Whether it be a natural disaster or one that's manmade, 
being prepared can mean the difference between life 
or death. Many of you readers know me as a writer and 
a wilderness survival instructor. This is World Survival 
Institute's 25th Anniversary year of teaching people 
the skills and knowledge they need to stay alive in 
most any emergency. We constantly emphasize to our 
students the value of being prepared.
Putting food up for the future is a very important 
aspect of being prepared and is usually one of the 
first things most of us think about. There are a number 
of good companies out there that sell M.R.E.'s, freeze-dried, 
or dehydrated food for backpackers and for storage. 
You may well choose to have some of their products 
as part of your overall emergency preparedness inventory. 
However, it is just as important that you know how 
to preserve food yourself, especially meat.
Meat is a significant part of most people's diet. From 
it, our bodies receive vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, 
and precious muscle-regenerating protein. In most wilderness 
survival situations, wild game and fish are very easy 
to procure if you know how. This makes meat and fish 
a natural way to go.
Whether you are in the wilderness or in the city, putting 
up meat is a wise idea. However, there are certain 
considerations that we have to think about when dealing 
with meat or fish. Depending upon the ambient temperature, 
meat can spoil very quickly. Meat by its nature is 
very heavy and if it has to be transported in the future, 
this should be of great concern, Especially if you 
have to pack it on your back.
There are many ways to overcome these problems either 
in the field or at home. First of all we have to know 
why meat spoils and what to do about it. We will address 
this issue soon but for now let's take a good look 
at the logistics and solution of the meat/weight problem. 

Your first concern is your plan. What I'm talking about 
here is a complete plan. Nobody knows what is going 
to happen tomorrow but we should plan for the most 
likely emergencies. Your plan could make the difference 
between life or death for you and your family.
As mentioned above, many people are stocking up on 
M.R.E.'s, or cases of freeze-dried/dehydrated meals. 
These, plus water and whatever you normally keep in 
your kitchen cupboards should be the first part of 
your plan. Having extra food and water at home during 
and after a disaster means you don't have to worry 
about battling the mob down at the supermarket-if it 
is open. Let's call this plan "A." But you 
and I both know that whenever you have a single good 
plan some SOB will probably mess it up. This is why 
you need plan "B."
Depending on the circumstances your plan "B" 
may have to be initiated. This plan would be implemented 
if you chose or were forced to move from your dwelling. 
Many people believe they will be able to use their 
trucks and cars to transport all their stuff to a safe 
haven. But what if the roads are closed? What if a 
natural disaster has destroyed bridges and covered 
highways with debris? I believe that it is a good idea 
to have your vehicles set up but don't depend on it. 
You may end up only being able to take what you can 
carry on your back, and folks, that ain't much. Remember 
that flies can easily get into the ole ointment.
The next plan is plan "C." This plan should 
be a part of all the other plans. And that is having 
the KNOWLEDGE and SKILLS to make these plans work, 
maybe even to having a plan "D" in reserve. 
This plan I don't even want to think about but I-and 
you-must. You may have to take off with what is only 
on your person, no bags, no backpacks. Knowledge at 
this time is worth far more than gold. You'll have 
to find your food as you go and be able to transport 
it (with reduced weight) for tomorrow.
When you are in a wilderness survival situation and 
on the move, you must procure food wherever and whenever 
you find it. Let's say you come across a nice lake 
abundant with fish. Naturally you are going to take 
some fish for dinner, but what about tomorrow and the 
next week? If you are on the move, you may not find 
another good food source for days. If the fishing is 
good, you'll want to catch as many as you can NOW.
Let's say you take in 44 nice fish averaging 1 pound 
each. You cook and eat 4 fish during that day. There 
are still 40 fish left, which equals 40 pounds. This 
is far too much weight to transport on your back, and 
if freezing conditions do not exist, they will spoil 
You are going to have to dehydrate (dry) and smoke 
the fish. When you are done your 40 pounds of fish 
will weigh only 6-8 pounds. This you can easily carry 
and it's a 10 day supply of food for one person. Also, 
any part of the dry smoked fish you would normally 
discard like skin and bones will become bait for small 
Once you trap or snare a small animal, you will do 
the same with them as you did with the fish, cook and 
eat what you can and dry the rest. You can see at this 
point that you are not only eating well but you have 
also created variety. This couldn't happen without 
the drying process. Even animals like squirrels deliberately 
gather and spread out food to dry, like mushrooms.
When putting up meat for the future at home you will 
be cooking, drying, and packaging it. You may want 
to smoke some for the taste it gives the meat. Most 
important will be the different ways you will be packaging 
the meat for your back up plans.
The meat you stock in your residence is to stay there. 
You can cook, dry and smoke the meat if you like. You 
can simply can the meat in canning jars. The weight 
of the jars is not important for this plan. If canned 
properly, meat will keep for many years. I've eaten 
meat that I've canned ten years before.
The weakest part of this system is the lids. All lids 
are not equal! Over the years I've done a lot of canning. 
