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IPFS News Link • Food Recipes - Long Term Storage Foods

Drying Meat Without a Dehydrator

• Organic Prepper - J G Martinez

I have some concerns about what my boy and I are going to find when we return to Venezuela. I expect there will be a massive amount of people returning. There will likely be isolation (concentration?) camps. In these camps, the meals are scarce and lack nutrition. My son and I are used to eating properly these last couple of years. We have not been eating fancy meals, but at the very least, the meals are complete. 

Food is an absolute necessity. We all know this. When it comes to prepping, making sure you have what is needed to sustain you, and those with you is crucial. Being in isolation could make it quite hard for us to get the nutrition we need. So, I have been thinking of ways to make sustainable foods that I can keep with us in case of isolation. 

How will you make sure you have the food you need?

Learning about nutrition is something I have been doing lately, and I have been using this knowledge to review the types of food I have in my stock. I have learned that our bodies need certain minerals to develop and function normally. Minerals essential for health include calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, chromium, copper, fluoride, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium.

Making sure we have the foods that will replace those minerals is extremely important.

My goal is to fill a backpack with enough dry food to keep me and kiddo well-fed for up to 2 1/2 weeks. 

Dehydrating food without a dehydrator

We do not preserve food in Venezuela, except in very remote places. It was something lost in the shadows of the pre-refrigeration era. So, being the engineer that I am, I decided I would make a dehydrator. After all, if I can make it, I am NOT paying for an already built one. 

My first idea was to use silica gel as an element to dry something in a bowl covered with a glass lid. No Bueno. Getting silica gel is a pain unless I go to a shoe store and ask for some there.

Then I remembered that rice, charcoal, and salt are highly hygroscopic. Meaning they have a great affinity with water. I had all of these items on hand.

Experiment 1

I put 1 cup (1/4kg) rice in a frying pan on my stove with a low flame. Then I took the steak I had, chopped it up, and salted both sides. But, not too much. 

Without having a "drying machine" other than the Peruvian spring sun, this was the perfect opportunity for me to experiment. I made a rice bed about 1 cm thick on the bottom of my stainless steel pot and threw in a charcoal piece to absorb moisture.

Before placing the pot outside, I covered the lid's plastic handle with a toilet paper layer, then some regular printing paper, and aluminum foil. That was to protect the handle from the UV. (Yes, I'm that kind of guy, I know it, and I like the way I am). 

The pot was left for six hours in the full sun. I went to check a couple of times and wiped off the excess moisture inside. When I checked for the third time, not a single drop of moisture was condensed inside the lid. I have to mention: there was no place the moisture could get out of the pot. I made sure there was no way a fly could get in and do whatever Nature tells it to do.  

Now it was time to cover the rice bed with aluminum foil and place the meat on top. Again, it went out in the full sun for 12 to 14 hours. The result was two little pieces of leathery stuff, but you could tear it apart with your fingers.