Home Curing Pork

Canning, Dehydrating, Freezing, Fermenting, etc.

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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby mannytheseacow » Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:50 am

Looks like you're up to something good there, George... I've got some lardo curing that should be ready in another week or so and I can't wait for a sample! I've got a ham in salt that I'll hang here at the end of the month and I'm sure that will be 2 summers, like you were saying...

I know I've read the whole thread before, but I forget- you have it wrapped in a brown bag? After curing in salt I rinse mine and let it dry. Then I smear the whole thing in a good heavy coat of lard, pack it heavily with black pepper, and wrap it in about 5 layers of cheesecloth and hang it. The lard and black pepper keep the mold away but you'll still end up with a good rind that will need to be sliced off.
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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby Jenny-the-Bear (grr) » Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:53 am

This is interesting. Del and I butchered a couple of pigs ourselves, and did all the cutting up, etc. I cured and smoked the bacon, including jowels. I didn't cure hams, because neither of us is all that fond of ham. We both prefer fresh pork in beans.

Anyway, we slaughtered and processed 2 ourselves, paid a neighbor to process one. Sold a 4th, not really having room in the freezers for another one. A couple of years later, we raised a single hog alone, and took that one to a processor.

We liked the job we did cutting up the hogs better than either that we had processed for us. The only thing we liked better was they way they were able to slice the chops and steaks better than we did, because they had proper meat saws. Later I did use a sawzall to split huge turkey carcasses, and that proved to work so well I wish we'd tried it on the hogs.

With both hogs we had processed, we got back a lot less bacon than when we cut it up ourselves. I cut the jowels bigger, too. I think they trimmed off a lot more than I did, and ground a good part of what could've been bacon, into ground pork. I still cured and smoked it myself. I also did my own sausage seasonings, and mixed it myself. Most commercial processors use commercial sausage seasoning, and it almost always contains MSG, something I try to avoid. Besides that, a lot of commercially prepared bacon is too salty for my tastes. I cure with a lot of salt, but before I smoke it, I soak some of the salt back out. I only smoke it for about 3-4 hours, and it's been plenty to permeate the meat with a wonderful smoke flavor. I cut the bacon into 1-3 lb slabs, and freeze. I slice it as we use it.

For curing, I use regular pink curing salt, but you only use a tiny amount of that mixed with regular salt, and I add some sugar to cut the harshness of the salt. I also add crushed vitamin C, because that's what prevents the nitrites from converting into whatever that is that's carcinogenic. They use another version in commercial bacon, either sodium erythorbate, or sodium ascorbate. I use ascorbic acid. It doesn't take a lot, I use more than is required, but you can't taste it in the final product.

I dry cure, by rubbing the bacon slabs with the curing mixture, and stacking in a plastic pan I've drilled holes in the bottom of. I place that tub inside one without holes, on top of a couple of plastic food containers, so there's a space between the bottom one and the top one, to allow liquid to drain out of the bacon. I let it cure in the fridge, for about a week, turning and re-arranging the slabs daily. Then rinse, soak over night in fresh water, and let it drain and dry a bit, at least over night, sometimes 2 nights, in the same curing pans, before I smoke it.

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I cold smoke it, by having a very small amount of charcoal in the fire box of the smoker, and put the smoking wood on top of that. I prefer maple wood, apple, or hickory. It doesn't get warm enough to spoil, and it's not in the smoker very long, either.

I only do a small amount at a time. I know they say not to freeze pork before curing, but I did freeze part of it, and it turned out just as good as the first lot. My slabs were not very even, I had a lot of odd shapes, but they sure tasted good.

I look forward to reading the results of your salt-only cures. I have had what they call "country ham" here in KY, it's salt only, smokehouse cured, and they sell it hanging in grocery stores kept unrefrigerated. I don't care for it. It's way too salty for my tastes, and it always has just a slightly off flavor, like it's not quite gone bad, but close. People don't get sick from it, at least I never have, but I just didn't care for it. I'd like to know if yours does that, or if it turns out better. Our winters are not consistently cold enough too hang meat unrefrigerated, at least not anymore. That may be why the hams taste the way they do.

