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Brine Cure for Bacon & Hams
Yield: 100 Lbs meat

8 lb salt
2 lb sugar
2 oz saltpeter
5 gallons water, boiled and cooled

Mix the pickling ingredients. In theory thicker joints, such as
ham, should have a stronger brine - make the brine up in 90% of
the quantity of water. Thinner joints, such as bacon and bath chaps,
which are the jowls of the pig, should have the mixture in 120% of
the water. Put the meat into the brine, making sure that there
are no air pockets, put a scrubbed board on top and a big stone on
top of that to weight the meat down - DON'T use an iron weight -
and leave in the brine for 4 days per pound of each big joint. Thus
each joint should be weighed before being put in, and each removed
at its appointed date. Bacon and small joints should only be left
in for two days per pound. After 4 or 5 days, turn the joints
round in the brine, and after every so often. If, in hot weather,
the brine becomes ropey (viscous when you put your hand in), remove
meat, scrub in clean water and put it into fresh brine.

When the meat is taken out of the brine, wash it in fresh water,
hang it up for a week in a cool dry place to dry, then, if you
want, smoke it. It can be eaten "green" ie not smoked at all. It
should keep indefinitely, but use small joints and bacon sides
before hams. Hams improve with maturing. Bacon is best eaten within
a few months.

Cured hams and shoulders should be carefully wrapped in greaseproof
paper and then sewn up in muslin bags and hung in a fairly cool
dry place, preferably at a constant temperature. If you paint the
outside of the muslin bag with a thick paste of lime and water, so
much the better. Like this they will keep for a year or two and
improve all the time in flavour until they are delectable. Light
turns bacon rancid, so keep it in the dark. Keep flies off all
cured meat.


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