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My character kills a goat in the mountains and eats some of it for dinner. What kind of plant or mineral could he use to preserve the meat to carry with him so that it stays fresh and doesn't become contaminated? What kind of process would he use?

He can only use things that could grow in rocky mountainous areas or something that he brought with him for that purpose. His only other "tools" are a knife and fire.

Is there any basis to believe that preserving meat in this circumstance is even possible?

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The most obvious solution is salting or brining the meat. This requires your adverturer haul salt around, which is a rock, so it's a bit heavy — depending on how long he needs to do this. A pound of salt will cure at least 48 pounds of meat.

However, this site reports that the following herbs and berries can be used to cure meat: aronia (chokeberry), horseradish, ramson, red currant, savoury, sage, sloe and cranberry. This is actually a really cool idea for your story as few people would know this could be done.

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  • $\begingroup$ How quickly could the meat be cured using an herb? Ideally, he would be able to eat it the next day--would slathering it in cranberry-equivalent have a short-term effect as well? $\endgroup$ – Boop Aug 7 '17 at 0:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Boop - if he just cooked it yesterday, refrigeration is probably unnecessary without curing if he wants leftovers. So leave aside some yummy roast goat for tomorrow's trail food, and dress the rest. $\endgroup$ – jdunlop Aug 7 '17 at 0:59
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    $\begingroup$ In fact, now that I think about it, drying meat is as good as curing it. You could do that with thin strips in little time. $\endgroup$ – JBH Aug 7 '17 at 2:01
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    $\begingroup$ This is basically what people did all the time in the days before refrigeration. Dried, spiced meat (i.e. jerky) was created because it can last a long time. $\endgroup$ – IndigoFenix Aug 7 '17 at 7:38
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    $\begingroup$ Smoking meat is also an option. Check out this forum for some neat pictures. $\endgroup$ – MozerShmozer Aug 7 '17 at 20:00
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Your character could smoke the meat and/or dry the meat.

From Wikipedia:

Smoked meat is a method of preparing red meat (and fish) which originates in prehistory. Its purpose is to preserve these protein-rich foods, which would otherwise spoil quickly, for long periods. There are two mechanisms for this preservation: dehydration and the antibacterial properties of phenols and other chemicals in the absorbed smoke. In modern days, the enhanced flavor of smoked foods makes them a delicacy in many cultures.

The only "plant" needed here would be wood as fuel for the fire.

Given that the tops of mountains are 1) windy and 2) cold, they are good places to dry meat. I remember from an episode of Good Eats by Alton Brown that the Andes did a good job of dehydrating meat.


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  • $\begingroup$ Smoked meat was my first thought too. It may need a "smoke house", but that could be improvised. Plus one. $\endgroup$ – a4android Aug 7 '17 at 2:24
  • $\begingroup$ How long would this process take? $\endgroup$ – Boop Aug 7 '17 at 3:04
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    $\begingroup$ you can smoke meat over an open fire, it is just not as good as using a smoke house, you won't get weeks of preservation this way nut you can days with no problem. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 7 '17 at 3:43
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Tuna cans are cooked after being sealed, so no bacteria gets to the inside after cooking is done. The meat will last for years, but still not forever. Our character may use a re-usable metallic jar with a screw-on cap to seal food and cook it while jar is sealed.

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  • $\begingroup$ The question states "What kind of plant or mineral could he use to preserve the meat to carry with him so that it stays fresh and doesn't become contaminated? What kind of process would he use?" This seems to answer the part about the process, though "sealed" is not very specific. Others mentioned processes and the needed resources, too. So I think if you expand this a bit and show how the person in the described situation could seal the meat this would be a good answer. $\endgroup$ – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Aug 8 '17 at 11:04
  • $\begingroup$ From Wikipedia: "Curing is any of various food preservation and flavoring processes of foods such as meat, fish and vegetables, by the addition of combinations of salt, nitrates, nitrites,[1] or sugar, with the aim of drawing moisture out of the food by the process of osmosis"; Though not perfect can help desiccating food for prolonged storage. On the other hand, the person may also employ a heavy-duty metal jar with a screw-on cap to seal the can and cook it while closed and then let it closed until he/she opens it. It makes-up for the lack of preservative materials. $\endgroup$ – Christmas Snow Aug 8 '17 at 12:36
  • $\begingroup$ Please edit your answer to incorporate that additional information. Comments may be deleted at any time for any reason and answers should not be evaluated based upon what is written in the comments. $\endgroup$ – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Aug 8 '17 at 12:40

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