preservative is sugar instead of salt-based. If you have ever
eaten a Country Ham or Beef Jerky you know that it can be
too salty to eat a large enough quantity to satisfy your dietary
needs without planned preparation.
With sugar cured meats the salt content is largely replaced
by sugar, and can be sliced and eaten directly off the slab
without overloading your system with salt and risking nausea,
dehydration, or worse.
Select a mostly fat-free roast about 2 inches
thick and of a size that easily fit into your container without
bending or rolling it. Some fat is OK, light marbling is good but
trim off any excess or pieces not firmly attached to the roast.
I prefer Rump Roast or Round Roasts, about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds
in weight. They have about the right amount of marbling and
easily fit into my containers. The "Recipe"below is for a
cut that is 2 - 3 pounds.
How to Sugar Cure Beef
In a 3 gallon or larger pot, measure in about 1 1/2 gallons of
water and add 4-5 cups sugar and 1/2 to 1 cup salt. I use
regular table sugar and coarse rock salt. The rock salt is
cheaper than table salt and I have quantities of it stored
for food preservation. A general rule for the curing solution is
that it should be strong enough to "Float an egg".
Bring the liquid to a boil and ensure that all the salt and sugar
dissolves, then let cool to a temperature that will allow you to
put your hand into it without scalding or discomfort.
Place the roast into the solution. It will try to "float" and will
need to be weighed down. Canning jars full of water work well
to keep the meat down below the water level.
Floats" or any part rises above the liquid,it could spoil or
attract insects. Cover the pot and keep in a cool to cold
place until the cure "Strikes Through" the cut of meat.
the deep red to almost brown color. Important!
The cure usually takes at least 2 full days to " Strike", you
can recognize that it is done when you can remove the cut
and it will hold its shape and appears darker in color. Its
better to stay too long in the cure than to be taken out before
When the roast is removed, rinse it in clean water and allow
it air dry to the point that water does not drip from it when it
is held in the air, it should still be damp and tacky enough
to hold a coat of salt.
table salt and make sure salt completely coats it, then leave
it to air dry. Turn the cut several times a day so it will dry
To speed the drying, I put a small fan blowing over the
container to help evaporate the liquid drawn out by the
salt. As the meat dries you may notice the bed of salt
it is laying on becoming damp. No worries, the liquid that
doesn't evaporate into the air will be drawn into the bed
and evaporate from there.
Drying will take about 7 - 10 days in a good cool dry area
and when the meat can be pinched between your fingers
and no moisture surfaces, it is done. The roast should
hold its shape when held horizontally by one end.
With a sharp knife, slice a thin piece off one end to check
the color and texture. The inside should be a dark red to
brown color and be very dense, and any fat marbling should
be solid and the color of shortening. Any loose or ragged pieces
of meat or fat should be trimmed off and any salt/cure should
be brushed off with a vegetable brush.
Some old recipes say to dip the cured meat into a pan of
boiling water for about a minute to remove any crusted
salt and/or cure and to kill any germs that may be present
then left in the open air to dry before storage.
Some old procedures for storage call for the piece to be
wrapped in fresh clean paper and placed in a muslin bag
and kept in a cool dry location until needed. It is said that
meats preserved in this manner can remain good for up
to 5 years or more.
wrapped in Butcher Paper(notice no grease of fat
stains on the pillow case)
Personally, I'd shoot for 1 year to safe. I have pieces
wrapped in paper, covered with a cotton pillow case and
hung from a hooks on a shelf to promote air flow and to
help keep pests away. I also have pieces vacuum sealed
and they seem to be doing well after about 3 - 4 months,
so far. I'm not sure if the cured cuts need to breathe yet
or if vacuum sealing is a better option, but the experiment
is still ongoing here.
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