Home Curing Pork

Canning, Dehydrating, Freezing, Fermenting, etc.

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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby matt walker » Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:15 am

What great info, thanks a lot for finding these and sharing them George. One thing I noticed in that Bill Dixon smokehouse video is that he is using a cure that has sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite. While I'm intrigued by the idea of plain salt cure, this info makes me feel a little more confident to try it myself. Here's what Bill uses for his cured meats, according to that video:

http://www.mortonsalt.com/for-your-home ... ure-plain/
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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby George Collins » Thu Dec 20, 2012 1:02 pm

Yes, that is what Youngblood used kn the ham and two bellies that he just cured. The reason for the nitrates/nitrites is to protect against botulism. However, there is reams of information out there of people that use straight salt or a salt + sugar rub exclusively. The thing that protects against butulism in those cases, I think, is cooking the meat which is how it has been consumed by my ancestors.

Having said that, the Spanish use sea salt to the exclusion of all else to produce Jamon Iberico de Belotta and it is consumed without any prepatory steps beyond curing and aging. If the threat of botulism were all that great, seems like there would be warning labels stamped all over Jamon Iberico if not downright illegal to sale.

I personally think that the reason for the nitrates/nitrates is more because it gives the meat a pinkish/reddish hue instead of the dark brown it turns when using straight salt.

With the hogs recently sold, the processor asked me what I wanted done with the "scraps". Knowing there is no such thing as pork "scraps", I told him, "I want em for myself."

When I got the ice chest full of scraps, they included the hocks.

I love hocks.

I decided to experiment. One half the hocks I used some of Youngblood's Morton Tender Quick. On the other half straight sea salt was used. Nothing else was done to them AT ALL except draining the water out of the bottom of the pan. They had been in the fridge since they were first put into cure and that was about November 15th.

I recently had a friend come in from out of town and wanted to let him have a shot at tasting my home cured stuff. The reason why I wanted this particular guy to taste it was because had it tasted terrible, he's good enough a friend that he would have said, "Man, this stuff is horrible. Don't ever feed that to nobody."

I soaked some of each for a few minutes in a pot to remove some of the exterior coating of salt and threw em on the smoker sans the rub used in all of the other meat.

Results - all of the cured hocks tasted zactly the same. All were good.

And as a side note, I didn't die.

Having said all that, iffn I jack this pig up and wind up throwing his whole carcass down through the woods, while it would be sad to have to do so, I won't hesitate to try again at the very next opportunity.
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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby matt walker » Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:27 pm

Good info George, I like following your thoughts on this. I was just making sure that we were on the same page, 'cause when that older feller said he was eating 7 year old unrefrigerated/unfrozen pork, I was pretty blown away. I went back and listened to him describe his method a few times to make sure I got it right. I should be getting a hog from my friend after the new year. A mangalitsa, just like in the green acres video. I think I might follow your lead on a hunk. I might wait and see if you are still kicking around though.
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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:51 pm

My Father in Law was in the meat business all of his life, he is now 80 and retired and the packing house is closed. He and his bothers killed beef and pork and made all kinds of meat products such as hot dogs, bologna, hams, sausage and lunch meats of all kinds. He had several large stainless steel smoke houses. People expect pork to be Pink. If it is not pink they won't buy it. The lights in the stores meat cases will turn the pork gray very quickly. That is why they often turn the pork packages up side down in the cases so that the light does not get to it. Nothing wrong with the meat, it just turns gray from the light. Some things are illegal to add to pork because they delay that graying process so consumers can't tell if it was in the case 1 day or 2 or 3. B vitamin will stop the pork from turning gray as quickly and therefore its illegal in sausage etc. They can put it in candy bars, fortify your bread with it, but its not allowed to be added to pork. The nitrates and nitrites are added as a preservative. I think they also add something to the taste. They are not good for you, but you would have to eat an awful lot of it before you have any ill effects. Of course in our culture, in this day and age, if you like to eat processed meat you may eat a lot of them. I am sure that 100 years ago salt [ Which isn't good for you either, ;) ] was the only preservative used in their curing process. I am sure you have heard the term Salt Pork. I am not really sure how I feel about the 2 different cures. I think I will be like Young Blood when I 1st try and cure something and buy the per packaged cure from the store, just to be sure.
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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby matt walker » Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:58 pm

