Curing meat

Apparently, people like to eat.

Moderators: SecondTalon, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
folkhero
Posts: 1775
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2008 3:34 am UTC

Curing meat

Postby folkhero » Tue Aug 10, 2010 5:59 am UTC

I've decided I'm going to cure and cook my own corned beef, for reuben sandwiched, corned beef and cabbage and corned beef hash (depending on how much I have left). I'm planning on using Alton Brown's recipe, modifying it to exclude the saltpeter and juniper berries. I don't want the saltpeter because one of the people who will be eating it can't have nitrates (the fact that he can't have store bought cured meats is what inspired me to do this in the first place) according to Alton, the saltpeter is optional and primarily good for color. I'm eschewing the juniper berries because I don't like the way they taste.

Anyway, I'm posting to see if anyone here has experience or advice to share when it comes to curing meats. It doesn't seem hard so much as time consuming but I don't know if there are any common pitfalls or mistakes I should be aware of.
To all law enforcement entities, this is not an admission of guilt...

User avatar
Thesh
Made to Fuck Dinosaurs
Posts: 6568
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:55 am UTC
Location: Colorado

Re: Curing meat

Postby Thesh » Tue Aug 10, 2010 6:15 pm UTC

Be careful about leaving out nitrates, one of the primary purposes is to prevent botulism. There may be an alternative, but I am not an expert on curing. I just recommend you make sure you are informed.
Summum ius, summa iniuria.

ImagingGeek
Posts: 380
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 6:41 pm UTC
Location: Canada

Re: Curing meat

Postby ImagingGeek » Tue Aug 10, 2010 6:50 pm UTC

I have cured quite a bit of meat. As mentioned by another poster, the purpose of nitrates is to prevent spoilage as well as preserve colour (botulism is not usually a problem, but there are other nasty bacteria that are a problem as nearly/more deadly). Nitrates (saltpeter) also gives it some flavour, so expect a slightly different taste if you don't use it.

The above aside, I have made saltpeter-free corned beef (back before we knew the cancer link was BS). Simply use the same recipe, leave out the saltpeter. To minimize your risk of spoilage, do the following:

1) Dissolve the salt in the water, bring to a hard boil for 5min.
2) Add the spices, boil another 2-3min
3) Keeping the pot covered, immerse it in ice water until cooled (you want to cool it fast, to prevent any growth)
4) Rather than immersing the meat in the brine and keeping it held down with a weight (the traditional method), place the thawed meat in a large ziploc, and pour the brine overtop. Seal and let sit in the fridge until cured. Make sure your fridge is as cold as it can be, without freezing your food. 4C or cooler is ideal.

Other than that, make sure you thoroughly cook the beef afterwards to kill anything that may have grown.

Bryan
I have a new blog, on making beer.

Not that anyone reads it...

User avatar
folkhero
Posts: 1775
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2008 3:34 am UTC

Re: Curing meat

Postby folkhero » Thu Aug 12, 2010 2:39 am UTC

Thanks for the advice, I didn't know that the nitrates -> cancer link was debunked, but the reason the person can't have nitrates is because they are a migraine trigger for him, but I found out that cheese, sourkraut and cabbage are also triggers (actually, I think about 80% of the things he thinks are triggers are just in his head, but it's not really my place to tell him that) so I might just make it with the saltpeter and eat it when he isn't over for dinner.
To all law enforcement entities, this is not an admission of guilt...

ImagingGeek
Posts: 380
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 6:41 pm UTC
Location: Canada

Re: Curing meat

Postby ImagingGeek » Thu Aug 12, 2010 1:54 pm UTC

folkhero wrote:Thanks for the advice, I didn't know that the nitrates -> cancer link was debunked, but the reason the person can't have nitrates is because they are a migraine trigger for him, but I found out that cheese, sourkraut and cabbage are also triggers (actually, I think about 80% of the things he thinks are triggers are just in his head, but it's not really my place to tell him that) so I might just make it with the saltpeter and eat it when he isn't over for dinner.


Nitrates are a common alergic and migraine trigger, so it may be a legit problem on your friends part. The rest sounds fishy...maybe he doesn't LIKE those foods, and as a bit of psycostomatic pain to reinforce that...

The cancer link was always dubious; to get cancer-causing compounds required a great deal of heat (to react the nitrates with meat protein, to form nitroamines. The idea was never well supported - you had to give animals massive doses of nitroamines to get cancer, making the link to human health dubious. There was also some epidemiological studies, showing no increase in stomach/bowl cancers in countries where nitrate-rich foods were common. The final nail in the coffin was animal studies, where even if the animals were fed nitrate doses that were near-toxic doses over long periods of time, they did not develop cancer. If you're worried, add a bit of ascorbic acid (available at most pharmacies) to your pickling mix - when you cook the meat it will react with the nitrates, preventing the formation of nitroamines.

Bryan
I have a new blog, on making beer.

Not that anyone reads it...


Return to “Food”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests