Easy techniques for curing meats, and a basic brine

Smoking and curing your own meat is great for stocking up the larder but you need to know the technique. How you treat each type of meat differs. These tips will help.

Easy techniques for curing meats, and a basic brine

Basic curing and smoking

Smoked and cured meat is a favourite all over the country with some of the best coming from Montreal. You can learn the basics of smoking and curing wherever you are and delight friends and family by serving it at special occasions. For the best success, you need to know one basic rule; not all pieces of meat are alike. The strength and duration of the curing process or the time spent in the smokehouse depends on a number of variables.

  • You need to take into account the type of meat to be cured and its weight, size and quality. Your personal tastes affect the process as well.
  • The temperature and density of the smoke will vary according to humidity and air pressure.
  • The kind of wood burned for smoke makes a difference.
  • Curing and smoking a piece of meat to preserve it means using a strong, salty brine cure and cold smoke for the full recommended time.
  • To tenderize the meat and add a smoky flavour, soak it in a marinade before hot smoking.
  • The length of time a piece of meat should be hot smoked varies with temperature.
  • To check this you must use a reliable thermometre inserted into the thickest part of the meat.

Storage

It’s best if you refrigerate smoked meat but if this isn’t possible, there are the following options.

  • Clean your storage area thoroughly and seal all cracks or crevices where dirt can collect or insects might breed.
  • Keep the temperature in mind. Non-refrigerated meat that has been cured and cold smoked for preservation keeps best at a temperature of 10°C to15°C (50°F to59°F).
  • Suspend the pieces without allowing them to touch each other to allow good air circulation.

Basic curing

For basic curing of a variety of red meats, this recipe for sweet pickle brine is a great option. If you vary the ingredients a little, you can make brine for specific curing like pastrami or corned beef.

  • Sweet pickle brine
  • Ingredients
  • 120 grams of pickling spices
  • 10 litres of water
  • 1 grams of salt
  • 4 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 500 grams of sugar

Instructions

  • Simmer the spices in 250 millilitres of boiling water for 10 minutes then mix them with the remaining water and the other ingredients.
  • Chill brine to approximately 1.5°C (35°F) before you add to the meat.

Simple home curing and smoking

Curing and smoking your own meat allows you to be creative and to customise flavours to suit your taste buds. These steps will set you on the right track.

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