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Chapter 5
Cured and Smoked Foods
Chapter 5 Objectives
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Understand the history and purpose of cured and
smoked foods
Identify the crucial ingredients for preserving foods
Explain the function of salt in osmosis,
dehydration, and fermentation
Describe the role of curing salts in preserving foods
Discuss seasoning and flavoring options for cured
and smoked foods
Chapter 5 Objectives
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Compare the effects of dry cures and brines
Describe the evolution of brining from a
preservation technique to a flavoring technique
Evaluate cold smoking and hot smoking
alternatives
Explain the technique of air-drying
Describe the method of preservation in fat
Preservation Techniques in Chapter 5
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Curing and brining
Smoking
Drying
Preserving in fat
Ingredients for Preserving Foods
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Salt is the basic ingredient used in preserving food
Basic processes in which salt plays an important
role:
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Osmosis
Dehydration
Fermentation
Denaturing proteins
Osmosis
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A simple definition states that osmosis is the
movement of a solvent (typically water) through a
semipermeable membrane (the cell walls) in order
to equalize the concentration of a solute (typically
salt) on both sides of the membrane
Getting the salt inside the cell, where it can kill off
harmful pathogens, is the essence of salt-curing
foods
Dehydration
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Applying salt to foods can dry them effectively,
since the salt tends to attract the free water, making
it unavailable to microbes
Exposure to air or heat for controlled periods
allows the water to evaporate, reducing the overall
volume and weight of the food
Fermentation
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Enzymes ferment the food by breaking down the
compounds in these foods into gases and organic
compounds
By increasing the acid levels in the food, enzymes
also help to preserve foods, since most harmful
pathogens can only thrive when the levels of acids
are within a specific pH range
Salt is important to act as a control on this process,
since it affects how much water is available to the
enzymes
Denaturing Proteins
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Changing the structure of the proteins found in
food
The strands that make up the protein are
encouraged to lengthen or coil, open or close,
recombine or dissolve in such a way that foods that
were once soft may become firm, smooth foods
may become grainy, translucent foods may become
cloudy, etc.
Curing Salts: Nitrates and Nitrites
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Compounds already present in unrefined salts:
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Nitrates (NO3) take longer to break down in cured
foods than nitrites
Nitrites (NO2) break down faster, making them
appropriate for use in any cured item that will later be
fully cooked
Nitrosamine
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When nitrates and nitrites break down in the
presence of extreme heat (specifically, when bacon
is cooked), potentially dangerous substances known
as nitrosamines may form in the food
Discovered to be carcinogenic in 1956
The use of nitrates and nitrites is closely regulated
Tinted Cure Mix, Pink Cure, and
Prague Powder I
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TCM (or Insta-cure #1):
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94% sodium chloride (salt) and 6% sodium nitrite
Tinted pink for identification reasons
Recommended ratio:
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4 oz of TCM to each 100 lb of meat
Prague Powder II
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Prague Powder II (Insta-cure #2) contains:
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Salt
Sodium nitrite
Sodium nitrate
Pink coloring
Used to make dry and dry-fermented products
Cure Accelerators:
Sodium Erythorbate and Ascorbate
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Work together with nitrites to enhance color
development and flavor retention in cured foods
Have some of the same reddening effects of nitrates
and nitrites but is temporary
Cannot be used to substitute for nitrates or nitrites
Seasoning and Flavoring Ingredients
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Sugar (sweeteners):
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Spices and Herbs:
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Dextrose
Corn syrup
Sugar
Honey
Maple syrup
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Cinnamon
Allspice
Nutmeg
Mace
Cardamom
Dried or fresh chilies
Infusions or essences
Wines
Fruit juices
Vinegars
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Cures and Brines
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Curing is the generic term used to indicate brines,
pickling or corning solutions, or dry cures
When salt, in the form of a dry cure or brine, is
applied to a food, the food is referred to as cured,
brined, pickled, or corned
Salt brines may also be known as pickles; this is true
whether or not vinegar is added to the brine
Dry Cures
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Can be as simple as salt alone
More often is a mixture of salt, a sweetener,
flavorings, and a curing blend
Mixture is packed and rubbed over the surface of
the food
Keeping the foods in direct contact with the cure
helps to ensure an evenly preserved product
Dry Cure Times for Meats
Item to be Cured
Approx. Curing Time
¼-inch thick, approx.
