Homemade cured meats are a method of preparing raw meat for drying and preservation. You can make your own dry cured sausage that has a long shelf life, and make your own curing salt and seasonings.
Cured meat may also have a longer shelf life in raw form, through the use of nitrite salt. Trace minerals in pink curing salt work to draw out moisture, prevent oxidation and eliminate bacteria. It’s a central element in cooking many Italian meats, and an effective way to make your brawn savory and tender.
Types of salt cured meat
Charcuterie recipes include meats that are cured with salt. Sugar cured bacon may add brown sugar, maple syrup and seasonings like black and red pepper, as well.
Prague powder is a federally-regulated version of curing salt. It’s guaranteed to contain 6.25% sodium nitrate with the remaining quantity consisting of regular salt, for exacting standards on cured meats. You can pink curing salt online or in your local grocery store.
Use a curing salt substitute from celery juice for a more natural, organic approach. Using a process of fermentation and drying, it provides a whole food source of sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite. Meat that uses this process is technically classified as uncured meat, and requires expertise to achieve the right proportions of each kind of sodium.
Salami is a more complex example. It can use either cooked or cured meat, which may involve a process of seasoning, fermentation and drying. Many salami recipes also involve the use of wine, tomato or other acidic ingredients to make a much softer and easier-to-cut product.
A recipe for sugar cured bacon
This is essentially a curing salt recipe, with some differences from salt cured bacon. Rather than dry it out for preservation, we use the cure to soften the meat and add unique flavors, along with the sweet brown sugar, honey and maple syrup and spicy seasonings.
A sugar cure is simply combining your curing salt with the following list of ingredients:
- ¼ cup Pink Himalayan or kosher salt (non-iodized)
- 2 tsp. Curing salt
- 1/8 cup Locally-grown honey
- 1/8 cup Grade b maple syrup
- ¼ cup Brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. Paprika powder
- 1 tbsp. Red pepper powder
- 1 tbsp. Ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. Cumin seeds
This home cured bacon is derived from the South African beef delicacy, called biltong. It also requires 5 pounds of raw pork belly, which is typically cured and/or smoked before you purchase bacon in the grocery store. You may be able to purchase some from a local pig farm, meat market or butcher.
Thoroughly wash and rinse your meat with water. Cut it into portions that will fit in 2-gallon freezer bags before mixing and combining all of the remaining ingredients in a large container. Rub each section of pork belly completely with your sugar curing mixture, and seal them in their freezer bags.
One challenge of curing bacon at home is a curing cabinet. You can use your home refrigerator as long as you have the space, but you must maintain a temperature of 50-60 degrees F.
Leave your bacon to cure for about one week. Next, take it out of the bag, rinsing it off completely and drying it off with paper towels. Refrigerate it for an additional two days unsealed, using an appropriately designed tray.
Using a meat dehydrator, you can bring your bacon’s internal temperature to 150 degrees before sealing and refrigerating it. Another option is to smoke it, which add some unique flavors, like black forest smoked ham.
Additional benefits of dried meat
A meat dryer machine is a great way to expand your meat curing recipes. Create milk powder for a salami recipe for example, or prepare your own dried herbs and seasonings.
Curing bacon on your own will generally save you money, especially when purchased in bulk. You aren’t paying for a middle man to process this meat for you, and by using a cure, you’re able to make it last much longer, so that it doesn’t go to waste.
A jerky maker dehydrator also offers long-term storage options for your meat!