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Curing Basics, Ratios, Types, and safety

 
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Harry Nutczak
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15 10 6:09 am    Post subject: Curing Basics, Ratios, Types, and safety Reply with quote

I figured I would do a quick little post on the basics of cured meats;
Maybe this could be stickied? I plan on adding more later, so watch for updates to this thread.


If the meat is going to be heat processed (smoked, fried, grilled, or cooked above 150 degrees in any manner) such as bacon, hams, snack-sticks, jerky, etc. etc.
You will want to use Cure #1 or Tender-Quick.

If you are doing dry-aged meats that get no cooking before eating such as a true Prosciutto ham, Landjager, authentic pepperoni, Mettwurst, etc.
You will need cure #2.

Never substitute one cure formulation for another, follow recipes which are published by a reputable source. Follow all sanitation procedures to the letter. Home-curing meats is not a place you want to improvise, the results could be deadly.

Our biggest concern is the spores produced by C. Botulinum bacteria, the spores produce the deadliest toxin known to man, and it is typically fatal in all but a few cases. The Word Botulism is derived from the Latin word for Sausage since that is where this deadly strain of bacteria was first isolated.
Botulinum bacteria is present everywhere, it is fairly harmless until it produces spores. Botulinum requires a low-oxygen environment, with moisture, and temperatures between 40-140 to propagate. Normal cooking procedures do not make the toxins less deadly, so cooking infected meats does not make it safe to eat if C. Botulinum spores are present

Tender-Quick ratios;
Per each pound of whole muscle meat that will be cured in whole form, use 1 TBS of Tender-Quick.
For ground meats use 1.5tsp per each pound

Cure #1; use 4-ounces by weight, per each 100 pounds of meat, or 1 level tsp per each 5-pounds.

Salt; You'll want Kosher salt for best results, and at a ratio of about 3% by weight. This is not as critical for cured meats that will be heat processed, but if you ever get into dry-aged meats and sausages this is very important.

Always try to weigh salts and cures instead of relying on volumetric measurements. Different brands of kosher salt when measured by the cup can have a weight difference of up to 50%. So you may either get something so salty it is inedible, or something that did not have enough salt and a nasty bacteria was allowed to grow because of it.

I use 2 different books for my reference., the less expensive one is titled "Charcuterie" and the author is Polcyn.

Thge other one is "Sausage and meat curing recipes from around the world" authored by the late Rytek Kutas.
Kutas was more for commercial production, Polcyn is geared for the hobbyist.
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wnkt
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15 10 6:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Im looking forward to more. I am thinking of trying to make my own sausage. Locally about the extent of sausage is breakfast sausage links and bulk, brats at the grocery stores, and the artsy-fartsy organic stuff at places like Whole foods\Earth Fare.
BBQ opened my eyes to a lot of good food....now Im wanting to branch out a bit Very Happy
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killswitch505
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15 10 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thank you harry Very Happy
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Virginiasmoke
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15 10 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Harry. I've got a lot to learn from you.
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Cranky Buzzard
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16 10 1:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Harry!

This is my 3rd venture into curing and I have followed one of your procedures in the past. This may need to be the first sticky in this forum!

Charlie
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Virginiasmoke
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16 10 3:23 am    Post subject: Re: Curing Basics, Ratios, Types, and safety Reply with quote

Harry Nutczak wrote:
Cure #1; use 4-ounces by weight, per each 100 pounds of meat, or 1 level tsp per each 5-pounds.

Salt; You'll want Kosher salt for best results, and at a ratio of about 3% by weight. This is not as critical for cured meats that will be heat processed, but if you ever get into dry-aged meats and sausages this is very important.

Harry, please advise on this recipe that I'll be using tomorrow when my cure gets here:
Ingredients:
2 oz. Kosher salt (about 1/4 cup)
2 tsp. Cure #1
(aka pink salt, InstaCure #1, Prague Powder #1)
1/4 C. Maple sugar or packed brown sugar
1/4 C. Maple syrup
5 lb. fresh pork belly
(Makes enough for a 5 lb. belly)
Looking at the cure and salt... it looks like it's double what your recommending. I would guess there's some tolerance for different amounts but being my first time I'd rather not guess. I'm generally a "If a little is good than more is better" kind of person but I understand that's not a good idea when it comes to nitrite in cures.
Also... I'll be using a 4 lb cut of belly (not 5 lbs.). Do I need to break out my ammo loading scale to get a measurement for the curing salt?
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JimH
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 08 11 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This needs to be a sticky at the top of the page.
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Cranky Buzzard
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 14 11 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JimH wrote:
This needs to be a sticky at the top of the page.


