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6/14/2016

Buckwheat Corn Muffins With Blueberries 

Many of you already know I recently invested in a grain mill, the hand-crank variety. Now, I have a cookbook to go along with it. If you buy only one book on the subject, this is it: The Essential Home-Ground Flour Book by Sue Becker [1].

Sue is incredible, as she covers just about any aspect you can think of on home milling, flours, grains, and with 100 delicious recipes to boot. Everything is very well researched, and extremely well written.

The amount of information is incredible, but I found it a fabulous read. Yes, I read cookbooks, and I really like this one. (Maybe you have noticed that by now.)

It was a tough choice deciding which one to do first, but I settled on the Buckwheat Corn Muffins, the fruit variation — I used blueberries (it wasn’t easy hanging on to the berries until baking time — the blueberry vultures were about).

I am also doing Dark Molasses Oatmeal Bread, and you will hear about that in the next blog post. Some of you know that oatmeal is one of my favourites, but this one is with a twist. Stay tuned.

Right now, let’s make some of these absolutely delicious muffins. You won’t regret having these for breakfast!

Buckwheat Corn Muffins Recipe

Ingredients:

• 1 cup freshly milled buckwheat flour
• ½ cup freshly milled corn flour
• 2 ½ tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp salt
• ¼ cup oil
• 2 Tbsp liquid honey
• 1 ripe banana, mashed
• 2 eggs
• 1 ¼ milk or nondairy alternative*
And for the variation: ½ cup light evaporated cane sugar, and ½ cup blueberries**

You will need a greased 12-cup muffin tin, a 24-cup mini muffin pan. I used unbleached paper liners by If You Care [2].

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together buckwheat flour, corn flour, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center. Set aside.

3. In another bowl, whisk together oil, honey, banana, and eggs. Add all at once to flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated.

4. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups, filling three-quarters full. Bake in a preheated oven for fifteen minutes (12 minutes for mini-muffins), until golden brown and tops spring back when lightly touched.

*Sue suggests almond, rice, soy or coconut in this recipe.

**Buckwheat-Corn Fruit Muffins Variation

In Step 1, add ½ cup light evaporated cane sugar (I confess, I didn’t add the extra sugar — apologies, Sue!).

After mixing batter in Step 2, gently fold in ½ cup blueberries, diced peaches, or sliced strawberries.

Essential Home Ground Flour Book 

References

1. Becker, Sue. The Essential Home-Ground Flour Book. Toronto, ON: Robert Rose Inc., 2016.

2. Try Unbleached, Totally Chlorine-Free (TCF) baking cups by If You Care. They’re as good or better than parchment, no greasing required. Imported from Sweden. 

Sue Van Slooten teaches cooking and baking classes at her home on beautiful Big Rideau Lake, Ontario, Canada. She specializes in small classes for maximum benefit. Follow her homesteading adventures and check out her class offerings at www.SVanSlooten.com. If you wish, you can email Sue at suevanslooten@icloud.com. She would be thrilled to hear from you! Read all of Sue’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.


6/14/2016

Nothing brightens up a salad or serves as a better garnish than edible flowers. Who can resist smiling when served a plate complete with the happy faces of some pansies or violas looking up at you?

Many restaurants are taking advantage of this phenomenon and including chives, calendulas, clovers, nasturtiums and marigolds in their meals. If you want to truly astonish your guest at your next dinner party, it might be time to include some edible flowers in the menu.

There are actually quite a number of flowers that are edible. Besides the squash blossoms and day lillies that most of us are familiar with, there are some easy to plant and even beneficial blooms that can be incorporated into a garden.

Marigolds planted right in the beds with all of the brasiccas (broccoli, Brussel's sprouts, cabbages and cauliflower) help greatly to keep the cabbage moth away. Two varieties — 'Lemon Gem' and 'Tangerine Gem' — put out lovely flowers that don't have much of a taste but dress up a dish with pizzaz. The plants also, when rubbed, give off a lemony scent that is a delightful aroma when wandering in the garden.

lemon & tangerine gem

Nasturtiums can be planted right in the beds with the cucumbers to help deter the cucumber beetle. These come in a variety of colors and can be served up whole or broken into pieces to add bright colors to a pasta salad or cold rice dish.

nasturtiums

Chives are exceptionally easy to grow and have a delicate purple flower that can be added to a plate whole or pulled apart and used like a spice. They taste much like the chives themselves. They can also be used to make chive vinegar. Just put them in a jar with some organic white vinegar and set them in a sunny location for about two weeks. Strain out the flowers and store the liquid in the pantry.

