Author Topic: Homemade cured meats?  (Read 4210 times)

Gone Fishing

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Homemade cured meats?
« on: July 31, 2015, 11:33:22 AM »
I really enjoy cured/dried/smoked meat products (jerky, salami, pepperoni, bacon, country ham, ect) especially with a cold one, but they are pretty expensive so I have turned to making my own.  Keeps the cost down, plus I can avoid the nitrates and other artificial ingredients.

So far I have tried the following:
Cured and smoked bacon (excellent!)
Cured and smoked pork loin (alright but not good enough to repeat)
Cured and smoked vinison shoulder (excellent!)
Cured and smoked lamb shoulder (going to try it out tonight!)
Beef jerky and vinison jerky (excellent!)

On the short list:
Smoked salmon

I'm thinking the next move will be towards salami/pepperoni.

Anyone else dabble in the cured meat arts?  If so, what do you like to make?

Mother Fussbudget

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Re: Homemade cured meats?
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2015, 12:40:06 PM »
I no longer eat meat... but when I *did*... 
(and smoked meats regularly - including the Thanksgiving Turkey for years and years)

Smoked Duck was the favorite.
Smoked Salmon came in second.
Grilled salmon on a soaked cedar-plank (aka 'roofing shingle') came in third.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Homemade cured meats?
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2015, 05:55:05 PM »
Definitely want to get into this at some point, more for the fun of it/getting a superior tasting product than to save much money. The smoked and/or cured meats that we do eat aren't substantially more expensive than the raw meat. But smoking is super fun - can't wait to get into it, and the few attempts at non-cured sausages I've done have been super delicious.

Mirwen

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Re: Homemade cured meats?
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2015, 06:11:27 PM »
I found skinned pork belly at Costco today for just over $2 a pound.  I'm very excited to make my own bacon again.

Although you can make cured meat without pink salt (nitrates), there is a very good reason to put it in.  It severely retards bacterial growth.  You could get ill if you don't use it.  It also keeps it a pretty color, but that's a secondary concern.

worms

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Re: Homemade cured meats?
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2015, 12:24:26 AM »
I found skinned pork belly at Costco today for just over $2 a pound.  I'm very excited to make my own bacon again.

Although you can make cured meat without pink salt (nitrates), there is a very good reason to put it in.  It severely retards bacterial growth.  You could get ill if you don't use it.  It also keeps it a pretty color, but that's a secondary concern.

+1 to that!

I've made "gray" bacon without nitrates and while it tastes really good (reminds me of the bacon my grandmother used to get) it doesn't look good and I would be wary of leaving it too long before eating it.

Mrs.LC

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Re: Homemade cured meats?
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2015, 09:13:16 AM »
We used to make venison sausage at home. The meat was mixed with beef, spices, and liquid smoke. After chilling for a couple days we rolled it into logs, wrapped in tin foil, and boiled the logs. Haven't made it in years but remember that it never lasted long as it was really good.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Homemade cured meats?
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2015, 08:27:32 AM »
I found skinned pork belly at Costco today for just over $2 a pound.  I'm very excited to make my own bacon again.

Although you can make cured meat without pink salt (nitrates), there is a very good reason to put it in.  It severely retards bacterial growth.  You could get ill if you don't use it.  It also keeps it a pretty color, but that's a secondary concern.

+1 to that!

I've made "gray" bacon without nitrates and while it tastes really good (reminds me of the bacon my grandmother used to get) it doesn't look good and I would be wary of leaving it too long before eating it.

I just freeze it after I smoke and slice.  Color remains acceptable.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2015, 08:29:16 AM by So Close »

gillstone

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Re: Homemade cured meats?
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2015, 08:39:55 AM »
Smoked trout is fantastic.  And if you have trout in your area all it will cost you is a fishing license and some bait.

catccc

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Re: Homemade cured meats?
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2015, 09:53:56 AM »
My husband has made some dry cured meats, using a variety of gadgets inside of an old chest freezer.  He's made a finocchiona and pepperoni, I think.  Maybe some other things that he made up.  I'm vegetarian, but I'm told the stuff was amazing.  The freezer broke so he hasn't done it in a while, and after the first batch was done, he and his friend that did this together were a bit nervous to eat their experiment.  It seems to be quite a science with the fermentation and all going on...  I'm sure he'd love to do it again.

