Cured Whole Muscle Meat 101 - What Is It?

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    Cured Whole Muscle Meat 101 - What Is It?

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    What Is Cured Whole Muscle Meat?

    Cured whole muscle meats are any whole muscle cut of meat that you are going to cure and cook. Popular examples of this would be Bacon and Hams. Generally, these are larger thicker cuts of meat that we want to cook slowly so curing allows us to make sure the meat stays safe through the cooking process and we sometimes need to use different methods to effectively apply the cure.

    Curing Bacon

    When curing bacon you can inject the cure directly into the belly or rub the outside of the belly with a cure and allow osmosis to bring to the cure to the center of the meat. Since bellies are generally a thinner cut of meat either of these methods, as well as vacuum tumbling, works perfectly fine.

    Curing Ham

    When we start talking about thicker cuts of meat, like a ham, we need to either change the cure we are going to be using or change the method of introducing the cure. Dry rubbing a thick cut like this with a normal cure is going to cause problems as the cure might lose it’s effectiveness before it fully penetrates the meat, for this reason, we always prefer to inject large whole muscle meats with the cure solution and then follow that up with vacuum tumbling or brining in a 50% strength solution.

    Holding Period

    The meat must then be held to allow the cure to work in the meat. If you are using a traditional cure that contains Nitrites and no additives then you will hold it for 5-7 days after injecting, or if you are using a cure accelerator you need to hold it overnight or if you are vacuum tumbling you can go almost directly to the smokehouse.

    Cooking

    Since these cuts have been cured with Nitrates or Nitrites they can be slow smoked and since the cuts are so thick cooking times can be extreme. It is not uncommon for hams to take over 12 hours to be fully cooked.

    Storage

    Cured and fully cooked meats still need to be stored in the refrigerator, for the longest shelf life they should be vacuum packed first.

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