Pansies and violas are old-time favorites. These plants are easy to grow and, with a little care, can be encouraged to flower for months. It's important to pick all the flowers as they appear in order to get the plants to keep sending them out. They can also be dried and added to dishes later in the year.

pansies

Violets make wonderful additions to a dish. These wild flowers come in purple and white. They are often added to cakes and other pastries and can be dried like the pansies in order to be used at a later date.

Calendulas have been used for centuries for their healing properties. They are particularly helpful with skin issues such as rashes, bites and stings. They can also help to keep some garden pests at bay. These colorful orange and yellow flowers can be used as a garnish or pulled apart to spice up an entire dish. They are very easy to dry — simply pull them apart and place on a cookie sheet. Place this in a dry spot for a few days then store in dry, sealed glass jars.

calendula

Squash blossoms are also edible. These can be stuffed with cheesy fillings, dusted with flour and fried or used as a garnish.

squash blossoms

Put a smile on your guests' faces at your next dinner party — serve up some edible flowers! It's easy and fun and they will be delighted.

Celeste Longacre and her husband, Bob, have lived sustainably for more than 35 years. They grow almost all of their vegetables for the year and preserve them by freezing, canning, drying and using a home -built root cellar. Celeste ferments much of the couple’s produce and makes her own sauerkraut, kimchee, and fruit and beet kvass. She is the author of Celeste’s Garden Delights and writes a gardening blog for The Old Farmer’s Almanac. For more information, visit Celeste’s website, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.



6/10/2016

Fresh Strawberries From Garden 

Strawberries are a core component of our annual diet, as they’re one of the easiest fruits to grow and preserve. Many guidelines for strawberry preservation call for extraordinary amounts of added sugar, which we’ve found quite unnecessary for the fresh, sweet, high-quality berries we grow.

We’ve also found it quite effective to combine multiple preservation methods to make the processing work more efficient. Here are the three main ways we handle our fresh berries.

Using Sugar in Strawberry Preservation

While it’s possible to freeze strawberries without any sugar at all, a little sugar can be beneficial. In our experience, lightly sweetened berries last long and have better flavor than unsweetened berries.

Sugar’s ability to draw out some juices creates a protective syrup that seems to reduce freezer burn, and certainly increases the space efficiency of preservation by allowing berries to be crushed into a solid mass rather than packed loosely with air around them.

In our experience, ¼ cup sugar per quart of berries is ample for freezing and canning; we don’t use any sugar for dehydrating berries.

Strawberry Varieties and Sources

For years, we’ve grown varieties of strawberry (‘Earliglow’ and ‘Sparkle’), chosen for their intense flavor, not their size or shelf life. This makes them great for home production, because their extra sweetness reduces the need for sugar, and they don’t have to sit around waiting to be bought and sold.

If you want to reduce sugar in your preservation, consider planting or sourcing strawberry varieties that will help you out in that regard.

Setting Up a Work Station

Having an efficient work space helps make this time-intensive job more practical. We set up a rinse bowl, strainer (with bowl underneath), cutting board, measuring quart, and large collection bowl ahead of time.

Batches of berries move through each location as we work: one batch in the rinse bowl, one draining in the strainer, one on the cutting board, finished berries absorbing sugar in the collection bowl. As each batch is finished, we move the other batches along the assembly line, so there’s little down time.

A waste bucket sits nearby to catch tops and other discards, beloved by our chickens.

Preserving Strawberries At Home 

Freezing Strawberries

Our standard approach to freezing strawberries involves simply halving them, mixing in up to ¼ cup sugar per quart of berries, and packing them into freezer containers. We cut up about 4 quarts at a time, adding sugar with each quart, to create a nice juicy mix that’s ready to be frozen.

Allowing the berries to stand with the sugar for a few minutes gives time for the juice to be drawn out.

Strawberries can be frozen whole simply by laying them out on a baking sheet, placing the sheet in a freezer until the berries are solid, then dumping them into a sealed freezer bag. While this is very little work up front, we haven’t liked the long-term quality or flavor as much as the light sugar-pack method, and it’s far less space-efficient.

We’re especially fond of eating our frozen strawberries mixed into homemade yogurt, where the light sweetness balances the yogurt perfectly. They also make a nice base for salads with other frozen fruits like blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries.

Dehydrating Strawberries

Dried strawberries are a delightful product, packed with intense flavor and shelf-stable. We slice pieces about ¼”-inch thick — too thin and they melt into the dryer tray and make a mess.

While you can try to slice the whole berry for drying, it’s more efficient to simultaneously process them for freezing: cut a few thick slabs from the heart of the berry (for drying) and place the rounded ends and small pieces in the collection bowl for freezing. Your berries will dry more evenly than a bunch of mis-matched chunks.

