How to make Cure and Smoke your own meats at home
In the days before man had refrigerators, curing meats guaranteed a supply of meat throughout the summer months when food poisoning from spoilage was a constant and ever-present danger. Even today, where proper refrigeration methods are readily available, cured meats are still an excellent and very tasty way to create your very own smoked meats.
In order to cure and smoke your own meats, you will need a few things first. Obviously you will need something to hold everything in, so get a container made of stainless steel, glass, or plastic. Additionally, it must be large enough to hold the brine solution plus the meat.
Aluminum, tin, or copper can react with the salts used in curing and cause the meat take on an off flavour and colour. Food safe plastic buckets are perfect for this method.
The brine curing process takes a number of days, so if you are in more of a hurry, the next item on your list should be a meat Injector or pump. This is essentially a big syringe, or a pump system, that allows you to distribute pickle ingredients evenly throughout the interior of the meat to assist in protection from harmful microbes. This process also allows the curing to begin on the inside of the meat and work outwards, while the brine will cure from the outside in. Together these two elements will provide an even cure even with the the required wait times reduced significantly.
A SMOKER is obviously something that you have to obtain as well. Without it, it is pretty much impossible to smoke a piece of meat!
Now that you have everything you need, lets create our cure.
Ingredients for 12 Litres Of Brine/Curing Solution – If you will require more than 12 litres, this recipe is easily doubled and tripled. If you don’t need a full 12 litres, you can cut this recipe in half or even one-quarter. You can brine as much product as you can submerge in your brine (without overcrowding).
A GOLDEN RULE OF CURING YOU MUST REMEMBER: DON’T SAVE OR RE-USE THE BRINE . IT SHOULD ONLY BE USED ONE TIME!!!
THE RISK OF CROSS CONTAMINATION AND ILLNESS IS TOO GREAT TO EVEN THINK ABOUT RE-USING YOUR BRINE!!!
- 12 litres Water
- 250 gms Salt
- 250 gms Cure or whatever to instructions say on the packet of cure
- (cure can be obtained from a Butchers Supply Company or your local butcher)
- 500 gms Brown Sugar
Chill the water to about 5°C and dissolve all of the ingredients listed above in the water to make the brine/curing solution. Thoroughly trim the meat of fat and waste. Once trimmed, wash the beef, lamb, chicken, bacon (Pork belly) or ham (Pork leg) with very cold water in order to keep the meat chilled and as close to 5°C as possible.
After washing, submerge the meat in the brine solution for 4-5 days, keeping the meat and brine at a steady 5°C.
To keep the meat from floating above the brine, place a heavy plate on top to weigh it down. Larger cuts of meat should be submerged for 5 days. Make sure you account for the weight of the meat and the level of brine in your container to prevent overflow and a mess.
As mentioned earlier, if you are in a time crunch and can’t wait 4 or 5 days, you can inject the meat with the brine/curing solution using an amount equal to 10 to 15% of the meats weight. For example, a 10 kg piece of meat would require 1 to 1.5 litres of brine for proper injection. After injecting the meat, submerge in the brine solution, keeping both the brine and meat at 5 deg c for at least 48 hours.
Once the curing process has completed, thoroughly wash the meat in cold water. Place on a rack in the smoker.
Turn on the smoker and keep at a temperature of about 55 deg c and heat at this temperature for 1 hour with the damper open. Close damper and apply smoke for 2 hours at 80 deg c. Raise temperature to 90 deg c and hold for 4 hours or as long as it takes for your meat to reach its cooked temperature
When cooking bacon, remove it from the smoker when the internal temperature reaches 56°C.
For ham, beef, lamb or chicken, hold until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 75°C.
Measure the internal temperature of the meat by inserting the thermometer into the most central part of the meat (Note: Don’t let the probe touch a bone as this will give you a false reading of the cooked temperature of the meat.
Once the meat has reached temperature, remove it from the smoker and immediately wrap in foil to rest. This resting period will allow the juices within the meat to distribute throughout so they do not simply pour out when you cut the meat.
After about ½ hour, either cut the meat up to eat or ;
Bring the meat down to a refrigerated temperature as soon as possible.
The best way to get the meat cold in a hurry is to dip it into a tub of water with lots of ice in it. THE WATER WILL NOT MAKE THE MEAT SOGGY. Water can’t soak into cooked meat.
Placing in the refrigerator is also good.
Using cures will cause the meat to turn pink in colour, which is perfectly normal and safe. We recommend using the cure, as this will enhance the flavour of the meat, as well as better prevent bacteria and assist in the smoking process.