I live in Scotland, but have spent a lot of time in Spain and Italy eating Charcuterie. I am very interested in home curing and I decided some time ago to try it out using good local meat. My nearest butcher gets his meat from Northumberland which seems ridiculous to me as Scotland has plenty of good producers so I now travel 20 miles to get my pork from a butcher who gets his animals from 50 miles down the road in Dumfries and Galloway. I built my own curing shed using a large cage, gardening mesh and fleece, and I chose a traditional salami recipe using pork shoulder, fennel seed, garlic, red wine, back fat and fine cooking salt (25g per 1kg meat) in hog runners.
This was my first attempt so I was quite excited about it, but not confident that I would be able to pull it off given what I had read about perfect conditions etc. I spent a day sealing the unit and fixing it to the side of my garden shed 3 feet from the ground and covering it with a wooden roof. I started this project at the end of February when temperatures can range from -3 to +15 degrees c on the west coast of Scotland.
I hung 5 kg of Salami inside the cage which was now impregnable due to some diligent prep work and I couldn't help but check on my creations evry day for the first week. After a fortnight of damp weather ranging between 5 and 12 degrees not much was happening, but then it got drier and the wind picked up. On week 3 the salami started to firm up after the second wipe down with rice vinegar and a fine, almost seductive white velvety mould started to appear. Weeks 3 - 6 saw the temperature reach 15 degrees through the day and -3 at night with high humidity for the most part with plenty of wind. After 6 weeks I removed the salami and hung them in my kitchen and that earthy, saliva producing odour started to waft through the house, my dog was uneasy!!
The finished product was slighly tougher than I would have liked, but when sliced paper thin it was not noticed. I think the firmness was due more to the lack of back fat (1.5 cups finely chopped) in the mixture rather than the environment in which the curing took place.
The flavour was exquisite. My workmates asked to purchase it after trying samples in the office and the creamy texture of the product was almost as good as some of the artisanal products I have tried in the Mediterranean.
I wanted to share my experience with you guys to perhaps show others at hobby or food lover level as opposed to professional, that it is possible to make a fantastic product without spending a lot of money and time building curing rooms and using chemicals.