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Thread: Charcuterie

  1. #41
    Senior Member brainsausage's Avatar
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    Sodium nitrate is broken town into sodium nitrite(by beneficial bacteria), which in turn is broken down into nitric oxide, which if exposed to high heat( like its burnt...) can produce nitrosamines, which are thought to be cancerous. There are various means to avoid this(phosphates, citric acid), but as long as you don't burn your homemade bacon- you're all good. Eating high amounts of nitrates is actually poisonous. Nitrites/nitrates are beneficial in the sense that they stop botulism dead(literally), aid color retention, and add a singular flavor. Botulism is very scary stuff.
    I spend most of my time curing and smoking meats at my restaurant, and I've taught the waitstaff this little tidbit when a customer complains that our charcuterie plate contains 'nitrates'(it doesn't actually as they've all been trickled down to nitric oxide, but whatever)- they're is more naturally occurring nitrates in an average bag of spinach, then there is in 20 pounds of sausage. Can you cure without? Yes. Should you? In my opinion no. There are many safety hurdles you have to build against foodborne pathogens when curing meat and making fermented sausages( hard salami and the like )- judicious use of salt, proper use of nitrates, encouraging beneficial bacteria(as they will compete, and ofttimes kill dangerous bacteria), lowering the Ph of the product, and last and most important- lowering the water content of the product-as in drying it. Water aids life, remove it and you can hold a protein almost indefinitely. It might not be that tasty, so finding a nice balance of all the above factors can be a little tricky, but well worth the effort.

  2. #42
    Senior Member brainsausage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyChance View Post
    Also, my bresaola came out wicked salty. Can't serve it as is, instead we are going to microplane it over some pasta and basically use it as beef-salt. I cured it for 2 weeks, maybe a shorter cure or a bigger diameter piece next time. Or both.
    Are you measuring your salt at a set ratio? I usually do between 2.8-3% by weight of the protein and get favorable results. It's not really safe to go below 2%. At least that's what the books that the food scientists say anyways

  3. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by brainsausage View Post
    Sodium nitrate is broken town into sodium nitrite(by beneficial bacteria), which in turn is broken down into nitric oxide, which if exposed to high heat( like its burnt...) can produce nitrosamines, which are thought to be cancerous. There are various means to avoid this(phosphates, citric acid), but as long as you don't burn your homemade bacon- you're all good. Eating high amounts of nitrates is actually poisonous. Nitrites/nitrates are beneficial in the sense that they stop botulism dead(literally), aid color retention, and add a singular flavor. Botulism is very scary stuff.
    I spend most of my time curing and smoking meats at my restaurant, and I've taught the waitstaff this little tidbit when a customer complains that our charcuterie plate contains 'nitrates'(it doesn't actually as they've all been trickled down to nitric oxide, but whatever)- they're is more naturally occurring nitrates in an average bag of spinach, then there is in 20 pounds of sausage. Can you cure without? Yes. Should you? In my opinion no. There are many safety hurdles you have to build against foodborne pathogens when curing meat and making fermented sausages( hard salami and the like )- judicious use of salt, proper use of nitrates, encouraging beneficial bacteria(as they will compete, and ofttimes kill dangerous bacteria), lowering the Ph of the product, and last and most important- lowering the water content of the product-as in drying it. Water aids life, remove it and you can hold a protein almost indefinitely. It might not be that tasty, so finding a nice balance of all the above factors can be a little tricky, but well worth the effort.
    +1. Very well said. I've had a few "uncured" products that were actually decent, but usually they are just pale substitutions for the real thing. Doing it right without specifically adding nitrites/nitrates via celery/asparagus juice or relying on naturally occurring nitrates in sea salt (very, very tricky) is hugely time intensive. Also, avoiding a green product from all the naturally sourced nitrates can give people fits.