When I use my fish wheel to take in sockeye salmon, 
it's not uncommon to catch several hundred 5 to 8 pound 
fish in a night. And that represents a lot of jars 
and lids. 
Once the jars are filled, they are placed in a pressure 
canner and cooked at the proper heat, pressure, and 
length of time. Afterward, the pressure is relieved 
from the cooker and the jars are left to cool slowly. 
As they cool, the center of the lids will be sucked 
down toward the contents of the jar. At this point 
the screw rings that held the lids in place can be 
removed. The jars of meat are ready for storage.
Any lids that are not sucked down warn you that there 
is no vacuum in that jar and you DO NOT have a seal. 
The contents in these jars will spoil. This situation 
is called a "failure." I've found over the 
years that the best lids with the least amount of failures 
are Ball lids. If you have a failure it's usually because 
of a inferior brand of lid, a defective mouth on the 
jar, or you didn't clean the rim of the jar well enough 
after adding the contents. Stick with Ball lids and 
you will be in good shape.
When you pull a jar from the shelf later, always check 
the lid. The center of the lid should still be sucked 
down very solidly. Tap it with your finger: it should 
sound solid and not move. If the lid sounds hollow 
and moves up and down, you have a failure. DO NOT eat 
the contents.
Another little trick is if your jars are stored in 
your freezer, or are stored where they are subject 
to being frozen in the winter, always leave at least 
1 inch of head space at the top of the jar. If you 
do this, the jars will not break when frozen. I've 
had jars that were packed in this fashion that experienced 
ambient temperatures of 70 degrees below zero and none 
When I can meat it may be in chunks or in other forms. 
My store house does have meat in chunks but it also 
has many jars of my favorite homemade chili, Moose 
stew, and sausages in sauce. This way you can open 
a jar and your meal is already prepared for you. All 
you have to do is heat it up.
This whole operation only requires reusable mason jars, 
lids, screw rings, a good pressure cooker, and a 1,200 
pound moose. The type of pressure cooker you purchase 
is important. I've used many and feel the ones made 
by American Canner are without a doubt superior in 
every way except weight. They are heavy but they are 
built to last. 
They also have many safety features that the others 
don't have. The best thing is that they use no rubber 
O-ring. It's a metal-to-metal seal that will never 
wear out. Let's say you are set up at your wilderness 
home and it's two years from now. The rubber seal goes 
bad on your cheaper cooker. Where are you going to 
buy a new O-ring? The scary part is right then you'll 
need this cooker to put up more food, or you and your 
family could be in dire straits. It's something to 
think about now!
The next way to go is to preserve the same food in 
metal cans like those you see in the supermarket. It's 
easy to do and you have the advantage of lighter weight 
and no glass to break. This is a good way to go if 
you have vehicle transport. You will need cans, lids, 
a pressure cooker and a mechanical can canner. I put 
up a lot of food this way each year. Also you can seal 
up most anything from ammunition to medical supplies 
(You won't be using the pressure cooker for these items, 
especially the ammo!).
The difference between canning in jars and in cans 
is the procedure. With jars you add heat and pressure 
and then the sealing happens. With cans you mechanically 
make the seal then add heat and pressure. The lids 
on the cans will suck down, just like the canning jars.
Your next step is to put up the light weight stuff. 
This is the food that you can carry on your back. Also, 
if you have a storage problem as far as space goes, 
cooked dried meat is the way to go. Not only does the 
meat lose weight, but there is a considerable reduction 
in its size. These are all plus factors for you.
One way that I do this is to take some very lean meat; 
game meat like deer is the best. You can use beef, 
but make sure that it's lean. Usually the more inexpensive 
cuts are the leanest. That's good news! Take the meat 
and trim off any fat you can find. Put the meat in 
a pan on the cooker rack in a pressure cooker. Add 
about 1 inch of water to the cooker, put the top on, 
and you are ready to go.
You'll want to cook the meat until well done. Once 
you've gotten the water boiling and the steam gauge 
has risen to the right amount of pressure, you will 
be cooking 12 to 15 minutes for each pound of meat. 
You should keep the pressure at 15 p.s.i. during the 
entire cooking time. When the cooking process is over, 
the meat, no matter how tough it was, should easily 
flake into small slivers with the use of a fork.
Next spread these flaked pieces of meat out on a cookie 
sheet or sheets. All you have to do now is to dry it 
completely. This can be done in many ovens at very 
low temperature with the door cracked open for ventilation 
and to get rid of moisture. This can also be done in 
a food dryer or a small smoker oven (The Sausage Maker 
company in Buffalo, NY makes several different size 
smokers, all of them excellent.).
As soon as the meat is completely dry, take it out 
and put it in containers that exclude all moisture. 
Vacuum sealers work very well for this purpose, and 
can be applied to canning jars and plastic resealable 
bags like M.R.E. packages. You can dry vegetables and 
add your favorite spices, mix it all together and then 
package it. When you need it, just add hot water and 
you have a meal ready to eat. You will want to cook 
the veggies before you dry them or they may be too 
tough for your liking. Pre-cooked dried rice or beans 
are a good addition also. Remember: cook it, dry it, 
keep it dry and it will last.