He also regular-cures stuff - IDK what the process is called, exactly - but cures his own bacon and has made something else that is similar called guanciale, which I understand is bacon like but way fattier.

He also likes to make fresh sausages, and that is less scary since you cook them.

Also, dry curing smells like dirty socks sometimes.

There's a Salumi book he referenced when doing this... I'll have to look for it on the bookshelf when I get home and report back.

Erica/NWEdible

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Re: Homemade cured meats?
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2015, 09:56:05 AM »
I found skinned pork belly at Costco today for just over $2 a pound.  I'm very excited to make my own bacon again.

Although you can make cured meat without pink salt (nitrates), there is a very good reason to put it in.  It severely retards bacterial growth.  You could get ill if you don't use it.  It also keeps it a pretty color, but that's a secondary concern.

+1 to that!

I've made "gray" bacon without nitrates and while it tastes really good (reminds me of the bacon my grandmother used to get) it doesn't look good and I would be wary of leaving it too long before eating it.

+2.

Technically, you can do salt/sugar only cure on whole muscle meats (bacon, coppa, etc.) and the chances of getting botulism are quite miniscule. I have no concerns about someone doing a salt-cured pork belly, smoking it, freezing it, and calling it bacon. However, I would never, ever, ever do a long dry cured sausage like salami, etc. without pink salt/Instacure #2.

I take issue with the "nitrates and other artificial ingredients" fear mongering around cured meats. You know what contains a TON of nitrates? Celery. Beets, lettuce and arugula are also particularly high in nitrate. When you see hippie "uncured" bacon or hot dogs at the supermarket, that bacon or hot dog is lying to you. All those products are nitrate/nitrite cured through the use of celery powder or celery salt. So instead of a highly consistent product with a known quantity of added nitrite, the companies are using a natural "sounding" equivalent source of nitrate, which breaks down into nitrite at levels which may or may not be consistent, and may or may not actually leave more nitrites in the cured meat than the "big scary chemical" would have in the first place.

Lies! Damned expensive, hippie-manipulating lies!

Okay, I'm done. Bacon is awesome.

Bric-a-Brac

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Re: Homemade cured meats?
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2015, 10:11:40 AM »
I've done a lot of this.  It's really cost effective, especially when you get into the high grade charcuterie where the stuff can cost $100/lb.  Some of the things (like whole-muscle charcuterie such as bresaola) are dead easy and require almost no equipment.

+1 on what Erica said about curing.  People have been using nitrites and nitrates for centuries.  Botulism is no joke.  I'm not a scientist, but my understanding is that the nitrite/nitrate scare of the 80's was an overblown moral panic like so many others.

This is the best book on home meat curing, IMHO: http://amzn.com/0982426739


Jack

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Re: Homemade cured meats?
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2015, 10:31:19 AM »
I made some Alton Brown recipe corned beef once (and still have the drug store sodium nitrate in my pantry), but it somehow didn't turn out as well as store-bought corned beef and I haven't tried it again since. I'm still interested though, and am posting this to follow the thread in case people start posting detailed recipes.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Homemade cured meats?
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2015, 12:20:57 PM »
Ate the smoked lamb shoulder over the weekend (with help from company!).  I put it on the slicer and shaved it as thin as I could.  It was pretty salty, but decent once diluted with cheese and crackers.  I think the vinison shoulder was probably a bit better, given the heartier nature of the meat. 

I started my curing adventure with a 50/50 (by weight) dark brown sugar/kosher salt mix, it was good but the sugar burned too easily when frying bacon, so I cut back to a 40/60 mix which worked well for the bacon, but seems a bit too salty for the shoulders.  I may try going the other way and using 60/40 for the next shoulder/ham just to see what happens...