Country Traditions

September 17, 2010

Don't Forget Vinegar

Filed under: curing meat, dehydrating, freezing food, herbs, home remedies, laundry, poison ivy, recipes, Vinegar — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 3:22 pm
Vinegar is commonly infused with spices or her...

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  • Bring a solution of one-cup vinegar and four tablespoons baking soda to a oil in teapots and coffeepots to rid them of mineral deposits.
  • A solution of vinegar and baking soda will easily remove cooking oil from your stovetop.
  • Clean the filter on your humidifier by removing it and soaking it in a pan of white vinegar until all the sediment is off.
  • Vinegar naturally breaks down uric acid and soapy residue, leaving baby clothes and diapers soft and fresh. Add a cup f vinegar to each load during the rinse cycle.
  • Saturate a cloth with vinegar and sprinkle with baking soda, and then use it to clean fiberglass tubs and showers. Rinse well and rub dry for a spotless shine.
  • To remove chewing gum, rub it with full-strength vinegar.
  • For a clean oven, combine vinegar and baking soda, then scrub.
  • Clean and deodorize your toilet bowl by pouring undiluted white vinegar into it. Let stand for five minutes, then flush. Spray stubborn stains with white vinegar, then scrub vigorously.
  • Clean windows with a cloth dipped in a solution of one part white vinegar and ten parts warm water. This works for dirty TV screens, too!
  • For brunettes, rinsing hair with vinegar after a shampoo makes hair shinier. Use one-tablespoon vinegar to one-cup warm water.
  • Soak paint stains in hot vinegar to remove them.
  • To clean drip coffeemakers, fill the reservoir with white vinegar and run it through a brewing cycle. Rinse thoroughly by brewing two cycles with water before using.
  • To remove bumper stickers from car chrome, paint on vinegar and let it soak in. Next, scrape off the stickers. Decals can be removed similarly.
  • Rid your refrigerator and freezer of bad odors by cleaning the insides with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water, then wiping dry.
  • Apply full strength vinegar to mosquito or other insect bites to relieve the itching. (Caution: Do not do this if the affected area is raw.)
  • White vinegar takes salt and water stains off leather boots and shoes. Wipe over the stained area only, and then polish.
  • To remove smoke odors on clothes, hang them above a steaming bathtub filled with hot water and a cup of white vinegar.
  • To prevent mildew, wipe down surfaces with vinegar.
  • Place a vinegar-soaked brown bag on sprains to ease pain and aid recovery.
  • Use a sponge dampened with vinegar to clean shower curtains.
  • To remove salt stains from winter boots, rub with a solution of 1 tablespoon white vinegar and 1 cup water.
  • To loosen a stuck jar lid, hold the jar upside down and pour warm vinegar around the neck at the joint between the glass and the top.
  • Rub cider vinegar on your skin to repel insects.
  • Clean windows with a mixture of 1 part white vinegar and 10 parts warm water.

Uses for Salt & Baking Soda

Filed under: curing meat, dehydrating, farming, freezing food, home remedies, poison ivy, recipes — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 3:18 pm
Sodium bicarbonate, sodium hydrogencarbonate, ...

