Home Smoking and Curing: How to Smoke-Cure Meat, Fish and Game
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minutes to 30 days, largely depending on the cured meat project. For salt curing meat such as fish and seafood. This can be done in 30 minutes in a salt cure brine. For saltbox curing a prosciutto leg, it can take 30 days. But for cold smoking, I find it’s 20-30% dependent on the meat (like fish loses weight/moisture as soon as it has been removed from the water, weigh your fish straight after catching it, it will always be heavier!). The information was presented in a way that made me feel like I understood what would be going on during the process and that it was something I could do--and do safely. The author lives in England, but the book has been modified so that Americans can use it without having to convert everything. However, Americans will have to find a locally available brand of no-additives salt and so on rather than just use the exact same things that he does. Now for dry curing in this advanced style with a minimum of 12 months hanging. I have about a 99% hit rate of success, but I don’t do 12-month meat curing often right now, mainly 3-6 months of dry curing. Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing
These ‘go-to books‘ are very useful for someone trying to learn dry curing and smoking; they’re all pitched slightly differently, but they have the same info. Now I just use a little cut piece of cardboard, but you can use a label printer or anything that you put a hole through. Then record what it is and the finished weight (date is also optional). You just tie this on over the muslin if you are wrapping it. 7. (Optional) Muslin Wrapped & Tied
Once you get the current weight just multiply this by 0.65 to get the target weight. You won’t want to eat it until this target weight has been hit and it’s dry enough to eat (preserved per se, and dried enough for wafer thin-slicing! The book contained some step-by-step pictures with the recipes and in the section on butchering. There were also pictures of different types of cured and smoked meats, of the equipment, and to illustrate the curing and smoking methods. Many of the recipes focused on pork, but there were some for other meats, fish, and a few for vegetables and for cheese. It was a relief to know that I wasn’t mad or just making a big fuss about my life, that my sense of being other wasn’t all in my head. But there was also a measure of grief for all the times you’ve been misunderstood or you’ve just been horrible to yourself. Being a human is difficult and no one gives us a manual.”
So I put this in as an optional step because it does depend on the project. Most of the time I do a normal fridge dry-cure project, I will use muslin. There isn’t any smoking involved in dry-curing meat (most of the time). But in essence, cold smoking is ‘drying’ the meat to a point where it is preserved just like dry curing. The smoke has beneficial functions like anti-bacterial/fungal, so I have read. But sometimes I’ll wet brine fish for instance and then cold smoke. So here is a picture of good white penicillin mold which will prosper when you get the right conditions, you’ve probably seen it on the outside of certain dry- cured salamis. (DIY Curing Chamber). Trust Your Nose Rolled Pancetta is awesome, on a Facebook group, I saw someone using zip-ties to really get a rolled Pancetta tight. Then they tie it with twine & cut the zip-ties, smart thinking, or there is a sneaky tying technique that works with butcher twine (I prefer to not use single-use plastic ties, at least twine is a natural product)
The quality and freshness of the meat are very important to start off with. Aged beef is not advisable for dry-curing meat, since they’re already may be a level of undesirable bacteria present. For dry-cured meat projects that I put in my regular kitchen fridge, I have found that wrapping these can help to slow the drying out on the outside of the meat before hitting the target final weight. So I thought it’s best to go over the important aspects next, and the technique ( equilibrium curing) that leads to decent/consistent outcomes. Process of Dry Curing at Home Important Aspects I love to review a new cookbook, especially ones designed to teach the science behind the processes used in the book. Steven Lamb's cookbook, The River Cottage & Smoking Handbook does exactly that, he explains in great detail how and why curing and smoking different types of meats works. This part of the book I found to be very interesting and I learned a few things.