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June 5, 2014 at 6:08 am #2029BrianMember
I have been making fresh sausage for some time now and want to get more involved with charcuterie and dry aging meats. Why is it that we have to put instacure 2 (sodium nitrate) for aging meats such as salami but not for aging subprimal cuts of meat like strip loin? Both take a long time to age.
SkandicJune 5, 2014 at 9:44 pm #8248RickMember
Aging and dry curing are 2 different types of meat preservation.
Hope this helps some.
CURES – Cures are used in sausage products for color and flavor development as well as retarding the development of bacteria in the low temperature environment of smoked meats.
Salt and sugar both cure meat by osmosis. In addition to drawing the water from the food, they dehydrate and kill the bacteria that make food spoil. In general, though, use of the word “cure” refers to processing the meat with either sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate.
The primary and most important reason to use cures is to prevent BOTULISM POISONING (Food poisoning). It is very important that any kind of meat or sausage that will be cooked and smoked at low temperature be cured. To trigger botulism poisoning, the requirements are quite simple – lack of oxygen, the presence of moisture, and temperatures in range of 40-140° F. When smoking meats, the heat and smoke eliminates the oxygen. The meats have moisture and are traditionally smoked and cooked in the low ranges of 90 to 185° F. As you can see, these are ideal conditions for food poisoning if you don’t use cures. There are two types of commercially used cures.
Prague Powder #1
Also called Insta-Cure and Modern Cure. Cures are used to prevent meats from spoiling when being cooked or smoked at low temperatures (under 200 degrees F). This cure is 1 part sodium nitrite (6.25%) and 16 parts salt (93.75%) and are combined and crystallized to assure even distribution. As the meat temperate rises during processing, the sodium nitrite changes to nitric oxide and starts to ‘gas out’ at about 130 degrees F. After the smoking /cooking process is complete only about 10-20% of the original nitrite remains. As the product is stored and later reheated for consumption, the decline of nitrite continues. 4 ounces of Prague powder #1 is required to cure 100 lbs of meat. A more typical measurement for home use is 1 level tsp per 5 lbs of meat. Mix with cold water, then mix into meat like you would mix seasonings into meat.
Prague Powder #2
Used to dry-cure products. Prague powder #2 is a mixture of 1 part sodium nitrite, .64 parts sodium nitrate and 16 parts salt. (1 oz. of sodium nitrite with .64 oz. of sodium nitrate to each lb. of salt.)
It is primarily used in dry-curing Use with products that do not require cooking, smoking, or refrigeration. This cure, which is sodium nitrate, acts like a time release, slowly breaking down into sodium nitrite, then into nitric oxide. This allows you to dry cure products that take much longer to cure. A cure with sodium nitrite would dissipate too quickly.
Use 1 oz. of cure for 25 lbs. of meat or 1 level teaspoon of cure for 5 lbs. of meat when mixing with meat.
When using a cure in a brine solution, follow a recipe.June 6, 2014 at 6:23 am #8249BrianMember
I understand the use of cures to prevent poisoning but do not understand why we would not use cures for dry aging prime rib. There does not seem to be much difference.
SkaldicJune 6, 2014 at 6:53 am #8250Ron PrattMember
Brian – I never welcomed you to the forum so I am remiss, but your initial question was something I knew someone like “nepas” could answer with ease! OTOH I can address the dry aging issue you raised…dry aging is not curing, but instead a controlled release of the moisture embedded in the cells of the meat being aged thus concentrating the beef taste by eliminating the tasteless water. RonJune 6, 2014 at 6:56 am #8251RickMember
I understand what your trying to do is to dry age without the UMAi?
Yes it can be done with a small investment of a fridge fan, wire rack and a few packs of cheesecloth.
I dont think i would add any cure to the surface of the meat for dry aging.
As you know making fresh sausage is different than cured and smoked or cured and dried types.
A few things to consider dry aging a prime cut. without the new process and UMAi bags. (no i dont work for UMAi)
When beef is dry-aged, there are three basic changes that occur to its structure:
Moisture loss is a major factor. A dry aged piece of beef can lose up to around 30 percent of its initial volume in water loss, which concentrates its flavor. A great deal of this moisture loss occurs in the outer layers of the meat, some of which get so desiccated that they must be trimmed before cooking. Thus the larger the piece of meat you start with (and the lower the surface area to volume ratio), the better your yield will be.
Tenderization occurs when enzymes naturally present in the meat act to break down some of the tougher muscle fibers and connective tissues. A well aged steak should be noticeably more tender than a fresh steak.
Flavor change is caused by numerous processes, including enzymatic and bacterial action. Properly dry-aged meat will develop deeply beefy, nutty, and almost cheese-like aromas.
I dont dry age large cuts of meat but i hope i’m helping some.
Have fun and be safe with it.June 7, 2014 at 4:27 am #8252Dr. Frederick HowardMember
I ran across an interesting article in the Costco Food Forum that talks about food safety. While we dry bag whole cuts, caution still should be taken after reading this article.
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