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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Curing meat

I was going to attempt to build a smokehouse (old style) and give it a whirl. Back when I was youngen, we would gather up at a neighbors around first frost and buther hogs. Some of the meat was salt cured and the other was sugar cured. It was hung in the smoke house to finish off the process.
Anyhow, due to me having a Birthday recently, I had company come down to find out if I could still sit around a fire and drink beer with the younger folks. Since a couple of them are part of my "bug in" crew, should the SHTF, I felt that the need to prove I was up to the task was called for. Heck, my 78 year old daddy hung in there until after 10 pm. I made it until it was going on 1 am., I finally got my legs back under me good yesterday. WHEW!

When preparing meat for storage, tempture is everything. Below 40 degrees is good. Heat is what allows the nasty to come out. I am going to include a website that can explain it better and not take up as much room.

There are a couple of ways to prepare your meat, I like the Morton's Tender Quick. It is a mixture of Salt, Sodium Nitrite, Sodium Nitrate and Sugar. Then there are Praque Powders, #1 is a mixture of 1 part Sodium Nitrite and 16 parts salt (4 ozs. per 100 lbs. of meat), typical home use is 1 tsp. per 5 lbs. of meat. #2 is a mixture of 1 part Sodium Nitrate, .64 Sodium Nitrate and 16 parts Salt. This is used primarily for dry curing. If you salt cure, make sure you rub the salt in around the bone real good. This is where the meat will spoil.

Sugar Cure for Ham: 1& 1/2 pints salt, 1 /2 cup brown sugar, 3 to 4 tablespoons black pepper, 2 tablespoons Red Pepper, 1 joint ham (from a 300 to 400 pound hog). Mix together and rub in and pack on joint of meat. Spread some on newspaper and lay joint, rind down, on mixture. Wrap in paper and then in cloth (cheesecloth). Tie like a package. Hang where there is even temperature, a little cool, but not necessary. Hang with bone pointing down. It will drain a little. Leave for several months. When cured, slice and store in freezer if weather is hot. This can be smoked also.

I plan on my smokehouse to be 6' X 8', I will block it up on cinder blocks about 2'. My firepit will be dug down about a foot deep, leaving a foot above ground. I will use regular stove pipe to run the smoke and heat into the smokehouse. I will keep you posted on this project. Use hard wood for the fire. Hickory is best (for flavor) Oak burns good and Pecan won't burn as hot (which is good for temp. control. You want to keep the temp. to around 140 degrees.


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