How to cure meat

Curing meat and indulging on them will kill me of high cholesterol, blood pressure or a cardiac arrest. That’s my love for cured meat,Warning: Excess indulgence will bring bad news, slowly but eventually. But I can’t stop writing, thinking and obsessing about cured meat.

Curing meat is an age-old process  that uses salt for preserving meat that dries of excess water. Cured meat lends an intense umami flavor; but yes  safety standards need met to avoid tainted meat or a sick stomach. The fundamentals of all of this is to slow spoilage by drawing out the water and prevent the growth of microorganisms. The bio chemical reactions of oxygen & water leads to bacteria propagation which is food spoilage.

Examples of cured meat

  • bacon
  • ham
  • pancetta
  • prosciutto
  • corned beef
  • pastrami
  • sausages
  • pepperoni
  • salami
  • mortadella
  • chorizo

Choices of meats to cure

  1. Cuts of meats can be the butt venison or the belly briskets or even mutton legs or duck breasts
  2. Trimming the excess and unwanted fat is necessary to begin this curing process, excess tendons.
  3. Stabbing the meat for salts to enter is a good way to ensure its well salted, be sure to use them for larger cuts of meat.

 

Salting meat and fish dates back to ancient times, to ensure food availability.  If you don’t use enough salt, the food will spoil prematurely or begin to grow killer organism.  Too much salt, means way too salty. (still wiser). Curing agents, such as nitrate and nitrite, are also frequently added to curing mixtures, though these are regarded as unhealthy forms of salt.

Use a ratio of 2 parts to :1000 of sodium nitrite and salt ensure to use a digital scale and maintain ratio of sodium nitrite to salt. For every 2 grams of sodium nitrite, for example, use 1,000 grams of salt.  or the weight of your salt, multiply it by .002. And if you cant get this much calculation, quit right away. These exercises can prove to be extremely lethal

Spicing up cured meat

  • Peppercorns. Black, green, or white are
  • Sugar. A little Demerara sugar adds a touch of caramel warm sweetness to your cure (There are some ready made ham glaze as well
  • Coriander and mustard seed. Adds smokiness and age to the meat.
  • Star anise. Silky and slightly sweet, a little bit goes a long way. Slightly nutty.
  • Fennel seed. Adds a pleasantly green or grassy dimension to the cure.
  • Citrus zest. Adds a light, pleasantly acidic element that cuts through fattier pieces of meat.

Functions of each ingredient in curing meat:

Salt

  • Flavor
  • Antimicrobial
  • Enhances cure transport through meat

Sugar

  • Flavor
  • Counteracts harshness of salt
  • Energy for bacteria that change NO3 —> NO2

Nitrite or nitrate

  • Flavor
  • Prevents warmed-over flavor
  • Retards rancidity
  • Cured-pink color
  • Anti-botulinal effect (anti bacteria to be simple)

Source Wikihow

 http://www.wikihow.com/Cure-Meat
Beef venison cured & ready

Cured beef venison

Other types of curing meat

Dry Curing Meat

For hams, bacon and smaller cuts of meat (illustrated above & the easiest)

Brine Curing Meat

Like dry curing, the process takes place in the refrigerator and the cured meat needs to be cooked when finished. The meat needs to be entirely submerged (weighed down)

Combination Curing Meat

Combining the two dry rub cure and brine solution injections, the result is combination curing. Far faster & avoids spoilage as a result.

Sausage Curing

This is done by mixing curing salts and spices with ground meat. Few days in the refrigerator after the curing process is complete, the sausage is cooked before serving.

Here is how the process of meat beaks down

 

Generation of Nitric Oxide (NO):

(1)
(2)
(3)
NaNO3
—–>
NaNO2
—–>
HONO
—–>
NO
  1. Sodium nitrate is reduced to sodium nitrite by microorganisms such as Micrococcus spp. present on meats.
  2. Sodium nitrite is reduced to nitrous acid in the presence of an acidic environment (e.g., by fermentation or by addition of glucono-δ(delta)-lactone).
  3. Nitrous acid forms nitric oxide. Nitric oxide reacts with myoglobin (meat pigments) to form a red color. Source

The time required for a cured color to develop may be shortened with the use of cure accelerators, e.g., ascorbic acid, erythorbic acid, or their derivatives. Cure accelerators tend to speed up chemical conversion of nitric acid to nitric oxide. They also serve as oxygen scavengers, which slow the fading of the cured meat color in the presence of sunlight and oxygen. Some studies have indicated that cure accelerators have antimicrobial properties, especially for the newly emerging pathogens like E. coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes (Doyle 1999). Since cure accelerators are rarely used in home curing, this information needs further review or research to determine what benefits home curing would have by using certain cure accelerators.

Tips

When curing meat be sure to:

  1.  Mass of meat size & weight determines the amount of time spent curing . For thicker cuts of meat, you may want to lengthen the time you cure.
  2.  Do not to exceed the curing levels in the recipe. Find your curing  perfection by experimenting with different spices and not altering  curing levels, former is science and predictable, latter is pure art.
  3. Label meat start and end date for curing
  4. Cure meat at a temperature between 2 degrees – 4 degrees Celsius. Colder temperatures will result to freezing and higher temperature to spoilage, don’t mess the two up
  5. Cured meat is raw remember to cook your meat before consuming.
  6. Stay in extremeness of care and please please ensure to cook it well using poultry,  red meat is a safer choice.

Clean work areas with vinegar and baking soda, depending on type of surface and its reaction to alkaline or acids. Knives have to be extra clean and no contact with any other food products or types other than listed for your recipe. Especially stay away from dairy products to avoid cross contamination.

A good source to understand curing
Buying Curing Meat salts : you can order it online from Butcher-Packer Ebay or Amazon.com.
Note
I am not responsible for any mishaps, be responsible and check food safety sources for meats in your area and local authorities. If you do not have a great sense of smell just don’t attempt it, sensitive nose may find all meats as spoiled ones. Curing is no assurance  that your meat eventually won’t spoil or can be eaten raw!  This article is meant for intermediate to advanced individuals and beginners who haven’t found an answer to their suicidal tendencies…
My articles on cooking techniques

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