Tuesday, April 22, 2014
ANNA TELLS OF CURING
I want to say something about Olive's canning. Someone said that many of the Amish still use the boiling-water method in canning meats and he is correct. I still do my meat canning that way. It's the way I always did it and haven't had anyone get sick, yet. I will not tell you how to do it the way I do as the government thinks it is the wrong way.
Also someone mentioned about Amish and Old Order Mennonites do not make soup anymore. We sure do. But, like everyone else, we have canned soup on our shelves, to use for a quick meal or to streach it a bit. Also, many people do not make soups, so we want recipes on New York State of Mind for everyone. If we have a can of soup and you want to put in homemade soup, that is fine.
I am just going to tell about curing. If someone is interested in my going into it deeper, please let me know and I can do another post or answer your questions.
All meats have a large amount of water in them that must be removed to prevent spoiling. Putting salt on the meat takes out most of the water and produces an antibacterial action to prevent the meat from spoiling. It takes time for the salt to penetrate the meat. The bigger the pieces, the longer it takes. A big factor is also, the temperature. It must be high enough for the salt to penetrate the meat, but low enough so the meat doesn't spoil.
As salt alone can dry out the meat, making it hard or taste salty or discolor it, we counteract it with a sweetener like honey or maple syrup. I usually use maple syrup and add some of my spices.
There are two kinds of curing - dry cure and wet cure. The dry cure is faster than the wet cure, but the wet cure is less salty tasting than the dry cure. You do not use your table salt. Some use kosher salt and others coarse household salt. I hand mix the salt, maple syrup and spices I want for my curing, but they do sell Morton Sugar Cure and Morton Tender Quick in some stores, already mixed.
The picture at the top, shows the type of box that Elmer made for me to put the curing meat in. Ours is made of wood and looks exactly like the picture. There are racks under the box so the meat doesn't touch the bottom or ground. There a wholes in the bottom of the box for drainage.
Once the animal is killed, all blood out, the meat is chilled as close to 32 degrees as possible without freeing. The meat must be chilled completely through. As we do not have refrigerators large enough to hold all the meat, we do most of our slaughtering in the winter months. Also, we believe that the temperature in our gas refrigerator freezer is not as cold as other freezers. If we have to slaughter an animal before that, we take it over to Jean and David's and they refrigerate it in their commercial freezers in their barn.
I am not going into all of the supplies you need or how to make dry curing or wet curing recipes. If you would like this, just ask. Most of the supplies except the dry curing box, you may have in your home.
I will do the dry curing first as that is the one I use the most. Once the meat is chilled, cut and your ingredients mixed, each piece of meat should be completely covered with the dry mix. Make sure you cover around the bones and joint area - and all the meat. There shouldn't be any part of the neat not covered. Before putting the meat in, put a thick layer of the curing mix on the bottom of the curing box. Meat is placed on top of the curing mix, large pieces first, skin side down. Smaller pieces are on the top. The top of the curing box is then covered with the curing mix, closed and sealed. Meat will remain in there for 4 days between 34 to 39 degrees.
On the 5th day, I make up the same ingredients I have on the meat, open the box, remove all the meat and repack it, making sure all the meat is covered with the ingredients. If there is a spot not covered, I do so and repack in the box again. Once the meat is repacked, I figure about it staying in the box 2 days per pound of meat. So for a 5 pound of meat - 10 days. Of course the weather makes a difference.
You can use the same ingredients for the wet cure as the dry cure, but it should be dissolved in pure cold water. As we are on town water, I always boil it first as I do not want any of the bacteria that is in our water or chlorine to change the taste. Once the water is boiled - let it cool.
When the ingredients have been dissolved in the water - fill a container about one third full with the ingredients and place the meat in. All pieces are to be completely covered. This method is best for small pieces of meat about 2 inches thick. Put a plate on the top piece of meat to keep all the meat submerged in the brine. Meat should be un the brine for at least 4 days at 35 degrees or below but not freezing. Meat should soak the brine for about 1/2 inch for 24 hours. During the curing rearrange the meat at least once. Once you are done get rid of brine - do not use it again.
For large pieces of meat you should use pumping your meat. What you are doing is injecting the brine with a needle that has several holes in it. There is about 4 or 5 ounces of brine in the needle. Once the needle is full, it is injected deep into the meat to the bone, joint areas, and into the middle of the meat. Injecting will make it more even and quicker cure, if injected evenly.
When all the meat it is cured, soak it in cold, boiled water from 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on the size of the meat. This will remove all the excess salt from the meat and equalizes the salt content. Once the meat is thoroughly drained, it is ready for cooking, smoking or drying and wrapping.
Wrapping and Drying
Once the meat is dry after cleaning, you may want to add spices as you may want to improve the flavor during storage. Wrap several small pieces tightly in cheesecloth or muslin. Then wrap them tightly in heavy paper and seal with tape. Do not use plastic to wrap meat because it will trap moisture and promote mold growth.
In wrapping large pieces wrap in cheesecloth or muslin then in heavy paper or in cloth bags. Hang all wrapped meat in a cool, dry place until needed. Make sure that no strings are directly connected to the meat that will cause a direct where insects can invade and contaminate the meat.
When in storing individual packages of meat, they should not touch each other. Make sure that air can circulate freely around each piece to keep it cool and dry. No sunlight should contact the packages, it will cause meat to lose some of it's color. Also, make sure the meat is protected from insects. There is a mixture you can make to cover all the packages against insects.
I hope you understand what I wrote. If you have any questions, please ask. My next post will be on smoking meat.
Trust God's Wisdom,
Anna (Elmer's wife)\\\\\\\