I <3 my bacon
May 11, 2007 7:46 PM   Subscribe

What are some good choices for meat and meat products that do not require refrigeration for 2-3 days?

I am going on a trip where I will be one of the few non-vegetarians so it is up to me to find some interesting sources of meat for the carnivores. There will be no real refrigeration (it will be about 70 degrees, I have a cooler, but I do not know how often I can refill it with ice). I'm looking for something more inspired than beef jerky, spam, and those dehydrated meals you can buy at camping supply stores. Cooking is limited to a small camping stove.

Is modern bacon created to be shelf stable? Any interesting recipes you can suggest? Maximize for deliciousness after a long day of activity. There are no space and weight restrictions barring the ability to fit in the trunk of a car.
posted by hindmost to Food & Drink (35 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Smoked fish can usually be kept unrefrigerated for a couple of days as long as it is vacuum-packed.
posted by briank at 7:56 PM on May 11, 2007

For snacks with cheese and crackers, or to add flavor to bland camp meals like mac and cheese, get a nice summer sausage. You can find it at a supermarket, but a gourmet food store might have more selection.

Canned salmon is a good quick meal when mixed with some boil-in-a-bag rice.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:04 PM on May 11, 2007

I've taken hard smoked sausage on a four day camping trip and it was ok. They have tuna, other fish and chicken in vacuumed foil pouches in the supermarket nowadays, I suspect they'd last well, I've used the tuna ones after a few days on trail with no ill effects. Course theres always jerkey
posted by edgeways at 8:08 PM on May 11, 2007

Jerky turkey.
posted by Gungho at 8:14 PM on May 11, 2007

eek, i dunno about the smoked fish. tuna and salmon in cans or packets would be okay. there's canned chicken, not the most delicious, but edible.

any dried sausage would be great (pepperoni, summer sausage, dried chorizo).

i dunno, but you might be able to get salt pork or salt cod from a butcher. both require a lot of prep to be edible, though (soaking in several changes of water to draw out the salt, etc)

i eat meat, but i'll take a can of chickpeas over a can of spam. but that's just me.
posted by thinkingwoman at 8:15 PM on May 11, 2007

They're selling pre-cooked bacon these days. It is shelf-stable until opened. Tried it. Meh.
posted by thebrokedown at 8:18 PM on May 11, 2007

Beef stick (i.e. "summer sausage") doesn't spoil as long as it isn't opened. (After it's opened it can go moldy.)

Some brand of it has been sold in nearly every large grocery store I've ever been in.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:18 PM on May 11, 2007

To clarify: By "they," I meant Hormel, for one. We found ours at Wal-Mart (Boo!) when looking for items for our upcoming canoeing trip.
posted by thebrokedown at 8:20 PM on May 11, 2007

Salted meats keep well without refrigeration. Country ham, salt pork, salted fish, etc. are typical camping meats, when refrigeration is sketchy. You soak them in water prior to cooking to remove excess salt. Smoked meats are often also treated with salt and preservatives like nitrates, in addition to the smoking process, but can keep well without refrigeration, although the process is more involved than salting, and therefore, "iffier" in terms of preservation capability (lots of "smoked" meats actually require refrigeration - so read labels carefully). Canned meats like canned ham, chicken, corned beef hash, and canned roast beef, beef stew, etc. are readily available in most grocery stores.
posted by paulsc at 8:21 PM on May 11, 2007

I don't eat bacon, but my chef friend who I go camping with often brings cooked bacon along. She cooks it the day before and wraps it in a paper towel in a ziploc. You probably would want to eat it on the first morning rather than the last, but it keeps pretty well.
posted by judith at 8:22 PM on May 11, 2007

eek, i dunno about the smoked fish.

Trust me. But it has to be vacuum-packed. Once you open it, it will spoil, so don't buy much and plan to eat it all at once. A little smoked salmon with a single-serve package of cream cheese (can also go unrefrigerated) and a bagel and you will have a breakfast that will make the others jealous.
posted by briank at 8:28 PM on May 11, 2007

Chef Boyardee ravioli. Not much of a gourmet item, but it's greasy enough to be luxurious when you're roughing it with jerky and canned meat.