Well George, I'm following your lead. We slaughtered two Tamworths on Saturday and got them halved. Sunday I butchered my first side, which was a really rewarding experience. There's a few pounds of belly sitting in my fridge right now with sea salt/sugar at 1:1 as a cure. I'll keep you posted. My friend cut one of his sides in basically the primal cuts and did the same cure on the huge chunks. He's going for a couple year hang to achieve prosciutto. I'll keep you all posted.

How are your larger pieces coming along?
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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby dave brenneman » Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:49 pm

George Collins wrote:Having said that, the Spanish use sea salt to the exclusion of all else to produce Jamon Iberico de Belotta and it is consumed without any prepatory steps beyond curing and aging. If the threat of botulism were all that great, seems like there would be warning labels stamped all over Jamon Iberico if not downright illegal to sale.


just as a note: jamon iberico was illegal in the us up until a couple years ago. no usda approved slaughterhouses in spain...
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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby George Collins » Tue Nov 19, 2013 6:09 pm

Whilst homeschooling the kids today, I got a little bored as they were all doing self-directed activities. Thinking about permaculture related topics reminded me of the pork I cured last year. My plan was to wait a year, taste it and then decide upon my status of idiotic for having experimented with a whole hog. Figuring that 11ish months is close enough for government work (and since we all work for the government via taxes, anything we do qualifies as government work), I pulled it down from where it has hung since last January.

Apprehensively, I unwrapped the brown paper that had been its home and noticed that it had become virtually saturated from the oils that had evidently seeped out during its aging. The most notable quality to the eye is that the parts not covered in skin were wrapped up in mold. Here is what that looked like:

Image

Slicing a sliver off revealed this:

Image

Next, paper thin slices were removed and tasted.

Success!

It wasn't Jamon Iberico de Belotta by any stretch but definitely edible. Taking things a step further, a larger, thicker portion was removed and fried in bacon grease.

Success!

Excitedly, I rushed over to Youngblood's carrying the remnants of the fried slice as well as the rest of the shoulder. He was just pulling up on his tractor. While helping him hook up to the cattle trailer, I offered him a bite.

His reaction was, "Now that's ham!"

Which technically it wasn't. Point being though, he approved.

He inspected the shoulder, liked what he saw and told me to take it inside so he could get a slice with which to cook a pot of dried white Lima beans.

While inside, I gave Momma a sliver. Her opinion was, "Ooh, that's good. Too salty though. You should have soaked it before you fried it."

Getting the parental stamp of approval means much.
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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:37 pm

That is wonderful news George. Glad it turned out well for you, and more importantly I an glad you got the Parental seal of approval. You are right, that does mean a lot.
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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby Lollykoko » Tue Nov 19, 2013 10:45 pm

It's great to hear that it worked out well, George. Do you think that giving it a longer cure time would take you to the flavor you were looking for?
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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby George Collins » Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:54 am

Lolly, I doubt more time would have materially affect the flavor. Jamon Iberico de Belotta continues to improve with age and isn't considered "ripe" until it has gone through two summers. According to the guys that produce it, "white pigs" (meaning anything other than the Iberico pig) are considered "ripe" at one year.

My experiment was not intended to reproduce the Spanish ham. Mine was meant to answer a single question: "Can I cure a piece of pork so that it would see me through to the following year's hog killin?"

The answer to that question is a resounding, "Yes!"

Now that I've wet my feet, each time hereafter will give me the opportunity to improve incrementally.

When the tree cropping system comes on line and we're producing acorn finished pork, then I will perhaps start trying to challenge the Spaniards.
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