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Salvaging & preserving freezer meat / fish ?

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  • Salvaging & preserving freezer meat / fish ?

    When SHTF, un-powered freezers begin to thaw.

    Okay, you may be able to source some dry-ice, and a modest inverter or generator will defer matters but, a little way down the line, your suburban freezer will so need a Plan_B.

    If meat / fish is in the freezer, it's probably because you lacked the makings to can / salt / smoke it conveniently.
    And now you cannot get those convenient makings.

    eg: you lack the jars and/or fuel to 'go large' with Kilner jars, you lack the BIG sacks of salt for pickling / dry salting, and you cannot get nitrited salt in quantity.

    Yup, your locale (UK) is totally paranoid about IEDs, so you can forget about non-trivial amounts of 'Saltpetre', and even pre-nitrited salt (~0.6%) only comes by the kilo. Typically, 100g / 250g baggies of mix for seasoning a very-few slices of meat for 'retro' recipes...

    What to do ?

    How to best improvise a 'smoke hut', perhaps ??


    I ran into this issue when trying to extend 'String', a SHTF story I was writing. I could not figure a fix, crafted Halloween short 'WIRS' and its sequels instead. See Misc off-topic &fun area for that strand...

    Now, 'WIRS #7' is winding down, I'm back to 'String'...

    The unfortunate protagonist, 'Some Guy (TM)', finds his side of a crescent street in quiet suburbia is now an oval oasis in 'old growth' forest. His home is near the epicenter, so intact. Houses to either side took various degrees of damage. Think skew 'cookie cutter'.

    Half of a very big tree has fallen across the road, ruined a neighbour's beloved front garden's roses. Okay, that's potentially fire-wood for the gathering, chopping and drying...

    It was Summer, a 'Black Friday', so none of the neighbours were home. His family are in town. He's got his 'city car', his wits, his family's two young cats, a neighbour's obnoxious small dog and another neighbour's new kitten. Plus whatever he can salvage from the neighbours' half-dozen intact / not-so-intact houses...

    ( UK suburban solar EV is generally 'grid synchronised', so needs mains power to work without a major McGyver. Go figure... )

    He's also got whatever's in their cupboards, freezers etc. But, at best, his PC system's contingency invertor, wired to the 'city car' and its full tank, will only be able to keep his freezer running. For a while, at least...

    Now, he may find some goodies in the other properties, possibly a generator, possibly an LPG barbecue range with full tank, but he'll need to use his resources wisely...

    A smoke hut, d'you think ??

  • #2
    Well, I don't know about in the UK, but here in the USA anyone with a generator should have a multifuel/flexfuel adaptor on there generator so they can operate it on gasoline, propane, natural gas, ethanol or methane unless they have a diesel generator. With either set up you should also know how to produce your own fuel (ethanol and methane are my choices) to power generators and other vehicles when conventional fuel sources run out. If you want a change of taste and meat that doesn't need a freezer, try cold smoking and brining for preserving meat. Many of the great meats in the world are preserved this way. I like venison smoked and fixed like prosciutto and smoked turkey and grouse are awesome! Jerky and biltong are other good ways to preserve excess fresh meat. An emergency smoker is easy to make. A broke refrigerator, a few tools, section of pipe and your firebox.



    • #3
      Not sure if you can do it with fish, but your red meat can definitely be made into biltong (using vinegar, black pepper and dried celery that is powdered) without salt. Jerky can always be smoked dry or build a solar dehydrator but without the salt or brinning II believe shelf life won't be as long but will increase it to where you can consume it before it wastes. As an alternate for salt peter you can use dried and powdered celery which is full of natural nitrates or nitrites - I forget which right now. I believe there is another plant, herb or seed that can also serve as a replacement but what that is escapes me right now. With that celery powder or a small container of salt peter laid back you can make all kinds of charcuterie. If you have some casings or get and clean some intestines you're in business. Most recipes don't use a lot of the nitrate salt so if you get some and store it, a little goes a long way.

      Definitely everything in the freezer becomes the priority to consume for every meal. Eeat your ice cream and other junk food that might be lurking in there the first night for dinner. Might as well have a party to start with. Work your way thru any prepared items you might have in there like those frozen pizzas and burritos. Thaw out the bread dough and bake that and then lastly are the staples like those meats and vegs. Now will everything be the best tasting or texture after being frozen and then being dried? Likely no, but it'll be edible.

      Now I know you all are on a big island over there in the UK so for some I'm not sure how far it might be for people to get to the ocean or to brackish water in rivers, but if you can get to salt water you can make your own salt and that means preserving meats indefinitely. In the US same goes for those along the coasts but there are lots of places inland that have salt deposits and mines. I know even up in western NY there are huge salt mines where they get rock salt. Also lots of highway places up north have huge stockpiles of salt for treating the roads in winter and don't forget about hardware and feed stores all around having rock salt, salt crystals, salt blocks and salt pellets for use seasonally as de-icer but all year long for use in water softeners in convenient sealed bags ranging from 40-80 lbs.

