Seasoned Autumn/Winter 2019

emmatrelawny

* Preserving the Harvest
* Sweet & Salty
* Seasoned Greetings
* Sea Salt Differently

8

An Introduction

to Curing

Since ancient times people have been using salt to

preserve meat and fish, and the methods and techniques

may have changed but the chemical properties of salt, that

have a unique reaction when left in contact with raw food,

remain the same and are as useful today as they were a

thousand years ago. The process draws moisture out of

your food via osmosis and helps to dry out meat or fish

that can then be smoked or stored for longer.

• Daily method. For daily dry curing you will need an appropriate

food-standard tray or plastic box and it is best to store this in the

fridge or under 5˚C. You can also use plastic ziplock bags or ceramic

pots to cure in. For this basic curing method cover your food with

cure and rub it into the meat or fish, then replace the cure over several

periods in the curing process. Each day you will notice the liquid

pulled from the meat or fish will pool in the tray and need pouring

away. Less and less will come out of the curing process each day and

the meat texture will get firmer as the colour of the flesh gets darker.

This basic dry-cure method means you are able to observe the

process first-hand and watch the process of osmosis in action.

• Salt-box method. Another excellent method for curing is to place

your meat or fish into a plastic box and cover with the cure. Ensure

that you use at least 2% weight of salt to the weight of meat (up to 5%

salt is the maximum level to keep the food palatable). This method

involves spreading your cure over the product in a box and turning

it to get a good even coating across the surface. It is a good method

for then finishing off by air-drying or smoking.

• Total immersion method. This is an expensive and long curing

process that is most popular for Parma-style ham, prior to

air-drying. It requires lots of sea salt, in the region of 20kg for a small

leg of pork. The technique is relatively straightforward. Start by

finding a large plastic food container and pouring in a third of your

salt. Then place the meat in and completely cover with the cure.

Apply a little pressure on top too with more salt. For the immersion

curing method there is no need to empty off liquid as it will get

absorbed into the salt. Use a plastic box so that you can see through

to make sure there are no gaps where the joint is exposed. When the

ham has lost 30% of its original weight it will be ready to eat. As a rule

of thumb, cure for at least 3 days for every kg of pork and then air dry

for 6-12 months.

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