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  1. II were anywhere near Providence I'd be there. Quite a lineup of talent and passion for the art of charcuterie for this event. Should fill up fast. Below is the culmination of my own efforts after three months of inspiration from this forum. The bounty of nearby midwest farmsteads has been transformed into: (top row) guanciale, lardo, pancetta, coppa, bresaola, Genoa salami, smoked coppa (bottom row) finnochiana, sauccison de Lyon, speck, prosciutto de magret The slicer is an old General SM10A I effectively got for $25 in 1992 from a closing restaurant.
  2. A gardening experience just wouldn't be complete without an herb garden. So easy to grow with such fast and delicious results.
  3. McDuff, an alternative to the dry curing you could use is to brine 3 - 4 lb pieces of butt. The brine recipe for ham hocks wouldn't be a bad one for this. I've had nice results either way. I like to have cured and smoked pork butt on hand. It can be sliced thin and fried up (butt bacon or cottage bacon). Its a nice change from belly bacon now and then. Or in a pinch, you can cut thick slabs to press into service wherever you might use chunks of ham.
  4. Got a batch of sauerkraut ready and its a big improvement over my last attempt. This one was made with one large head of cabbage, a small handful of wild juniper berries, and 2 liters of brine at 35 grams/liter. Cured it in a crockpot insert with a ziplock of brine as a weight. The last batch was made with 50 g/l brine and was too salty and underdeveloped. This kraut has a little sweetness to accompany its tang and its light enough to eat straight off, like coleslaw. Had some in pastrami reubens but here it could have been tangier. Working a batch now at 30 g/l and monitoring its development. The acid development has been pretty rapid so far, so I feel comfortable that it will turn out at this point.
  5. It is possible to make excellent, high quality, dry cured sausages without the use of starter culture. I have been making sausage this way for a number of years. I'm pretty safety conscious and I researched my way through it. About the pH. An uninoculated mixture will become sufficiently acidic if the sausagemaker has provided an suitable combination of appropriate ingredients (eg don't use pork with an initial pH above 5.9, or irradiated meat), salinity, fermentable carbohydrates, and temperatures during incubation, and if a suitable microflora exists in the substrate (hence not using irradiated meat or spices). As far as risk? There is always some but the sausagemaker can take steps to significantly reduce it without the use of cultures. For example, this particular recipe calls for 2.0% salt (meat weight basis) and in the context of my understanding and experience, I would increase this to 2.5% (55g for this recipe). I would also keep the incubation temperature slightly below the specified temp. If you have the luxury to do so, use unfrozen meat from recently slaughtered animals for salamis. I used grocery store meat all the time in the past and it worked, but sourcing better quality meat greatly increased the quality of my salamis. If you venture into the wild, wild west of making salamis without starters, go carefully, but remember that it has been done for centuries and can be done safely.
  6. To reduce excess humidity, I've had good luck with calcium chloride crystals (ice melt - ubiquitously available in the winter wonderland) in a screen box suspended over a drip tray. Calcium chloride being more hygroscopic than sodium chloride makes it more effective at pulling moisture from the air. My current curing chamber is an old manual defrost refrigerator and when its fully loaded, its difficult to keep the RH below 85 without cracking the door. I rigged a mini squirrel cage fan controlled by a dimmer to move air across the salt pile and was able to knock the RH down where I wanted it.
  7. Has anyone experimented with the sauerkraut recipe from the book? It came out too salty but I want to try the brine technique again. Something less salty and more tangy is what I'm shooting for. Making kraut the traditional way with dry salt on cut cabbage, hasn't been fail-safe on small batches (single head of cabbage). I'd like to try it cutting the salt back to 40 g/l and adding a small amount of fermentable carbohydrate (perhaps 1 g/l dextrose to start). If you've made brine-cured kraut I'd love to hear about your experience. Some web recipes use as little as 10 g/l of salt but I'm a little jittery about the safety aspects, not having much experience with fermenting veggies.
  8. Friends from former Yugoslavia taught me how to make slanina, a dry-cured, cold smoked pork belly that is eaten raw. Skin-on bellies are salted with 3% coares sea salt (meat weight basis) and cured about 2 weeks under refrigeration (~36 F). They were adamant about not using sugar but for my tastes a little sucanat or brown sugar (.5%) adds a nice touch. The bellies are then cut into full-length strips about 4 - 5 inches wide and hung in a drying chamber at around 55 F/ 75% RH for 5 - 7 weeks. The humidity is kept fairly high throughout the drying period and any incidental mold is scrubbed off periodically. During the final week, each day the slabs are cold smoked (always below 80 F - its a winter time thing) with very light smoke (kissed by the smoke!) for a few hours, then returned to the drying room. The skin (which turns fairly hard) is left on and serves as a cutting board. Cut slices about 2 - 3 mm thick, wrap a slice around a shaving off a big clove of garlic. Serve with a nice crusty coarse-textured bread, and if you're ever lucky to get some, accompany with homemade double-distilled plum brandy (slivovica) or a nice bitter ale.
  9. mstopy


    Venison jerky (smoked) is simply mah-vah-lous. Freeze large pieces of boneless round until firm (to ease slicing). Slice to about 1/8 to 3/16 in. thick, with good knife skills if you don't have a slicing machine. Getting the strips thin and uniform is worth the effort. Marinate the strips for about an hour. Lots of room for creativity on the marinade. Lay strips on a smoker rack or hang them on bacon hangers (not touching each other). Allow strips to dry at room temp until the surface is dry and forms a glossy layer (pellicle). Smoke the strips at 130 F with light smoke for 6 to 8 hours. Continue to dry at 130 until the strips crack when you bend them sharply but not to the point where they break when you bend 'em. The last batch I made had an Asian twist - 5 lb venison strips 1/2 cup good quality fish sauce (nam pla) 1/4 unseasoned rice vinegar 1/4 shoyu (or soy or tamari sauce) 2 T sambal oelek 2 T brown sugar 20 g crushed garlic 10 g fresh grated ginger 10 g Prague cure #1 (optional - I like the cured taste)
  10. Phenomenal thread! I started making cured meats back in 1983 and spent countless hours scouring tidbits of wisdom from popular literature, the food science literature, the CFRs, and correspondence with a couple of charcutiers who learned the craft from their ancestors. It was slow going and it took 10 years before I had the confidence and equipment to attempt air dried hams. Michael and Brian's book pretty well captures the essential elements of the craft and makes it totally accessible. I can't help but to be envious of those who have this treasure trove of knowledge at their fingertips to help them get started. Its exciting to see the renaissance of this remarkable craft. This book has been a marvelous catalyst, as this thread bears witness to. I look forward to many more astonishing accounts from the many talented individuals who have made this thread so great, and of those yet to come.
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