      A few things to keep in mind for freezers pre-SHTF. First keep and thoroughly wash out those 1/2 gal cardboard milk and juice containers. Those are great to put your fish in and fill with water and freeze for keeping. with the rest or with plastic jugs, fill them up with water, l;leaving some room for expansion, and freeze them. fill up any empty space in your freezer. if you need room take a jug or 2 out. Once all those containers are frozen your freezer will run much more efficiently and when the power goes off you have a massive "cold battery". All that ice will help keep things cold for a very long time. Have some thick thick styrofoam/ rigid insulation board and blankets or both to put around all sides and on top of the freezer for added insulation. You can also use this extra insulation before the power goes out also to make it more energy efficient, just make sure not to cover up the "hot" side of the freezer where the hot air is expelled from the compressor. This
      increase in thermal efficiency and reduced electric usage might be especially useful to any off gridders). oh and when all that ice does eventually melt you have many gallons of additional, clean drinkable water.

      If you don't have a generator at least get a 1000W inverter that you can hook up to your cars battery along with a long extension cord you can run to your fridge and freezer. Then about every 2-3 hours idle the car, plug one the fridge or freezer and run it for 30 minutes or so to cool it down. Don't forget while the car is idiling and you're making all that electricity, use your car chargers to charge up everyone's phones, battery packs, laptops and the inverter can also support your battery charger that is sitting there recharging your AA and AAA rechargeable batteries for in your lights, radios etc or maybe it's your Dewaly charger topping off your power tool batteries.

      Function stack and get multiple things out of everything you do.
      I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you!


      • #4
        Hello! I'm brand new here. Learning my way around...Back in 2016 I packed 5 gallon buckets with rice, beans, tang, and was told to put it in mylar packaging and seal it all. Also, pool shock. Well, the pool shock bleached the bucket. No longer dark blue. I'm wondering if anyone has heard of using pool shock for treating water and did I just ruin everything in those buckets? Thanks in advance.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Vera View Post
          Hello! I'm brand new here. Learning my way around...Back in 2016 I packed 5 gallon buckets with rice, beans, tang, and was told to put it in mylar packaging and seal it all. Also, pool shock. Well, the pool shock bleached the bucket. No longer dark blue. I'm wondering if anyone has heard of using pool shock for treating water and did I just ruin everything in those buckets? Thanks in advance.
          Hi Vera and welcome to the forum. I just want to be sure I'm clear here, you put all those things into their own mylar bags and then into the same bucket or you did one item into its own mylar bag and then in its own 5 gal bucket?

          To your main question on if pool shock will sterilize water, yes it will. But you should make sure you know the process and how much to add to how many gallons of water. Pool shock and liquid chlorine are basically one in the same though shock is a higher concentrate. The issue with liquid chlorine is that after something like 6 or 9 months it breaks down basically into salt water. The pool shock being dry is shelf stable so it should keep a long time, so long as it is kept dry. If you have the small bags of shock, they normally come in cardboard boxes. these shock bags are usually puffed up a bit as they are off gassing somewhat. The off gas is obviously chlorine and would be why your buckets likely turned colors. Majority of pool chemicals come in white buckets for the exact reson you witnessed - bleach, well, it bleaches.

          If the bucket only had shock in it no issue, however if you had food and shock stored together in the same bucket, definitely THROW OUT the food.

          If each item was in it's own bucket and the buckets were just stored or stacked together in the same spot, the food should be fine.
          I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you!


          • #6
            Be VERY careful when you open that bucket of pool shock. The packaging that it is sold in is shelf-stable only for a limited time. When you try to store it for a longer period of time, the off-gassing will accumulate and deteriorate the container it is in. That is why you are seeing changes on the outside of the bucket. This gas is deadly toxic. When you remove it from the bucket, open the bucket outdoors and remain upwind of it. DO NOT BREATHE THE FUMES.

            That stuff is like trying to store lightning in a bottle, lol. Try this instead:



            • #7
              make several big pots of stew and put them on to heat, that'll keep you going for awhile.
              give the fish to the local cats.
              smoke and dry the rest, make jerky and can the remainder.(keep a little bit back for traps).
              our freezer is only the basic model so it dosent hold that much anyway.


              • #8
                Slightly off-topic but, long ago, my employer had weekly or bi-weekly tanker deliveries of Sodium Hypochlorite solution for sterilising the big, food-grade process tanks and connecting lines, valves etc.

                We had to do an urgent analysis of any tanker before it could be off-pumped, and the stock tank had to be re-tested every few days.

                Left alone, the stuff reverted to alkaline brine...

                Just checked with google etc, which confirmed the stuff was either made by stirred electrolysis of sodium chloride salt brine, or by dissolving chlorine gas in alkaline Sodium Hydroxide solution. There was a 'dry' version, made by passing Chlorine gas over hydrated lime, but it was even less stable...

                Whatever, even the 'stale' stuff had a reputation for venting enough Chlorine gas to really spoil your day. Remember, that was used as a war-gas in WW1...

                Due Care, Please ??