This is David & Susan Sifford's journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matt 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Category: meat dryer

Pebbles Pork Chop Party

In our last round of pig breeding, we decided to keep, raise and eat the offspring of our sow Pebbles, and breed her again because she had a good disposition and because we had a soft-spot for her, given she was the lone piglet from the difficult birth her mother had, and we had bottle-raised her on goat milk ourselves. But, as the piglets eventually turned into decent-sized pigs, and with the possible difficulty of finding a large enough mate for Pebbles, I decided to change the plans and revert back to the old way of doing things, where we process the mother as well and keep an offspring to continue the pork perpetuation.

Here is Pebbles and most of her offspring before taking Pebbles in (she’s on the left, one female had already gone to the Bunkers as a next breeder for them):

Our Sow Pebbles and Her Offspring

And this is Pebbles next to the offspring we are keeping for the next round of breeding, which we decided to call Lulu. We decided to keep her because she has more of the Duroc characteristics:

Our Sow Pebbles and Our Next Breeding Mother Lulu

With these previous blog posts, you can follow Pebbles’ interesting story from the beginning:
Providence’s Perpetuation Provisions: New Piglet “Pebbles”
Animal Update – Pebbles and Fred
Providence’s Perpetuation Provisions: New Piglets of 2012

And so, we took Pebbles and two of the males in to the butcher (two other of the offspring also went to the Bunkers).

Once getting the meat back, we wanted to continue to practice preserving without canning or freezing, so we had some strips of meat cut from one of the younger pig’s hams, and put them in the salt brine:

Brining Pork Ham Meat

And then I hung them in the meat dryer:

Drying Brined Pork Ham Meat

Then, it was time for the Pebbles Pork Chop Party fellowship meal! We held it on a Lord’s Day fellowship time, so every household contributed to the meal.

Here is all of the eating goodness:

Pebbles Pork Chop Party Dinner Meal

And the group communing together around the table:

Pebbles Pork Chop Party Communing Around the Table

And young Annabelle enjoying the time:

Pebbles Pork Chop Party Young One

We are so very grateful to the Lord for His provisions of the pig meat, and the opportunity to gather in His name and share His beneficence together.

— David

Meat Dryer – Update I

In a previous blog post, I showed a meat dryer I had put together. This was for the purpose of brining and drying meat as a method of food preservation that didn’t require freezing or canning. We are always looking for ways to do this, as freezers and canners require dependence on the world systems for continuing supplies (fuel, electricity, parts, etc.).

The final picture of that blog post showed meat from one of our Longhorn bulls that had been butchered hanging and drying.

After a few weeks, at which time the meat looked about dry, I had collected the meat off of the dryer and put it in a plastic bucket and covered it, just as a place to contain it as I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with it (we’ve never processed meat like this before, you know 🙂 ). Well, since it was in plastic, which doesn’t breathe, I was a little worried that moisture, which is a seedbed for bacteria, had got in the bucket perhaps; and so I put the pieces back on the dryer again for a couple more weeks (they probably didn’t need to hang that long — I sort of just left them out there). This actually seemed to dry them out further.

And then, all that was left, was to try out the goods! We soaked them in water for 24 hours, as after 12 hours the meat still wasn’t very pliable. Even after 24 hours, they weren’t much more softened; but I didn’t want to leave them out in the open in water like that too much longer for fear of bacterial growth, although the water was probably somewhat salty, which perhaps would have prevented any problems:

Meat Dryer Dried Meat Soaking in Water

And then I cooked them on the grill:

Meat Dryer Dried Meat on Grill

And here they are all cooked:

Meat Dryer Dried Meat Cooked and Ready

And here is the meal that Sue prepared for it:

Meat Dryer Dried Meat Ready to be Eaten

Drum roll please….

Well, obviously by the fact that I’m writing this, we didn’t die, which we thought was a plus on the whole experiment. 🙂 (Did I mention we’ve never preserved meat like this before, and being so colonized in our thinking that things MUST be frozen to keep, it was hard not to worry.)

At any rate, it was a little dry and a little tough to chew, but just tasted like well-done steak. It wasn’t salty, was certainly palatable, and except for the chewiness, was pretty good actually.

It did seem to stop up “the system” a little, but shortly things “moved” along as normal.

All in all, it wasn’t too bad, for meat that had never been processed the way the world says to do it. Perhaps we’ll try soaking it in a meat-tenderizing marinade the next time, Lord willing. Anyone have any recipes?

We are very grateful to the Lord for granting the knowledge of this food preservation method; His creation that graciously allows for the survival of man (eg. salt killing bacteria); His granting of a successful experiment in living according to His order of things; and for this step away from the world, we pray, as unto Him, for His glory.

— David

Meat Dryer

In continued efforts to separate from the world, unto God, one of the things that keeps us currently tied to it is how we process the meat after butchering the animal. At this time, we typically fire up the freezer, running off the generator, and then Sue pressure-cans it all. Processing the meat this way has two main problems: 1) running a generator and an electrical appliance, both which require ongoing maintenance and can break; and 2) using a canner, which also can require maintenance, and for us requires propane. Now, one can pressure-can using a wood burner; but it’s apparently not very easy to do correctly; and still, the canner can lose parts or require replacement ones.

And so, how was it all done before there were these things we use today? Or even, how is it done by people today who don’t have them either?

If you’ve studied this at all, you’ll know that salt is typically used for preserving meats; but what do you do with it after that, especially when dealing with larger quantities of meat? Again, with further study, even today, especially in countries where freezers, etc. aren’t available, the meat is hung in the wind to dry — the air helping pull out the moisture — the seed bed of bacteria — out of the meat. And this can be done any time during the year.

