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Making Cured Meats At Home

Curing meats is a great way to preserve them. It may seem like a difficult chore to get into, but in reality, curing meat is not that complex. Curing simply means preserving meat. For thousands of years, people have cured meats by drying, salting, or smoking them. Any kind of meat can be treated this way, but pork usually gives the best results. Because this type of preservation has been used for so long, it is a method that you can rely on even if you have no power. Of course, there are modern pieces of equipment you can use to make curing easier and safer, but you can still use traditional methods as a safe way to get well-cured meats.

How Curing Works

Commercially-cured meats often contain many objectionable chemicals. You can make the same product at home with fewer preservatives and with a better flavor. All you have to do is dry the meat out. When all or most of the water is gone from meat, bacteria cannot live in it, and you have a safe product that lasts a long time. Getting your meat dried out relies on several factors:

Essentially, you introduce salt to your meat and let it dry out until it is cured. Of course, there are several considerations beyond this simple premise, especially to ensure that you end up with a product that is safe to eat.

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The Ingredients

While it is a simple process to cure meats, there are some ingredients that are absolutely essential to get a tasty product that looks appealing and is free from dangerous bacteria.

The Set Up

It is possible to cure meats by simply leaving them to hang in a garage, barn, shed, or similar outbuilding. However, you can get much better results by creating a space in which you can control humidity, temperature, and airflow. To make a tasty and safe cured meat, you need to be able to control all three factors. The temperature for your curing area should be between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. At temperatures above 60 degrees, bacteria will be able to grow, and below 50 degrees, it will slow the curing process too much. Humidity needs to be between 70 and 75 percent. If it gets below 70, your meat will dry out too quickly on the outside while the inside will become spoiled. If the humidity is too high, you run the risk of the meat not drying out and of growing bad mold on it. Airflow is necessary because it helps to dry the meat and prevents the growth of these bad molds.

To get all the right conditions, you can either use a location you already have that meets the requirements, or you can create one. Get a temperature and humidity sensor to determine when you have the right conditions. If you have a cellar or basement, you may be already there. Check the temperature and humidity to find out. If so, simply fan your meats a couple of times a day for air flow.

If you don’t have a good location already, you can make one. An old refrigerator works well. You can use a timer and sensor to turn the fridge on and off in an effort to keep the interior at just the right temperature. You should be able to find such a controller with a quick online search. To get the humidity level right, you can place a bowl of salt water in the bottom of the fridge and monitor the humidity with a sensor. It can be tricky to get it just right this way, so alternatively, you can put a small humidifier in the fridge with a controller that keeps it set at the right percentage. For airflow, drill a few holes in each side of the fridge and cover them with mesh to keep rodents out.

The Recipes

Recipes for curing meats are very detailed and require more attention than the space of this article. Once you have a good set up ready, though, you can start looking at recipes to use. Make sure you find a reliable source and that you follow the measurements precisely. You need to get the ingredients right to make a safe product. Rest assured, though, that after you have tried curing once or twice, you will find it easy to make delicious meats and sausages.


Safety is more important than any other consideration when making cured meats. This is a very safe way to preserve meat, but as with any type of preservation, there is always a risk. If you do it right and follow some guidelines, you should have no safety concerns.

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