[pct-l] Query about storing dehydrated meat

Scott Williams baidarker at gmail.com
Mon Feb 17 11:25:50 CST 2014

Hey Louisa and Ella,

Advance welcome to the PCT and a wonderful summer.  Make sure you come into
the country with whatever you've been told about meat coming over the
border in writing.  I've had my car torn apart and was threatened with
fines for having some home dried beef jerky in the car when we crossed the
border from Canada on the way home years ago.  If it's only a ban on
poultry now that would be better, but it used to include any animal
product, meat or cheese.  So, try to have something in writing maybe siting
the regulations to show the border patrol as you enter might be good.  They
can be real jerks at times.  Last year Yoshihiro had packaged, smoked
chicken confiscated from boxes he shipped to me, but I don't know if he had
any beef in the packages.  Maybe someone on this list has more recent info
on this.  When I came back from France last year, the declaration form
specifically requires you to declare "any animal product."  So good luck
with it.

Now on to your real question.  Dried chicken that I had made lasted about 6
months shelf life and no more even in vacuum sealed bags.  By the end of
the CDT I was having to throw out the chicken meals that had been
dehydrated 8 months earlier.  It was probably edible, but it got funky and
I stopped even leaving them in hiker boxes.

Beef and pork on the other hand are incredibly shelf stable, vacuum sealed
or even just stored in zip locks, if the beef and pork were processed with
no fat.  The fat can turn rancid over time.  I suppose even pemmican can
get funky in long storage due to the high fat content.  Maybe Diane will
chime in here as she makes great pemmican.  But I think that pemmican made
now for this season would do fine.

I recently started putting together my foods for the AT this summer and
opened several zip locks of pulled pork and beef jerky I'd made over 2
years ago and both were still delicious.  The pork had been slow cooked and
pulled with spices and then dried to absolute crispness and kept on the
shelf in a zip lock.  Not even a hint of off flavor.  I fed it to several
people and all thought I'd just dried it.  I'd made and dried some recently
and there was no difference in taste.

This was made from pork loin a very lean cut and cheap at Costco, trimmed
of all visible fat and covered with a rib rub, placed on a bed of rosemary
and garlic and cooked, tented for 14 hours at 175 deg. F.  Slow and tender,
it's delicious on trail.

The beef jerky was from large cheap roasts that had likewise been trimmed
of all visible fat, sliced thin and mixed with soy sauce, chopped garlic,
onion pdr, and Montreal Steak Seasoning for salt and a bit of extra flavor.
 It was cold smoked and then dried to total crispness.  You can eat the
pork or beef as if they are meat potato chips, or use them in cooking.

Both beef and pork have great shelf life, chicken not so good, and good
luck getting it all into the country.  Do make sure the red meats are OK
before spending too much time on it.

Have a wonderful hike!


On Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 4:16 AM, Louisa Bartlett
<louisa.bartlett at gmail.com>wrote:

> Hello all,
> After numerous discussions with various levels of the US Government, we
> have established that we can bring dehydrated meals into California from
> Australia (providing that they do not contain poultry). As such, we are
> starting to dehydrate meals in preparation for a mid-April start date.
> The internet has various opinions about how long dehydrated meat remains
> safe to eat after it has been dehydrated and vacuum sealed. Most people
> recommend freezing dehydrated/vacuum sealed meat for long storage. Do
> people think that freezing our meals for the next three or so weeks that we
> have at home before we fly over is worth it? Some people appear to have
> stored their dehydrated/vacuum sealed meat at room temperature for over 6
> months and had no problems.
> Dehydrating food works for us and we'd really like to use dehydrated meals
> for most of our hike. We understand that a precise answer might be
> difficult but any thoughts or comments from people who have experience
> using homemade dehydrated meals on the PCT would be greatly appreciated.
> Thank you so much for your assistance
> Louisa and Ella
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