The National Center for Home Food Preservation
Guide and Literature Review Series:
Smoking and Curing

 
 

Curing and Smoking Meats for Home Food Preservation
Literature Review and Critical Preservation Points


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4. Cured/Smoked Meats

4.1. Ham

Ham is cured pork from the hind leg of the hog. Picnic shoulder or picnic ham is made from the front leg of the hog (USDA FSIS 1995c). Ham varieties may or may not be smoked and are available in many regional and ethnic styles (Alden 2001b). Curing solutions for hams typically contain salt, sodium nitrate, sugar, and seasonings (USDA FSIS 1995c). Dry-cured ham includes country ham and proscuitto. The dry cure mixture is rubbed onto the pork surface and the meat is cured (at or below 40°F) from weeks to a year or more. During this aging process, the moisture is reduced by 18-25%, making these hams safe at room temperature (USDA FSIS 1995c). Brine-cured ham includes culatello and Irish Hams. Usually the fresh meat is both injected with brine and submerged into the brine to allow the cure to reach all of the meat (USDA FSIS 1995c).

    For more information, please refer to the following resources:
  1. Focus On: Ham (USDA FSIS 1995c).
  2. Ham Glossary (Alden 2001b).
  3. Dry-Curing Virginia style Hams (Marriot and Kelly 1998).

4.2. Bacon

Bacon is cured and/or smoked hog meat from the pig belly. Bacon produced at home, is typically dry-cured with salt, nitrites, sugar, and spices for a week or longer. Because of concern over N-nitrosamines, the use of nitrates for bacon curing is not allowed commercially (USDA FSIS 1997c). Home preparations, such as Morton Smoked-flavored sugar cure, contain nitrates and are recommended by the manufacturer for the use in bacon curing (Morton Salt Co.1996). Some ethnic bacon (Canadian bacon and Irish bacon) is made from leaner cuts. Pancetta is Italian bacon that is not smoked. Salt pork is salted pork belly fat.

    For more information, please refer to the following resources:
  1. Bacon Glossary (Alden 2001a).
  2. Home Curing Bacon for a Mild Flavor (Alexander and Stringer 1993).

4.3. Beef

The most well known cured beef product is corned beef made from the beef brisket. Pastrami is smoked corned beef.

    For more information, please refer to the following resources:
  1. Focus On: Corned Beef (USDA FSIS 1995a).
  2. Corned Beef the Easy Way (Reddish 1981).

4.4. Poultry

Any variety of poultry can be cured and/or smoked. Curing and smoking imparts a unique, delicate flavor and pink color to poultry meat. As with other meats, curing and smoking increases the refrigerated storage life of poultry. When preparing smoked poultry products, most consumers use mild cures (relatively low salt) to maintain the poultry flavor (Busboom 1997).

    For more information, please refer to the following resources:
  1. Curing and Smoking Poultry Meat (Busboom 1997).
  2. Curing and Smoking Poultry (Mississippi State Extension Service 2000).
  3. Curing and Smoking Poultry (TAES Extension Poultry Scientists 1999).
  4. Smoking Poultry Meat (Miller and Enos 1998).

4.5. Fish

Any fish can be salted and smoked. Some varieties of fish make for better tasting products than others. Commercially, nitrite curing is only allowed for sable, salmon, shad, chub, and tuna in the U.S. (US FDA 2001c). Other species were never included in the Code of Federal Regulations simply because industry members did not respond to initial inquiries about GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) practices (Ken Hilderbrand, personal communication).

