Cow staring down the camera

Early European settlers had a number of ways of preserving meat in the decades before refrigeration became a thing. Some common methods included slicing it into thin strips that were then dried to create jerky, smoking it for long periods over a smouldering fire, curing it in stone crocks or wooden barrels using salt or a salt solution, stashing it in root cellars or even lowering it down wells where the cool temperatures deep beneath the surface would slow down decay. Somewhere in my research, I also came across a reference to meat being packed in lard before storing it in barrels.

One day when I was flipping through books of remembrances in an archives on Manitoulin Island, I ran across the following recipe for pickling beef before storing it in crocks or barrels:

Pickled Beef

100 lbs beef
8 lbs salt
2 lbs brown sugar
4 gallons water
2 oz saltpeter
1 oz black pepper
1 oz soda

1. Salt the beef and let it stand overnight.
2. Heat the sugar, water, saltpeter, pepper and soda on a wood stove until the sugar dissolves. Pour over the beef.
3. Steep beef in brine for up to one year.

It should be noted that this recipe works just as well for storing bear meat.