Image via Wikipedia

  • Rub salt on fruit stains while still wet, then put them in the wash.
  • For mildew spots, rub in salt and some buttermilk, and then let dry in the sun.
  • If you spill wine or fruit juice on your tablecloth, pour salt on the spot immediately to absorb the stain.
  • Apply a paste of salt and olive oil to ugly heat rings on your table. Let sit for about an hour and then wipe off with a soft cloth.
  • To improve your iron, sprinkle salt on a piece of paper and run the sticky iron over it a few times while the iron is hot.
  • To restore some of the color to faded fabric, soak it in a strong solution of salt and water.
  • Mix a tablespoon of salt into the water of a vase of cut flowers to keep them fresh longer.
  • A mixture of salt and vinegar will clean brass.
  • Salt on the fingers when cleaning meat or fish will prevent your hands from slipping.
  • To kill unwanted weeds growing in your driveway or between bricks and stones, pour boiling salt water over them.
  • For perspiration stains, add enough water to salt to make a paste, then rub into the cloth. Wait for an hour, and then launder as usual.
  • Cover spilled eggs with salt, then wipe clean with a paper towel.
  • To freshen smelly sneakers (or any canvas shoe) sprinkle their insides with salt. Wait 24 hours for the salt to absorb the odor, and then shake them out.
  • Pour salt directly onto a grease spill and come back to it later.
  • A new broom will last longer if you soak the bristles in hot salt water before using it for the first time.
  • Stainless steel can be cleaned by rubbing it with a gritty paste of two tablespoons of salt mixed with lemon juice. Rinse well and pat dry with a soft cloth.
  • Rub two to three tablespoons of salt onto the stains inside your glass vases, and then scrub clean with a damp bristle brush.
  • Gargle with warm salt water (1/4 teaspoon salt to one cup water) to relieve a sore throat.
  • Sprinkle salt on carpets to dry out muddy footprints before vacuuming.
  • When silk flowers get dusty, put them in a paper bag with several tablespoons of salt and shake gently for two minutes to clean them.
  • Refresh household sponges by soaking them in cold salt water for ten minutes.
  • Add baking soda to your bath water to relieve sunburned or itchy skin.
  • Make a paste of baking soda and water, and apply to a burn or an insect bite for relief.
  • Clean your refrigerator with a solution of one-teaspoon baking soda to one quart of warm water.
  • Pour a cup of baking soda into the opening of your clogged drain and then add a cup of hot vinegar. After a few minutes, flush the drain with a quart of boiling water.
  • To remove perspiration stains, make a thick paste of baking soda and water. Rub paste into the stain, let it sit for an hour, and then launder as usual.
  • If you crave sweets, rinse your mouth with one-teaspoon baking soda dissolved in a glass of warm water. Don’t swallow the mixture; spit it out. Your craving should disappear instantly.
  • Add a pinch of baking soda to boiled syrup to prevent it from crystallizing.
  • To remove pesticides, dirt, and wax from fresh fruits and vegetables, wash them in a large bowl of cool water to which you’ve added two to three tablespoons of baking soda.
  • Soak toothbrushes in baking soda and warm water overnight to clean bristles.
  • Gasoline and oil odors can be removed by putting clothes in a trash bag with baking soda for a few days before washing them.
  • Lay down barrier of baking soda under sink-pipe openings and along basement windows to keep carpenter ants, silverfish, and roaches from invading. Roaches eat the baking soda, dehydrate, and die.
  • A light baking soda paste on a damp cloth will remove bugs and tar from cars without damaging the paint. Let paste sit for a few minutes before wiping and rinsing clean.
  • To remove stains from your coffee and tea cups, wipe them with a damp sponge dipped in baking soda paste.
  • Keep your rubber gloves dry and smelling good by sprinkling baking soda inside them. They’ll slip on more easily too!
  • Sprinkling baking soda on your front steps will provide traction and melt the ice. Unlike rock salt, kitty litter, or sand, it won’t damage outdoor or indoor surfaces or shoes.
  • Boil two inches of water in a pan with a burned bottom, turn off the heat, then add half a cup of baking soda. Let it sit overnight. In the morning it will be easy to clean.
  • Sprinkle a teaspoon of baking soda on the bottom of your toaster oven to eliminate the burned smell from drippings and crumbs.
  • A paste of baking soda removes red sauce stains from plastic.

Root Cellars

Filed under: curing meat, farming, gardening — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 10:36 am

Root Cellar

Image by LK-GA via Flickr

Have you been intrigued by the increased chatter about root cellars? They seem to be experiencing a revival. I looked back at The Old Farmer’s Almanacarchives and was not surprised to see some useful information.

Here are the highlights of what I learned:

  • Root cellars are an incredibly energy-efficient way to store root vegetables, including beets, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and turnips.
  • You can keep root vegetables stored all winter long—until your garden or farmer’s market offers new greens in the spring.
  • Many root cellars, especially from the past, are dug into the ground or under the house, using the earth to naturally cool, insulate, and humidify.
  • Today, an insulated corner of the basement can create the proper conditions as well as give you easy access during the winter.
  • A temperature of 32–40°F and a humidity level of 85–95 percent are required to stop the food’s decomposition and evaporation. You’ll need a thermometer and a hygrometer to monitor.