I used to eat it without heating it up in college.
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:36 PM on May 11, 2007

I don't know about maximizing for deliciousness, but there's always protein-filled, shelf-stable, roasted weaver ants.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 8:50 PM on May 11, 2007

If you're in the U.S., look for the Bridgford section at the grocery store -- God knows what they put in it but their stuff keeps forever, even after you open it. No refrigeration necessary. Hiking, I'll carry an opened stick of pepperoni around in my backpack for days with no obvious effect. Pretty much limited to pepperoni, summer sausage and jerky.

It isn't meat but think about cheese: Asiago is really good for traveling w/o refrigeration but most real cheeses'll last just fine for a few days w/o special handling. Harder is better. Stay away from American and softer stuff. Also not meat but Tetra-pak milk boxes last practically forever until you open them.

Tuna/Salmon/Chicken in pouches. The unflavored stuff is better quality than the "Tuna Creations." The chicken is much better than what you might think. Easier to deal with than cans, from a garbage and packing perspective. You can also get pre-cooked tuna steaks in a pouch and they aren't bad.

Pre-cooked bacon keeps for a long time with no special storage requirement until you open the pouch. Isn't cheap but if you love bacon it might be okay. I haven't tried it but this review suggests some brands are better than others.
posted by Opposite George at 8:53 PM on May 11, 2007

Also stuff like jerky can be rehydrated, and then you can experiment with mixing it into a chilli or something along those lines.
posted by BobbyDigital at 8:58 PM on May 11, 2007

Baco-bits are good for adding some flavoring. I like them on mac-and-cheese myself, some people use them with scrambled eggs. (Although technically Bac-os brand is both kosher and vegetarian.)
posted by metahawk at 9:11 PM on May 11, 2007

Response by poster: thinkingwoman, I would take the chickpeas over the spam as well, hence this question. I have access to the large sausage deli at Whole Foods so that's definitely an option. Would I be able to select any of the cured meats or are only some of them really shelf stable? They're all stored in a refrigerated case so it's hard to tell what needs to be kept cold. Are proscuitto and pancetta shelf stable? How safe is vacuum packed meat in general if left unrefrigerated?

This is, as you've probably noticed, not a hardcore camping trip. If Mario Batali was sent to a desert island, what would he take?
posted by hindmost at 9:26 PM on May 11, 2007

Check these guys out. They make some very bold statements about their canned meat, claiming it tastes almost as good as fresh and so forth.
posted by Clay201 at 9:33 PM on May 11, 2007

If Mario Batali was sent to a desert island, what would he take?

I could eat bark with enough of this close at hand. Human-sized jars are a couple-three bucks at the grocery store. Helps keep you sane if you camp cook the way I do (boil water in pot, take off heat, add Lipton Dinners/Stir/Cover, add tuna pouch, stir/scarf down, clean pot and spoon.)
posted by Opposite George at 9:34 PM on May 11, 2007

I'm pretty sure salami doesn't have to be refrigerated, and it's a treat, too.
posted by Citizen Premier at 9:53 PM on May 11, 2007

For the first day I always bring vacuum packed frozen steaks. Depending on how much you wrap them they'll defrost in 12-36 hours perfect for first breakfast or lunch. The vacuum pack keeps things from getting messy all over your third pair of socks.

'Boneless chickens' will keep a _long_ time if you can find them fresh and dip them whole in the shell in either beeswax (expensive, easy to get) or waterglass (cheap like borsch, but hard to find in food grade). The plastic egg cartons some free range eggs come in are pretty protective and fairly sturdy.
posted by Mitheral at 10:03 PM on May 11, 2007

I've done a bunch of multi-week canoe trips in the Great White North, eh., without resupply or contact with with modern amenities. We never wanted for protein; what we took was only limited by how much we wanted to spend (and hump over portages.)

