Dry curing meat at home is possible, but there are plenty of things you need to do to safely and effectively carry out this green living practice.
Dry curing meat at home involves applying specific ingredients to meat, such as salt, seasonings, and color fixing agents. It has been widely practiced throughout history, with records citing people salting and curing their meat cuts at home in ancient times.
Dry curing meat at home requires a number of materials and food ingredients, including the following:
- Fresh and clean meat (you can use beef, poultry, pork, venison, or even exotic proteins like rabbit!)
- Desired spices and curing ingredients (such as sea salt, black pepper, ground cloves, red pepper, white pepper, sugar, and any color fixing agents.)
- A food scale to weigh spices and meat.
- Any needed packaging, such as plastic baggies for storage or casings if making sausage.
- Easy access to a refrigerator if making something potentially perishable.
- A commercial smoker or access to a smokehouse is ideal.
Basic experience with light cooking and use of spices is important when dry curing meat. Another important point of knowledge is to be able to recognize potential meat spoilage or poor cuts of meat, as dry curing these and eating or serving them could cause serious illnesses.
Additional Salt and Sugar Function
Salt and sugar are the most basic ingredients used in dry curing meat, but they have more importance than just potential good taste! Salt enhances that "cure flavor" throughout meat, and also acts as an antimicrobial agent to keep unwanted bugs and bacteria out of the meat. Sugar and salt are best used together, as the sugar can cut down any taste problems that might come from oversalted meat.
Dry Curing Meat Jerky
Dry curing meat "jerky" is a popular method, and a good way for a beginner to start. You can do this with venison, beef, chicken, turkey, and even some cuts of pork. Make sure your cuts are lean for optimal results! Here's how to do it:
- Cut your meat choice into thin strips, like the kind that resemble beef jerky you might already be enjoying from a supermarket or health food store.
- Cook them over medium heat in a skillet or frying pan. You may need to use a little butter or oil for cooking.
- Place the meat cuts into a plastic bucket or similar device such as a stone crock or granite canner.
- Make a brine solution using 2 cups of water, 1 cup of salt, 1/2 cup of sugar, 4 tablespoons of black pepper, and garlic salt to taste.
- Pour the solution over the meat cuts.
- Put a weight on the meat so the liquid solution covers everything.
- Follow the directions of your commercial smoker (yes, any good dry curing meat at home effort needs one) or take to a smokehouse if you have one. If using a smokehouse, it will likely take 5 to 15 days to complete this recipe.
- Store the meat into airtight containers once completely dry.
"Fundamentals of Meat Curing." http://meat.tamu.edu/curing.html
"Processing Meat in the Home." http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/nutrition/DJ0972.html