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Curing and preserving meats


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what is curing and why do it?

ive been searching google about curing and know that curing is to preserve meat, but, "i just dont get it".

you want to keep the meat at a certain temp to facilitate the growth of harmful bacteria..and then after a certain amount of time, its ok to eat?

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what is curing and why do it?

ive been searching google about curing and know  that curing is to preserve meat, but, "i just dont get it".

you want to keep the meat at a certain temp to facilitate the growth of harmful bacteria..and then after a certain amount of time, its ok to eat?

Well, originally curing was done to preserve meat over the winter months but now, we just mainly do it because it tastes good. Curing removes a large part of the moisture and adds in compounds like sodium nitrate which make it a hostile place for bacteria to live. This keeps the meat safe to eat for a longer amount of time.

PS: I am a guy.

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but during the curing process, the meat is infested with killer bacteria until the sodium nitrate takes over and kills the bacteria? so during the curing process, the meat is not safe to eat right? thanks.

what is curing and why do it?

ive been searching google about curing and know  that curing is to preserve meat, but, "i just dont get it".

you want to keep the meat at a certain temp to facilitate the growth of harmful bacteria..and then after a certain amount of time, its ok to eat?

Well, originally curing was done to preserve meat over the winter months but now, we just mainly do it because it tastes good. Curing removes a large part of the moisture and adds in compounds like sodium nitrate which make it a hostile place for bacteria to live. This keeps the meat safe to eat for a longer amount of time.

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but during the curing process, the meat is infested with killer bacteria until the sodium nitrate takes over and kills the bacteria? so during the curing process, the meat is not safe to eat right? thanks.

what is curing and why do it?

ive been searching google about curing and know that curing is to preserve meat, but, "i just dont get it".

you want to keep the meat at a certain temp to facilitate the growth of harmful bacteria..and then after a certain amount of time, its ok to eat?

Well not exactly, the meat generally is not "infested with killer bacteria" unless such bacteria is introduced into the process. That being said, bacteria is and will be present during the cure process. Essentially, curing is a race against time: reduction of moisture (prevents rapid bacteria growth) vs. bacteria growth.

The rapid reduction of moisture is aided by salt, the the prevention of bacteria growth is aided by chemicals (nitrites, nitrates) and maintenance of a low cure temperature where bacteria growth is inhibited.

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That looks gorgeous. How did it taste?

It tasted pretty darn good, especially for a first time try. The fat was nice and buttery and a little sweet, the meat was perfectly seasoned and porky. Like I said the areas too close to the skin or that are too thin were a little chewy and dry, though still very much edible.

maui420-

Without getting into all the "science" behind it, let me put it this way. Do you like salami, Serrano ham, Proscuitto ham, or any number of amazing "cured" meats that you buy from the store or in a restaurant? If you do, then you should have no problem understanding why we are trying to cure meat ourselves. It just tastes good. Regardless of why it was done in the 17th century, the main reason it is done today is to further our enjoyment of food.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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Apart from trichinosis in pork and salmonella in chicken, there are very few bugs that can live on the inside of fresh muscle tissue. Generally, bugs are confined to the surface of the meat. If you make the conditions on the outside hostile enough, you kill all of the bugs.

PS: I am a guy.

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Foodman, i just found your previous post. That is the recipe i followed as well for my prosciutto, and it was rahter salty, and way way peppery. NExt time i might do without the pepper, and probably without the oven for 60hours..

Did you do all the steps or omit any from Len's page?

jason

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Foodman, i just found your previous post. That is the recipe i followed as well for my prosciutto, and it was rahter salty, and way way peppery. NExt time i might do without the pepper, and probably without the oven for 60hours..

Did you do all the steps or omit any from Len's page?

jason

I did all the steps and I added lots of dried rosemary to the pepper mix. I kind of liked it. I also might do away with the 60 hours in the warm oven next time around.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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  • 2 months later...

I'm in the process of making bresaola, my first serious cured meat project. I am in the marinating process (red wine, bay leaves, thyme, chili powder, piles of salt, rosemary) and will be wrapping and hanging the meat tomorrow.

Is there such a thing as too cold? Since I don't have a cellar, I jammed a cardboard box in an open window to make an ersatz cellar. The temp can drop to the 40s in the box (it IS winter, after all). Is it worth it to tweak the cellar (i.e: punching holes in the box :rolleyes:) so that it's a big warmer?

