Curing meat

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by pirate-chef, Mar 22, 2012.

  1. pirate-chef

    pirate-chef

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    In the summers my partner and I run a small restaurant in a beach town in Denmark. We have been going through a range of ideas an I would love to start producing some of our own cured meats seeing as we are close to amazing organic farms and it would fit our venue very well. Does anyone have advice or sources as im really new and would hate to ruin something nice with my ignorance. Duck breast was one of the first things at the top of the list. from what i can understand it involves curing in salt overnight, then hanging in cheesecloth at proper temperature for a week or so to get your finished product.. this will be the first try any help or input would be great 

    Will 
     
  2. davehriver

    davehriver

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    Check out the CIA new cookbook "Charcuterie" (sp)  If you go to splendictable.org you can find a segment about it in late feb or early march.  I think it is also reviewed here.  Charcuterie is the art of curing meat.  I am going to order one soon.  I too run a seasonal food place.
     
  3. duckfat

    duckfat

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    You may also want to grab a copy of Charcuterie by Ruhlman. IIR there was supposed to be a follow up book by Ruhlman as well but I don't know if that's been released. I can offer some sources if you like but I have no idea what it would involve getting items shipped to Sweden

    Dave
     
  4. thetincook

    thetincook

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    Rytec Kutas's book is great too.
     
  5. butzy

    butzy

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    I'll be following this thread closely as it is something that I've been wanting to do for some time as well.

    I've seen somewhere that it is possible to built a cold smoker from an old fridge. Does anyone have any experience with this? I got plenty old fridges, due to erratic power supplies......
     
  6. duckfat

    duckfat

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    butzy, When I was a kid we used to make smokers out of old fridges. We would gut them taking out all the insulation etc. However 30 years ago fridges weren't lined with plastic and actually had metal racks. I'm not sure how well that would work with a modern fridge but if you have an older fridge it certainly does work and quite well at that. I've smoked a ton of Salmon that way.

    Dave
     
  7. chefross

    chefross

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    Hey Butzy.......You mentioned "Cold Smoking" vs. Hot Smoking.

    In order to cold smoke the temperature of the box can not reach over 80 degrees or you'll "cook" the food to be smoked.

    If you make one from an old fridge you'll have to create plenty of air movement to keep the temp down. I think leaving the insulation on is the better thing to do. Yup the newer fridges have glass shelves, and if that's the case, then hanging that which is to be smoked might work. Or creating shelving with perforations so air can get through.
     
  8. duckfat

    duckfat

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    When we used to convert fridges to smoke it was always hot smoke but I have seen fridges converted to cold smokers by using a separate fire pit/box and venting the smoke to the fridge. Either way I'd never leave the insulation in for a few reasons;

    You never know what chemical crud is in the insulation or how it will react even at lower temperatures.

    If any of the inside panels separate from the exterior of the fridge you could get insulation fibers on your food depending on whether it is fiber or foam insulation.

    Also if you leave the insulation in I would think that would make your temps higher and that's what you want to avoid for cold smoking.

    You can also use old oven racks if your fridge shelving won't work.

    Dave
     
  9. butzy

    butzy

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    One is actually an old freezer (the main problem is that it can't be re-gassed anymore as the gas is no longer available, so it's old old old). Is there an ideal size for the freezer (as i said, I got a number of them)?

    Taking the insulation out sounds like a good idea to me.

    I've done some warm smoking, just on the stove top, but I'm a bit intimidated by cold smoking.

    I got another question as well:

    Cold smoking is done at around 20-30 oC (70-80  F) if I remember correctly. The outside temperature here is quite often higher than that. Does that mean I can only cold-smoke it the winter period?

    Sorry pirate chef if I'm hijacking the thread, but it is all still pretty much on topic /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
     
  10. duckfat

    duckfat

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    I've never tried this with a freezer but I'd see no reason not to give it a go. I wouldn't get wrapped up in ambient temps other than avoiding the days that are especially hot. When I do slow cooks on my BGE I often start late in the day so most of the cooking is done during the cooler temps of night. Build your firebox/pit separate from the smoker and just keep it as cool as you can. Even if you never hit your ideal smoke temp and cook a smidgeon faster than you might like it doesn't mean you won't end up with a good product.

    Dave
     
  11. chefross

    chefross

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     I can't comment on the smaller smokers as I have a free standing smoke "House" I usually save my cold smoking for mid to late October as the temps are quite desirable.

    I start early in the day by brining. then drying (in the case of fish to get the pelicle I need on the flesh for smoke to adhere). I start the smokehouse early after that and am able to start the cold smoke process later in the day. Cold smoking here last 4-5 days. I reset a new fire each morning and allow the wood to smolder throughout the day
     
  12. bonesdilligaf

    bonesdilligaf

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    cold smoking... an old fridge is one way, I have made three cold smokers out of old one door fridges. The process is simple, and not very expensive. Every winter, we use our smokehouse to cure bacon and kolbasz in large batches. Downside to that is it is only cold smoke in winter, so we started to use old fridges. Basically the main thing is to find a working fridge, and build or use an exterior smoke box and attach a hose to the fridge to supply the smoke. You will also need to vent the smoke from the fridge with an exhaust pipe with an adjustable damper.