1 – 2 hours
1-inch thick, approx., lean
meat
3 – 8 hours
1½-inch thick pork belly
7 – 10 days
Ham, bone-in (15 – 18 lbs.)
40 – 45 days
Brines
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When a dry cure is dissolved in water, it is known
as a wet cure, or a brine
Technique used primarily to retain moisture
Two brining techniques:
1. Brine-soaking – submerging food in brine (smaller
items)
2. Injecting brine – ensures the brine penetrates
completely and evenly (larger items); brine is the
equivalent of 10% of item’s weight
Brines
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Formula for moisture and flavor:
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1 lb. sugar
1 lb. salt
4 gallons of water
1 gallon of ice
Heat 1 gallon of water, add the salt, sugar, and
flavorings. Dissolve the salt and sugar. Add 3
gallons of cold water and 1 gallon of ice to chill the
brine.
Brining Time for Meats
Item
Not Pumped
Pumped (10% of
weight)
Chicken or duck breast
24 – 36 hours
Not recommended
Chicken, whole
24 – 36 hours
12 – 16 hours
Pork butt or loin
(boneless)
5 – 6 days
2 ½ – 3 days
Turkey, whole 10 – 12 lbs. 5 – 6 days
3 days
Corned Brisket
7 – 8 days
3 – 5 days
Ham boneless
6 days
4 days
Ham, bone-in
20 – 24 days
6 – 7 days
Smoke
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Basic features of smokers:
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Smoke source
Smoke chamber where food is exposed
Circulation
Ventilation
Smoke
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Woods for smoking:
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Other sources:
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Hickory
Oak
Cherry
Walnut
Chestnut
Apple
Alder
Mesquite
Wood from citrus trees
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Teas
Herb stems
Whole spices
Grapevine clippings
Corn husks
Fruit peels
Peanut shells
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Smoke: The Pellicle
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Before cured foods are smoked, they should be
allowed to air-dry long enough to form a tacky skin,
known as a pellicle
It acts as a kind of protective barrier for the food,
and also plays an important role in capturing the
smoke’s flavor and color
Most foods can be properly dried by placing them
on racks or by hanging them on hooks or sticks
where air is flowing around all sides
Cold Smoking
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Criteria for cold-smoked items:
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Type of cure
Duration of cure
Whether or not the food will be air-dried after smoking
Foods that will be cooked by another means after
smoking
Cold Smoking
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Temperature for cold smoking: Below 100°F
In this temperature range, foods take on a rich
smoky flavor, develop a deep mahogany color, and
tend to retain a relatively moist texture
They are not cooked as a result of the smoking
process and proteins do not denature
Hot Smoking
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Temperature for hot smoking: 165 – 185°F
Food exposed to smoke and heat in a controlled
environment
Foods are fully cooked, moist, and flavorful
Safe to eat without further cooking
Smoke-Roasting
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Any process that has the attributes of both smoking
and roasting
Sometimes referred to as barbecuing or spitroasting
Equipment that can be used:
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Smoke-roaster
Closed wood-fire oven
Barbecue pit
Any smoker that can reach above 250°F
Conventional oven
Pan-Smoking
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Smoking without using a smoker or smokehouse
Gives smoke-enhanced flavor
Items needed:
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2 disposable aluminum pans
Rack
Sawdust
Drawback: hard to control smoke and flavor may
be too intense or bitter
Drying
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Some items need to be air-dried in lieu of or in
addition to smoking
Requires careful balance of temperature and
humidity control
Items that are preserved by drying:
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Serrano ham (cured and cold-smoked first)
Smithfield hams (cured and cold-smoked first)
Prosciutto crudo di Parma (cured and cold-smoked first)
Roman-Style Air-Dried Beef
Bresealo
Beef jerky
Preserving in Fat: Confits and Rillettes
Classic methods of preserving food
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Process for confits:
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Process for rillettes:
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Cured
Simmered in rendered fat
Placed in crocks and
completely covered in fat
Meats age in fat for 1 week
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Stew boned meats in fat or
broth with vegetables and
aromatics
Cooked meat is blended
with fat to make a paste
Stored in crocks or pots,
covered with a layer of fat
to act as a seal
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