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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Bumping up this thread to ask if anyone has ever frozen headcheese. I've made a fairly nice one with the head and trotters from our communal hog project (using the recipe in Chez Panisse Cafe), but some of the other families aren't sure they'll be able to eat it all before it goes funny. I don't want them to freeze the terrine I made, because I think it will break the emulsion, but I wonder if the headcheese can be frozen.

thanks

trillium

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Trillium, i don't know for sure, but my instinct tells me yes, it should be fine to freeze. Why not cut off a 1" piece, freeze that and see how it turns out?

Maybe vacuum pack it too?

Mallet, i cure my bresaola at about 50 deg. F, as long as the humidity is OK, i think a lower temp should be ok, but really i'm not sure...

jason

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The temp, 60, is fine, but the low humidity i'm not sure about. YOu want it about 60%, which isn't really that low. I know that for salame, if it is too low you get case hardening, where the outer shell of meat dries too fast, and locks in the moisture from the middle of the salame..making it rot.

I don't know if whole chunks of meat have the same problem, but i can only assume so.

jason

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The outside humidity is at around 50-60%, which I suppose isn't that low after all. My impression was that bresaola was traditionally made using cold dry alpine air. I wrapped the beef in a double layer of cheesecloth, which should help prevent the outside from drying out too fast.

If case hardening does occur, do you only get the unpleasant surprise when you slice it or is the smell obvious beforehand?

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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Day 10. The humidity and temperature in my windowsill/cardboard box have been ideal for the past few days. The beef has a nice, almost sweet smell and it's has firmed up noticeably. Unfortunately for me, I bought Charcuterie after the putative bresaola was drying for a week so I didn't think to weigh it beforehand to gauge water loss. I am having a bit of a hard time gauging when it's ready, given it's my first time making anything of this sort.

Different recipes for bresaola call for different curing times: the River Cotttage Meat Book calls for 10 days, Preserved (where I got the recipe) calls for one month and Charcuterie calls for about 3 weeks. The beef feels pretty firm (i.e: I have to squeeze firmly to get it to give) and the ends are almost hard. Is it ok to unwrap it and take a slice to check? I am worried that this might expose the beef to contamination but if the seasoning has penetrated properly is this really an issue?

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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Mallet, i don't know much about case hardening, as i havn't had that problem.

It is best to "over cure" the bresaola than undercure. I had 1 that was undercured, and it tasted metallic, and not very good. I also ovre cured one, and it was excellent, specially when you drizzle it with oil/lemon, since it sucked it right up like a sponge!

jason

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Thanks for the advice. For the bresaola I used a piece of rump roast: it's roughly rectangular in shape (I'd say about 3" x 6" x 8"). I think the thinness will mean a shorter drying time.

oh, i my chamber (50 deg. 70-75% RH) my bresaole take about 4 -5 weeks.

I would guestimate, that 4 weeks for yours hsould be good, assuming you used an eye of round roast.

jason

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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My last bresaola batch, i used 1 rump roast, and 1 eye of round. The rump was better, with richer flavor and seemingly "creamier" texture. It is also a little fattier. That didn't seem to cause a problem i ncuring though.

eye of round is easier to use though, it is already shaped, and very lean.

jason

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Jason, I have a quick question about my first batch of salami. I don't suppose you have had the experience of the lactobacillus mold (white stuff) turning green. It should be almost done, some of them felt right, but I noticed today that in addition to the white stuff some of them had some mosy greenish mold growth. Have you had the experience of bad mold taking over or is this just another stage in the cycle of the good mold? Aidell's book says to wash off the green mold and re seed it with white mold, but I don't think he meant at this stage after it was already well seeded. I am hoping for a quick answer in case something is wrong, and there is something I can do about it so I am going to post this in the other thread too.

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Fortunately i have no had the experience. Everything i've read though said that if bad mold takes over, get rid of it.

One trick i found that seems to work, is to take the skin off a good/white mold salame, and put it in a spray bottle with some distilled water and some dextrose. Shake it up, and spray it on the salame before the incubation period (where you keep it for a day or 2 at 85F to develop the lactobacillus). The good mold willcolonize the skin of the salame, and hopefully keep away the nasties.

jason

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Fortunately i have no had the experience. Everything i've read though said that if bad mold takes over, get rid of it.

One trick i found that seems to work, is to take the skin off a good/white mold salame, and put it in a spray bottle with some distilled water and some dextrose. Shake it up, and spray it on the salame before the incubation period (where you keep it for a day or 2 at 85F to develop the lactobacillus). The good mold willcolonize the skin of the salame, and hopefully keep away the nasties.

jason

Thanks much, this makes me wish I did things a little more your way. I had bad salame dreams last night because of this, air pockets and case hardening everywhere.

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