Meat Curing Methods and Useful Tips

Meat Curing Methods

Dry Curing – Dry curing involves applying the cure mix directly on the meat. Curing is done in the refrigerator. After curing, the meat is rinsed to remove the excess salt and then cooked. Dry curing is used in curing hams and bacon as well as smaller cuts of meat.

Brine Curing – Brine curing is also popular for curing meat. This method is also called a sweet pickle cure. Brine curing involves mixing the curing salt with water to make a sweet pickle solution. The meat is cured with this brine by injecting the brine using a meat pump or by soaking the meat for a specific time. Curing takes place in the refrigerator and the meat is cooked after curing. Often larger cuts of meat and poultry such as hams and turkeys are injected with a sweet pickle cure. Smaller products including whole chickens and fish may be soaked in a curing brine solution.

Combination Cure – Combines the dry rub cure with injection of brine solution (also known as a sweet pickle solution). A combination cure is used for curing hams. This method shortens the curing time required and reduces the chance of spoilage because the cure process takes place inside and outside the ham. Curing takes place in the refrigerator and the ham is cooked after curing.

Sausage Cure Method – The method for making cured sausage is different from the curing methods described above. Curing salt and spices are mixed with ground meat. Curing takes place in the refrigerator and the sausage is cooked after curing.

Useful Tips

1. Dry Curing – After applying the cure, place meat in a plastic food storage bag and tie end with a twist tie. For large cuts of meat and poultry, use large-size food storage bags which are available in most grocery stores. Do not use garbage bags.

2. Brine Curing – To prepare the brine, use non-corrosive bowls, such as plastic, glass or stainless steel. Crocks work well, too, but will take up more space in the refrigerator. Prepare enough brine so that meat is fully submerged. Use a bowl or plate as a weight to keep meat fully immersed in the brine.

3. Meat cuts differ in thickness and amount of bone and fat which affect cure penetration rate. You may have to lengthen curing time if using a thicker cut than specified in a recipe.

4. Feel free to experiment with spices when curing to suit your family’s taste. However, do not exceed the curing levels indicated in the recipes.

5. To eliminate guesswork, label and date meats before curing. We recommend labeling day and time the meat is to be removed from the cure.

6. If meat is too salty, soak or boil in water to remove excess salt. Next time, remember to rinse cured meat under running tap water to remove excess salt or reduce curing time slightly.

7. Cure meat in the refrigerator 36°F to 40°F (1°C – 4°C). At colder temperatures, meat will not cure properly. Warmer temperatures encourage growth of spoilage microorganisms.

8. After curing, meat and poultry are still raw and must be cooked before being eaten. For your convenience, most recipes include suggested cooking instructions. Should you decide to give a home-cured delicacy as a gift, let the recipient know if you have cooked it.

9. Cured meat turns a pink or reddish color when cooked. If meat is fully cured, it will be pink throughout the cut. For poultry, use a meat thermometer to determine doneness, as meat will appear light pink when fully cooked.

Useful Tips and Meat Curing Methods by Windsor Salts.

Curing Salt / Prague Powder, Composition and Safety Issues

A sausage is not a sausage without the curing salt. The same is true with tocino, it may look like it but taste will be different. Prague powder or curing salt is responsible for giving the processed meat product it characteristic flavor and color.

Try to make tocino without prague powder. Drop me a comment, if you prove me wrong.

It also function as preservative. A substance that kills spoilage bacteria, especially the dangerous Clostridium botulinum.

Curing Salt has different formulations:

Cure #1 — 6.25% Sodium nitrite: 93.75% Salt. For fresh and cooked sausages.
Cure #2 — 6.25% Sodium nitrite: 4% Sodium nitrate and 89.75% Salt For dry-cured sausages.
Tender Quick — 0.5% Sodium nitrite, 0.5% Sodium nitrate, Salt, Sugar, and Propylene glycol. For brine curing.
Saltpeter — 100% Potassium nitrate, it is not recommended due to difficulty in measurements.

In high concentrations it may yield these possible side effects. They are the results or various studies. Prague powder concentration in finished products is limited to 200 ppm as stated in Philippine Regulation on Food Additives. Some regulatory agencies require lower values.

  • It forms carcinogenic nitrosamines in meats when exposed to high temperatures. However, antioxidants like vitamin C and E may inhibit nitrosamine formation. Studies have linked it to various types of cancer.
  • It has been linked to the triggering migraines in migraine prone individuals.
  • Frequent ingestion of cured meats may cause COPD, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • If ingested in high concentration, it may cause methemoglobinemia, a disorder characterized by the presence of a higher than normal level of methemoglobin (metHb) in the blood.

curing salt prague powder