Excellent!

And so, I wanted us to start heading down this direction. With all of the insects we have during the warmer months, I really wanted our place of drying to be enclosed in some way; but in looking for ideas on the Internet, there really weren’t many I could see — it appears in the countries where they process meat like this, they just simply hang it up in the open air. Still not really wanting to do that, I started to try to put a design together myself. And so, the plan was to have something that had removable doors, was screened in, and allowed the hanging of lots of meat of all different lengths.

Using left over sections that were cut off from our house porch posts, I made a base frame using them and treated 2x4s. The overall plan was to use as little wood as possible, being able to fit the dryer’s frame under one piece of plywood as a roof, allowing for a little bit of roof overhang all around. I had originally thought about making a large dryer, but then figured I wouldn’t use that many more materials if I made multiple dryers instead as needed, and they would be somewhat portable:

Meat Dryer Base

And then added the main frame and bottom frame joists:

Meat Dryer Main Frame

And I planned for the removable doors to fit inside a frame, which is shown here:

Meat Dryer with Screen Door Frame

Here is the bottom of the meat dryer with the screening in place:

Meat Dryer Screened Bottom

And frame strips in place to hold on the screening. The strips are made by ripping the 2x4s into 4 strips each and then cutting to size. They are held by screws, as I wanted to be able to remove them to replace the screening if necessary. I also cut them to size to run counter to the bottom frame/joists connections (the strip would overlap where the joist butted up to the frame), to make it stronger; but next time, for expediency sake, I may place them in the same directions as the frame and joists:

Meat Dryer Screened Bottom with Frame

I thought to use rebar on which to hang the meat hooks. I was going to hang rebar from wires that were hanging from the roof rafters; but one of the men here suggested I take a 2×4, drill holes along it, rip it in half, and us the half circles as the rebar holders. Great idea!

Meat Dryer Rebar Holder Before Being Ripped in Half
Meat Dryer Rebar Holder in Place

Here are the roof rafters and blocks in place:

Meat Dryer Roof Rafters/Blocks, Front View
Meat Dryer Roof Rafter/Block, Side View
Meat Dryer Roof Rafters/Blocks, Top View

With the bottom screening in place, the one thing I told myself was, “Do not drop anything on it.” Well, that didn’t last too long:

Meat Dryer Hole in Bottom Screening

Oops. It was the thin corner of the roof rafter that got away from me. And so, I caulked it:

Meat Dryer Hole in Bottom Screening, Caulking Applied

And here it is pretty much dry. I purposely designed everything (with screws, etc.) so that I could fairly easily replace the screening if I ever need to:

Meat Dryer Hole in Bottom Screening, Dry Caulking

With Gary, the goose we use to have, being gone and no longer able to supervise as foreman, our cat, William, has apparently taken over:

William the Cat Supervising Meat Dryer Construction

Here is the first frame of the removable screen door with the screening stapled in place:

Meat Dryer Screen Door Screening in Place

And then the other frame pieces were placed on top a piece at a time, secured with wood screws, in pilot holes:

Meat Dryer Screen Door Full Frame in Place

Each frame piece was cut to overlap the pieces of the other frame (like the strips over the bottom frame joists):

Meat Dryer Screen Door Full Frame in Place

I wanted to make sure the door was fairly square and a little stronger, and so I thought to add plywood corners. Here is a scrap piece of plywood, marked for cutting the corners:

Meat Dryer Screen Door Plywood Corner Braces Marked Before Cuts

And then with the corners cut:

Meat Dryer Screen Door Plywood Corner After Cuts

And here is the removable screen door in place on the dryer, showing the corners attached, handles in place, and wood latches on top and below, holding it in place:

Meat Dryer with Screen Door and Screen Door Handles, Corners, and Latches in Place

Here’s a picture of the plywood roof in place:

Meat Dryer Plywood Roof

I decided to use flashing for the roof:

Meat Dryer Installing Roof Flashing
Meat Dryer Roof Flashing, Two Sides
Another Angle of Meat Dryer Roof Flashing, Two Sides

On the low side of the roof, I had to move the screen door latch to the side, because I had planned to attach strips of wood under the overhang that the grommeted screws would attach to (which would also help hide the screws so they wouldn’t become a skin or clothing hazard):

Meat Dryer Screen Door Latch Placement for Low Side of Roof

And here is the roof with the flashing installed:

Meat Dryer Roof Flashing Installed, Top View

And here are the flashing overhang supports/screw covers:

Meat Dryer Roof Flashing Supports

Here are the rebar hangers in place:

Meat Dryer Rebar Pieces in Place

And some meat hooks bent in shape. I used a coat hanger, cutting the ends to be pointed, and I sanded the paint off. I needed an extra one after the coat hanger was used, and so I thought to use a piece of galvanized electric wire, because it appeared the coat hanger hooks were rusting some. In the end, I might need to have stainless steel ones:

Meat Dryer Meat Hooks

Here they are hanging from the rebar:

Meat Dryer with Meat Hooks Hanging

I initially had the meat dryer facing broadside to the north and learned the hard way that the dryer wasn’t very aerodynamic — a strong wind not only tipped it over, but flipped it upside down. Nice. So, I turned it to be long-ways north and south and staked the legs to the ground:

Meat Dryer Leg Staked to the Ground

And finally, voila! Brined/spiced meat hanging in the meat dryer!

Meat Dryer with Brined/Spiced Meat Hanging

We’re still waiting for it to finish drying; and Lord willing, we’ll report on that process at a later time.

We are grateful to the Lord for His provisions, and showing us how to handle those He’s given us in a way that He has invented (with salt and air) instead of using man’s enslaving methods.

— David