Confederate Recipes from 1863: Preserving Meat Without Salt

preserving meat

I recently found an old book of Confederate recipes dated 1863. Because of the shortages that the South was suffering, these recipes were modified to use the available ingredients. The book covered a number of things including cooking, recipes for treating the sick, preserving meat and other miscellaneous suggestions.

From the book:

Preserving Meat without Salt

“We need salt as a relish to our food, but it is not essential in the preservation of our meats. The Indians used little or no salt, yet they preserved meat and even fish in abundance by drying.  This can be accomplished by fire, by smoke, or by sunshine, but the most rapid and reliable mode is by all of these agents combined. To do this select a spot having fullest command of sunshine. Erect there a wigwam five or six feet high, with an open top, in size proportioned to the quantity of meat to be cured, and protected from- the winds, so that all the smoke must pass through the open top.  The meat cut into pieces suitable for drying (the thinner the better) to be suspended on rods in the open comb, and a vigorous smoke made of decayed wood is to be kept up without cessation. Exposed thus, to the combined influence of sunshine, heat and smoke, meat cut into slices not over an’ inch thick can be thoroughly cured in twenty-four hours. For thicker pieces there must be, of course, a longer time, and the curing of oily meat, such as pork, is more difficult than that of beef, venison or mutton.

See also  The Dangers of Moldy Food

To cure meat in the sun hang it On the South side of your house, as near to the wall as possible without touching.

Savages cure fish by pounding it fine, and exposing it to the bright sun.”


“Boil one pound of good flour, a quarter of a pound of brown sugar and a little salt in two gallons of water for one hour. “When milk warm bottle it close, (I think that this means when it lukewarm, close the bottle) it will be fit lo use in twenty–four hours. One part of this will make eighteen pounds of bread.”

Since these recipes are direct from the book, you will have to do a bit of experimenting to figure them out. I am not sure how much one part of the yeast mixture is. One thing I’ve noticed about old recipes is that the writer assumes the reader lives in that same era and doesn’t have any questions about ingredients, amounts, or the procedure!

It’s still good to know that it’s possible to preserve meat with these two different, non-salt methods. Pioneer recipes, Great Depression recipes — I’ve learned something from all of them.


A Must Read
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

5 thoughts on “Confederate Recipes from 1863: Preserving Meat Without Salt”

  1. Regarding the recipe for yeast: I sounds much like the recipe for making the sourdough starter that my late wife used many years ago for making a very good sourdough bread.
    The yeast we (home bakers) now use for making sweet dough bread is brewers yeast. It was originally obtained from the dregs in brewing barrels.
    A very good sourdough starter can be made simply by mixing in a cup of unflavored yogurt into 4 cups of flour, adding a bit of water or milk, and letting it set in a covered bowl in a warm place for about a day.
    Hangtown Frank

  2. Parts in recipes are always ratios. That recipe says the base amount will make 18 pounds of bread. That is, if you make it using the amounts given. This is as opposed to doubling, tripling, or halving the recipe as needed. Doubled would make 36 pounds, halved would make 9 lbs, etc.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top