Before refrigeration, the root cellar was an essential way to keep carrots, turnips, beets, parsnips, potatoes, and other root vegetables fresh through the winter months.

This time-tested storage method still makes sense today—whether you stock a root cellar with your own homegrown produce or the bounty from local farmers’ markets.

Start With a Hole in the Ground

Technically, a root cellar is any storage location that uses natural cooling, insulating, and humidifying properties of the earth.

  • To work properly, a root cellar must be able to hold a temperature of 32º to  40º F and a relatively humidity level of 85 to 95 percent.
  • The cool temperature slows the release of ethylene gas and stops the grow of microorganisms that cause decomposition.
  • The humidity level prevents loss of moisture through evaporation—and the withering looks that go along with it.

Today, root cellars are often attached to houses for easy access, though it can take some effort to create a cold basement corner.

  • The best method is to use the foundation walls on the northeast corner for two sides.
  • Build the other two walls in the basement with stud and board.
  • Insulate the interior walls, ceiling, and door (and any pipes or ducts) to keep the heat out.
  • Ensure there is a ventilation system that allows cool, fresh air from the outside to be brought into the root cellar and stale air to be exhausted out.

Another option outside the house is to dig down into the ground or horizontally into a hillside. A third option is to create is to bury suitable containers such as metal garbage cans or barrels, leaving about 4 inches exposed at the top. Heap earth around the circumference, then cover the lid with straw or mulch and a sheet of plastic to keep everything dry.

How to Keep It Cool

To create the best atmosphere in your root cellar, consider this:

  • Complete temperature stability is reached about 10 feet (3 m) deep.
  • Don’t dig a root cellar near a large tree; the tree’s roots can be difficult to dig through, and they will eventually grow and crack the cellar walls.
  • Inside, wooden shelving, bins, and platforms are the norm, as wood does not conduct heat and cold as rapidly as metal does.
  • Air circulation is critical for minimizing airborne mold, so shelves should stand 1 to 3 inches (3 to 8 cm) away from the walls.
  • For outdoor root cellars, packed earth is the preferred flooring. Concrete works well and is practical for a cellar in a basement.
  • Every root cellar needs a thermometer and a hygrometer (to measure temperature and humidity, respectively), which should be checked daily, if possible.
  • Heat is usually regulated using ventilation to the outside or an exhaust pipe—usually to allow cold air in, often on fall nights to get the temperature down.

September 15, 2010

Homesteaders: Preparing for a New Life

Filed under: animals, candles, curing meat, farming, tools — Tags: , — dmacc502 @ 4:09 pm

Written by Christopher W. Czajka

Wooden trunks such as this one were used to pack personal belongings.

lanning a cross-country move, even today, is no minor feat. With boxes to be packed, movers to be hired, travel arrangements to be made, relocating is always stressful. But the stresses faced by cross-country emigrants 130 years ago — weeks (or months) of grueling travel, rough (or nonexistent) roads, and few amenities — were monumental by modern standards. Homesteaders traveling to Montana in the 1880s had to abandon the majority of all their material possessions, bid farewell to family and friends who they would often never see again, and prepare supplies that would last not only for the long journey ahead, but for the first few months in their new home.

View Fergus’ complete list.

s a first step, homesteaders planning to “jump off” into the West had to choose their mode of transportation. Travel options to Montana in the 1880s were not as limited as we may be tempted to think. Unlike travelers on the Oregon and California Trails in the 1840s and 1850s, Montana homesteaders had several transportation choices available to them as they headed for the frontier. In 1859, the first steamboat reached Montana, after traveling 2,200 miles up the Missouri River from St. Louis. Commercial traffic began the following year. Cabin fare for the trip was around $300, with a rate of 12 cents a pound for freight — prohibitively expensive for families seeking to farm once at their destination. Aside from the costs of steamboat travel, the journey itself was extremely perilous. The Missouri was navigable for only a few short weeks each summer, and the boats frequently ran aground, sank, or burned after their boilers exploded. However, the lure of the frontier was strong, and between 1860 and 1888, more than 40,000 passengers made the treacherous trip.

frontier fact Conestoga wagons were pulled by teams of six to eight horses and could haul up to five tons of freight on wheels reaching as high as six feet tall.