Anyhoo, from my experience, the best options:
- hard cheeses, like cheddar or (whole, not pre-grated) parm, wrapped in meal-sized pieces and enclosed in ziploc bags with the air removed;
- summer sausage, also wrapped (use cheese cloth with a bit of vinegar to inhibit mold/fungal growth) in meal-sized pieces;
- tuna, salmon, etc.; we used cans, but the new stuff in tough foil packs cut down on weight and waste;
- I loves me some smoked oysters, kippers, etc. in metal tins;
- Textured-vegetable protein, especially when added to pasta sauces or chilis, provides protein and is light; suitably adulterated, it's edible.

Good luck, have fun!
posted by docgonzo at 11:06 PM on May 11, 2007

Oh, yeah, and I've found pre-cooked bacon to be quite good. Also, you can get tetrapacked eggs which will keep unrefrigerated until sometime after the next apocalypse.
posted by docgonzo at 11:07 PM on May 11, 2007

If you're car camping and cooler space isn't a real issue, I recommend getting some dry ice.

I like to keep an extra cooler for ice and frozen food that I intend to keep frozen, if I can spare the space. I can keep the frozen stuff frozen for at least a week, removing a small bit of regular ice each day to keep the (non-frozen) food cooler cold.

With this system, I was able to serve Salmon on day 5 of camping in the desert.
posted by nadise at 11:33 PM on May 11, 2007

Ooh! Landjäger. German hiking stick. Accept no substitutes.
posted by vito90 at 12:26 AM on May 12, 2007

I actually really like the freeze-dried meals; when camping they are our special treat.

But there are alternatives. If you know any shop that might carry South African style food, there are many really nice dried meats and sausages you can get.

I've also discovered that instant refried beans (dried, like instant mashed pototoes). makes a really tasty hamburger-like additive to macaroni and cheese or spagetti, with a nicer texture than TVP.

But since weight isn't an issue, why not go crazy in the can aisle? The Asian grocery store near my mother has endless options for different canned fish, pork, poultry, etc. There is canned ham (which I love), chicken, tuna, mackerel, salmon - big Alaskan style chunks or flaked - corned beef (yum again) -- and more prepared foods like canned stews, canned chilli con carne, pork and beans ..... oh I'm so hungry.

If you feel fancy, is there anywhere to find canned pheasant or duck?
posted by jb at 5:52 AM on May 12, 2007

If you re-fry the precooked, packaged bacon before eating, it is MUCH more delicious.

And thirding the vacuum packed smoked fish. I've had it well into a weeklong backpack and it doesn't go bad until opened.
posted by SampleSize at 6:47 AM on May 12, 2007

Pancetta and other dry hams are shelf stable, as are most sausages. Dry ice is probably a must, but I would also freeze about half the food you will be taking. It will thaw slowly and make it possible to cram more yummy meaty goodness in.

A frozen pack of bacon will definitely keep for several days in a cooler, as will pretty much anything smoked.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:42 AM on May 12, 2007

Try some fancy European olive oil-packed tuna fillets, if you don't mind the cost (~$12 for a jar).
posted by J-Train at 8:20 AM on May 12, 2007

Biltong, which is kind of like jerky, but a thicker cut.
posted by BishopsLoveScifi at 8:20 AM on May 12, 2007

You can get high-end rillettes and pate in jars. Makes toast a super-good meaty treat.
posted by tiny crocodile at 8:38 AM on May 12, 2007

You don't sound this hardcore, but just for fun: Pemmican.
I traveled with it for 4 weeks with no refrigeration with no problem.
posted by nonmyopicdave at 10:46 AM on May 12, 2007

Try to find an eastern European deli, they make hams and sausages that will do fine at the temp you mentioned.
posted by TungstenChef at 3:09 PM on May 12, 2007

Sardines anyone? A local grocery store sells sardines in tomato sauce that are delicious, if you can get over the, uh, sardiness of the whole affair. A couple of tins of those, a can of baked beans here or there, some bread and a little cheese and you can camp hobo style, too.
posted by fantastic at 9:51 PM on May 12, 2007

Pickled eggs, pickled sausage, pickled anything really.
posted by kc0dxh at 1:32 PM on May 14, 2007

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