Q&A On Storing Meat Without Refrigeration In Hot Areas

You work hard to stretch your grocery dollars, but there’s no way around it – meat is expensive. When you find a good deal, or if you’re preparing for an emergency, you stockpile. Also, if you’re a hunter like most of the people in my family are, you probably bring in game meat.

Regardless of how much meat you have in the freezer – a lot or a little – when emergency strikes, you don’t want it to go bad.

“How can I store meat in Florida with no refrigeration? Your attic is not cool, your storage building is not cool, and if you go underground it is still only about 68°F if you are lucky. Can you please give me some ideas?

Thank You.

Frank “

Yes, Frank, you got it right! This isn’t much of an issue if you lose power because off a blizzard in Connecticut in February. That’s an entirely different set of worries, but keeping meat cold isn’t one of them. But if you lose it because of a hurricane in Florida or Texas or the Bahamas in September, you have a problem. I know it because I live in Florida too.

Once meat defrosts, you’re on a pretty strict time-clock, especially if you don’t have a fridge. There are, of course, refrigeration units that you can build that don’t need power, but chances are good that if you’re reading this, you’re probably a little too far behind the eight ball for that kind of info to do you any good.

Here are some tips that may help you get a bit more mileage before your meat goes bad. None of them are long-term solutions to refrigerating meat without power, but they’ll help you get through a little longer.

Freeze Jugs and Baggies of Water

If you know the emergency is coming and you have meat stored in your refrigerator, prepare. Block ice melts much slower than bagged, cubed ice, plus you’re probably not going to be able to lay hands on a bag of ice for two hundred square miles.

I save milk jugs and juice jugs (a couple of different sizes) and fill them with water. I usually fill some quart-sized baggies, too, then I freeze them. Typically, it takes a day or a day and a half for the milk jugs to freeze all the way through, and less for the smaller containers and baggies.

I realize you may not have much room in your freezer to hold the jugs, but since you’re only a few days away from the storm, Throw the frozen ones to the back of the top shelf of the fridge where it’s coldest and throw a few more in the freezer.

Basically, what you’re doing here is creating the elements for an old-fashioned ice box that will keep the inside of your fridge and freezer cooler for longer. For Irma, I froze 5 gallons of water one half-gallon and several baggies. You can also use them in coolers, and when it melts, you have drinking water. Double duty!

For that matter, freeze your milk, juice, and other perishable liquids to extend their lives and to have additional “ice” to keep the inside of the freezer, fridge, or cooler cold.

Use the Igloo Effect

Group food together into piles in your fridge or freezer. Doing so will keep it all colder longer. This is something you can do before a major storm as part of your preps.

Make a few smaller clusters that you’ll use in one day, then you can just pull them from the freezer all at once and close the door for the rest of the day.

Dry Ice

Dry ice is -140 degrees F. That’s cold enough to freeze your skin instantly, but it’s a good thing when it comes to power outages because 50 pounds of dry ice will keep a fully stocked 18-cubic-inch freezer cold for two days and it’s not that hard to come by.

I know that there are places in Miami and Tampa in Florida that sells it, and I’m sure that there are other places, too. Plus you can order it and have it delivered. May be a worthy investment if you have a ton of meat.

Make a Clay Pot Cooler

This is actually a really good idea and can be made pretty much on the fly if you have two unglazed terra cotta pots – one bigger than the other.

It works no matter the size of the pots; as a matter of fact, it’s based on the same premise as modern refrigeration: evaporative cooling.

Video first seen on GlobeAware.

Here’s also a Survivopedia article that walks you through it, even though it’s a simple project, I would hypothesize that if you used extremely cold water, the temp inside the pots would drop significantly, too.

Don’t Freeze it to Begin With

Yes, I realize this is a case of pointing out the glaringly obvious, but it’s only glaringly obvious because you’re sitting there with a freezer full of thawing meat and no idea what to do with it.

The bottom line is that without refrigeration, your meat is going to be bad in a few days, and in the heat, there aren’t many viable options for keeping meat cold other than electric refrigeration. Store meat in other ways – can it or dry it – if you want to have it for emergencies.

You can find a lot of helpful info in this article about canning meat, and you can also get the proper way to dry the meat if you read this article.

If you’re worried about wasting it, the only real solution is to cook it up and what you don’t eat, give away.

For Irma, a bunch of us got together and had a huge barbecue. Not only did it keep us from wasting meat, it gave us all a much-needed morale boost and some leftovers to throw in the cooler. Also, keep your coolers in the shade to extend what little bit of cold you have left for as long as possible.

Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of options for keeping meat cold for longer than a few days in hot regions without refrigeration. Heat trumps ice every time.

But there are ways to do it, same as our ancestors used to do it. Check the banner below for more!

However, I hope that some of these tips helped at least a little bit, and if you’re in this situation, please share it before you just let it go to waste. In those situations, there’s never a lack of people who could use it.

If you have any other suggestions for keeping meat cold in hot climates without refrigeration, please share them with us in the comments section below.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

Written by

Theresa Crouse is a full-time writer currently living in central Florida. She was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia, where she learned to farm, hunt, fish, and live off the land from an early age. She prefers to live off the grid as much as possible and does her best to follow the “leave nothing behind but footprints” philosophy. For fun, she enjoys shooting, kayaking, tinkering on her car and motorcycle, and just about anything else that involves water, going fast, or the outdoors. You can send Theresa a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com.