The steamboat trade, with its expense and limitations, dropped off sharply in the mid- 1880s, as the first railroads reached Montana and opened up to passenger service. “Emigrant cars,” specially designed for the prospective settler, afforded dismal and cramped accommodations to those with enough money to pay for the cost of trip. Passengers in emigrant cars were often forced to spend their journeys sitting upright on uncushioned, backless benches. On many trains, the management offered thin straw mattresses (at a cost of $3.00 each), which could be laid on the floor beneath the benches. One settler remembered, “My mother had a real hard time getting any sleep on the train. Anytime she laid down under the benches, her feet stuck out into the aisle, and the conductor would come along and kick her.”

Donner Lake Encampment

Lithograph of Donner Party encampment at Donner Lake

by C.W. Burton, courtesy California Digital Library.

Wagon and horses. Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library.
frontier fact
Some stretches of overland trails were so rough thewagon would bump along hard enough to churn the milk into butter for the evening meal.

rivacy in the cars was minimal, with no dividing partitions and a common toilet and cookstove for as many as 30 emigrants. Wealthier settlers could rent out entire boxcars, in which to transport not only their family members, but also their household goods, farming equipment, and up to six heads of cattle.

The most common means of transport of families to Montana (and elsewhere) was, by far, the covered wagon. In lieu of the huge and bulky Conestoga wagons used in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to transport freight, emigrants west of the Mississippi opted for the lighter and more easily managed “prairie schooner,” a converted farm wagon so named because it looked like a boat crossing the “sea of grasses” that made up the Great Plains.

The typical prairie schooner weighed about one ton, was 14 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 2 feet deep. Built of seasoned wood such as maple, hickory, or oak, schooners’ only metal fittings were their iron tire rims and reinforcements on their wooden axles. Most schooners had double floors that concealed two foot-deep storage compartments. The wagon box itself was caulked or covered with hides to make it watertight, which was particularly crucial when crossing unbridged rivers and streams.

View Fergus’ complete list.

The canvas top, or “bonnet,” of the wagon, was a tawny double-ply homespun cotton that was treated with linseed oil or tallow to make it waterproof. Often, settlers sewed pockets into the bonnet to maximize their storage space. The bonnet was supported by hardwood bows that were soaked in water until they became pliable enough to bend into a U shape. Openings at the front and back of the bonnet provided ventilation.

Homesteaders had to pack essentials for life on and off the trail into this confined space. Although game could be shot and roots and berries could be gathered while in transit, settlers carried the vast majority of their food in the wagon, taking up most of their storage space. Basic staples included flour, bacon, sugar, coffee, tea, dried fruit, corn meal, and rice. Some resourceful emigrants brought along eggs packed in barrels of flour or meal. Settlers packed minimal utensils for cooking, often limiting themselves to a skillet, a coffee pot, tin plates and cups, a camp stove, and a few sets of flatware.

View Fergus’ complete list.

rucial to any overland journey was a rifle, pistols, powder, and lead, used both for hunting and for self-defense. Typical homesteaders would pack two or three changes of durable, warm clothing, as well as blankets and rubber mats for camping. Many settlers attempted to load books, furniture, and other treasured belongings into their wagons, but these were often left behind after a short time on the road, when draft animals became tired and the load needed to be lightened. Because of the roughness of the trail and the length of the journey, spare wagon parts — such as spokes, axles, and wheels — were often slung under the wagon, while water buckets and water barrels were strapped to its sides. Some emigrants attempted to bring along milk cows and chickens, though the chickens were usually eaten and the cows often died of thirst or malnutrition along the way. Josephine Gage Bartlett, who moved to Montana from Kansas in 1876, remembered:

“We had two eight yoke ox teams drawing two wagons each. Some of the other families [in the wagon train] had horse teams and thought we were too slow. We brought along some calves tethered to the back of the wagon, but they became footsore and we had to put them in a wagon. We also had chickens in that wagon. When we stopped for the night, we would let them run around.”