We pack the finished product in jars, then place them in the freezer for a few weeks to kill off any insects or eggs that might be present. After that, the jars sit happily on a pantry shelf waiting to be enjoyed. Dried berries are excellent for topping salads, adding to trail mixes and baked goods, or just snacking.

Canning Strawberries

Last year, we tried canning strawberries as a stand-alone preservation method, simply packing the lightly sugared pureed fruit into quart jars and topping off with hot water. Sugar is not strictly necessary for canning strawberries, but as with freezing, a little bit seems to improve the quality.

We were pleased with the quarts of canned berries; while the flavor wasn’t as good as dedicated jam, we could use them the same way as frozen berries, without the risk of a freezer going bad. These juicy jars made excellent bases for refreshing drinks.

Otherwise, recipes abound for canning basic strawberry jam. We use the same amount of sugar for jam as we do for freezing, about ¼ cup per quart of crushed fruit, simply cooking up the result instead of freezing it and adding pectin. Chopped rhubarb can make a nice addition if you have it.

Top photo by Eric Reuter
Second photo by Joanna Reuter

Eric Reuter and his wife, Joanna, founded their homestead farm in 2006, within a narrow Ozark-style valley with diverse landscapes and ecosystems. Chert Hollow Farm seeks to integrate food and farming into the ecosystem, at various times managing vegetable & grain crops, perennial fruits, dairy/meat goats, poultry, timber resources, and natural habitats. Read all of Eric's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.


6/10/2016

Homemade Elderflower Syrup Recipe

I love this recipe. It’s no harder to make than a cup of tea, fills your kitchen with fragrance and is a great introduction to using foraged foods in the home.

Living in the city, with no garden or balcony, and not even a sunny window box for herbs, it seems hopeless to think of producing even a tiny bit of food for yourself. Then you start to walk around with open eyes, and maybe a foraging guide, like Richard Mabey’s Food For Free, and a new world of possibilities opens up.

I live in Graz, Austria, the second-biggest city in the country, and yet, even here, in this lively and prosperous city, little nuggets of wildness survive. The river banks are steep and lined with trees, many of them apples, walnuts and cherry.

In the poorer, more neglected parts of the city, old workshops crumble, and in the ruins grow brambles, nettles and dandelions.

The city’s limits have swollen in recent years, expanding to take in land that only a few decades ago was agricultural. You often see old farmhouses, low-roofed with bulging wooden walls, hugging a courtyard where chickens still run, and on either side loom shiny metal blocks of flats. I often think about these little farms, lost in the city, and wonder if they can feel the loss of their fields.

Almost invariably, these houses have an elder tree planted somewhere on the property. Usually, you only see elder as a multi stemmed bush, hacked down each winter as a weed. The old farmers who built these houses valued the elder, and trained them into magnificent trees with thick, twisting stems.

In ancient Germanic legend, the elder tree was the seat of the goddess Holler, who would look after your family and animals – if you looked after her home.

I own a bar, and a very popular feminine drink in the summer is the Holler Spritzer, white wine mixed with soda and a splash of elderflower syrup. I love the taste of the syrup, sweet and floral without being overpoweringly so.

It improves too-dry wine, and is also fabulous served in a pitcher with ice, some fresh mint, a few slices of lemon and topped up with tap water. It can also be used as an ingredient in other recipes — when the gooseberries are ripe, I am going to try an elderflower and gooseberry sorbet with the syrup.

Picking ElderFlowers In Yard 

Elderflower Syrup Recipe

Makes about 2 pints

Ingredients:

• 4 cups of sugar
• 1 lemon, sliced
• 1Tbsp citric acid
• About 25 heads of elderflowers

Note: Do not wash the elderflower heads, as this removes the scent. Shake them gently to remove the bugs, and pick the beasties off with your fingers. It is best to pick on a warm, sunny day when the bugs are flying about to minimise this problem. It is not necessary to remove the flowers from the stems

Directions:

1. Boil two pints of water, and dissolve the sugar. Add the lemon and the citric acid.

2. Put the elderflowers in a vessel big enough to take all the water. I would recommend a very large canning jar that you can cover and keep in the fridge while infusing, but I just used a normal mixing bowl with a tea towel over it and it worked fine.

3. Pour the hot, sugary liquid over the flowers and leave to infuse overnight.

4. The next day, strain the liquid through a cloth and a sieve back into a pan. Gather up the cloth and give the flowers a good squeeze to get all the liquid out.

5. Sterilise bottles and put them in the oven to warm.

6. Boil the syrup. Pour the hot syrup into the warm bottles.

7. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.

