Colonial meat care in hot weather

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Spence10

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Wasn't there something published some years back about an "outbreak" or discovery of this ailment among Appalachian folks who ate squirrel brains?
I don't know about an outbreak in Appalachia, but here's a report of one in western Kentucky in 1997.
*****************************
August 1997
Doctors in Kentucky have issued a warning that people should not
eat squirrel brains, a regional delicacy, because squirrels may
carry a variant of mad cow disease that can be transmitted to
humans and is fatal.

Although no squirrels have been tested for mad squirrel disease,
there is reason to believe that they could be infected, said Dr.
Joseph Berger, chairman of the neurology department at the
University of Kentucky in Lexington. Elk, deer, mink, rodents and
other wild animals are known to develop variants of mad cow disease
that collectively are called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.

In the last four years, 11 cases of a human form of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, have been diagnosed in
rural western Kentucky, said Dr. Erick Weisman, clinical director of the Neurobehavioral Institute in Hartford, Ky., where the patients were treated.
"All of them were squirrel-brain eaters," Weisman said. Of the 11 patients,
at least six have died.

Within the small population of western Kentucky, the natural
incidence of this disease should be one person getting it every 10
years or so, Weisman said. The appearance of this rare brain
disease in so many people in just four years has taken scientists
by surprise.

While the patients could have contracted the disease from eating
beef and not squirrels, there has not been a single confirmed case
of mad cow disease in the United States, Weisman said. Since every
one of the 11 people with the disease ate squirrel brains, it seems
prudent for people to avoid this practice until more is known, he said.

The warning, describing the first five cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease,
will appear in Saturday's issue of The Lancet, a British medical publication.

The disease in humans, squirrels and cows produces holes in
brain tissue. Human victims become demented, stagger and typically
die in one or two years. The people who died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob
disease in Kentucky were between 56 and 78, lived in different
towns and were not related, Weisman said.

The cause of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies is hotly
debated. Many scientists believe that the infectious agent is a
renegade protein, called a prion, which can infect cells and make
copies of itself. Others argue that a more conventional infectious
particle causes these diseases but that it has not yet been
identified. [It has now been established prions are the cause.]

In either case, the disease can be transmitted from one animal
to another by the eating of infected brain tissue.

Such diseases were considered exotic and rare until 10 years
ago, when an outbreak occurred among British cattle. Tens of
thousands of animals contracted a bovine variant called mad cow
disease, and their meat along with bits of brain tissue was sold as
hamburger. Thus far 15 people in Britain have died of a transmissible
spongiform encephalopathy that they seemed to have contracted from
eating infected meat.

Most people with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are elderly, but the
British victims were all young, which alarmed public-health
officials. The outbreak in western Kentucky has occurred in older
people, Weisman said, "which makes me think there may have been
an epidemic 30 years ago in the squirrel population."

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies have a long latency
period, he said, which means many people in the South may be at
risk and not know it.
***************************
Spence
 

Daveboone

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With fresh meat never in good supply to poor settlers, undoubtedly it wasnt long until it hit the pot. I doubt if they were hunting squirrels they were also deer hunting. Except in times of exceptional plenty, I am thinking if the hunter bagged three, it was time to get them back to the soup pot...which by far was the most likely destination of any small game. I doubt refrigeration was ever a concern except with big game. Even then most big game hunting...except market hunting, was put off for cooler times or very promptly taken care of. Also, food tastes are much more reserved now....it wasnt unusual to hang fowl for days to age...
One standard for pheasants was to hang it until the body pulled off the head! A bit too ripe for me!
 

tenngun

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Living on a near all meat diet means a lot of meat per day six to ten pounds per person. A trapping brigade could eat a couple/ three deer a day or an elk/ moose every day or two.
In a settled area where plant based food were available meat was preserved or might get chicken dinner on Sunday.
I recall a passage from a mountain man journal, though I don’t recall who wrote it, that two men shot a buff for dinner. They felt bad killing one big animal just for two men, and chose an old poor looking cow.
A deer or other ruminate can be gutted and hung. A smoky fire will reduce flies and the outer edge of the meat will crust. Cutting off that area can expose good meat underneath. This might last a week.
Glass came across a fresh buff calf kill. Drove the wolfs off and could eat on that carcass for about a week. This was in august.
 

Thomas.bill92

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From a fisherman's standpoint, back in the day they would line their creel's with damp moss or use a canvas creel occasionally dunked in the creek. Evaporation keeps it a bit cooler on those warm days, especially if kept in the shade on a breezy day.
 

Dale Lilly

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This has nothing to do with squirrels but with meat. In 1961 we moved to Frankfurt, Germany. The area of the city was Niederrader Landstrausse. [sp ??] We did business with a butcher shop just a block from our apartment. Whole cows, whole chickens and other animal carcasses were skinned and hung out front on the sidewalk. The meat took on a bluish caste and gathered flies. If you wanted a portion, they simply went out and cut it off. We were at that location about five months. [awaiting post housing] We bought most meat at the U.S. Army Post Exchange, but often bought some from our butcher friend. My wife, myself and four youngsters suffered no ill effects. None of our German neighbors did either to my knowledge. Just my recollection for your consideration. Polecat
 

Spence10

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From a fisherman's standpoint, back in the day they would line their creel's with damp moss or use a canvas creel occasionally dunked in the creek. Evaporation keeps it a bit cooler on those warm days, especially if kept in the shade on a breezy day.
I did a mule deer hunt for 17 days in the mountains of northeast Nevada, shot my buck on the second day. My host and hunting partner is a very experienced western hunter and has a very efficient way of handling a carcass. He skinned my deer right away, washed it down, bagged it in a porous cloth bag made for the purpose and hung it.
camp.jpg


The weather at more than 10,000 feet was quite cold but not freezing at night, averaged mid-70s during the day. He wrapped my deer in an old sleeping bag durning the day, opened it to the cold air at night. The deer was 15 days dead when we butchered it back at his house, and was still as sweet as could be, no problems whatsoever.

