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I am looking for good sources on the process of making dried and/or cured sausages. I am fairly comfortable making fresh, but really need some direction when it comes to safely drying and curing them. Thanks and happy eating.

Neal J. Brown

chef, teacher and always a student

To respect food is to respect one's self.

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  • 1 month later...

I have done a lot of my own sausage making, and I liked Bruce Aidell's "Complete Sausage Book". There are a lot of recipes for fresh sausages, but there are an equal number of cured, cold, and hot smoked sausages. The book also gives you enough information on curing to allow you some freedom to develope your own sausage recipes. Enjoy.

Aidan

"Ess! Ess! It's a mitzvah!"

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Tell me more.

I've just discovered how to use my brick oven as a cold smoker, and would like to try this.

What I'd really like is a recipe for garlic wurst,

However I worry about botulism. I know people add lactobacillus to ensure an acid evironement. I wondered if sourdough starter would work?

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From my understanding of the curing process one of the primary functions of lactobacillus is to lower the pH in the meat mix so I guess that if sourdough starter has the same effect then that's a good start (excuse the pun). The lowered pH inhibits the growth of nasty cultures and the lactobacillus, flourishing in the acidic environment, competes for space with other (nasty) bacteria. I'd say it sounds like an interesting experiment, but to be treated with caution... :wacko:

Slightly off-topic, now, but I really think that curing processes (of all kinds and all things) deserve more attention than they get. I guess most may think that it is a subject best kept to specialist sites like sausagemaking.org (which has a great forum btw), but I beg to differ for a couple of reasons. (Other than that just about everyone has to agree that good ham, salami, saucisson, smoked salmon, bacon - even saltcod! - are amongst some of the finest things that money can put in your mouth... :raz: )

1. It would be great to initiate some serious involved discussion of curing techniques and cured products on this site, as I'm sure there are loads of gulleteers who would be able to bring something to the table. egullet has so many more members from so many backgrounds that the potential for culinaruy cross-fertilisation and information is much greater than elsewhere. :smile:

2. Surely curing is the most perfect example of common ground between molecular gastronomy and terroir food, the new and old, science and lore? On the one hand we churn out salami milano by the kilometre in faceless factories anywhere but Milan and sell it covered in acres of plastic in ever more faceless supermarkets, and on the other true Parmesan farmers keep for themselves the best parma hams in which you can taste that the pigs were fed on the whey from Parmiggiano... Although it seems that our species has been finding new methods to preserve food for as long as can be remembered, and has come up ith some frankly incredible techniques through instinctive (trial-and-error?) exploitation of chemical reactions, and although those processes have been distilled and industrialised, the curing of meats in particular still retains an air of quasi-shamanic magic and mystery. What's more, I've read as much as I can find on the web and in books and I still can't get a straight answer on the role of saltpetre (does it help curing, or is it just for colour?).

Surely Heston et al. are just itching to get their fingers into the curing salts given their penchant for the kind of transmutational alchemy curing represents? I was interested to see chef Achatz airdrying rolled and sliced pancetta rounds in the Alinea lab posts, and I'm sure that may restaurants must cure meats in-house.

If one of you powerful gulleteer-masters is reading :wink: , I think that curing would make a great discussion topic of itself, taking us back to the vey roots of culinary technique. After all, humans had salt, intestines and saltpetre long before they had iron pans and gas cookers.

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I am looking for good sources on the process of making dried and/or cured sausages. I am fairly comfortable making fresh, but really need some direction when it comes to safely drying and curing them. Thanks and happy eating.

Over the years the little I've learn't is first in a salt enviroment not much can live any way if you use a dry cure you'll have no problem with botulisism as its anerobic secondly Pink Salt(Salt Petre) seems to supress anything else, and as most seemed to be dried in open caves or up chimmneys for centuries it cant be to experimental! Smoke also has properties that retard bacterial growth but for an in depth knowledge I would suggest you purchase Jane Grigsons Charcutire book it the best I've seen over the years

hope this helps

Perfection cant be reached, but it can be strived for :huh:

Perfection cant be reached, but it can be strived for!
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I currently make bresaola, coppa, salame, pancetta and guanciale at home. I tried a while back to start a conversation on this, but got little interest. I'd like to start this discussion, and i believe i've learned enough to be able to help people out, as well as learn a lot of things myself.

A great page is: home.pacbell.net/lpoli

Jackal, the strain of lactobacilli added to salame is lactobacillus plantarum or lacto. notatum..which is probably different than the one in sourdough... botulism is prevented by the addition of nitrates and nitrites which are oxidizers, which prevents the growth of botulism, since it needs an anaeorobic environment.

