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paul wheaton
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I just read something that says that people used to preserve food with salt - but it gives no further information on how this happens. 

Anybody done it?

Anybody heard of it? 

 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Yeah, I've eaten corned beef, and salt pork.  Good stuff.

Same basic idea as salting the earth so plants don't grow.

It takes a lot of work to pull water out of very salty/sugary solutions.  The stronger the brine/syrup, the fewer species are able to stand it; the presence of solid crystals ("corns" in olde-tymey speech) means the solution is as strong as it can get. 

In these conditions, any microbes that would lead to spoilage end up being mummified before they can eat much.
 
paul wheaton
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So, what would be an example of this.  How might one "corn beef"?
 
Leah Sattler
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I have never done it but my one of my books says in summary........

for 25 lbs of beef use 2-3 lbs of pickling salt. cover the meat in the salt and layer it in clean sterile crock. let is stand for 24hrs then cover it in a water solution containing 2 cups sugar, tb of baking soda and tb salt peter. weight down the meat to keep it fully under the brine. let the meat cure in the brine at no more than 38* for 4-6 weeks. if it gets nasty wash the meat and re brine in fresh solution to which you would also add 2 1/4 cups of pickling salt to replace the salt you washed away.

of course I am sure that it was kept this way in the olden days but now refrigeration, canning or freezing is reccomended.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Look down a few rows at this thread about salt cured duck! There are pictures even--it looks tantalizing!

She says it's like prosciutto, which I adore!
 
Irene Kightley
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Sorry about the confusion but Paul held my arm behind my back while I changed to my real name...

You can salt all sorts of things, green beans, fish and almost any meat.

I've got a better recipe for real prosciutto - it's very easy to do.

I'll start a new thread if you like. Give me a while to find the photos....

Irene (aka  hardworkinghippy)
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Hello Irene! Thanks for the explanation...I was having a name confusion thing.

I love your posts, btw. Thanks so much for sharing! 

And prosciutto directions with photos....well, let me just say, 'oh my!' (In a good way.  )
 
Brenda Groth
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i believe in the older times a lot of things were preserved with salt that are now canned or frozen..jerky is an example of meat that is salted then dried.

i think generally the idea is to also dry it..when using salt..but bacon and ham is often salt cured..
 
paul wheaton
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Leah Sattler wrote:
I have never done it but my one of my books says in summary........

for 25 lbs of beef use 2-3 lbs of pickling salt. cover the meat in the salt and layer it in clean sterile crock. let is stand for 24hrs then cover it in a water solution containing 2 cups sugar, tb of baking soda and tb salt peter. weight down the meat to keep it fully under the brine. let the meat cure in the brine at no more than 38* for 4-6 weeks. if it gets nasty wash the meat and re brine in fresh solution to which you would also add 2 1/4 cups of pickling salt to replace the salt you washed away.

of course I am sure that it was kept this way in the olden days but now refrigeration, canning or freezing is reccomended.


Does that mean that the longest that the meat lasts this way is 4-6 weeks?

 
Irene Kightley
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I've never done beef but by using salt and air drying you can keep bacon for months and a ham for years if it's stored properly.

This jambon is about 18 months old :



P.S. I've posted the prosciutto recipe I mentioned in here : http://www.permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=2313.new#new
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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A lot of the preservation for prosciutto is from lacto-fermentation, though.

Similarly, the smoke seems to help bacon a lot.

All of these are the same basic chemistry, though:  Add stuff that makes water less available.
 
Leah Sattler
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paul wheaton wrote:
Does that mean that the longest that the meat lasts this way is 4-6 weeks?




thats the cure time. It isn't finished till it has been in there for 4-6 weeks. like saurkraut.
 
paul wheaton
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So, you have a room that is a sort of smokehouse?  Some place that is kept dry and there are lots of hanging meats there, right?  And the bacon will hang for several weeks to several months.  And when you pull the bacon out of there - you then need to refrigerate it? 
 
Irene Kightley
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We don't have a smoker but our neighbour does and when it's lit it's worth smoking a lot of meat all at once so we (and others) take our meat to him.