  4. #44
    Senior Member Mucho Bocho's Avatar
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    Absolutely could not agree more. Also understand that Rhulman's book is a charcutterie primer. I have it to and it turned me on to this world of aged meats. For anyone that wants to delve into cured sausages, large cut aged meats I have found Rytek Kutas good reference but my absolute standard is marvin Marinanski's book on Quality home meats http://www.amazon.com/Home-Productio...ref=pd_sim_b_1


    For recipes that are even better than the books see Len Poli's world

    http://lpoli.50webs.com/Sausage recipes.htm

    As i've posted before, its a fun hobby


  5. #45
    Senior Member brainsausage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mucho Bocho View Post
    Absolutely could not agree more. Also understand that Rhulman's book is a charcutterie primer. I have it to and it turned me on to this world of aged meats. For anyone that wants to delve into cured sausages, large cut aged meats I have found Rytek Kutas good reference but my absolute standard is marvin Marinanski's book on Quality home meats http://www.amazon.com/Home-Productio...ref=pd_sim_b_1


    For recipes that are even better than the books see Len Poli's world

    http://lpoli.50webs.com/Sausage recipes.htm

    As i've posted before, its a fun hobby

    Nice looking meat Mucho! At some point this weekend I'll try and get some pics up of my drying room. It's pretty full of product right now, looks/smells great

  6. #46
    Senior Member brainsausage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DWells View Post
    +1. Very well said. I've had a few "uncured" products that were actually decent, but usually they are just pale substitutions for the real thing. Doing it right without specifically adding nitrites/nitrates via celery/asparagus juice or relying on naturally occurring nitrates in sea salt (very, very tricky) is hugely time intensive. Also, avoiding a green product from all the naturally sourced nitrates can give people fits.
    It's just another case of people failing to do their homework, and relying on rumors instead... That and the fact that everything is cancer causing in the state of California. I don't know how anyone is still alive out there

  7. #47
    Even though I live on east coast, my sister sent me some coppa from Santa Cruz. It was very well done, with the traditional nitrate/nitrite blend. I'll be honest, a few years ago, I tried to buy only un-cured bacon and ham. I was mainly hoping that the pork would be pasture-raised in some way, as those two things usually went hand in hand. Now I rarely buy many processed meats that I don't have a direct relationship with whoever made them (if I am not making them myself), and the farmer who raised the pork.

  8. #48
    Senior Member brainsausage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DWells View Post
    Even though I live on east coast, my sister sent me some coppa from Santa Cruz. It was very well done, with the traditional nitrate/nitrite blend. I'll be honest, a few years ago, I tried to buy only un-cured bacon and ham. I was mainly hoping that the pork would be pasture-raised in some way, as those two things usually went hand in hand. Now I rarely buy many processed meats that I don't have a direct relationship with whoever made them (if I am not making them myself), and the farmer who raised the pork.
    I was just poking fun at the fact that California seems to be the first to villainize food, instead of teaching moderation. I actually plan to move out there at some point in the next few years. I've spent 30+ years in Maine, and the winters are starting to wear on me...

  9. #49
    Senior Member Deckhand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brainsausage View Post
    I was just poking fun at the fact that California seems to be the first to villainize food, instead of teaching moderation. I actually plan to move out there at some point in the next few years. I've spent 30+ years in Maine, and the winters are starting to wear on me...
    Mayor Bloomberg in NY is banning any sugary drink over 16 o.z. It could be worse here in California. Maine is nice spent a summer striped bass fishing at old orchard beach, went to LL Bean, Rhode island jazz festival, i thought about moving there but like you said doubt I would enjoy a winter there.

  10. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by brainsausage View Post
    I was just poking fun at the fact that California seems to be the first to villainize food, instead of teaching moderation. I actually plan to move out there at some point in the next few years. I've spent 30+ years in Maine, and the winters are starting to wear on me...
    Agreed. The villainization of food is a major pet peeve of mine (most of the time, there are some genuinely bad-actors out there). It excuses a complete ignorance of how we should be eating (moderately).

    I brought up the coppa to show that there seem to be enough sane people there to support such a shop. My sister tells me it was made by a salchicherro who owns a small shop, using local meats and traditional methods.

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