Lets start this diuscussion already!:)

Here is a small sample of what i've made...they are all outstanding. the hardest part is finding an area/chamber to age them properly, at the right temp and humidity.

il_merendino2.jpg

Edited by jmolinari (log)
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jmolinari, what did you end up doing to solve your search for an appropriate area/chamber to age your sausage?

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Hello Jason!

Great picture - your salame, bresaola and coppa all look great. As good as anything I've seen posted on egullet. (Certainly better than anything I've managed)

Definitely, let's get some momentum going on this topic and give this discussion the attention it deserves... (Maybe we could try and get some sausagemaking.org people to cross-polinate - do I remember you from there?) I'd be really interested to hear the professionals' take on meat curing - whether it's something they do/ would consider doing in a restaurant...

We gotta get people reading this, post some more pictures, I'm sure that once they realise YOU CAN DO THIS AT HOME YOURSELF, everyone will get excited, not to mention hungry. :biggrin:

On which note, althouhg obviously you'll get better results with Jason's low-tech set-up, it is possible to home-cure with practically no equipment at all, as the hand-minced saucissons hanging in my shed testify! :wink:

Edited by thomasrodgers (log)
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I have posted these resources for sausage making in prior threads:

Texas Tastes

Leener's.

You can call them on their toll free numbers as well as order stuff on line. They are enthusiastic about helping people get started in making both fresh and cures sausage and have all the supplies one would need.

We really need a resource guide on eG, so people could post these sources in a place similar to Recipe Gullet.

I have purchased from both companies and have been extremely pleased with the service and products.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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tomrodgers is right: no-where is the alchemy of cooking more satisfying than in the curing of meats. It is fascinating, and all the more so to the uninitiated: "what, you mean you don't cook the pork AT ALL?".

My experiments (or, to borrow Lee Scratch Perry's apt expression, exmerryments) have been variable in their success, but satisfying nonetheless. I am currently in the process of making bacon. Can't wait to eat it.

For me, the great benfit of home curing is that you know precisely what is in your salami. You can source organic meat that has been treated humanely, as opposed to relying on the questionable meat usually used for processed goods.

Quick question for Jason: I love your chambers. Can I ask how much you spent on all the equipment?

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Charcutier, thanks. I bought the fridge used for $90, the humidifier that is in there on ebay for $2, the temp control on ebay for $35, the humidistat on ebay for $50. The giant rubbermaid/bulbs/wires/etc. probably $20. I've never added it up, so lets see....just about $200. Not terribly expensive, and worth it to me, as bresaola alone is $20/lb when you can find it, as well as coppa!

You can actually make pancetta and guanciale with nothign at all...as you can "cure" it in a regular fridge, it does fine in there even if it is very dry, it comes out great!

tomas, yes, i've also been on sausagemaking.org, but havn't been there lately, when i posted he just started hte forum and it was vey slow...i'll go check it out again. I know quite a few restaurants in the US cure their own meats..it really isn't as hard as it might seem, all you need is the right environment.\

jason

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Too many choices...what sort of sausage should I make first?

It wants to be semi-dried and cold smoked, and prefereably with garlic.

A kosher style beef salami is one possiblity (I grew up with Bloom's) but

I'm rather inclined to Saucisson de Menage Fume from Jerry Predika's book "The Sausage Making Cookbook". There is a similar recipe in Grigson.

However Grigson uses saltpeter, which Predika warns against, and uses red wine or brandy and Vitamin C instead. I'm confused. Should I add saltpeter or not?

Also, if I start from supermarket organic pork, do I really need to freeze against Trichonosis?

Your good advise please...

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saltpeter is nitrate/nitrites, and personally i thikn is the safe way to go. Vitamin C will do nothing more than maybe keep the meat red. Just seems like a dangerous preposition. Predika might warn against using saltpeter becuase using pure saltpeter requires amounts that are too small to measure accurately. Using cures, allows us to use the safe amount of saltpeter since it is combined with regular salt...

As far as trichonosis, i thikn it is pretty much eradicated from the farmed foodstock. Personally i don't worry about freezing it, but i also thikn that the drying/curing will destroy it, if it were in there.

jason

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tomrodgers is right:

(...) I am currently in the process of making bacon. Can't wait to eat it.