    For more information, please refer to the following resources:
  1. Smoking Fish at Home - A Step-by-Step Guide (Kassem 2001).
  2. Home Canning Smoked Fish and Home Smoking Fish for Canning (Raab and Hilderbrand 1993).
  3. Smoking Fish at Home (Luick 1998).
  4. Fish Smoking Procedures for Forced Convection Smokehouses (Hilderbrand 2001).
  5. Smoking Fish at Home--Safely (Hilderbrand 1999).
  6. Smoking Fish (Price and Tom 1995).
  7. Smoking Fish (Michigan State University Extension 1999a).
  8. Smoking Fish in a Smokehouse (Michigan State University Extension 1999b).
  9. Preserving Fish (Schafer 1990).
  10. Cured Herring or Alewives (Michigan State University Extension 1999c).
  11. Salting Fish (Turner 2001).
  12. A Guide to Making Safe Smoked Fish (University of Wisconsin 1999).
  13. Processing parameters needed to control pathogens in cold smoked fish (US FDA 2001c).

4.6. Sausage

Sausage can be made from any meat source, and is typically ground. Sausage can be uncured and unsmoked, but for the purposes of this document, we consider only cured and/or smoked sausage. Usually cure ingredients (salt, nitrates/nitrites, and spices) are mixed with the ground meat and stuffed into casings (animal intestines or collagen). The product is then cured for a short time (e.g. overnight for bologna) at refrigerated temperatures. It may or may not be smoked, dried, or fermented.

    For more information, please refer to the following resources:
  1. Focus On: Sausages (USDA FSIS 1995b).
  2. Sausage Glossary (Alden 2001c).
  3. The Art and Practice of Sausage Making (Marchello and Garden Robinson 1998).
  4. Sausage and Charcuterie Glossary Terms (Unichef.com 2001).
  5. Sausage and Smoked Meat (Reynolds and Schuler 1982).

4.7. Game

Venison, bear, elk, wild boar, wild turkey, rabbit and other game animals can be successfully cured/smoked.

    For more information, please refer to the following resources:
  1. Proper Processing of Wild Game and Fish (Cutter 2000).
  2. Wild Side of the Menu No. 3 Preservation of Game Meats (Marchello and Beck 2001).
  3. Preserving Game Meats (Hoyle 1999).

4.8. Links to Recipes from Cooperative Extension System Publications

The following is a list of cured/smoked meat recipes found in Cooperative Extension Service publications. The NCHFP has not reviewed or tested these recipes and provides their listing here only as a source for the reader. Individuals should evaluate the safety of the recipes using the recommendations provided in Section 6 of this publication.

4.8.1. Ham

Cured Ham and Bacon (Epley and Addis 1992). Dry-Curing Virginia style Hams (Marriot and Kelly 1998).

4.8.2. Bacon

Cured Ham and Bacon (Epley and Addis 1992). Home Curing Bacon for a Mild Flavor (Alexander and Stringer 1993).

4.8.3. Corned Beef and Meats

Corning (Epley and Addis 1990). Hot Pickle Cure Jerky (Marchello and Garden Robinson 1998).

4.8.4. Poultry

Poultry (Busboom 1997). [Curing and] Smoking Poultry (Miller and Enos 1998). Smoked/Cured Quail, Smoked Broilers (Mississippi State Extension Service 2000). Curing and Smoking Poultry (TAES Extension Poultry Scientists 1999).

4.8.5. Fish

Salting and Smoking Fish (Hilderbrand 1999). Brining and Smoking Fish at Home (Kassem 2001). Smoking fish at home (Luick 1998). Smoking Fish (Michigan State University Extension 1999a). Cured Herring or Alewives (Michigan State University Extension 1999c).

4.8.6. Sausage

Summer Sausage (Epley and Addis 1992). Braunschweiger, Polish Sausage, Smoked Bratwurst, Smoked Turkey and Pork Sausage, Emulsified Products [Hot Dogs] (Marchello and Garden Robinson 1998).

4.8.7. Game

Corning Game, Sweet Pickle Cure of Game, Venison Bologna, Venison Summer Sausage, Wild Game Polish Sausage (Cutter 2000). Dry-curing game, Sweet Pickle curing [Game], and Corning Game Meats (Hoyle 1999). Venison Garlic Sausage, Venison Summer Sausage (Marchello and Garden Robinson 1998). Dry Curing Game, Using Sweet Pickle Cure [Game](Marchello and Beck 2001).


Document Use | Preface | Table of Contents | References