How do you cure ham and bacon

How can I cure and store bacon in a warm climate?

Most of the bacon home hardening methods you will read use semi-dry hardening, which involves covering the bacon with a hardening mixture and then allowing it to sit in the resulting brine of salts, sugar, and fluid excreted from the meat. This is likely because most people are more comfortable using their refrigerator and making even a small amount of bacon. The key to what you are looking for is dry curing with drainage . Using a hardening mix that includes nitrates (traditional) or nitrites (modern) plus a draining board or table creates a quick hardened meat product that is stable and can be made at temperatures above the refrigerator. The disadvantages are that the end product has a greater meat weight loss due to the loss of water, the product has a more pronounced taste and is salty, but is also better preserved. This method works best for meat that is not cooked but is smoked and air dried, or just air dried. It is the best curing method for people who live in hot climates or who do not have refrigeration.

In the south, bacon and ham production was traditionally carried out in late autumn to take advantage of natural cooling and reduce spoilage during the air-drying part of the curing process. The second traditional way that bacon was a staple in the south was through the use of root cellars.


In order to ensure a continuous salt supply and uninterrupted hardening of the meat, the dry hardening takes place in a few steps.

  • The medicinal ingredients should be mixed thoroughly. The mixture should be rubbed into the meat in a ratio of 1: 100, hardening the salt mixture into meat by weight. During this initial salting of the meat, it is important to thoroughly cover the entire surface of the cut of meat with the salt mixture, as the high salt content and cooler temperatures are the only means of protection against the growth of spoilage bacteria.

  • Then the meat would be tightly packed in a container with larger pieces like ham at the bottom and smaller pieces on top so that each piece would hold its shape. The meat is packed close to the skin. Liquid removed from the meat collects at the bottom of the container and if the holes were made it would drain away. (If you'd like to experiment with smaller amounts of meat, you can do this part of the process on a flat tray that's at an angle to allow the juices to drain off, or in a perforated pan.)

As a rule of thumb, a 2 day cure for each pound of the original meat weight is considered. Turn the meat over after 3 days, and every 7 days thereafter, making sure that the entire surface is covered with salt. (For bacon that is stored for long periods of time or exposed to higher temperatures, the curing process will most likely be revised, replacing the salt mixture at least 1 time during the process.)

  • After curing is complete, the pieces of meat must be rinsed in fresh water to remove crystallized salt that would build up on the surface and prevent smoke from entering successfully. Pat dry, then hang the meat or lay it on wire mesh to dry overnight. Store meat overnight or for up to 2 days in the refrigerator or in the cool root cellar. Allowing the bacon to dry uncovered in a cool place the night before you plan to smoke it will encourage smoke retention through pellicle formation.

  • At this point, you smoked the bacon and then left it to air dry in a cool barn (fall and winter) or a root cellar. Like country ham, the bacon would likely be stored by hanging it in a muslin sack in the root cellar.

  • Bacon made this way is salty than modern bacon. If you find it too salty, you can blanch it in boiling water for 30-60 seconds just before frying to reduce the salt.

Curing Methods Info


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