Freshly Picked Elderflowers 

Hannah Wernet grew up self-sufficiently on a sheep farm in Wales. When she was 20, she moved to Austria where she works as a teacher and owns a small expat bar. She dreams of one day returning to a self-sufficient life in the French countryside.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.


6/10/2016

Homemade Cherry Jam Recipe

Several years ago, I was in France during the height of cherry season. The farmers markets we visited in small towns in Provence all had tables heaped high with beautiful cherries.

Of course, we ate as many as possible and tucked them into bread puddings for dessert, but I yearned for my big copper jam pot and dehydrator.

Now, at home, I make the most of cherry season with the recipes below.

Ingredients for all:

• Fresh cherries
• About 1 cup of inexpensive vodka or brandy
• Cane sugar

Equipment:

• Cherry pitter
• Dehydrator
• Bowls
• Zipper freezer bags
• Jam pot
• Canning jars and utensils
• Waterbath canner with rack

Cherries are my favorite fruit, both to eat fresh and to work with. When the best cherries  appear in the market, I buy several pounds to preserve. With cherries dehydrated, preserved, glaceed and a cordial made, I have bounty to use all year long.

After eating my fill, dressed in a ragged old shirt, I arm myself with my cherry pitter. I spread an old towel on the table and put down a small bowl and a large bowl.

First, wash and drain the cherries, pull the stems off and then pit all the cherries, reserving the pits.

Pitting Cherries In The Kitchen 

A Note on Cherry Pitters

For years, I’ve used a single cherry pitter and that worked fine, although it does splash cherry juice all over.

Recently, I bought a gadget that pits 6 cherries at once. It doesn’t splash much at all and really does speed up the task of pitting several pounds — 6 pounds pitted in just over an hour, working leisurely.

I saw it this week in Walmart and it’s also available from Amazon for about $11 and ships free.

How to Use Cherry Pits

Don’t throw out those pits! Pour your small bowl of pits, tiny fruit tags from the pitter, and any juice in the pit bowl into a jar (the pits from 6 pounds cherries will fit into a pint jar).

Fill the jar with vodka or brandy to cover the pits. Set the jar in the cupboard and forget about it until you need a bit of Kirsch or Amaretto for a recipe.

It’s delicious in cheese fondue, compotes, sauces, and many fruit desserts, most especially bread puddings. Be sure to save the Cherry Preserve Recipe for next year when you’ll add some of this cordial at the very end.

How to Dehydrate Cherries

Cherries don’t freeze well — freezing fresh makes them release a lot of juice, so they’re limp and swimming in juice. Better to dehydrate, so lots of cherries go on the dehydrator.

On my Nesco dehydrator, at 135 degrees, the cherries take 9 hours. Yours may be different, so keep on eye on them. Be careful not to over-dry — the cherries should still be moist, like raisins or prunes.

Because I leave in moisture, I store dehydrated cherries in the freezer. These are used in fruit breads and muffins, added to other fruits in a pie, puddings, and just for munching for a healthy sweet.

Always, when you take fruits or veggies off the dehydrator, put them in a storage container and leave them out on the counter overnight to “homogenize”. There’s always some drier, some moister, but left out, they become more the same.

Fresh Cherry Preserves Recipe

Use this confit for a sauce for ice cream, to add to a bread pudding, to stir into plain yogurt or spread on toast or biscuits. This method makes a delicious, fresh-tasting preserve with no commercial pectin and very low sugar. The recipe is easily doubled. Makes 4 half-pint jars

Ingredients:

• 2 pounds fresh cherries, pitted and left whole
• 1 ½ cups cane sugar
• Optional: 2 Tbsp of the Cherry Pit Cordial from last year

Directions:

1. Have your jars impeccably clean. I wash them in hot soapy water and then run them through the dishwasher.

2. In your jam pot, add the sugar to the cherries and stir well. The cherries will begin to juice out. Wait a few minutes and then heat gently, stirring and careful not to scorch until the cherries have released quite of bit of juice.

3. Turn off the heat and let the cherries sit for a couple hours, then heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the cherries are swimming in syrup. Cook the mixture at a gentle simmer for 15 minutes, then pour the mixture into a bowl, cover and let it sit overnight. A few of the cherries will break up, but most will remain whole.

4. In the morning, the mixture will be quite liquid. Pour it through a colander into your jam pot, and let it drip into the pot for awhile, pressing down gently, keeping the cherries in the colander. Move the colander over the bowl in case they drip a little more.

5. Bring the syrup to a boil and cook it down until quite reduced and a thermometer reads 220 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the cherries back into the syrup and bring back to 220 degrees. If you have the Cherry Pit Cordial, add it now and stir in.