Latest comments
  • You can lso pack the meat in betweeb layers of rock salt to “salt-cure” the meat. Will last a long time without refrigerationJust be sure to soak the meat in water for about 1 1/2 hours 3x’s BEFORE consuming. meat will be “salt-toxic” otherwise. I use this method to “salt-dry” my fish for long-term storage and it hasn’t failed in 30+ yrs.

  • FaRMERS HAD A SALT BOX ON THE PORCH. tHEY PUT LAYERS OF SALT MIXED WITH LAYERS OF FRESH MEAT. I DON’T KNOW HOW LONG THE MEAT WAS SAVED THAT WAY, BUT I THINK SEVERAL WEEKS. THIS MAY BEAT ALL THOSE OTHER SUGGESTIONS FOR LONGER TERM POWER OUTAGES

  • Very interesting information. I have one suggestion of my own. During the time that I was in the service (us AIR FORCE) STATIONED IN WEST GERMANY 1961 – 1966, MY WIFE AND I WOULD GO CAMPING THROUGHTOUT EUROPE DURING OUR 30 DAY VACATION. AT THAT TIME IS HAD PURCHASED 2 KEROSENE pressure CAMPING STOVES. AFTER A LOT OF MOVING AROUND SINCE GETTING OUT OF THE SERVICE, MY 2 CAMPING STOVES BECAME LOST IN STORAGE. ABOUT A YEAR AGO, I THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT TO DO WHEN POWER WAS LOST AND REMEMBERED THE STOVES. HAVING JUST SURVIVED IRMA, AND COOKING MOST OF MY CHICKEN AND EATING IT FOR BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER SO AS NOT TO LOSE IT ALL. LUCKILY MY COMPLEX WAS ONLY OUT OF POWER FOR 15 HOURS. SO I IMMEDIATELY FOUND THESE STOVES MANUFACTURED IN INDIA AND DECIDED TO ORDER ONE WHICH SURPRISED ME BY COMING WITHIN 3 DAYS, VIA EBAY.
    I INTEND TO PURCHASE ANOTHER ONE, MUCH BETTER MANUFACTURED. jUST AS I DID WAY BACK THEN, I’LL HAVE A PLYWOOD BOARD LONG ENOUGH AND A SIMILAR DISTANCE APART AS MOST ELECTRIC STOVES, DRILL OUT 3 HOLES DEEP ENOUGH FOR THE LEGS TO FIT IN FIRMLY, JUST AS I HAD DONE THOSE MANY YEARS AGO. aLL THAT IS NEEDED IS K1 KEROSENE AND A SMALL BOTTLE OF DENATURED ALCOHOL (METHYLATED SPIRITS IN EUROPE) to use as a starter, when lit with a match the flame which in turn heats up the kerosene in the bottom and and takes over as pressure is pumped in turning the flame like a blow torch, and can be controlled by releasing some of the pressure, just like would be done on any cooking stove. this is very economical to use and also easy to learn how to use sfely. End result being, purchasing enough cans of soup, boil water to make tea or coffee etc. Both the kerosene and denatured alcohol can be purchased at the home depot.. i know that there are gas type camping stoves, but this for me is the most economical way. a one gallon of kerosene and bottle of denatured alcohol can last for weeks on end. i haven’t as yet purchased my kerosene and denatured alcohol, but will do so and check out my stove as explained. sorry to be so long winded..

  • Would salting the meat preserve it without refrigeration?

  • Hi Theresa,

    I have read and enjoyed your articles for some time now, and I also am a survivalist. Some more suggestions for preserving meat:

    pack it in salt
    Smoke it over a fire
    Use Vinegar
    Use rendered fat as with pemmican

    To your health and well being

    Douglas A. Wright

  • You mentioned building refrigeration units that do not need power. Care to elaborate?

  • When the power goes out you can drastically slow the thawing of your frozen items by insulating your freezer. Wrap your freezer in thick blankets using as many as you can spare. It helps with temperature leakage through the body and especially the door or lid.
    You can also wrap your portable coolers with blankets or towels to achieve the same effect.

  • 1. Dehydration 2. Smoking 3. Pressure canning 4. Brining/pickling 5. Dry Salting.
    You won’t find dry ice in a crisis, and freezing doesn’t count since that’s just one end of the spectrum of refrigeration. Anyone serious about long term Marr preservation should be using one or all of these five things.

  • Dry salting takes a lot of salt. I use medium rock salt and keep about 50 lbs on hand . Put 1/4 inch in a food grade plastic bucket.. I don’t know how thick the maximum thickness of the slices is; I have successfully salt cured salmon strips 1 inch thick. Then a generous layer of salt. keep layering meat and salt and top off with a thick layer of salt. put a plate on top of the meat and inside the bucket . put a weight on the plate. the salt will probably draw out enough liquid to cover the meat. if it doesn’t, add enough saturated brine to cover the meat. I’ve never salted red meat, but an old bushrat in alaska told me how many years ago and i have used this method on salmon. freshen with several changes of cold water. will likely take two days with several changes of water.

  • If you don’t have a big enough cooler, use your bathtub. Lay in several blankets or towels. Place your items in closely stacked together. Any thing you’re going to need soon goes on top. make sure the blankets and towels goes all the around the stack. Place blankets and towels on top. The more layers of cloth you use, the better your insulation. It can work in a shower stall but ALOT more efficient in the bath tub. The tub works like a chest freezer. the high sides keep the cold in.

  • My parents would tell me about our grandparents frying pork and then storing the chunks in a BARREL full of pork lard. The meat would stay fresh for a long time (don’t know exact;ly how long. Seems like an easy way to preserve meat.

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