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How old a piece of meat?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Another newbie question I'm afraid...I know that the fresher the piece of meat the better but can you cure a piece that is a day or so away from its Use By date? I don't like to get too hung with UB dates however the curing process works by preventing the bacteria growth; if that has already started to some extent can you still preserve it or are you just asking for trouble?

 

Also, can you 'over-cure'? If you leave a piece of meat too long in the curing process does it get saltier or tougher?

 

Thanks in advance

post #2 of 12
Hi Sweaty, I would say yes it's OK to cure, (others might disagree), as long as it's not too far gone or smells. I would give it a good wash in cold water before you start.

The reasons a I say this are:-

When food is exposed to air, microorganisms can land on the food and begin their work of breaking down the food for their own uses. The presence of oxygen enhances the growth of microorganisms, such as molds and yeasts, and contributes directly to deterioration of fats, vitamins, flavors, and colors within foods through the work of enzymes.

A. If you are dry curing, and place it in a Vacum bag then no air will be around the meat.

B. If you are Brine, then the meat is submerged under the liquid, once again, no air around the meat.

You can not over cure, only under cure. If you measurements are right with your cure mixture, it SHOULD not be too salty.

When you next start a new Thread, do it in General or pick a topic like Pork to start it in. We like to try and keep the Roll Call page for new Memebers to introduce them selfs, and you will get a better response.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Ah, will do. Was in a bit of a rush this morning. Thanks though.

post #4 of 12

texas.gif  Good evening and welcome to the forum, from another hot day here in East Texas, and the best site on the web. Lots of great people with tons of information on just about  everything.

 

 

Gary

post #5 of 12
I really don't know how to respond to someone whose screen name is "sweaty sock" when it comes to a UB date. It would seem that rancid meat is the least of your problems. LOL. yahoo.gif
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thumbs Up

post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweatySock View Post

icon14.gif
I think Joe needs an explanation on the name SweatySock!
post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweatySock View Post
 

Another newbie question I'm afraid...I know that the fresher the piece of meat the better but can you cure a piece that is a day or so away from its Use By date? I don't like to get too hung with UB dates however the curing process works by preventing the bacteria growth; if that has already started to some extent can you still preserve it or are you just asking for trouble?

 

Also, can you 'over-cure'? If you leave a piece of meat too long in the curing process does it get saltier or tougher?

 

Thanks in advance

 

"Best Before" dates are there for guidance but "Use By" dates should be adhered to. I know that some people treat them both as advisory but although there is a margin of safety in the Use By dates they are there to protect the vulnerable among us.

 

It is perfectly safe to cure meat and fish right up to the Use By date as curing and smoking (like cooking) is classified as further processing the food. In most cases is is best to cure food at its freshest and so it may be past its best as it approaches the UB date, but once you have further processed it the new UB date is then recalculated from that point. You are now probably going to ask what the new UB dates should be - but that is not a straightforward question to answer. Different foods and different processes will result in different dates. Commercially it is the responsibility of the food producers to demonstrate the safe limits for their individual products to the satisfaction of Environmental Health and this usually involves lab testing.

 

For home produce there is a general rule of thumb that we can apply for most of the products that we cure. This is based on several factors but one of them is the known rate of potential Botulinum toxin production. For meat and most smoked fish this will be 10 days from the date of curing providing it is kept at 4 C (40 F) or below. Freezing will obviously extend the life significantly further.

 

Things like cheese, Salami and dry cured hams would have a significantly longer UB date but things like prawns and shellfish would be shorter.

 

For my traditional smoked salmon I use 10 days as my new UB date and 20 days for my bacon unless - it is frozen.

post #9 of 12
I knew Wade would be able to advise you.
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweatySock View Post

Another newbie question I'm afraid...I know that the fresher the piece of meat the better but can you cure a piece that is a day or so away from its Use By date? I don't like to get too hung with UB dates however the curing process works by preventing the bacteria growth; if that has already started to some extent can you still preserve it or are you just asking for trouble?



Also, can you 'over-cure'? If you leave a piece of meat too long in the curing process does it get


saltier or tougher?




Thanks in advance




Seems like a perfectly logical question to ask,regardless what ur profile name is.Best i can tell ya is use ur sences....despite what the date may be on the meat.....if theres any doubt toss it,u can always buy more:)
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweatySock View Post
 

Also, can you 'over-cure'? If you leave a piece of meat too long in the curing process does it get saltier or tougher?

 

 

Sorry - missed the second part of your question.

 

Again there is no simple answer to this as it will depend on what type of cure you are using. You can cure by adding salt/sugar, by increasing acidity, by removing water, by adding nitrite/nitrate or a combination of all of these.

 

When dry curing using salt (e.g. fish) it is very easy to over cure and the result becoming too salty. When removing water (e.g. Salami), when over drying the texture becomes dry, the surface hard and it is unpleasant to eat. If using too much Nitrite then over curing can make the end result toxic.

 

To avoid any of the above, the important thing is to do a lot of research before you try a curing method that you have never used before and follow the advice and steps taken by someone with experience. Once you are comfortable with the principles of that particular cure method then you can tweak the method slightly to make it your own. 

 

If you are not using Nitrite then over curing using the other methods will mostly just result in something inedible, but when using nitrite it is important to use a method that does not actually allow you to over cure. This involves accurately weighing the meat that is being cured and only adding sufficient Nitrite so that if all of it is taken up it does not exceed the maximum safe limits. When dry curing this is a very straightforward calculation and when immersion brining there are a few more factors to take into consideration. There are a couple of very good cure calculators online that make the calculations very easy. The first time you try curing just post up your proposed method in the main forum and very quickly someone will verify it for you. Once you have got the cure calculations nailed then, within reason, it is hard to over cure with something like bacon - much easier to over cure though with fish.

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

Guys, many thanks.

 

Joe, Sweaty Sock is rhyming slang for Jock. As someone from North of the border who has been down in London for over 25 years it’s a name I have become familiar with in my work place and if you can’t beat them…

 

Wade, once again many thanks for an informative response. I was a little busy at the weekend to get things going so am spending a little time doing some prep work before throwing myself in. II have my Kingsford for hot smiking and my ECB for cold but looking to try and MOD the ECB (from good info on here) to see if I can breath some life back into her for hot as well.

 

Thanks again all.

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