The meat stays outside covered by a muslin cloths like these to keep flies out once it's cut. You can keep your bacon in the 'fridge but it will keep better if you slice off only what you need for a few days and hang the rest outside.

 
paul wheaton
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Irene Kightley
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It's on the west facing (prevailing wind) part of our terrace which is open but covered.

On the south side, the winter sun warms the thermal mass to reduce the humidity on the terrace and keep the house warm. This is the ideal place for us for storing our food. We don't use a 'fridge except in the height of summer.

The hams, copa, saucisson, bacon, onions herbs etc. hang to dry here.


 
paul wheaton
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T. Joy
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I only know about salt curing olives but if anyone wants to know how here are some instructions.
I love olives.
http://www.wikihow.com/Cure-Olives
 
Leila Rich
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We used to salt lots of food when I was a kid: kill a large animal when you've got no electricity and you'll need to preserve it somehow!
Corned beef is delicious. We kept it for ages submerged (vital) in brine.
Without using nitrites/nitrates, it goes quite a...challenging...greyish/green colour, but tastes great.
Corned meat must be soaked/rinsed in several changes of fresh water, or it'll be horribly salty.
Us kids used to trawl large amounts of mullet sprats which we'd process like the Dutch pickled herring 'rollmops'.
I think salting makes many things more delicious than their 'raw' form. Confit, especially duck, is amazing. Although cooking it in it's own fat might have something to do with it!
Salt cod  (baccala), or your sustainably fished local version, is way more than the sum of it's parts.
 
Irene Kightley
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I've re-uploaded the photo - sorry about that Paul !

We make confit - it is fantastic !!

All of the meat from our ducks or geese is salted and left overnight :



The cooked until just before it's tender :



Then potted and sterilised :



We use the fat left over to confit the gizzards (for salads) wood pigeon (which are very dry usually and suit this kind of cooking) and any other poultry we have.



We also use the fat for sterilising ceps, chanterelles, patés etc and do a few small jars of fat which we use for cooking throughout the year or to give to friends :



We do this just before Christmas and the jars stay good for several years.  That way I always have at least a year's worth of gourmet food stashed away for us and our guests without having to spend a lot of time cooking.





 
Burra Maluca
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Most of the old folk in my part of Portugal have wooden boxes, about 2 feet tall and 4 feet long which they keep packed with salt to store the meat from the pig.  The village house we bought, which had been empty for ten years after it's previous occupier died, had the salt chest intact when we bought it.  The contents were still there and in pretty good condition, though a bit rancid smelling.  The half eaten portion of belly pork on the old iron griddle with the fork next to it was a bit heart wrenching though.  I guess it was the old guys last meal, but it still looked nearly edible after being stuck in the salt chest for ten years. 
 
Lee Einer
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I cure a lot of meat- I make my own bacon, ham, corned beef.

It's really not hard to do.

Tasso ham can be made in a day, one of my faves. You can read about it in my food blog, here-

http://nortenoeating.blogspot.com/2010/12/tasso-ham-cajun-way.html
 
Lee Einer
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paul wheaton wrote:
So, what would be an example of this.  How might one "corn beef"?


Here's my recipe for corned beef short ribs. You can use it for corning any cut of meat, just adjust the recipe based on the weight of the meat you are corning.


To Cure-


1 hunk of long-cut, meaty beef short ribs, 4-5 lbs
¼ cup of Morton's sugar cure
¼ cup honey
1 tbs ground black pepper
2 tbs powdered red chilis
¼ cup pickling spice
1 tbs powdered allspice
2 chopped cloves garlic

To Cook-

1- onion, quartered
Several garlic cloves
Water to cover

To finish-

Some hickory chunks
Mustard BBQ Sauce

Here in Las Vegas, New Mexico, we often get beef short ribs in the store which are in a strip like beef ribs, not cut apart, and very meaty. I tried corning them, and finishing them on the barbie, and they are incredibly good.

