How to Make Jerky

Jerky is a classic travel food.  It’s lightweight, nutritional, and it lasts for a long time.  In the apocalypse, it will also serve as a way to preserve excess meat.  After all, one can only eat so much venison after killing the deer before it spoils.  If you have ever made jerky before, you probably made it using a food dehydrator or the oven.  Clearly this won’t work when gas and electricity are no longer available, so how does one make jerky?  For this we hop in the Wayback Machine and set the year to 1492.  Native Americans, by this point, had developed the technique for curing and drying meat to preserve it for long periods of time.  This is the same technique that has evolved into the modern jerky recipe.

There are two different ways to jerk meat in a post apocalyptic world: sun-dried and smoked.  Smoked is the preferred method, since it takes less time and the meat is less likely to spoil during the process.  But, if you have no alternative, sun drying your meat is still a legitimate alternative.

Initial Preparation

First thing you need to do, regardless of which drying method you choose, is to slice the meat.  The thinner the strips, the quicker it will dry.  I would suggest going no thicker than a quarter inch.  If you have a sharp enough knife, I’d even go as thin as an eigth of an inch thick.  When cutting the meat you should cut against the grain.  Cutting against the grain makes for more tender jerky which you will thank yourself for later.

You need to make sure that you retard bacteria growth on the meat until it has fully dried.  Once the meat is fulled jerked the bacteria will not be able to survive (since there is no water left in the meat), but until then the bacteria can cause spoilage which will ruin your jerky.  The simplest way to stunt the bacteria growth is by curing the meat with a basic salt rub.  Fuuly coat the meat in salt and rub it in thoroughly.  If you want to add some flavor to your meat, you can mix is some honey, brown sugar, chili peppers, etc.

Now it’s time to start drying the meat.

Sun-Dried Jerky

***DISCLAIMER*** You should note that this is not an FDA approved method for making jerky because it is unreliable and there is a chance of spoilage.  If you decide to use this method, take extra precaution to avoid getting sick from your jerky.

You can lay you meat out wherever you want, just make sure you put it somewhere that will get direct sunlight for most of the day.  You can lay it on any surface you want, just make sure it’s clean.  Better yet, tie your meat strips up with string so it hangs in the air.  This allows it to sun and air dry at the same time, speeding up the drying process.  Drying your jerky this way will take 16-24 hours of direct sunlight, so several days work.

There are two concerns to address when sun drying your jerky.  The first, and most pesky, is insects.  You can be sure that your jerky will attract the attention of insects like flies, which can carry bacteria onto your jerky, spoil the meat, and ruin your batch.  The second concern is dew.  You need to make sure your jerky will not accumulate morning dew.  Otherwise it will absorb the moisture and put you back a while, potentially far enough that bacteria manages to spoil your jerky.

Smoked Jerky

You can build yourself a permanent smoker if you are in a more permanent situation (I plan on writing about how to build on in the future).  If not, you can make a makeshift smoker in a few minutes.

The first thing you need is a cover to hold the smoke in.  The easiest way to do this is to make a teepee to cover your firepit.  Just tie three branches (made of living wood so it doesn’t catch fire) together to make a tripod, then wrap something around it to hold the smoke in.  Ensure there is a hole at the top for some of the smoke to escape.  Dig a hole in the ground that is slightly smaller than the diameter of your teepee.  Either make a grate out of living wood or scrounge a metal grate from a department store/abandoned house/etc. and place it over top of the hole.

Make a fire in the firepit and let it burn down to coals.  Place your meat on top of the grate and then put living or soaked wood on top of the coals.  The reason to use living or soaked wood is because either one will cause a lot more smoke and will help prevent it from flaming up and actually scorching your meat.  DO NOT use Pine, spruce, fir, hemlock, cypress, cedar, larch or any pines, conifers or evergreens for your smoking wood!  These will either ruin the flavor of the meat or potentially create posionous smoke that can affect your jerky negatively.  For better flavor, use hickory, alder, cotton wood, apple wood or mesquite as they produce a flavorful smoke.  This will take roughly 6-8 hours to finish.

Final Steps

You can tell when the jerky is finished by trying to bend a piece in half.  If its done, it will start to snap when bent.

After your jerky is done, keep it as dry as possible and it will last you for at least 2-3 months.

