at this point, I used to just stuff the shredded cabbage into the crock, sprinkle salt over it, and then use a tamper to tamp it down – but the juices were never released adequately. After finishing the cabbage and placing the stones on top, I always ended up having to make up a brine water and pour it over the finished cabbage and stones to submerge them under the brine. But now, since I was enlightened by some seasoned sauerkraut makers, I put the shredded cabbage in a big bowl and sprinkle the salt over the cabbage. Then I begin to knead and massage the salt into the cabbage. It doesn’t take long, maybe a few minutes, and you will notice the cabbage begin to wilt as the juices start to flow. At that point I put the cabbage into the crock with all the juice that has come out. After repeating this with all the heads of cabbage (I only do one at a time), I put the stones on top of the cabbage in the crock and cover it with the lid for a few hours. Lo and behold, the juice starts to cover the stones. Now, if needed, I still pour a little brine water in to make sure there is at least 1 inch of juice/brine over the stones before I put the lid on for the final time and pour water into the reservoir of the crock to seal it. The flavor of this non-watered-down version is so good because it ferments in almost pure juices. And the nutrient density is so much better than just using salted water. Listen for the blurp sounds as it begins to ferment – this is a very good sign. I like to think of it as my sauerkraut singing.
The sauerkraut I make in the jar usually has enough juice without adding any brine because there are no stones to cover. But I shred, salt, and knead/massage the cabbage the same was I do when I am using the crock. I leave a tiny bit of head space and then put on the airlock, filling it to the proper line with water. Voila, it is ready to ferment in a nice cool place for 4 days. Remember to set it on a plate as sometimes juice will overflow from the airlock as oxygen escapes from the jar. This is normal.
You can get creative with your sauerkraut by adding purple cabbage, to give it a lovely pink color. You can add spices such as dill seed, mustard seed, coriander, thyme, bay leaf, marjoram, garlic, onions, horse radish, and more. I enjoy making it a little differently each time – for variety. That way no one gets tired of eating it.

Health Benefits of Home Made Sauerkraut

As far as the health aspects of sauerkraut goes, it is some of the best probiotic you can get. Alive and thriving, it will do your body good – not to mention the savings of not having to purchase questionable probiotics which can be costly and not always viable.
“Sauerkraut is probably one of the healthiest foods,” writes vicar Sebastian Kneipp. Captain James Cook introduced sauerkraut for the health of entire ship crews. Thanks to the high content of Vitamin C, this fermented vegetable protected quite a number of sailors against scurvy – the “plague of the seas.” The latest scientific studies confirm the age-old experience of natural and popular medicine: fiber keeps a healthy digestion going and lowers the cholesterol levels. Lactic bacteria are important for the build-up and maintenance of a healthy intestinal flora. The anti-ulcer factor protects the digestive system against stomach and intestinal ulcers. So making sauerkraut will be something that I will continue to do for the rest of my life. You see, it is a win-win. It tastes divine and it is good for me too.
Summer temperatures are returning here in my neck of the woods, and my fermenting temperatures are becoming less than desirable. I have prepared ahead, however, and I have a fridge full of yummy sauerkraut that will take me through the heat of the summer. But for those of you who have cooler temperatures or air conditioning that keeps your room temperatures between 65-72 degrees, take the plunge and try your had at your first batch of home fermented sauerkraut. You will be glad you did. Enjoy!
If you have questions or comments about this article, please feel free to post them below. I would love to help you succeed in making your first yummy batch of sauerkraut.


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Another Saurkraut Recipe

One way of optimizing the bacteria in your gut is by adding fermented foods to your wholesome diet.
There are a lot of fermented foods that you can indulge in, such as kefir, tempeh, kimchi, and miso. You can also easily make fermented vegetables at home.
One of my personal favorites is sauerkraut, which is rich in beneficial bacteria and at the same time tastes so good. So if you love cabbage, this raw sauerkraut recipe is a must-try.
   •   1 whole green cabbage
   •   1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
   •   2 carrots, grated
   •   Celery juice
   •   Starter culture
   1.   Grate, shred, or slice the cabbage thinly, except for the outer leaves (set them aside). Shred the carrots and ginger, and add to the cabbage.
   2.   Mix the starter culture in the celery juice, making sure it’s completely dissolved. Add the juice to your vegetables, spreading it out evenly.
   3.   Put as much as sauerkraut in a ceramic pot or glass container as you can.
   4.   Get a masher, and mash the vegetables down. This will release more juices in your sauerkraut and eliminate any air pockets.
   5.   Place a cabbage leaf on top of your sauerkraut, and tuck it down the sides. Cover the jar with the lid loosely (Fermentation produces carbon dioxide, which will expand the jar).
   6.   Store the container in a place with a controlled temperature, like a cooler, for 5 to 7 days. On the seventh day, transfer the sauerkraut to the refrigerator.

Editor's Note:  Probably a refrigerator is not needed if the kraut is to be eaten with a few weeks, as long as it is kept cool and protected from elements.  Better yet, it can be stored in a spring house, as long as the spring is fully functional, and the spring house can keep critters out.


  • Guest
Re: Alternative Miscellaneous Food Preservation, Storage, Smokehouses and more!
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2015, 05:49:18 AM »
ilinda -great info on making sauerkraut...
I feel better when I eat some foods such as those...


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