I have had the chance to spend some more time with my wife’s aunt who is visiting us. As I explained in an earlier post, she was raised under what would today be fairly primitive conditions. One thing she and I have been talking about is preserving meat.
Because of a lack of refrigeration, her mother would dry most of the meat, when they would slaughter a cow on the ranch. She says that her mother would cut the meat into chunks and remove all the fat. She would then rub the meat with salt and crushed red chili peppers. She would then beat the meat with a mallet until it was thin. Sometimes she added more salt and peppers as she worked.
The meat would then be hung up in a covered porch. It was enclosed with a window screen to keep the flies away. Since they lived in an area with hot summers and low humidity this worked well. When the meat was dried, it was wrapped and stored in a cool place, since they had no refrigeration. It would last until they used it up. She would make stews and chili out of the dried meat.
I have not seen this method used before and I am not sure, if the peppers were only added for flavor or if they helped in preserving meat. I have done some research on this and found that drying beef with chili’s and other native spices was developed by the ranchers and cowboys of northern Mexico
While doing some research, I found an excellent article on preserving meat. It is published by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. The title is “Simple Techniques for Production of dried meats”. You can download it to your computer. Even though it is from the UN it is a good article and lots of good information and ideas.
Hope this help you.