How to Keep Meat without a Freezer


The best place to store meat is in your freezer. A freezer is not always a viable option, however. Camp sites don't come equipped with them, they sometimes need defrosting and sometimes one simply isn't around. If you have meat that you need to keep and you don't have a freezer, there are several options open to you. But keep close track of your storage time. If the meat has been out too long, throw it out rather than risk food poisoning.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic wrap
  • Refrigerator
  • Cooler
  • Ice chest
  • Digital refrigerator thermometer
  • Wrap the meat securely in several layers of plastic wrap. If you have the equipment, vacuum seal the meat.

  • Leave your meat in a cool (below 70 degrees Fahrenheit), dark place until you can find a cooling container. You have two hours. After that time, the meat may develop harmful bacteria and must be thrown out.

  • Find a refrigerator. Ground meat, poultry and seafood will keep for up to 48 hours in the refrigerator. If you cook it, it will last three to four days. Large cuts of meat like roasts, steaks and chops will last three to five days in the refrigerator cooked or uncooked. See Resources for a list of recommended refrigeration times for other meats. If you don't have a refrigerator, move on to Step 4.

  • Place the meat in a cooler with ice. Place a refrigerator thermometer in the cooler with the remote sensor inside and the screen on the outside. As long as the temperature remains between 0 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the meat will remain fresh as it would in a refrigerator. Once the temperature drops below 40 degrees, the meat will only keep for two hours.

  • Pack a camping cooler or ice chest designed for freezing with ice or dry ice and keep it packed. Place a refrigerator thermometer in the cooler with the remote sensor inside and the screen on the outside. The meat will last as long as you can maintain the freezing temperatures. Once the temperature rises above 0 degrees, follow refrigeration time limits. If the temperature rises above 40 degrees, you have two hours to cook and consume the meat.

Tips & Warnings

  • One way to preserve meat without freezing is to turn it into jerky.

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