For me, the great benfit of home curing is that you know precisely what is in your salami. You can source organic meat that has been treated humanely, as opposed to relying on the questionable meat usually used for processed goods.

Charcutier, thanks for the endorsement! :laugh: Let me know how the bacon goes down - would be interested to hear your cure mix and cure/ageing times. You're right to raise the issue of animal welfare/quality of meat in support of home-curing. For those who care about animal welfare this is a huge advantage. Although most people are at least aware of the plight of the battery chicken :sad: , many don't realise that pigs are raised intensively under comparable conditions, and are probably worse affected given their relative intelligence (similar to that of the domestic dog - they can with a little effort be trained to distinguish and respond to distinct commands). I have no interest in engaging in an ethical debate here, but having a choice over what you eat is what it boils down to (of course, hopefully everyonre is making an informed choice :smile: )

Getting down from my high horse, home-curing also gives you control over quality (especially relevant with regards to sausage products, which, being minced can come from the most dubious cuts and quality of meat, of which the consumer remains ignorant til their chewing on straggles of sinew and gristle). Not to mention you can make it as you like it and eat it when it's ready, not when its profitable.

You can actually make pancetta and guanciale with nothign at all...as you can "cure" it in a regular fridge, it does fine in there even if it is very dry, it comes out great!

Jason, would you follow the same route with guanciale as for pancetta - longer or shorter time in the salts? What do you add to the cure? I've heard it makes the best carbonara and would love to try make some. Also, how long do you hang your pancetta for (if at all)? First time I tried it I left it only a few days, but have been advised to go for a full three weeks this time - :unsure: .

Finally, is that lomo on the left of your plate of wonders, below the salame? Looks like a bit of the loin in any case :raz: . Info would be gratefully received.

Too many choices...what sort of sausage should I make first?

(...)  Grigson uses saltpeter, which Predika warns against. (...) Should I add saltpeter or not?

Personally, I'd always take a 'pur porc' saucisson over anything else (with the exception of boar and donkey - which I've only eaten :rolleyes: never made). I just find aged curing does more for pork than it does for beef. As for saltpetre, I'm with Jason. I think it would be foolhardy to use no nitrates/nitrites at all. Can I ask why Predika warns against saltpetre? If you're making your own cure mix you can add a starter culture like acidopholis as well, which you can get in capsules in healthfood shops over in the UK (guess in US too). This will promote the lactobacillus cultures you're looking for. (Don't be scared, the theory is more complicated than the practice).

On the subject of saltpetre (which is just potassium nitrate), I've read conflicting reports on its function. These vary from no curing properties at all, just colour-preserving, through claims it has minimal curing action that needs to be supplemented by nitrites, to claims that the nitrate is converted to nitrite in the curing process. Any feedback (+ sources) would be appreciated. Does anyone have the latest edition of Mcgee and does it shed any light?Alternatively, Mr. Mcgee, if you're out there somewhere, please get in touch :wink: .

Finally, a word of warning re: Grigson. Much as I love her book, indeed all her books, the charcuterie one was the first she wrote (I think) and is in any case a little antiquated and at times vague. Great for ideas and inspiration, I'd venture, but I've found it slightly lacking when it comes to reassuringly detailed explanations of procedure with regards to dry-curing. (Which I suppose is also part of its charm).

Sorry, another short-post-turned-monster, I'll try harder... Hope some of this may be helpful to someone.

Tom

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On the topic of sausage making - as opposed to curing/smoking - are there any definitive books out there. I was going to look at Grigson's but given thomasrodgers' comments I'm not so sure. I'm a total beginner and would appreciate advice. FYI I have also been looking at sausagemaking.org.

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Forgot to ask, anyone with opinions on use of dextrose in dry-cured sausage? What does it do, how does it help (ie. role in curing process rather than flavour)? Cheers,

Tom

The dextrose provides an energy source for the bacteria that do the actual curing. Their action turns the dextrose into lactic acid which subsequently raises the acid level (lowering the pH).

So you need the dextrose both as a fuel for them, and as a raw material for the manufacture of the acid that actually does the curing.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Forgot to ask, anyone with opinions on use of dextrose in dry-cured sausage? What does it do, how does it help (ie. role in curing process rather than flavour)? Cheers,

Tom

The dextrose provides an energy source for the bacteria that do the actual curing. Their action turns the dextrose into lactic acid which subsequently raises the acid level (lowering the pH).

So you need the dextrose both as a fuel for them, and as a raw material for the manufacture of the acid that actually does the curing.