I think there is not as much problem with dead meat in warm weather as one might think. I'm sure the old boys understood that better than we do.

Spence
 

Ninering62

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I don't know about an outbreak in Appalachia, but here's a report of one in western Kentucky in 1997.
*****************************
August 1997
Doctors in Kentucky have issued a warning that people should not
eat squirrel brains, a regional delicacy, because squirrels may
carry a variant of mad cow disease that can be transmitted to
humans and is fatal.

Although no squirrels have been tested for mad squirrel disease,
there is reason to believe that they could be infected, said Dr.
Joseph Berger, chairman of the neurology department at the
University of Kentucky in Lexington. Elk, deer, mink, rodents and
other wild animals are known to develop variants of mad cow disease
that collectively are called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.

In the last four years, 11 cases of a human form of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, have been diagnosed in
rural western Kentucky, said Dr. Erick Weisman, clinical director of the Neurobehavioral Institute in Hartford, Ky., where the patients were treated.
"All of them were squirrel-brain eaters," Weisman said. Of the 11 patients,
at least six have died.

Within the small population of western Kentucky, the natural
incidence of this disease should be one person getting it every 10
years or so, Weisman said. The appearance of this rare brain
disease in so many people in just four years has taken scientists
by surprise.

While the patients could have contracted the disease from eating
beef and not squirrels, there has not been a single confirmed case
of mad cow disease in the United States, Weisman said. Since every
one of the 11 people with the disease ate squirrel brains, it seems
prudent for people to avoid this practice until more is known, he said.

The warning, describing the first five cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease,
will appear in Saturday's issue of The Lancet, a British medical publication.

The disease in humans, squirrels and cows produces holes in
brain tissue. Human victims become demented, stagger and typically
die in one or two years. The people who died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob
disease in Kentucky were between 56 and 78, lived in different
towns and were not related, Weisman said.

The cause of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies is hotly
debated. Many scientists believe that the infectious agent is a
renegade protein, called a prion, which can infect cells and make
copies of itself. Others argue that a more conventional infectious
particle causes these diseases but that it has not yet been
identified. [It has now been established prions are the cause.]

In either case, the disease can be transmitted from one animal
to another by the eating of infected brain tissue.

Such diseases were considered exotic and rare until 10 years
ago, when an outbreak occurred among British cattle. Tens of
thousands of animals contracted a bovine variant called mad cow
disease, and their meat along with bits of brain tissue was sold as
hamburger. Thus far 15 people in Britain have died of a transmissible
spongiform encephalopathy that they seemed to have contracted from
eating infected meat.

Most people with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are elderly, but the
British victims were all young, which alarmed public-health
officials. The outbreak in western Kentucky has occurred in older
people, Weisman said, "which makes me think there may have been
an epidemic 30 years ago in the squirrel population."

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies have a long latency
period, he said, which means many people in the South may be at
risk and not know it.
***************************
Spence
My kin are from western Md. Pa. Wva. So squirrel has been hunted along with many other critters. I remember very well watchin my grandparents & kin eat squirrel brains & some other critter parts that I'd just rather starve first. I have never & will never eat brains, peckers & dangly bits, innards. I don't eat any liver or kidneys either. I will eat deer heart if it's cooked right, but that's it. Soooo I'm not gettin no mad skeewhirrel disease ever.
 

VADSLRAM

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Large game(and beef) benefit from an aging. Usually between freezing and 40f. The natural enzymes tenderize the meat and the evaporation will reduce moisture but concentrate the flavor. As a youth in the Catskills, deer season was in Nov so we would gut and pack the carcass with snow right in the field then bring it back and hang it in the garage for a week before parting it out and freezing it.
I wouldn't eat squirrel brains or bits but I did get a good laugh when we had a meeting in San Antonio and I bought a big order of calf fries for myself and some co workers. Didn't tell them what it was until after they ate and said how good they were😂🤣. A bunch of little boy cows never became man cowso_O
 

beardedhorse

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In Colorado during archery and muzzle loading season it can get very warm. Certain game management units require the head to be submitted for testing for chronic wasting disease in deer and elk. Antelope are not supposed to get a form of bovine spongiform encephalitis. I do a lot of brain tanning with brains from the prey animals I get but don't eat the brains. It is called chronic wasting disease for deer and elk and was deliberately leaked in the wild when the state fish and game department tried to see if scrape (pronounced scray-pee) from sheep could cross into deer or elk. They experimented with pens and some of the infected animals got loose into the state and started the mass contamination. Elk have been captured and introduced to other states lacking elk and need to be monitored from chronic wasting disease, too. My uncle had me save brains from squirrels I shot when growing up. He also liked catfish brains.
 
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I think we are overestimating those of the past. In my reading, I can't find anything special about how they cared for meat. I can, however, find lots and lots of examples where they recovered less than desirable meat. The most recent was reading the journals of Lewis and Clark, and it seems half the time when they make a kill it reads something like "Colter shot an old cow, with meat almost blue, barely fit to eat". Something along that nature. I've shot a lot of animals. There's not animals walking around that aren't fit to eat. Sentences similar to that above only came from one thing. The animal they killed spoiled before they could process it. As a result, they would kill large amounts of animals. 6 deer, 2 elk, and a black bear would not be unusual for a single day. You're telling me 45 guys ate all that every single day without wasting meat?
 
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