When you’re thinking of curing meat on your own, minor details could tip the balance decisively in the direction of success or failure. And as every endeavor begins with a few warning labels, here are the two canonical rules of safely curing meat. First, read as much as you can about meat curing. Don’t go into curing with a Wikipedia ‘how-to’ article, and improvise as you go. Curing is one of the most delicate processes in history, and you should not approach it with a gung-ho attitude. Secondly, if you are having second thoughts about any meat, throw it out. Anytime you feel unsure, even if only for a moment, don’t eat the meat.
With this in mind, we can begin with some simple guidelines. Meat curing has lasted for generations, and processed meat is just a sly cousin of this amazing variant. When done properly, home-cured meat is the best tasting and most wholesome of any meat you’ll find anywhere in the world.
The Complete Meat Curing Guide
If in doubt, never proceed
One of the most difficult things any meat lover can be asked to do is to throw out his meat. The meat you throw might be perfectly safe, edible and tasty to boot, but if you’re having doubts, throw it out. The learning curve is experience dependent. As you cure more and more meat, you will slowly learn to discern between what to throw and what to keep. Some meats might develop nasty moulds, black in color and shriveled, while others might just develop hard crusts, and some might show subtle hinds of fungi infestation. It is important that you recognize the threats, and even if you have a small lurch in your stomach, feel free to throw that meat out. It is not worth the risk.
Ensure that your meat is properly raised
This is very important for the safety of the meat you are curing. Always ensure that you are getting your meat from non-intensive farms which take good care of their livestock. The slaughtering and subsequent butchering should be carried out properly and hygienically. Trusting your meat provider is the key, so try and develop a good relationship with them.
Regulate the temperature and humidity well
There is a certain temperature and humidity range you should ideally maintain while attempting to cure meat at home – high enough for the meat to flourish and cure, but not high enough to promote bacteria and mould growth.
Your ideal temperature range should be between 50 to 60º Fahrenheit. Keep the humidity between 65% to 80%, and you’re good to go. Always bear in mind that the environment will change depending on the season, and it is important to keep your measurements under observation so that you can make the necessary changes.
Keep the air free of contagion
Obviously, you will need to keep the meat away from bugs, rodents, and other pests, as well as any pets. Don’t just leave it anywhere – keep a space aside for the meat to hang that is insulated from the outside world.
Nitrates and Nitrites
You’ll hear some people assure you that curing agents are not necessary, as meat has been cured for millennia without them. Don’t pay any attention to these people – curing agents should always be used. In the era before curing agents, people used to die from botulism poisoning – you’d be foolish not to use them.
Keep an eye out for this killer disease. Found in soil, the fatal C Botulinum is a spore-like bacteria that is immensely resilient to chemicals and heat. Make sure you use your nitrates, as they are the only known counter to such spores.
When can you eat it?
When the meat has lost 35% of its initial weight, it is considered safe to eat.
However, we’d recommend letting the meat lose some more weight – around 40-45%. This should give it a texture we’re sure you’ll love.
So why not start curing your own meat today? Don’t be put off if things go slightly wrong – even professionals have trouble curing meat sometimes. You may end up throwing a little out before you get it right, but all good things come with a little bit of sacrifice.
As we all know food connects people so now you can easily get an assortment of Italian deli online and get your party started without delay. It is always good to have some authentic Italian meat and wine in handy for all those hunger pangs and midnight cravings.
Also, I would love to refer you Diforti which is an online store has 200+ delicious artisan products from the Mediterranean and they are constantly innovating and coming up with new recipes because they believe ﬂavours and textures should evolve and no two antipasti boards should ever be the same.
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