June 16, 2024



How to Cure and Smoke Your Own Meats

In the days before man had refrigerators, curing What Does Bear Meat Taste Like 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 wonderfully tasty way to create your very own restaurant or deli quality 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 flavor and color. 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.

Ingredients for 5 Gallons Of Brine/Curing Solution – If you will require more than 5 gallons, this recipe is easily doubled and tripled. If you don’t need a full 5 gallons, 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).

Chill the water to 38 F 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 turkey, chicken, bacon or ham with very cold water in order to keep the meat chilled and as close to 38 F as possible.

After washing, submerge the meat in the brine solution for 4-5 days, keeping the meat and brine at a steady 38-40 F. To keep the meat from floating above the brine, place a heavy plate on top to weigh it down. Larger cuts of meat, such as turkeys or hams, 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 turkey, chicken, bacon or ham with the brine/curing solution using an amount equal to 1/10th of the meats weight. For example, a 10 lb. ham would require 1 pound of brine for proper injection. After injecting the meat, place it in ice-cold water for 3-4 hours. Remove the meat from the water and submerge in the brine solution, keeping both the brine and meat at 38-40F for at least 48 hours.

Once the curing process has completed, thoroughly wash the meat in cold water. If your smoker is large enough to allow for hanging, such as in a vertical smoker or in a smokehouse, take the meat and place it in a smoking bag or hang it with hooks.