Smoking meat imparts flavor unattainable via other cooking techniques and does aid in meat preservation. Meat that is solely smoked still requires refrigeration, or it will spoil. Smoked meat that is cured, like ham, or dried, like jerky, may not require refrigeration.
Function of Smoke
Smoking aids in preserving meat in three ways. During the actual smoking process, the smoke kills any existing bacteria. Smoking deposits tar-like substances on the surface of the meat, which will continue to kill bacteria. Smoking dries the outside of the meat. After smoking, the surface of the meat is preserved, however the inside still contains moisture and therefore can spoil.
Best Smoking Practices
The national Fight BAC! food safety education campaign provides four steps to maximize food preservation when smoking. Ensure all surfaces or objects (including hands) that come into contact with the meat are clean. Separate foods being smoked to prevent cross-contamination. Cook food to the proper temperature. Refrigerate the meat after smoking.
Storing Smoked Meat
Cut the smoked meat into smaller pieces, place into a shallow container and cover. Refrigerate within two hours and consume the meat within four days. If not consumed within four hours, freeze the meat for later use.