    Now a few tips. My first one I had only about a six inch long pipe from the firebox to the fridge. This worked OK, but I found that the smoke was warmer on the one side of the fridge... The next unit, I ran a pipe the entire length of the bottom of the fridge, and capped off the end at the wall. Then I drilled holes in the pipe to allow the smoke to escape more evenly throughout the fridge. I made larger holes at far end, medium holes at middle, and smaller holes nearest the firebox.  This worked much better. It also helped keep the smoke colder. Finally, the design that worked the best was when I extended and enlarged the pipe going from the firebox to the fridge. I used a 6" stovepipe with a damper that was 6 feet long. this way I was able to control the smoke entering the fridge better, and the smoke had a chance to cool a bit before entering the fridge. Another addition is a lower shelf where I would place 2" sheet pans filled with block ice. I rarely ever need to add the ice pans, but figured it couldn't hurt.

    I am going to an auction in a few weeks, where I am hoping to pick up a few fireboxes, and a commercial size refrigerator to make a mac-daddy cold smoker. Cold smoking is great, and I wish you all the best. There are some cold smokers on the market, but i have never used or owned any. I will post pictures of my smoker if I am successful at auction, maybe even a video. Sadly, I sold all my previous set ups, a few years back so now I have only been using the smokehouse at our farm in winter....

    ~Bones~
     
  13. bonesdilligaf

    bonesdilligaf

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    Kinda... Winter is the traditional cold smoking time, that's why a refrigerated unit is used during hotter days. Your old freezer may work as a smoke box, however if it no longer cools it will not be optimal for a cold smoke box. you could however use ice to cool the box, as many people do.... but don't remove the insulation... the insulation is what keeps the box cold. Also, you want to use a unit with metal walls if possible. Yes you can use a fridge with plastic walls, but then you just have to make sure that your pipes have sleeves and space, kinda like a chimney pipe. it's two pipes with insulation between them. The smoke pipe can get hot enough to melt the plastic, so the outside sleeve protects the wall... This is why I usually use old time fridges when I construct one.
     
     
  14. pirate-chef

    pirate-chef

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    Thank you all for the help. Sorry i have been wrapped up in everything lately with leaving my job and working on the opening of the new one. I love the cold smoker Idea. would it be useful at all with block ice or dry ice in the fridge? And any other help on curing smoking etc is very useful . 
     
  15. chefboyarg

    chefboyarg

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    I just started delving into the wonderful world of charcuterie myself, with Michael Ruhlman and Bryan Polcyn as my guides. I turned out some great Italian sausages and some wretched lardo (cured pork backfat), so I got in touch with a local artisinal charcutier. After some discussion we decided on humidity as the problem. He said that you ideally want a 60% humidity with a temperature of about 21C. I saw a humidity controlled wine fridge in a store and asked him if something like that would be a good idea and he said definitely. Short of that he had mentioned experiments with a little bar fridge, but had cautioned about curing different sized meats in the fridge as the humidity with fluctuate with the meat size. He also suggested in order to lower humidity if it gets too high (in the bar fridge) to put a bowl of salt in the bottom of it.

    Good luck with your meaty endeavor!! I too will be closely following this thread.
     
  16. pirate-chef

    pirate-chef

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    Thank you all it is still in the works with some small ideas and small home made cheeses I will keep this updated as well as i can with pictures etc. I will be working on the start up and we open mid june so i should be set by then with luck. thank you all for the support.
     
  17. duckfat

    duckfat

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    I just ordered a new LEM grinder so I hope to have a review up in the next month.

    Look forward to seeing your work Pirate-Chef.

    Dave
     
  18. pirate-chef

    pirate-chef

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    Thank you . The first in the works are looking like lamb sausages and duck breast prosciutto. I will keep you updated on the process with pictures. 
     
  19. zoebisch

    zoebisch

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          Temperature and humidity are crucial to getting a consistent product.  You can wing it but be prepared to learn via trial and error (nothing worse then getting a void in your salami).  Often when my climate is cold enough for curing, the humidity becomes too low.  I compensated fairly well by creating a "chamber" with clean plastic sheeting from a roll.  I was fortunate enough to have a humidifier with some degree of control but for both cured meat and cheeses the humidity is as important to the result as temperature is to the food safety (and rate of bacterial action).  For things like Duck Breast or whole pieces you can go old-school and delve into salt curing and hanging, but once you get into fermented stuff you have to start using nitrates.    Back to the humidity, if the drying process occurs too rapidly the meat will form a tough pellicle (a similar thing happens when you smoke at too high a heat but in this case it's the moisture leaving the meat that is impeded) and the results will be poor.   Hope that helps!