That's why I cured the bacon the way I did, and didn't try to hang it in a smokehouse or anything like that. Couldn't count on the weather staying cold enough, except during some of our freezing spells, and that's not good for curing either, or so I've been told.
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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby matt walker » Tue Nov 04, 2014 5:04 pm

I drooled reading this, not kidding! Jenny, nice techniques, I love hearing about how folks have adapted things like this to their own style. I have often done the freeze then cure process, just because I can't handle the workload of all of it at once. Always comes out fine. Better than fine, actually!
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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby Jenny-the-Bear (grr) » Sun Nov 16, 2014 7:51 am

Yeah, that was partly why I froze some first, I was pretty overwhelmed trying to get all that meat cut up, packaged, grinding the scraps, mixing and grinding the seasoning for sausage, etc..

Plus I had limited space in the fridge to cure meat, couldn't do more than I had space for. We had big chunks of carcass in the fridge while I was getting it whittled down. My husband was a truck driver at the time, so he was only home for the initial slaughter, hanging, and quartering. Then I took over the rest, while he was back on the road paying the bills. It kept me busy most of the week.
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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby thickstrings » Sun Nov 16, 2014 3:01 pm

While we are on the subject of keeping pork ........Along time ago, in the early 60's I can remember my Grandmother keeping fried pork chops in a small wooden barrel of lard. They were totally submerged in it. She would say in a thick German accent, " get some boy, reach in there".....so mid arm into the lard you would go and come up with a chop or two...into a hot pan and they would go....and they tasted great! I have never seen that since...They lived in Northern Minnesota on 80 acres, Hell, Grandpa still had horse drawn a thresher and combine rusting in the yard. Wood for heat and cooking, outhouse and smoke house.....she smoked food with corn cobs...root cellar, if you could eat it, it was in a jar...or preserved in some way.... she had cooked beef and gravy, in jars.... Kinda funny, stuff is coming around full circle.... I wish I had time machine.
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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby DrewInToledo » Sat Mar 07, 2015 10:11 pm

TS, I love this story dude!! Things may be coming full circle, but I don't think stories much like this will be around. What great memories, man!! I can just remember reaching into a deep freeze to pull out a popsicle, not too exciting. I'm just a 70s kid but I remember stories of parents talking about soaking out the boxed salt packed cod to cook up..
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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby thickstrings » Sun Mar 08, 2015 4:25 pm

Salt cod , Yes,, on the Italian side....days of changing the water...Bacala on Christmas eve along with squid, snails, eel, shrimp, smelt, ect. No meat on Christmas eve...As a small boy in Chicago, I remember my Uncles coming home from the fish market with live snails...they would put them in a clean bathtub with water for a while to purge... my job was to keep them from crawling out....Scungili salad.. My Grandmother would spend hours in front of the sink cleaning squid...The bodies were filled with stuffing and those and the tenticles were put into the red sauce and served with spaghetti, Later as a teenager I remember having girlfriends over on Christmas eve, The "Calamad" was never a big hit with them......Aquired taste? It did'nt help that my Uncles were holding the tenticles on a fork just to tease them...
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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby mannytheseacow » Sun Mar 08, 2015 8:50 pm

Salt cod? Oh, dont' get me started.... I'm as German as they come and I used to spend summers and holidays with my grandparents in Northern Wisconsin. That was the good old days, where they raised all their own food, mostly poultry and vegetables, and they would trade poultry products to the neighbor farmer for milk. About once a summer we'd make the trip into town for coffee, sugar, and flour.

New years was the seafood holiday. My grandma had one of those toilet tanks up above the pot on the wall. She'd put the salt cod in the toilet tank for two days before new years and every time you pulled the chain you'd change the water on the fish. My wife thinks that's gross, but that's all I knew growing up.
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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby pa_friendly_guy » Mon Mar 09, 2015 1:28 pm

You were using the water BRFORE it was in the toilet. It was pure up there in the tank before it went into a flush. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Home Curing Pork

Postby mannytheseacow » Thu May 07, 2015 2:25 am

I've had this ham hanging for over a year and a half now and it was looking pretty gross.
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It started out as a 30 something pound rump off a Tamworth and then sat packed in salt in the refrigerator for over a month. Then packed with cracked black pepper and lard, and wrapped in cheesecloth. I broke into it and cut the rind off, and then broke it down into individual muscles. Starting to look better:
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I have no idea what my final yield was. The batteries went dead in my electric scale and I refuse to buy more. My manual scale tops out at 32 oz and every muscle was over 32 oz. Still, I'm guessing I recovered about 30% of that initial 30 something pounds. But, I took $1 a pound pork and turned it into $30 a pound pork. I have a couple restaurants that are buying a majority of it from me. Honestly, what am going to do with approx. 10 pounds of this stuff? Much more than a pound is all I can really use, and why not share the good stuff?
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