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Curing Meats

 
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looking for resources on curing and storing meats.  I've collected salt and sodium nitrate and nitrite, and pink salts, cure 1 and 2.  I'm looking at this from a survivalist perspective, not from a culinary perspective.  I've read directions, but always question the source of info - and there are always gaps in the directions where they don't really explain it to a level I'm satisfied with, maybe it is as much art as science.

For wet curing - if I had a 5 gallon water jug, and wanted to stuff deer meet into it - to wet cure/preserve.  Is there an actual ratio by weight of salt and pink salt for the meat and volume of water?  I've seen 2.5%, but not sure if that is a valid number.  With 2.25 percent being just salt and .25 being the pink salt.  

Also, can you just leave it in the container submerged long term, possibly many months - or at some point - are you better off to take it out of the container and hang it?

Corned beef from the store seems to come packaged with some amount of the brine in the container - so it makes me think it could just be left in the container, but I'm never sure if I'm looking at a valid resource on the internet - so, curious what other folks do - or sources of info they find reliable.

Also, I've never experimented with actually curing my own meats - from a culinary perspective.  Never been able to get past the idea that the meat could spoil.  Maybe I should get some steak tips and try to cure them just to experiment.  We don't really eat or like many cured meats.  Sausage and Corned beef are about it, but I don't see myself bothering to try to make sausage.  I'm just curious to know how I would preserve meat - if I ever had to.
 
master pollinator
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For dry curing I have used the ratio of one pound of salt for 10 pounds of meat. But, I havent done this in years. Do verify with another source.
 
pollinator
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Here is a book which helped me when i needed to process 25 pounds of side bacon, back bacon, face bacon. It also had recipes for wet curing and it was very easy to follow. I wish i had my own copy i ended up taking it out from the library!

Curing & Smoking River Cottage Handbook No 13
 
pollinator
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I can't remember where I read/saw/heard it but some pepper made a solid point.
"Don't have a massive stash of things you don't already eat and enjoy or know how to use."
In an emergency you want food you already know how to deal with.
There is no couscous in my pantry and there will never be any in my stash.
You also don't want to be experimenting with fermentation/preservation when your life may depend on it.
Better to practice now when you have the ability to get more resources when you make a mistake.

IE I feel I have adequate wilderness skills but I still go down to the river near my house and practice my woodworking and fire lighting etc.
 
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Mike Branscombe wrote:Also, can you just leave it in the container submerged long term, possibly many months - or at some point - are you better off to take it out of the container and hang it?

Corned beef from the store seems to come packaged with some amount of the brine in the container - so it makes me think it could just be left in the container, but I'm never sure if I'm looking at a valid resource on the internet - so, curious what other folks do - or sources of info they find reliable.



Mike, do you mean leaving the meat in the brine? The problem is that the longer it sits in the brine, the saltier it becomes. I've over-brined some of my meat cuts, so that they were inedible! (Part of my learning curve!)  The solution for that is soaking in fresh water to remove some of the salt.

The book I use is Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman  and Brian Polcyn. I really like their all-purpose brine recipe:

  • 1 gallon/4 litres water
  • 1 cup/225 grams kosher salt (I use canning salt)
  • 1/2 cup/125 grams sugar

  • Seasonings are optional.

    The book also has a section on brining times ranging from 4 to 6 hours for a 2-pound chicken to 24 hours for a 15-pound turkey. Yes, this is with a culinary focus, but it still has to be palatable.

    I then freeze the cuts. In the pre-electric south, however, the next step for long-term storage would be to cold smoke it, although I'm not sure of the time frame for that. Then hang in the root cellar. Like mold on cheese, anything that doesn't look pleasant to eat can be sliced off and fed to the chickens or pigs.
     
    master steward
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    Everyone has given you great advice!

    Another excellent book that I would recommend is "Putting Food By" by Ruth Hertzberg.  

    I give this book 10 out of 10 acorns.

    The link has a "Look Inside"

    Amazon Link

    The reason I like this book is that it is all about all the safe ways to preserve food, whether it is vegetable, fruit or meat.

    Glancing through my book it appear that the ratios of salt maybe different for different cuts of meat and maybe even whether it is beef, pork  venison, etc.
     
    Mike Branscombe
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    I've seen a lot of books, and own a few on curing meats.  None of the ones I own cover the questions I'm looking at - and most of the online resource I find, basically have the cure method that is for a strong brine - a graded brine, where the brine is strong and the actual cure time is short with the idea that the meat will be eaten right after it is cured.  What I'm trying to figure out apparently is called equilibrium brining, where the salt mixture is based on the weight/volume of the entire container, so - once the brine has permeated the meat completely, it is impossible to put too much salt in the meat, but the cure time is longer.  I think I'm looking at this more as a science question, what percentage of cure and salt content will preserve the meat?  I don't want to blindly follow someone's recipe - I want to understand how and why it works, and what the correct percentage of salt content in the brine and meat is correct to preserve it well.  Maybe there is no clear answer.  




     
     
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