Salting meat

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Freeranger
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Salting meat

Post by Freeranger »

Many years ago I visited a friend at his family's house in Wales. I'd guess the parents would now be late 80s/early 90s in age. They were farmers and his mum offered some bacon for breakfast, saying it might be too salty because she hadn't had time to 'put it to soak to get the salt out'. It was dry in appearance, air-dried?, so I'm guessing it was a method for long term storage in an old-fashioned pantry. She shaved a sliver off it to try (uncooked but solid as if it had been). It was the saltiest thing I'd ever tasted so didn't have any more.
I've never seen anything quite like this before. Dry curing rub is normally used over about 5-10 days and then washed off and the meat stored in the fridge.
Can anyone tell me any more about this Welsh method, please? Is it just the salt rub left on for longer, or a brine dip then air drying maybe that should then be soaked to get the salt out? I think it used to be a fairly common thing to do, at least in their area (Aberystwyth).
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manda
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Re: Salting meat

Post by manda »

I don't know if it's just a welsh thing... but before refrigeration it was common to preserve in salt (particularly beef and pork). The method I know is a brine of 4 cups of water to 1 of salt (the way they knew it was the right amount was you could float and egg in it).
Put the meat into a container (dependent on what you're preserving) on a layer of salt, then a layer of salt on top, and so on making sure no air pockets....then put the brine in squishing to make sure any air pockets are filled and the meat is covered.....and that's it.

Then it soak it in fresh water before you want to use it....several times. You never get all the salt out but that's how I know it's done.
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Freeranger
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Re: Salting meat

Post by Freeranger »

Thanks for that, Manda. What happens to it in the meantime? Do you take it out of the brine and hang it?
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manda
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Re: Salting meat

Post by manda »

No it stays in the brine. If you want to store it for more than a month you would need to change the water:
Take out the meat and rinse with water.
Toss out the existing brine water.
Make a new brine with a 15-20 percent salt concentration.
Wash and sterilize the container.
Add ½ of salt to the bottom of the container and coat each piece of meat in a new layer of salt.
Place the meat in the container and pour the new brine solution over it.
Store as before.

After I replied to you I looked up how long it could be kept ....apparently the British Navy used meat that had been stored for 10 years yike*
I suppose before fridges they didn't have much choice - but it would be so full of salt nothing would be able to grow ....only soaking it would reduce the salt content (as you would know from your experience lol!!)
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(¸.✰´¨(¸.✰ Manda

Living our version of the Good Life with 4 dogs, 6 cats, a cow, a few sheep, Angora Goats and ???? chooks.
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Freeranger
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Re: Salting meat

Post by Freeranger »

10 years?! sile} Makes our sell-by dates look a bit wimpy! I guess you have to be sure about your water supply as well.
Thanks so much for all this detail. I was interested because of all the negativity about nitrates and wondered whether salting, if done well, could be a better alternative.
I'd be interested to give this a try in it's own right, but I'm not sure if it is quite the thing that this family did. The lady cut a sliver off to taste: its texture was sort of like a very well-cooked joint the day after Sunday dinner, firm and dry. It was, it had to be said, also horrible sile} but I assume it must get nicer when it's soaked.
If brining really can last years or at least several months then it seems better than chemicals (not that sodium chloride isn't one, but you know what I mean).
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manda
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Re: Salting meat

Post by manda »

I wonder if it was dry salted....a bit like the way you make hams like Proscuitto... pack it in salt - make sure all the outside area is covered. Change the salt if it is damp because it's pulled all the moisture out of the meat it can. That would give it that harder feel to the meat. Once the meat has been dehydrated by the salt then it will keep for about 6 months.

We made Procuitto from 2 pigs back legs...one was fabulous the other not so much sile} ...I think our problem was we didn't the courage of our convictions but also keeping the temp stable is difficult unless you have a dedicated space for it.
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(¸.✰´¨(¸.✰ Manda

Living our version of the Good Life with 4 dogs, 6 cats, a cow, a few sheep, Angora Goats and ???? chooks.
Don't get your knickers in a knot..it solves nothing ~ just makes you walk funny
Freeranger
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Re: Salting meat

Post by Freeranger »

That does sound more like what she offered.
Sorry to keep asking questions, but if you use this method is it obvious whether the salt is damp from the meat juices or just drawing in moisture from the air? Colouration I suppose? Maybe it's better to do it in a sealed container?
I'm suspecting that, health-wise, you'd have to be very thorough about removing the salt after either process else you'd be swapping one problem for another.
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manda
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Re: Salting meat

Post by manda »

I should have been more specific...you would do it in a sealed container..

You would need to clean the salt off the meat - a good wipe does that. Then pack in all new salt.
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(¸.✰´¨(¸.✰ Manda

Living our version of the Good Life with 4 dogs, 6 cats, a cow, a few sheep, Angora Goats and ???? chooks.
Don't get your knickers in a knot..it solves nothing ~ just makes you walk funny
Freeranger
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Re: Salting meat

Post by Freeranger »

Thank you for all your help, Manda.

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