cu' Series No. 60
HOME CURING AND
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
UIVR!ERSTY OF FLOARIDA LIBRARIES
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Home Curing and Canning
The curing of meats of various kinds is a practice th:
dates back to prehistoric times. The wild tribes of man
countries had methods of keeping meats for future use.
Artificial refrigeration as practiced by the large pack
ing houses made the mass production of meats possible
The small farmer must be content with much simple
methods. The northern farmer has the advantage of the
southern farmer as cold weather is a substitute for refrig
eration. The southern farmer ofttimes has need of cole
weather or refrigeration when neither is to be had. Hi
cannot always slaughter his hogs, beeves, sheep, etc..
when the weather is favorable. It is exceedingly difficult
to cure fresh meat in warm, damp weather.
Pork retains its palatable qualities in the process of
curing much better than do other meats like beef, mutton.
veal, etc. "r this reason most country-cured meat is
There are two primary methods followed in curing
meats: the dry, and brine curing. The dry curing does
not require as much equipment as the brine curing.
Osmotic action must take place in either case-meat
juices diffuse toward the outside while the solution of the
salt penetrates toward the inside.
Salt is the one great preservative. Meat can be pre-
served by salt alone, but it has a tendency to harden the
lean portion and to change the color. Other ingredients
affect the keeping quality and/or the flavor of the meat.
Saltpeter is a preservative, and sugar or molasses adds to
the flavor. Saltpeter should be used in limited amounts
as it is slightly antiseptic, is an astringent, and is used
partly to preserve the natural color of the meat which
salt has a tendency to destroy.
The dry method of curing is to cut out and spread the
meat in a cool place-zero weather is too cold, it freezes
and then it cannot absorb the saving ingredients. Allow
the meat to lie over night, place on platform a layer of
salt, rub salt on the meat and place on the layer of salt;
make a layer of meat on a layer of salt-covered meat as
high as convenient-each part of the animal to itself-
i.e., joints on bottom and sides on top, middlings together,
hams together, shoulders together, etc. If the tempera-
ture is suitable it may lie in this state for a month and
then it can be taken up and hung for smoking. After
being smoked it should be sacked and hung up for future
use. The sacking is to prevent meat bugs, skippers, etc.,
from attacking the meat.
The brine method of curing meat is preferred by many.
This requires a water-tight container. The meat should
be treated just the same as was described in the dry
method. After the meat is placed in the box, or barrel,
the juices and water which the salt drives from the meat
will make a storing brine which will cover the lower layer
of the meat. All the meat should be packed with the skin
down. The joints should be on the bottom and the sides
on top. The pieces with bones in them are harder to cool
and harder to keep from spoiling than the sides.
The proportion of meat and salt should be about eight
pounds of salt to 100 of meat. Two ounces of red or black
pepper can be added for flavor if desired. Neither is
soluble and can be added to molasses to be rubbed on
Hard-wood barrels or boxes are best for brine-curing;
earthen crocks are suitable, but too costly and easily
cracked. Kerosene or vinegar barrels-new ones-can
be bought at a reasonable price and hold brine much
better than boxes. Molasses or sugar barrels-second
hand-may be used.
Meat should be cooled to near freezing point. Forty de-
grees Fahrenheit will suffice if meat is properly handled.
It is a good precaution to split the joints to the bone
and inject a solution of saltpeter-if the temperature is
above 32 degrees. All meat should be left spread c
for one night after it is cured. Then treat as suggest
in dry packing and place in containers in the same ma
ner as described. The ingredients should be eight poun
of salt to 100 pounds of meat, three pounds of brov
sugar, and two ounces of saltpeter. These should I
thoroughly mixed and dissolved in four gallons of bo;
ing water. The mixture should then be allowed to co
and should then be poured over the meat which has bee
packed in the containers. These quantities are based c
100 pounds of pork. The amount of water given should
cover the meat. If it does not, enough should be adde
to do so. It should be boiled and cooled before usint
If ice is available the brines should be cooled as low a
is possible in warm weather. The container should hav
a top tha -exactly fits it. Fat pine should not be used a
it will give an unpleasant taste to the meat.
If the weather is warm it is a risk to use sugar as i
will sour; the ideal temperature is about 36 degrees. I
the brine begins to sour the meat should be removed
washed, brine bailed out and a small amount of sal'
added. It would be better to make new brine if the olc
has soured to any considerable degree. After cooling the
meat should be repacked and the new brine added. New
brine should have only about two-thirds as much salt as
At the end of a month the boneless pieces should be
taken out of the pack and hung up. The other pieces,
which have been packed in the bottom, should stay
packed for another month.
A splendid way of handling hams is to place them in
fine salt; sprinkle the flesh surface with fine ground salt-
peter, six ounces to 100 pounds of fresh hams, then apply
fine salt; pack hams in bulk, skin down, not more than
three feet high. Let them remain there for three or four
days; take up and resalt; let lay for one day to each
pound of meat; take up and wash clean with tepid water
and rub surface with finely ground black pepper; then
hang up to smoke.
