As the holiday season approaches, frantic shopping and the preparation of holiday treats for your family and friends are a significant part of your life. You want to have enough food readily available, and in some families, it is quite common to prepare a holiday ham which is delicious and makes for handy leftovers. You might decide to cure the ham before serving it as a meal or in sandwiches so that it lasts you a long time, and might be wondering what the correct method of curing the meat might be. This article serves to suggest a suitable method of sugar curing pork.
Curing any meat involves treating the meat with a pickling solution so as to preserve it for long periods. Sugar curing pork involves the addition of sugar to this pickling solution, as well as the usual ingredients of salt, and a nitrite or nitrate as a preservative. Since the salt often creates a harsh flavor, the sugar helps improve the taste of the cured meat. Sugar helps bring out the natural flavor of the meat. Sugar is also food for some types of beneficial bacteria, and so might encourage such bacterial growth which is good for your health. It is important to properly cure the pork to ensure that it is edible, and lasts you a long time.
There are two types of sugar curing methods – the dry cure and the wet cure. The dry cure involves just rubbing the curing mixture onto the meat and then leaving it in a cold storage any for the required number of days. The wet curing method involves submerging the pork into water containing the curing mixture and letting this cure for many days in a cold storage area. Both methods shall be highlighted in this article.
The dry cure method:
1. Firstly, it is important to note that if you choose to sugar cure pork using this method, then you must have the suitable large space in a cold storage area, temperature in the range of 33 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit, in which to hang the meat freely for a number of days. An empty refrigerator or a walk-in cooler would be most suitable for this purpose. Not curing the meat in this temperature range might result in fermentation which will spoil the meat. It is not necessary to use a nitrate or nitrite in this method.
2. Make a salt and sugar mix, adding approximately 1.5 pounds of white or brown sugar for 4 pounds of salt. You will need 1.5 pounds of this mix for every pound of pork you have to cure.
3. If the pork you are curing has a bone, then you need to cut an opening close to the bone, and add some of the above mixture (approximately 3 tablespoons), into that opening. This prevents the rotting of the bone while the meat cures.
4. Rub the salt/sugar mixture into the meat as well as you can, covering all exposed areas.
5. Place the meat into a stockinette – an elastic knitted fabric – and hang the meat in the cold storage area for a number of days. The rough estimate is two days of curing for one pound of meat, i.e. five pounds of pound would need to be hung in the large cooler or refrigerator for ten days.
6. After the required number of days pass, cut off the stockinette, and thoroughly was the meat to remove the sugar and salt mixture. You might need to use a clean scrubbing brush.
7. Dry the meat by hanging it up again in a room at room temperature. The meat should be ready after a day of drying.
The wet cure method:
1. This method is very similar to the above method, in that it uses similar ratios of salt and sugar to each other, and to the quantity of meat. The sole difference is instead of hanging the meat up in a stockinette in a refrigerator, you will submerge the meat in a wood barrel filled with cold water, enough to cover all the meat.
2. This wood barrel should be kept in a cold storage area – 33 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit – and left there for many days.
3. The same amount of curing time as the dry method is recommended, i.e. 2 days of curing time to 1 pound of meat.
4. After the curing, the meat should be properly dried, possibly in a smokehouse. A thick thread could be run through the meat to hang the meat properly.