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Ye Olde Style Charcuterie


BadRabbit
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Having spent a good bit of the last year learning to make sausages, I have some questions about how things were done before modern conveniences were available.

1) I've had a few broken forcemeats because my ingredients got too hot. How did people avoid this problem before the ubiquity of ice and refrigeration?

2) Since curing requires fairly narrow bands of humidity and temp, how did people control these variables before electricity? I understand that basements and caves were employed but I've found that a basement is often insufficient (at least mine is). With the broad occurence of sausage production across vastly different climates, it would seem that in some places basements wouldn't be enough.

Edited by BadRabbit (log)
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1) I've had a few broken forcemeats because my ingredients got too hot. How did people avoid this problem before the ubiquity of ice and refrigeration?

Charcuterie preparation took place in the fall and winter, in cool cellars, outdoors after a kill, and so on.

2) Since curing requires fairly narrow bands of humidity and temp, how did people control these variables before electricity? I understand that basements and caves were employed but I've found that a basement is often insufficient (at least mine is). With the broad occurence of sausage production across vastly different climates, it would seem that in some places basements wouldn't be enough.

It's my understanding that different regional specialities are precisely a response to those variations. You made dried sausage X in region Y because that's what region Y provided; you wouldn't bother making the sausage Z someone made 250 miles away.

I think.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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1) I've had a few broken forcemeats because my ingredients got too hot. How did people avoid this problem before the ubiquity of ice and refrigeration?

Charcuterie preparation took place in the fall and winter, in cool cellars, outdoors after a kill, and so on.

I wouldn't have thought a cool cellar would have been enough. I've had forcemeats break on me even when I've had the bowl sitting in ice (and after the meat has been partially frozen in the freezer) and running them through a grinder\stuffer that has frozen as well.

I could see doing it outside when it is below freezing but forcemeats seem rather finicky to do any other way.

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Regarding sausage for cooking, its traditional if not gastronomic to include binders, emulsifiers and padding to glue the thing together.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that all historic production was of the highest quality. The best has always cost more and used extra care and extra tech, beyond that available to everyone - hence the best, not the same.

If you want a 'traditional' binder, try "Rind emulsion". Boil your pig rinds, ears, etc (? !! ) for an hour or more, depending on thickness, then mince on the finest plate you have, and then blitz with some of your flavouring/spice mix before cooling. Add up to 10% of this sludge to the forcemeat mixture ... (from Maynard Davies 'Manual of a Traditional Bacon Curer'). Or try a bit of boiled rice.

And just an incidental point - did you know that 'Ye' (as in Ye Olde...) is actually pronounced 'The'?

In old (olde) english, there was a 'thorn' character, pronounced 'th'.

When printing came along a few hundred years ago, printers just substituted the vaguely similar looking Y for the thorn. EDIT - or rather for ye yorn.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A2922077

And of course we know that 'olde' is pronounced 'old' and not 'oldie' ...

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Interesting stuff dougal. I have also observed that local artisan-type makers will include stuff in the product that would make an industrial producer blush in shame.

Now tell us about the great vowel shift. :biggrin:

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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I would think that the hand crank sausage stuffer that our corner butcher used generated a lot less heat than a motorized one. When you first looked at it, were it not for the nozzle that the meat came out of, you would have thought it to be an hand-crank ice cream maker.

Theresa :smile:

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln

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Now tell us about the great vowel shift. :biggrin:

You'll have to flash forward about 500 years for that ( :rolleyes: ).

As for the seasonality of charcuterie production, this is pretty much how I do it. I don't have air conditioning, so sausage making or hanging meat is out in the summer. I'll do a little bit in the winter, but I usually wait until right about now when it starts to get cool (and in the spring when it's not too cold to open up the windows). Even with the windows closed, the thermostat was at 59 this morning when I woke up. These are just the right temperatures to do some serious charcuterie.

Edited by Alcuin (log)

nunc est bibendum...

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Spot on about the regional specialties....here in south Louisiana, we have a fine charcuterie tradition, but everything is either hot-smoked (tasso, andouille, etc) or made for immediate consumption (boudins blanc & rouge, headcheese). No air-cured stuff in these parts: while we do get a few cool-enough stretches in winter, it's always humid and we have insects that would give the old-world masters nightmares.

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