by Cat, May 2012 (Photo, right, from ruhlman.com (5))
See also (other sites): 1. Cured Meats – Salami is Just the Beginning (12)
These instructions for drying and smoking are compiled from the following:
- How to Make Bresaola (2)
- Making Dried Beef (not-jerky) from Venison (3) uses an alternate way to dry and smoke
See also Curing Beef and other Meats for an introduction to this step.
Choose a good place to hang your meat. For drying, I chose my root cellar, which is ventilated by a passive system, and maintains a humidity of 60 – 70%, and a temperature between 45 and 60°F, depending on season. (Ideal conditions are 70% humidity, 55°F). The drying can take from a few days to several months depending on the size and type of the cut, and climate conditions.
I don’t have a smoker or smokehouse, although I have a friend who does. However, for my first project (chipped beef), I don’t plan to smoke it.
Smoking the meat is primarily to add flavor, but it also helps to preserve the meat. Ideally, you do this in a smokehouse, as this provides the best long-term protection from spoilage. Small portable smokers, a grill or even special pans for stove-top smoking can be used if flavor rather than preservation is what you are after. (NOTE: I have no experience with any of these).
Ingredients & Equipment:
You may not need these for this step if you included them to a wet brine.
- ground or crushed black peppercorns or mixed peppercorns
- crushed, dried rosemary
- crushed juniper berries
Method of Drying/smoking:
- Remove any remaining cure and pat dry.
- Combine pepper and herbs (if using – see above) in a small bowl, then rub over all sides of the meat.
- Prepare for hanging (see detail, right), then weigh.
- Hang meat in cool, well-ventilated spot to dry, for 1 week or more. Give it a good sniff for unpleasantness or more after 1 week. (My guess: If small cut, give it a good sniff & weigh it every 3 – 4 days; larger cut – 2 lb or more – sniff and weigh weekly). Otherwise, don’t handle it while it’s drying, to avoid causing the wrong kind of surface mold. A white mold is actually a sign the cure is working; a dark or black mold is not a good thing, but can be wiped off with vinegar/water solution.
- Remove muslin for last few days of drying (up to a week for larger cuts).
- When it’s fully dry, it will have lost 30% of its weight. and is ready to use.
- Optional: You can smoke it with green wood chips, once it’s fully dry. Make sure the smoke does not go out while the meat is preserving. Smoke 4 – 5 weeks, depending on size of cut (e-How, (1)). Or see Making Dried Beef (not-jerky) from Venison (3) for an alternate drying & smoking method.
- Slice meat very thin and use in your recipe.
How to hang meat for drying
The following is from e-How (1):
- Tie two pieces of string vertically around the meat, then tie a series of butchers’ knots horizontally around (or use a butcher’s sock), and wrap in clean muslin.
- Or use a cotton mesh bag made for this purpose, then wrap in muslin.
- Label clearly with date & weight, and hang in cool, well-ventilated but not too dry place. Remove the muslin for the last week of drying
- Check regularly by taking a good deep sniff for signs of rot.
- Also weigh carefully. It should be ready (thoroughly dry) when it has lost 30% of its weight.
Storage of cured meat
I plan to slice part of my dried beef thinly and store it in glass canning jars with lid – just as commercial “dried beef” is sold. Botulism thrives in an oxygen-free environment, so I’m hoping that leaving air in the jar is a good thing. The remaining part I’ll hang in my root cellar.
Be sure to give your product the ‘sniff’ test before using; if in doubt, add it to your compost pile, or cook the product. Note that not all infections will smell bad, such as botulism, but proper curing and storage should prevent that.
If properly cured and dried, your product will keep without refrigeration (but find as cool a spot as you can) for a long time, up to a year. Brined beef with its pickling juices will keep in the refrigerator 5 – 7 days. If you drain off the juices, it will keep up to a month, according to several sources.
However, in older times before refrigeration, salting/corning was used to preserve meat for longer periods of time; in colder areas it would keep all winter (brine juices must be drained off first). A Texas website (11) indicates salt-cured meat will keep outdoors in a Texas summer for at least 5 days; up here in Montana, it may even keep longer. (This same website (11) has lots of good tips).
- MeatStorage_no_Refrigeration (pdf saved on Cat’s Kitchen)
- Cured Meats – Salami is Just the Beginning (italianfood.about.com/od/curedmeats/Cured_Meats_Salamis_just_the_beginning.htm)