Also, the nice thing about dextrose is that it doesn't make the end product as sweet as sugar would, while providing the same properties, as jsolomon points out.

Ian

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On the topic of sausage making - as opposed to curing/smoking - are there any definitive books out there.  I was going to look at Grigson's but given thomasrodgers' comments I'm not so sure.  I'm a total beginner and would appreciate advice.  FYI I have also been looking at sausagemaking.org.

Eternal apologies to the Great Grigson... I didn't mean to turn anyone off buying her book altogether, in fact I happily recommend it, just wanted maybe to indicate what it is and isn't good for. What it will do is give you loads of ideas and recipes. What it didn't do in my case was help me understand what is actually happening when meat cures and what I have to do to remedy any dificulties and imperfections.

I guess by sausage making you mean fresh sausages. sausagemaking.org is a good place to start. Check out Len Poli's website at home.pacbell.net/lpoli/ , and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's River Cottage Cookbook has a small section on sausagemaking and curing. Grigson is probably as close to a definitive tome as I've come accross, though.

For what it's worth, the first sausages I made my only equipment was a mezzaluna and chopping board for mincing, a plastic funnel and wooden spoon handle for stuffing, and my hands. Not the easiest way of doing it, and pretty labour-intensive (do you know how long it takes to mince a whole shoulder and half a belly by hand?!) but it can be done. I guess I'm trying to say that enthusiasm and a can-do attitutude will get you a long way.

I have since upgraded to a hand-cranked Porkert cast-iron mincer, complemented by their standard stuffing attachments. I'm sure that electric versions would be much handier, but I'm happy for my money (£29) at the moment. If you do go with Porkert, the plate mine came with minced too fine for fresh sausage for my liking, so get hold of some wider gauge plates as well.

Stuffing is a trial and error thing, quite fun really, all I'd say is get a friend to help.

Good luck to you and ask away if you want more.

Tom

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Jason and jsolomon, thanks for dexrose info. I know that this is very technical, but do you know what the dextrose is broken down into? Does anyone have a (comprehensible, preferably) description of the chemical reactions that go on?

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I currently make bresaola, coppa, salame, pancetta and guanciale at home. I tried a while back to start a conversation on this, but got little interest. I'd like to start this discussion, and i believe i've learned enough to be able to help people out, as well as learn a lot of things myself.

A great page is: home.pacbell.net/lpoli

Jackal, the strain of lactobacilli added to salame is lactobacillus plantarum or lacto. notatum..which is probably different than the one in sourdough... botulism is prevented by the addition of nitrates and nitrites which are oxidizers, which prevents the growth of botulism, since it needs an anaeorobic environment.

Lets start this diuscussion already!:)

Here is a small sample of what i've made...they are all outstanding. the hardest part is finding an area/chamber to age them properly, at the right temp and humidity.

il_merendino2.jpg

Boy, these look so damn good!!

I also would like to second the recommnedation for this site. Len Poli is knowledgable and will happily answer your questions via e-mail. I am very much a beginner and I have only made his "Basterma" recipe. Next on my list is a the "proscuitto"-style ham. I am planning on using the shoulder ham though, since it is smaller and this will be my first time making it. Bacon is also an option I would like to try.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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The Grigson book is a great read and an inspiration but, as thomasrodgers points out, it is not a manual. Rather, it is an evocative description of the infinite range of products that pork, salt and human ingenuity have conspired to produce. As such, it is an important work. The opposite extreme can be rather off-putting - I recently leafed through a book about curing that had an entire chapter entitled "A passion for hygiene". Whilst hygiene is clearly important in all culinary matters, and rather more so when you are dealing with large volumes of raw meat, I could never quite call it a passion.....

As far as making fresh sausages is concerned, there is rather less need for technical knowledge. As there is no real curing process involved, the more arcane debates about nitrites and acidophillus can largely be ignored. The skill lies more in the judicious use of flavourings and, in my experience of sausagemaking, its all about the sage.

thomasrodgers, my bacon cure is essentially that from Hugh FW's Meat book, with the addition of some crushed juniper berries. I first tried the cure from Grigson, but the bacon came out as rather too sweet due to the large amounts of brown sugar that she recomends. This time, I have gone for a 8 day cure, changing the cure about 4 times. I'm then going to hang it for about 3 weeks: I want it to lose about 25% of its weight.

I have had trouble in the past sourcing good quality organic pork belly that is not too fatty for bacon purposes. However, this last belly looks pretty much perfect. :raz: I'll tell you all about it when its ready.

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