Agreed!

SoEzzy, help us out?

Charlie
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sixfofalcon
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18 11 4:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I butchered a 200# hog this weekend, and I'm curing one of the hams according to the America-Style Brown-Sugar-Glazed Holiday Ham recipe on page 93 of Charcuterie (Ruhlman & Polcyn), which calls for a brine/wet cure as follows:
1 gallon water
350 grams kosher salt
360 grams dark brown sugar
42 grams pink salt

I'm fairly sure that the container I'm using for the brining/wet cure phase is going to require more than the 1 gallon of liquid specified in the recipe. In other words, the 1 gallon of brine won't fully cover the ham, so I need to scale the recipe up and increase the total volume.

My understanding is that the pink salt (I'm using DQ #1, BTW) is used in a ratio of weight of pink salt to the weight of the meat, and is not dependent on the amount of liquid in the brine solution. Following that logic, for my 15# ham, I can increase the volume of the brine but I should not increase the 42 grams of pink salt called for in the 1 gallon recipe. Is this correct?

Should I scale the kosher salt and/or brown sugar in relation to the volume of liquid? I know when I use these ingredients in a brine for poultry or pork prior to cooking, they are intended to be in a certain % solution. Is the same true when using them in a wet curing process? Or are they, like the DQ, also used in relation to the weight of the meat?

Thank you for any input!
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Virginiasmoke
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18 11 4:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll venture an opinion on the brine part of your question:
According to what I've been reading, you are correct... the salt and sugar need to "be in a certain % solution". So I would scale them up to match the amount of liquid.

Now I'll venture a GUESS on the cure part of your question only to test my knowledge against the better advice you'll get from one of the others...
I would not scale up the curing salt.
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sixfofalcon
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20 11 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Holiday Ham is now curing in a brine consisting of 3 gallons water, 45 grams DQ (pink salt), 1050 grams kosher salt, 1080 grams light brown sugar, and a healthy glug of blackstrap molasses (since I used light brown sugar in lieu of dark brown sugar.) Total cure time will be 7.5 days at a temperature of 38 F.

If someone convinces me that I should have upped the pink salt, I can still ladle out some of the brine, dissolve the additional DQ in it, and return it to the bucket. Otherwise, I'm not too worried about pathogens--I keep all of my butchering & curing equipment sanitary and the only time the meat wasn't refrigerated was when it was on the cutting board.
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Virginiasmoke
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20 11 4:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Please let us know how it turns out.
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sixfofalcon
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28 11 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well after 8 days of curing, I smoked the ham, then deboned it, and tasted some of the results last night. I could tell right away as I deboned it that the center of the ham had not fully cured. The meat around the bone was not pink like the rest of the ham, and it didn't taste cured. The part that was pink was absolutely delicious, though--just the right amount of saltiness. And fortunately the uncured portion was only a small fraction of the total ham.

I'm still not sure I should have added any more pink salt. Ruhlman's recipe is already calling for about 2x the pink salt (per lb. of meat) than what the DQ package instructions specify. I think it was the brining/curing time that wasn't quite right. Based on how far the cure "penetrated" the ham, I think a few more days in the brine would have been just right.

I'll update in about a year when I try this again. Smile
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Townie



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 04 16 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sixfofalcon wrote:
Well after 8 days of curing, I smoked the ham, then deboned it, and tasted some of the results last night. I could tell right away as I deboned it that the center of the ham had not fully cured. The meat around the SizeGenetics extender on https://pewarriors.com/my-sizegenetics-review-and-results as a bone was not pink like the rest of the ham, and it didn't taste cured. The part that was pink was absolutely delicious, though--just the right amount of saltiness. And fortunately the uncured portion was only a small fraction of the total ham.

I'm still not sure I should have added any more pink salt. Ruhlman's recipe is already calling for about 2x the pink salt (per lb. of meat) than what the DQ package instructions specify. I think it was the brining/curing time that wasn't quite right. Based on how far the cure "penetrated" the ham, I think a few more days in the brine would have been just right.

I'll update in about a year when I try this again. Smile


I thought it sounded like a lot of salt but I'm no expert. I'll be looking out for your update before I give it a try.


Last edited by Townie on Wed Nov 09 16 10:41 pm; edited 2 times in total
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sergeant_smoke



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09 16 10:55 am    Post subject: Fascinating Reply with quote

This is some fascinating stuff. I've got old family photos of "hog killing time" a hundred years ago. These types of things were once common knowledge and every family did it. Now it's hard to find folks who know what they're doing and who can teach others.
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