Made Speck that was inspired by what is made in the Alto Adige region.

Discussion in 'Curing' started by evan m brady, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. Could not be more happy with this! I first started by cutting the hind leg to the specification of a Speck, and you can watch my butchery video below:

    Next came to curing the Speck. I cured for 30 days, and used 3% Trapani sea salt, and about a medium handful of each: Bay Leaves, Fresh Rosemary, Garlic, Juniper Berries, and Black Pepper. After that it came to COLD smoking...very important.

    I cold smoked the Speck with Beech wood for about 20 hours using 2 large Amaz'n tube smokers.

    After smoking it looked like this:

    You can see the classic heart shape taking form, and will only be accentuated more over the drying period.

    I then dried the Speck in my chamber set at my standard 55-60F at 80-85% relative humidity. If you go below 80% in the first weeks of any product you will get severe case hardening I have noticed...

    I dried the finished Speck for 22 weeks, and felt it was done losing at least 35% of its initial weight. This follows the disciplinare for making Speck Alto Adige in Italy as well. The guidelines are based on weight, and based on the weight of the trimmed leg after curing and smoking there is a minimum amount of time it has to stay in the chamber. The weight class of this Speck I cut put it in the timeframe of 22 weeks minimum drying. It could have gone longer if you wanted, but I wanted to eat it as soon as I though it was done, and was verified by losing over 35% of its weight in the drying time.

    DELICIOUS. SMOKED. HAM! One of the best things I have made to date hands down, and cant wait for the time in my life when I can make this for the country!
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks much.... I need to get my fermentation chamber built... Just don't tell Bride...

    Did you use cure #2 ??? and 3% salt is all the salt....
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015
  3. No, I did not use Cure #2 or any nitrites. There is no need, as this is a whole muscle. Also, when you smoke nitric oxide is produced, and kills any potential pathogen on the surface. You know the "smoke ring"? Well, that is caused by nitric oxide, which is the fully reduced for of nitrates! NO3 > NO2 - NO (nitrate to nitrite to nitric oxide). For these reasons I choose not to use Cure in whole muscle products, especially smoked products. Salt will hurdle any potential growth on the surface, and pathogens do not grow inside of whole muscle. Your safety hurdle is water activity. The goal is to dry it to the point where pathogens do not have enough water to facilitate growth. 

    Yes, all I used was 3% salt. I weigh the muscle in grams, then multiply by 3% to get the amount of grams I need of salt. I only add that amount, and it perfectly seasons the meat all the way through. This method keeps the salt concentration in check, and makes your final product perfectly seasoned as opposed to overly salty by salt boxing.
  4. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Great smoked meat. While in salt, do you bag the meat and massage/flip periodically? I assume you don't drain it.

    Love beech for smoked pork.
  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Evan, What temperature is the max. you ferment the meat at... I have read so many "temperatures where bacteria is slow to grow" ...
    I understand the "whole muscle is sterile" thing, and surface salt and surface smoke inhibits bacterial growth...
    The problem I find with "safety rules" is..... everyone is trying to be REALLY safe when giving information to others as "some folks" don't understand how critical some things are and expand that information to fit their needs....
    example.... temperature fluctuations ... "Oh, that's close enough" and the same with humidity.....

    If a PM would be better, that's fine...... Dave
  6. Exactly! Flip and massage while in the bag. I did not drain it, but you can if you want.

    You don't ferment whole muscle. Fermentation is with ground product, a fermentable sugar, and bacteria. All of which you do not have with a whole muscle. Fermentation truly happens anaerobically; so only when the bacteria are deprived of oxygen. Only then will the bacteria consume the fermentable sugar and convert it into lactic acid. This drops the pH, which hurdles the grow of spoilage pathogens. Again, whole muscle you do not need, nor are looking for a lactic acid pH drop.


    I see what you mean about being really safe. To expand I guess the only thing I have to add is that it is preferable to maintain the chamber no lower than 55F as at that point you are severaly limiting the growth of beneficial mold that secretes enzymes the contribute to the flavor development and texture of the final product. The lower the temperature, the slower the enzymatic activity.

    On the flip-side if your chamber fluctuates above 65-70F you really run the risk of enzymatic activity speeding up, which can cause the enzymes to go into overdrive, and produce ammonia as a by product. Thats what is happening if you smell ammonia in your chamber. To much enzymatic activity... The higher the temperature, the faster the enzymatic activity and breakdown.

Share This Page