Put the short ribs in a freezer bag with the remaining ingredients, and let it hang out in the fridge for at least a week. Turn it over every day to distribute the cure. At first, the cure will draw out liquids from the meat, then the meat will reabsorb most of the liquid and the cure.

When you are ready to cook them up, rinse them off and put them in a pot with the onion, garlic and water to cover. Simmer until tender but not falling apart, about an hour and a half.

Smoke 'em on the grill for 45 minutes or so, to give 'em that hickory tang. Baste them with mustard barbecue sauce 10 minutes before they are done.

Or not. You can also serve them as you would traditional corned beef.

Save the liquid from the boiling. You can use it to boil cabbage, carrots and potatoes for go-withs. Next day, you can use the leftover liquid and vegetables to make a yummy vegetable soup.


 
                              
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While only salting meat is certainly a crude form of preservation, curing meat is a superior form of preservation.  Cured meats contain nitrates/nitrites also, and often some form of sugar to help set the color and flavor.

Nitrates improve the flavor, color, and texture of the product and most importantly helps to prevent food poisoning by preventing botulism and dramatically inhibiting the growth of bacteria.

Essentially, curing produces a superior product that will taste better and last longer.  A more complex process and a better product as a result.
 
                                                
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LOL I couldn't hang meat like that in my neck of the woods. The critters would leave me a present on the ground below it.

 
Suzy Bean
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There is an article in the recent Backhome Magazine (Sept/Oct 2011) on Curing Meat at Home, with a subtitle: “A warmer climate doesn’t matter if you try our curing technique.” They use an old freezer chest with a temperature regulator, set to 32 degrees F. They make a brine with noniodized salt, and sometimes brown sugar. They cover the meat in the brine in sealed buckets or ziplocks, and leave it for a week or two, depending on how thick the meat is. You can then smoke the cured meat. They say: “Properly cured and smoked bacon will keep without refrigeration, but because it is salty enough to do so, it needs to be soaked in plain water overnight before cooking.” You can use this method for any kind of meat, such as in making corned beef.
 
Lee Einer
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Suzy Bean wrote:
There is an article in the recent Backhome Magazine (Sept/Oct 2011) on Curing Meat at Home, with a subtitle: “A warmer climate doesn’t matter if you try our curing technique.” They use an old freezer chest with a temperature regulator, set to 32 degrees F. They make a brine with noniodized salt, and sometimes brown sugar. They cover the meat in the brine in sealed buckets or ziplocks, and leave it for a week or two, depending on how thick the meat is. You can then smoke the cured meat. They say: “Properly cured and smoked bacon will keep without refrigeration, but because it is salty enough to do so, it needs to be soaked in plain water overnight before cooking.” You can use this method for any kind of meat, such as in making corned beef.


I brine my bacon and corned beef in ziplock bags in the fridge. Tasso ham gets cured so quickly it doesn't even need refrigeration the way I do it.After smoking, it will also be fine without refrigeration.
 
Suzy Bean
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Yet another article, from Backwoods Home: Buckboard Bacon. Apparently you can make "bacon" out of any part of the pig--not just the belly. The author also describes making "bacon jerky" since she ran out of room in her freezer, which would reconstitute in a fry pan easily. She could dehydrate it and store it since it was a lot less fat than belly.
 
Suzy Bean
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Also, she said she didn't bother smoking the bacon because it tasted so good already before doing so. Has anyone else done bacon without smoking it? This would be great as I do not have a smoker/smoke room.
 
Leila Rich
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Over here, if bacon's smoked, they advertise it as such, so I assume the...default setting...for bacon is unsmoked?
 
John Polk
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For some good info on salting/curing/smoking, go here:

http://www.wedlinydomowe.com/

He is a well respected author on the subjects. Included, on the site, are about 150 international recipes for sausages, as well as some smoker/smokehouse plans. Great site if you are into preserving meats!
 
Leila Rich
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I was going to talk about corned beef, then realised I've gone on about it a few times before!
Corned beef hash is a delicious way of using the leftovers.
Great with cabbagy things, especially sauerkraut
 
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