Planning for any extended overland migration was an enormous financial drain on homesteaders. The wagon and oxen cost about $400, and supplies about $1,000. Additionally, settlers needed several hundred dollars of cash on hand for the trip to pay for supplies that had been used up, ferry tolls, replacement oxen or wagon parts, and food for the first winter on the frontier. Many families had to save for months or years to afford the trip, and had to sell off their lands, household goods and furnishings, and heirlooms to finance their journeys.

After property had been liquidated, supplies bought, and goodbyes said, homesteaders could hit the trail carrying about 2,500 pounds of freight in their ox-drawn prairie schooners. Because the wagons were so full, and because they traveled at the not-quite-dizzying speed of two miles per hour, many settlers — men, women, and children — walked beside their wagons across the continent.

When Minnesota settler Pamelia Dillin Fergus received a letter from her husband James summoning her to rejoin him and bring their four children for a new life in Montana Territory, her husband, keenly aware of the life they would face on the trail and in their new home, provided explicit directions to his wife on how to prepare for the journey. He instructed her to “sell all [she] could at private auction, and bring no poor articles” west with her. He advised her to “have the sides of [the] wagon boarded up high with thin boards to keep things from falling out,” and cautioned her to “never let one of the children go out or in the waggon [sic] without stopping it as many get killed or injured by the waggon running over them.” Remarkably, James Fergus also sent his wife a complete list of items that she would need to bring in the family’s three wagons ranging from 600 pounds of flour to $5 worth of stamps to “whiskey for poisoned cattle.” For a complete list, with Fergus’ spelling preserved, click here.

Those who had “borne arms against the United States, or given aid or comfort to its enemies” were denied homesteads, a significant restriction during and after the Civil War.

amelia Dillin would load the essentials from her Little Falls, Minnesota home into a single wagon, and drive to Illinois, where she would visit briefly with her mother, and meet up with O.J. Rockwell, one of her husbands’ business associates. Rockwell would supply her with two additional wagons, six yoke of oxen, and a milk cow. Rockwell, Pamelia, and the Fergus children would travel to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where they would finish outfitting the wagons and be joined by a few other families from Little Falls before “jumping off” and starting out for their new lives in Montana.

There would be rivers to ford, plains to cross, and mountains to climb. Whether it was a terrible ordeal or a fantastic adventure, getting to a new home on the frontier was an experience few settlers ever forgot.

September 12, 2010

Curing Meat Using the old ways

Filed under: curing meat — Tags: , — dmacc502 @ 10:49 pm

We saw a photo recently of meat curing in burlap sacks in a tree on another web site, that of a country magazine.  The photo was from the late 1800’s or early 1900’s, with a log cabin and a garden in the background, whereas ours was taken Saturday morning, 1/13/2001, with a radio tower and their maintenance building in the background.Using methods from an old canning and freezing cook book, we found that curing meat is not really that difficult.   Meat should be cured when it’s cold out, in November, December, or January.  Here, it’s usually too warm in November.  In 1999, it was still too warm here in December.  Cold weather is a must, unless you own a walk-in cooler or just have an extra refrigerator hanging around.  In 1999/2000, we cured our hams and bacon in an extra refrigerator in the basement.  By 2001, we were using the old ways, hanging in the tree in burlap bags.

There are two ways to cure meat, smoke and sugar cure.  Temperature is one of the most important factors.  Cold is a must, after slaughtering, before cutting the meat, and during smoking and curing.  If a smokehouse gets much above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the heat will destroy the enzymes in the meat that develop the aged flavor.

