In Lapland and northern Finland there is a long standing tradition of preserving meat by drying it in the dry spring air. The most traditional meat to be dried this way is naturally reindeer or moose, but you can do it very well with beef too! I used beef, since it was my first time to try this method, and I didn’t want to take the risk of spoiling a good deal of relatively expensive reindeer or moose.
How to do it.
Take a piece (or pieces) of meat, aprox. 300 to 400 grams and cover it with big grain salt.
Let it be there about a day and then turn it around and put a new layer of salt. The following day will be the Hanging day. So now that the meat has been salted for two days or so, you wash away the salt from the surface of the meat and hang it outside, in open air, but preferably protected from the sunlight. You should also protect the meat from others that might enjoy eating it; mainly birds or other hungry animals. I used a kind of a fish trap for this, and it worked out very well. And now, you just have to wait. And wait.
How soon the air “cooks” the meat depends mainly, or actually solely, about the weather. I also have to say that this process cannot be done just everywhere. Even in southern part of Finland people don’t dry meat because the air down there is too moist. Under normal circumstances it takes 3 to 4 weeks. The perfect weather for drying meat used to be much later in the spring, but due to the undeniable effects of global warming it is, nowadays, usually from the late February to early April. Main rule is that during the day there should be plus degrees, but during the night minus degrees. Of course it’s quite impossible to forecast correctly that far ahead as 3 or even 4 weeks, but the main role lies on the first two or three days. So, when the weather looks like there’s going to be a nice few days of sunshine, cold breeze from the north and the right temperatures, then it’s the right time to hang the meat!
How to know when your meats will be ready?
- They will become sensitively smaller, since they are going to lose the majority of their liquids
- The color will change: it will be brownish on the outside. It’s up the you whether to leave the inside still a little bit raw or “cook” it completely. The only way how to determine when the meat will be ready is by slicing some of it.
The meat tastes a bit like beef jerky, it obviously has a lot salt and protein and stays good for much longer than normal meat, so many people take a piece with them when they go for example hiking or biking or picking berries. Even as a movie night’s snack, it works well and of course brings an exotic touch to it!
Tip. If you still want to stretch your meat’s life, freeze it! All you’ll have to do will be thawing it an hour before enjoying it.