Curing and Smoking Meats for Home Food Preservation
Literature Review and Critical Preservation Points
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3. Post Processing of Cured Foods
Cured meats can be consumed as is or undergo further processing
to achieve a final product. Typically meats are smoked, fermented,
or dried to complete the preservation process.
The smoking process both preserves and flavors food. Hams, bacon,
salmon, herring, and oysters are frequently smoked. It is important
to make a distinction between smoking for preservation (smoke cooking)
and smoking for texture and flavor. Generally there are three different
methods of smoking foods: hot smoking and cold smoking.
3.1.1. Hot Smoking
Hot smoking is done in the smokehouse or more modern electric kilns,
usually over a short period of time, just until the meat is cooked.
The meat is cooked and smoked at the same time over a burning fire
or electric elements of a kiln.
3.1.2. Cold Smoking
“Cold Smoking” is done over a much longer period of
time, e.g. 12-24 hours, over a smoldering fire (below 85°F).
Since foods are held in the temperature danger zone, rapid microbial
growth (40-140°F) could occur. Therefore, only those meat products
that have been fermented, salted, or cured, should be cold-smoked.
Most cold-smoked products should be cooked to an internal temperature
of 160°F before they are eaten. However, not all cold-smoked foods
are treated this way, e.g., smoked salmon and cold smoked mackerel,
which are very delicately smoked for a long period of time and remain
raw even when eaten. The US FDA has published a description of a
commercial cold smoking process (US
FDA 2001c). Most food scientists cannot recommend cold-smoking
methods because of the inherent risks and as such, at-risk consumers
are encouraged to avoid these foods (US
3.1.3. Liquid Smoke
Many consumers and commercial operations use liquid smoke to add
smoke flavor to their foods. Liquid smoke has advantages over traditional
smoking in that it can be more precisely controlled and the smoke
flavor is instantaneous.
3.2. Fermenting and Drying
Fermenting and drying, as food preservation methods, are covered
in separate National Center for Home Food Preservation literature
reviews. For the purposes of this review, some cured sausages are
also fermented and dried, e.g., salami and pepperoni. Particular
attention has been given to this category of sausage since it has
been responsible for several food poisoning outbreaks that were
generally regarded as low risk. Krizner (1998)
provides a brief synopsis of the hazard analysis of dry fermented
sausages that have now been questioned by consumers and the USDA
(USDA FSIS 1995b).
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of Contents | References