It’s important to keep meats in a cool place for several days after the curing process to give the salt time to penetrate throughout.  Failure to do this can cause spoilage.  Salt penetrates as it dissolves in the moisture of the meat.  SALT is the ingredient that provides the cure.  SUGAR adds flavor and helps retard the hardening action of the salt.  SALTPETER brings out and retains the reddish color of the meat.  Morton makes a pre-mixed sugar cure that can be purchased in 5-pound bags which have printed instructions on the bag.  It also contains a smoke flavoring.  This year, our local grocery did not have that available, so we went to the Butcher Shop and bought 5 pounds of the sugar cure that they use.

Successful Sugar Cure:  Chill meat quickly and keep it cold during the whole curing process, 38 – 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lower temperatures will interfere with penetration of the salt.  Higher temperatures may cause spoilage.  If the temperatures fall below freezing during your cure, add that number of days on to the curing time.

Weigh/measure carefully.  Use NON-iodized salt, flaked or granulated but make sure it is NOT iodized.  Canning salt works well, but non-iodized salt can be bought in the regular spice section at your store and is usually cheaper than regular salt.  Use exact measurements.

Allow enough curing time for the meat to absorb the salt.  Keep careful track of the curing time.  If you cut it short, the meat may spoil.  If you cure too long, the meat loses quality.  Keep meat under refrigeration or hanging in a cold place (38 to 45 degrees F) after curing to dry and to give the salt time to spread evenly throughout the meat.


4 pounds salt
1 1/2 pound white or light brown granulated sugar
3 ounces of saltpeter

Mix the ingredients carefully and thoroughly.  Make sure saltpeter is spread evenly throughout.  Use 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 ounce of mixture per  pound of ham and 3/4 to 1 ounce per pound of bacon.

Dry curing hams and shoulders:  Rub on half the mixture as soon as you cut the meat.  Don’t overdo it, just be sure it covers the surface.  Pack some in the shank end.  Place meat in a box, barrel, stone jar, burlap bag, or on a pan on a shelf of the refrigerator.  Hang or set in a cold place.  Repeat rub with cure every 7 days.  Leave meat in the cure 2 days per pound, but never less than 25 days.  Bacon should be done in the same fashion, but it should be cured for 1 1/2 days per pound or 7 days per 1 inch of thickness.

At the end of the curing period, remove cured meat from the sugar pack.  Brush lightly to remove excess salt.  Rinse the meat thoroughly to remove salt from the outside.  Meat can also be soaked in a cold water soak for this (if you have a place big enough to keep it in the cold water without it freezing).  If you desire the smoked flavor, smoking should be done now.  If not, or if you don’t have access to a smoke house, hang the meat in a cold place or refrigerate for at least a week, 3 weeks is better.  If you wish to smoke the meat, soak the hams and shoulders in cold water from 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours, bacon for 30 minutes.  Put a strong cord through the ham and shoulder shanks and tie, hang from cord to dry in a cold place, at least a week but up to 3 weeks.

Smoking meats:  Scrub the hung meat with a stiff brush and water so it will take a brighter color in smoking.  Let it dry overnight to avoid streaking.  A wet surface will not an on even color.

Hang the dry meat in the smoke house so that no two pieces are touching.  Build under it a fire of any greed hardwood, hickory, oak, pecan, or apple, or use corncobs or hardwood sawdust.  Do not use resinous woods like pine or other evergreens.    The ideal temperature for the smoke house is 80-90 degrees F.  Open the ventilator to let the moisture escape.  On the second day, close the ventilators and smoke meat until it has the color you like best.  Usually two days of smoking is enough.  Remember, a thin haze of smoke is as effective as a dense cloud.  Use  care not to overheat the meat.

Cool hams, shoulders, and bacon.  Pack in cotton bag if desired.  Smoked meats may be hung in a dry place or refrigerated.  You can hang the hams to age, if desired, in a tight, cool, dry, well-ventilated place for at least 6 months.  Shoulders should be used before 6 months.  A good aging temperature is from 70-80 degrees F.  Below 45 degrees, little aging occurs.  Hams should not be aged for more than a year unless they weigh over 25 pounds.  To stop aging, put the meat in cold storage, wrap and freeze it.   Hams and bacon can be frozen directly after curing without the aging process also, if the aged flavor is not desired.