Smoking meat is an art also. It should be done grad-
u;Llly and for three or four weeks. The flavor can be
largely regulated by choosing the right kind of material
ftur making the smoke. The flavor liked best by most
people is green hickory chips. Some like sassafras. No
matter what is used it should be smothered so as to do
more smoking than burning. Of course, where it is not a
matter of choice what material is used for making smoke,
one has to use what is at hand. However, it is better not
to smoke than to use fuel that lends a disagreeable flavor
to the meat. Hard-wood or saw-dust may be used or
even corn cobs make a good substitute. All wood should
be green, if possible. Pine should not be used for it will
produce an undesirable flavor and too much soot will
accumulate from it. Juniper berries may be mixed with
the wood or spice wood can be used.
Commercial preparations are offered as a substitute for
wood and cobs. In using them demand one that gives
its formula as some elements can cause indigestion.
The smoke-house should be of sufficient height to allow
the meat to hang suspended several feet above the fire-
not less than five feet. The roof should be open enough
to allow the slow escape of the smoke and an opening
should be provided at the bottom to allow fresh air. The
smoke itself should be dense enough to drive out any
flies and insects.
Beef that has been pickled is said to be "corned." Beef
that is to be thus prepared should be cut into pieces about
six inches square. Larger pieces can be used. The pro-
portion of salt to this meat is about the same as in curing
pork-8 or 10 pounds of salt to 100 pounds of beef.
Sprinkle a layer of salt in bottom of vessel and cover with
layer of meat. Alternate this way until all meat is
packed. The meat is allowed to stand in salt for twenty-
four hours before the brine is poured over it. A brine
should be made of four pounds of sugar, two ounces of
baking soda and four ounces of saltpeter; dissolve in four
gallons of hot water and allow to cool and pour over
meat after it. has been packed in salt for twenty-four
hours. If any meat remains uncovered by brine add until
it is covered. A close fitting cover should be weighted
down. The meat can be used in two weeks, but it is
better to let it stay a month before using it. It may stay
in the brine for daily home use, but should be taken out
of brine if it is to be made into pressed corned beef. If
the brine shows signs of souring it should be drained off,
boiled and strained, cooled and poured back into the
Dried beef is not prized so highly as it once was. It
is much easier to have drief beef in the arid states of the
west than it is in the humid climates. Beef hung up in
the open in an arid country will dry without any artificial
aid. There are no insects to produce meat worms, mag-
gots, or bugs. The dry air virtually dehydrates the meat.
In the eastern states considerable precautions have to
be taken in drying beef. The preliminary preparation
consists of using five pounds of salt, three of sugar, and
two of saltpeter; mix and use mixture to rub the meat
well over with one-third of it, and pack the meat away in
water-tight containers; allow to stand three days and
repeat the process. Allow to stand three days and repeat
again. Do not empty the brine that accumulates after
these processes. Take out meat, wash, dry, and hang up.
Drying can be hastened by artificial heat, but it should
be in the form of hot, dry air rather than heat direct from
blaze. After a day of heating it is ready to smoke-
length of time to be determined by the preference of the
The canning industry has made wonderful strides of
late years. Fruits were the first things to be canned, then
vegetables, and now meats.
The meats most often canned are fish, beef, pork,
mutton, veal, chicken, etc. Specialties are made of
tlngues, livers, hearts, oxtails, and soup meats.
Meats are canned by packing in air-tight containers,
and sterilizing by heat at one period. The containers may
be either glass or tin. The sterilization may be done by
a steam pressure cooker, water seal, or water bath.
The hot water bath may consist of a tin boiler of any
size obtainable. It must have a tight-fitting cover; a false
bottom made of wire or wooden slats, raised about an
inch from bottom of the boiler, to allow for the free cir-
culation of water under the jars, and to avoid breaking
the glass jars. Instruments forl handling jars in and out
of the boiling water must be procured. A special wire
clamp can be improvised by exercising a little ingenuity.
The steam pressure method requires a pressure cooker.
The meat is cooked and then put into steralized cans and
sealed. When using glass containers only new rubbers
should be used under the lids as old rubber rots and will
not exclude air. In using cans soldering irons and solder
must be provided to fill up the holes in the lids of the
Add to each pint of cooked meat from a half to a full
teaspoonful of salt. Onion, celery, or other vegetables
can be added to flavor the contents. Use no water in the
jar. Do not seal tight all at once. To cook a jar with the
top tightly sealed on it will cause it to burst.
For water-seal method for uncooked meats the boil-
ing should be for three hours, with the water to the top
of the jars. Canning cooked meats by this method re-
quires boiling only one and a half hours. The steam
pressure cooking should be for forty-five minutes at 15
To can fish requires that the fish be cooked before and
after they are put in the can. In canning the term "pro-
cessing" simply means cooking.
The fish should be cleaned, the backbone removed
(split along the back and remove the vertebra), put in
strong salt water from ten minutes to an hour-owing to
the thickness of the slices of fish. Drain dry and cut into
pieces suitable for the mouth of the container; fry in fat
until well browned; drain well and lay on absorbent
paper or cloth to absorb excess of juice; pack in cans to
within inch of top, cook for thirty minutes.
All canned meats should be thoroughly heated before
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