When putting up any meat for long-term storage, start 
with fresh meat, keep it cold, and process it as soon 
as possible. Bacteria like the C. Botulinum need a 
nice moist environment that lacks oxygen in order to 
grow. When we are canning meat we are creating this 
very environment. Luckily, the bacterium needs one 
more thing in order to survive, and that is the proper 
temperature. So when we can, we do it in a pressure 
cooker at 15 lbs. p.s.i. This creates a temperature 
of 250 degrees F., much too hot for the bacterium to 
live. This procedure is similar to sterilizing medical 
instruments in an autoclave.
The C. Botulinum bacterium cannot survive jerky making 
either, because in making jerky you take away the moisture 
and fully expose the meat to the air. As an added precaution, 
if you wish, you can also add a cure such as Prague 
Powder #1 to the marinade. This cure destroys the bacterium.
Let's make some jerky! Jerky is easy to make and it's 
delicious. It's something you may want to always keep 
on hand. Because of it's nature, it's light in weight 
and easy to transport. It's a nutritious snack and 
good emergency food.
Start out with some nice lean meat. Beef works well 
but, again, wild game is by far the best. Next, slice 
the meat in strips 1/4 of an inch thick by 3/4 to 1 
inch wide. I make these about 4 inches long. Make sure 
any fat or gristle is trimmed off. This is the secret 
to good jerky with a long shelf life. Fat can cause 
the meat to become rancid. 
The meat is then mixed in a marinade of your choice. 
I will give you the recipe that I use. I'm sure that 
you will like it, but remember that it can be easily 
altered to your taste. Let the meat soak for no more 
than 24 hours in the refrigerator. Stir it around several 
times while it's soaking. 
Next day, blot the excess liquid off the meat and place 
on drying racks. The meat can be dried in many different 
ways so long as you can hold the temperature somewhere 
between 95 and 115 degrees F. Make sure there is good 
air circulation so moisture can escape. Depending on 
what type of drying system you use, the jerky will 
be ready in 8-10 hrs. 
Many kitchen ovens will do a good job drying jerky 
if the heat can be kept low enough and the door is 
left cracked open to allow the moisture to vent. A 
food dehydrator or a small smoker also can be used.
You'll know when the jerky is ready. It will be dry 
around the edges and rubbery in the center. It will 
smell wonderful and have taken on a pretty reddish 
color. At this point you'll probably be getting " 
Old Betsy " out to guard your precious prize, 
`cause if there's other people around, it'll disappear 
as fast as you can make it. And nobody'll fess up! 

At our survival school, the students make jerky in 
several different ways, and they also add smoke to 
it. If you like the smoke flavor, liquid smoke can 
be added to the marinate. There is a liquid smoke available 
that is very concentrated and all natural smoke. Or, 
if you use the small smoker, you can smoke the meat 
while you are drying it.
Jerky that is properly made will have a moisture loss 
of 70-80%. You should store the jerky in glass jars, 
like mason jars with lids. These lids should have several 
holes punched or drilled in them to promote good air 
circulation and prevent mold. If all the guidelines 
are followed and it is kept in a dry environment, your 
jerky will last for months. Here are two good recipes 
for the marinade. This will do 5-6 pounds of meat, 
reducing it in 8-10 hours to delicious jerky weighing 
only 1-1/2 pounds.
* 1 tbs. salt
* 1 tsp. Prague Powder No. 1
* 2 tsp. garlic powder
* 2 tsp. ground black pepper
* 2 tsp. onion powder
* 1/2 cup soy sauce
* 2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
* 4 cups water
* 1 tbs salt
* 1 tsp. Prague Powder No. 1
* 2 tbs. ginger
* 2 tbs. garlic powder
* 1/8 cup (1-1/2 tbs.) ground red pepper
* 1/4 cup sage
* 1/4 cup onion powder
* 1/4 cup chili powder
* 1/4 cup black pepper
* 1 cup soy sauce
* 4 cups water
As you start out, I would suggest you get some good 
books on food preservation. One I particularly recommend 
is called, "Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing," 
by Rytek Kutas. It's the best reference book on the 
subject I have ever seen. It is available from the 
Sausage Maker Company listed below, and I know it will 
be a welcome addition to your survival library.
Whether you decide to buy the proper provisions or 
put them up yourself, you should at least learn how 
to do it. These are important skills you may need in 
the future, and learning them can be a lot of fun for 
you and your family right now. Remember, knowledge 
and skills are your best insurance for an unpredictable 
Chris Janowsky is the founder of the highly respected 
World Survival Institute, which offers courses in outdoor 
survival and self-reliance. These folks also carry 
a full series of video tapes which makes it possible 
to learn many of these skills from home. For further 
information you can write the author at P.O. Box 394, 
Tok, AK. 99780; or call (907) 883-4243.