Curing Methods for Game
There are several general methods of
curing, with a number of modifications
for each method. These methods
include pickle curing, dry curing,
dry salt curing, or application of curing solutions by osmosis, stitch pump, spray pump, artery pump, and machine pump.
Pickle Curing
A typical pickle curing solution could include water and salt (called a “plain” or “salt” pickle); water, salt, nitrate, and/or nitrite; or water, salt, nitrate, and/or nitrite to which sugar has been added (a “sweet” pickle).
Other ingredients could be added to enhance flavor. A basic brine solution generally consists of 1 lb brown sugar, 2 lbs uniodized salt, and 3 gallons of water. Use a noncorrosive container to hold the brine and meat during the curing process. Wood, crockery, stainless steel, or plastic containers work well. Place the meat in the container and pour the brine over it until it is covered. If the meat floats, you may have to place a weight on it to keep it submerged. Turn the meat in the brine periodically to cover all surfaces.
Dry Curing
Dry curing involves the rubbing and
packing of meat in salt and other
compounds for considerable periods
of time. Dry curing materials might
include salt alone; salt, nitrate, and/
or nitrite; or salt, nitrate, and/or nitrite
with sugar. One example of a dry
cure is dry sugar cure:
Dry Sugar Curing
A full concentration of the following ingredients (the “8–3–2–1 formula”) is applied directly to the meat surface:
8 pounds table or curing salt
3 pounds cane sugar
2 ounces nitrate (saltpeter)
1 ounce sodium or potassium
Use 1 ounce of 8-3-2-1 formula for
each pound of meat. Place rubbed
meats in boxes under refrigerated
(<40° F) conditions. Cure 7 days per inch of meat thickness.
Dry Salt Curing
Another modification of the dry curing
method, commonly referred to
as dry salt curing, involves salt only
or salt plus nitrate. Just before being
covered with the dry mix, the meat
may be momentarily moistened to
facilitate penetration of the salt into the muscle.
Injecting or Pumping
The purpose of injecting or pumping
is to distribute pickle ingredients
throughout the interior of the meat
to cure it from the inside out as well
as from the outside in. This protects
the meat against spoilage and provides
a more even curing. Once the
brine solution is applied by any of the
methods described below, curing
should take place in a refrigerated or
cool room at temperatures less than
35° F. Rearrange the meat at least
once during the curing process to
ensure even distribution of the cure
into the product. Do not recycle the
brine because of the possibility of
bacterial growth over time.
Five general methods are used to
apply curing solutions to meat and
poultry cuts:
1. Osmosisinvolves covering the
meat cuts with dry cure or completely submerging them in a curing solution for an extended period of time.
Using this method, the brine soaks the meat approximately ½ inch per 24 hours. Thus, the cure does not penetrate deeply into the meat with this method. For pieces of game meat or birds more than 2 inches thick, pumping with brine is advised (see below). Cure ¼- to ½-inch-thick slices or slabs for at least 24 hours.
2. The stitch method involves in-
jecting curing solution deep into the muscles with a single orifice needle.
With this method, you can quickly get
deep penetration of the solution into
the product. Start by scrubbing the
pump in warm soap water and rinsing
it. Then, to keep the pump sanitary
while pumping meat, do not
touch the needle with your hands or
lay it down. When not in use, the
pump needle should be placed enddown
in the container that holds the
pickle. To use it, draw the pump full
of pickle and insert the needle all the
way into the meat. Push with slow,
even pressure. As pickle is forced into
the meat, draw the pump toward you
to distribute the pickle as evenly as
possible. Always fill the pump full of
pickle to prevent air pockets. The
meat will bulge a little, and a small
amount of pickle will run out of it
when the pump is withdrawn. To stop
this, pinch the needle holes together
with your thumb and forefinger for
a few seconds. Use three or four
pumpfuls of pickle for legs and shoulders
that weigh 10 to 15 pounds, and
five or six pumpfuls for those that
weigh 15 to 25 pounds

Read more at How to Cure Meat – The Michigan Sportsman Forums

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