Brining Meats for Long Term Storage.

Brining is a simple way of preserving meat.  Properly brined meat will last for years.  The British Navy used meats that were over 10 years old in the in 18th and 19th centuries.  This is the upside, the downside is the high salt content of the meat.  One thing that can be done to reduce the salt content is to soak the meat prior to cooking and pour the water off.  Spices can be added to the salt to flavor the meat.  Sugar was often added.

The basic process of brining is to add approximately 8 lbs of salt to 5 gallons of water.  A method of determining the correct concentration is with a raw egg.  The ideal brine has enough salt to float a raw egg.  You will need enough brine to submerge the meat or produce without any portion being exposed to air.  Some meat products might require being weighed down to stay submerged.  Leave the food in the brine until ready to consume.

Use canning salt for brining.  This has no additives.  Most stores stock canning salt in their canning supply section.  Using salt with additives or impurities can produce less than desirable results, especially with fish.  Fish must be cleaned prior to brining.

Glass bottles, crocks and wood barrels were used in the past.  Any food grade HDPE, PP, or polycarbonate container is appropriate for brining.  These materials can withstand the salt in brines.  These containers will normally have the recycling number two.  Generally, food storage containers sold at restaurant supply stores are made of food grade HDPE, PP, or polycarbonate.  The interior of ice chests and freezers are made of food grade HDPE.  Most white, opaque plastic bucket that contains food for human consumption is made of food grade HDPE.

See also  Quick and Easy Cooking Tips

Preserving food is why you need to store extra salt.

Here’s an article on meat storage that can help you.

A Must Read
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22 thoughts on “Brining Meats for Long Term Storage.”

  1. Howard

    I like corned beef!!

    However, as a preparationist, I find the temperature control requirements (either refrigeration or cold weather) during curing the meat (and later during its storage) to be problematic. For me, canning of whatever meat I have to preserve, is much less labor and facilities intensive.

    However, I’m appreciative of your post and, just in case I do want to corn some beef or brine cure other meats in the future, I will make it a point to stash more salt than I normally do for my sauerkraut and pickled veggie making.

    Hangtown Frank

  2. Thank you, Howard. Your earlier recommendation has me buying 25# bags of salt (plain, no additives) at Costco about once every other month. Very inexpensive. And yes, I make sauerkraut, too, but fermentation takes so very little compared to brining, or salting of fish. Is there a period of time the meat has to be in the brine before it is “ready”? Thanks for the specific formula for salt to water.

  3. Would you answer one question for me that is not clear from your post. Do you cook the meat before brining?

    Thank you,
    Martha Case

  4. I have a lot of salmon in the freezer. In an emergency with sustained power outage I am interested in how to preserve the salmon.

  5. Hi Howard. Just came across this post. Do you know how long meat will be good that is brined in this way? Also, can you do this with all meats – chicken, turkey, beef, etc. – or just red meats? Thanks so much.

    1. If you read the article it clearly states that the British military ate brined meats that were in storage for TEN YEARS. So longer than you’ll need it stored.

  6. I would try and rotate my meats on a regular basis not storing it for over a year. That said the British navy kept brined meat for many years. I have only heard of it being done with red meats and fish. When you take your meat out of the brine, double check to make sure it still smells fresh.

  7. I brined the shoulders of my pig and now that it’s time to take it out I opened the barrel and the top has a couple inches of mold on top. The mold is green and white and looks like a composite sponge. Is this a total loss project? Thannks

  8. In an earlier comment someone brought up temperature requirements during brining. What are the temperature guidelines for brining? Also, great blog. Spent almost six hours reading on my first day and have been a regular reader since.

  9. Can you vacuum pack brine-cured meat and then freeze?
    If so, how long should meat stay in brine before vacuum
    sealing and freezing? I heard meat should be in brine
    @ 14 days or so (?)

  10. Thanks. Change is near. Some people in urban communities deserve not to be taken advantage of because of miseducation and ignorance.

  11. My wife said her grandfather used to butcher about 8 pigs a year, he cured and smoked the hams, made sausage, coal packed ,froze and brined pork in wooden barrels. they used the brined pork until it was gone. These people had great knowledge that I would like to learn and pass on to the younger generation. Thanks Larry.

  12. I read that in addition to plain salt (not iodized, for some reason. Why? Iodine prevents goiter. Sea salt has natural iodine . . . ? )
    that nitrite salts have to be added. I also read that there are some natural foods that contain their own nitrites, such as celery.
    What are the types of salt that are necessary to do this safely and properly, and sources of where to get inexpensively in large qtys?

  13. I was looking for alternatives to preserving meat and I enjoyed your article thank you. I’m going to test it out with a food grade 5 gallon bucket. I’ll eat something from the bucket every 6 months and I’m putting 10 items in, so a 5 year test.

    I got dog piled on reddit/prepper when I promoted your article, they say the brine needs to be continually monitored and it will likely spoil the meat. I doubt that is the case if this method was used on long voyages as you say.

    1. Technically, it can last for several years as long as it’s stored in a dark, DRY location. I would recommend storing it in a vacuum sealed jar or bag using a Food Saver.

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