Found on the Internet: How to Forecast the Weather

One thing that flies under everyone’s radar in consideration of the apocalypse is forecasting weather.  You just don’t think about it, or how to do it until you stuck in a downpour with no shelter.  Chris for The Art of Manliness blog gives us exactly what we need to, as he puts it, Forecast the Weather Like Daniel Boone.  From reading clouds to common sayings about weather to reading barometric pressure, its everything you need to know in order to make some basic forecasts about weather.

Forecast the Weather Like Daniel Boone [via The Art of Manliness]

Found on the Internet: Automatically Creating a Vertical Sundial

Part of the problem with making a sundial is accuracy.  You have to take into account your location, elevation, and in the case of a vertical sundial, the direction its facing.  There are ways to make the calculations (which I’m sure I’ll get into at some point), but now there’s no reason to.  has a web app that interfaces with Google Maps to get most of the information you need to make a sundial, but then does all the calculations for you and generates the sundial.  All you have to do is print it out!  Granted, this tool isn’t helpful at all after the society-destroying event finally occurs and there is no more Internet, but it could be helpful to make one in preparation!

Create your vertical sundial []

Found on the Internet: How to Waterproof a Flashlight with a Bike Inner Tube

A Waterproofed Flashlight
Image taken from

Sometimes you find something interesting on the Internet that is relevent outside the context it was originally published.  This is the case with this article I found on Lifehacker which points to an article on Instructables.  In this edition of Found on the Internet I direct you to a simple way to waterproof a flashlight using the inner tube from a bicycle tire.  You can buy fancy flashlights that are engineered to be waterproof, but considering the impromptu nature of surviving Armageddon, you may not have access to one of these.  As it is pointed out in the article, water and electricity don’t mix.  Water in the flashlight can cause a short, or worse, cause corrosion and permanent damage to your flashlight.  It is IMPERATIVE to keep your flashlight dry and this is a perfectly effective way to do so.

Quick Easy Waterproof Flashlight using an inner tube [Instructables]

TV Review: The Colony

Verdict: Good Stuff!

“The Colony” is a reality show on The Discovery Channel that follows a group of people in a controlled environment simulating a post-apocalyptic world and how those people might survive in it.  It has had a two season run so far and doesn’t seem to be losing steam.  Each season a group of 10 people is brought together and they have to figure out how to survive for 10 weeks.  As with any of these shows, it is never as simple as “let’s see what they come up with.”  For added reality, the producers brought in actors to play gangs, traders, and other survivors to invent some scenarios that the colonists would likely face.

As with any reality show, you can assume that there isn’t much “reality” involved.  However, unlike most other reality shows, there is no prize or “winner”.  Everyone that starts the show, will end the show unless circumstances dictate that they be removed (getting lost, simulated death, actual injury, deserting to the gangs, etc.).  This is one of the things I liked the most about the show, it makes it seem more like a social experiment than a television show and makes it more interesting to watch than if someone were “voted off” every week.

I also enjoyed seeing the ideas that were tossed around in order to make improvements to the colony: a wood gas generator, water purification systems, a flame thrower, a spark-gap transmitter, an alcohol still, a metal forge, a meat smoker, they even figured out how to make a toilet flush without working plumbing!  Now, whether or not any of these people had these ideas or they were given to them for the sake of the show is debatable, but honestly… Who cares?  It made the show better and if you’re able to suspend disbelief for 44 minutes at a time it shouldn’t matter.

I keep seeing the same comment over and over again: “These people are dumb and they can’t act.  The world hasn’t really ended, they know that in 70 days they get to go back to warm beds, hot meals, and cell phones.  They couldn’t have forgotten all that.  They’re so stupid.”  And to that I refer people to the Stanford Prison Experiment ( in which the participants took on the roles of guards and prisoners and the experiment was shut down 6 days in because it became too real for the participants.  Ultimately, if you pretend something is real long enough, you will start to actually believe it after a while.

One of the things that I enjoyed the most was that the first season of this show was essentially a post-apocalyptic think tank.  They through so much brain power together that it was scary what they came up with.  I think, given time, the colonists from season 1 would have become a dominant force in theoretical post-apocalyptic L.A.

All in all, its an entertaining show that will introduce you to some interesting survival ideas.  You just need to look passed the innate contrived nature of reality programming.