6. While the preserve reheats, fill your hot water bath with hot water and bring to a boil. Always have a rack in the waterbath — if you put the jars directly on the bottom of the pot, they can break. What a loss and a mess! To sterilize the jars, dip each for a few seconds in the boiling water, place them upside down on a clean towel or paper towels. Also dip your ladle and canning funnel.

7. When the jam is ready, at 220 degrees and is thick, turn off the heat. Stir and skim off any foam for 5 minutes. Stirring like this helps to prevent fruit floating. Now, ladle the hot jam into jars, either ½-pint or pint, and seal with new 2-piece lids, and process for 10 minutes in the boiling waterbath.

8. Remove the jars to a clean towel, leaving space between them. When cool, store your jam in a cool, dry place.

Chocolate-Cherry Sauce

To make chocolate-cherry sauce for ice cream, put some preserve into a bowl, add some dark chocolate syrup and a splash of the cherry cordial you made with the pits.

One last trick: When the processing time is up and the jars are removed to a clean towel, I pour the very hot water into my empty jam pot where I’ve left the ladle and funnel and that effectively washes it. One quick rinse and done.

Watch this page for more cherry recipes, including making your own glaceed cherries.

Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.


6/6/2016

Hot sauce ingredients Photo by Carole Cancler 

This is my favorite homemade hot sauce recipe. Over the years I’ve used it with fresh and dried chile peppers (or a combination), in various blends of red and green mild, medium, and hot pepper varieties.

At a local farmer’s market, there is typically much more variety than at a grocery store. So in summer I make hot sauce from locally grown fresh chilies. I will also buy plenty of fresh local peppers to dry in a food dehydrator and make hot sauce throughout the year. I’ve also bought ripe red jalapenos, smoked them, and dried them for homemade chipotle to add to my hot sauce recipe. So there’s no limit to what you can do.

If you have a good Latin grocery where you live, then you can find a good variety of dried peppers. Or order online from a company such as Alamo Peppers, MexGrocer.com, or Firehouse Pantry. Try hot sauce on eggs for breakfast, add a dash to soups or stews, boost the flavor of mac-and-cheese or mayonnaise, or use hot sauce anywhere else you want to add an interesting accent.

Homemade hot sauce Photo by Carole Cancler 

Homemade Hot Sauce Recipe

Makes 1 ½ to 2 cups

Ingredients:

• 1 ounce dried chilies (mild to hot, e.g. ancho, chipotle, habanero) OR 6 ounces fresh chile peppers (e.g. poblano, jalapeno, habanero)
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
• 2 tbsp chopped nuts (such as almonds, pine nuts, or hazelnuts)
• 1 tbsp raw sugar, brown sugar, or honey
• 1 tsp dried oregano OR 1 tbsp fresh
• 1 tsp salt
• 1/4 tsp whole cumin seeds
• 1½ cups water
• 3/4 cup vinegar

Combining hot sauce ingredients Photo by Carole Cancler 

Directions:

1. Cut open chiles to remove and discard the seeds and ribs. You may wish to wear gloves while handling either fresh or dried chiles as their oils linger on the skin for several days, even with vigorous washing.

2. Coarsely chop the chiles. Place chiles and remaining ingredients in a small (1 to 2 quart) saucepan.

3. Bring to a simmer over high heat, reduce to medium-low, cover, and simmer very quietly for 20 minutes.

4.Turn off heat, uncover, and allow to cool 10 minutes.

5. Pour the mixture into a blender jar or food processor and process for several minutes, or until very smooth. This should result in a pourable sauce. If needed, add water to thin sauce to desired consistency.

6. Transfer sauce to a sterilized glass jar. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate. Use within 6 months. Hot sauce tends to improve in flavor for several weeks.

Other Hot Sauce Recipe Variations

If you prefer a thinner sauce, process until coarsely chopped and then strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or several layers of damp cheesecloth, discarding the solids. You may also increase the cooking water by 1 to 1½ cups to facilitate the straining process.

By experimenting with different types of fresh and dried peppers and preparation techniques, you can create an endless supply of interesting and delicious hot sauce to add piquancy to all your meals.

• To create a fruity sauce, use mild green chilies.
• To add depth of flavor, toast dry chilies in a hot skillet before chopping.
• To produce an earthy sauce, roast up to half of your fresh peppers.
• For a smoky sauce, roast all of your fresh peppers.

If your tolerance for heat is high, create an electrifying sauce by including mostly (or only) hot chile peppers.

Carole Cancler is the author of The Home Preserving Bible. She has traveled to more than 20 countries on four continents to attend cooking schools and explore food markets. She studies the anthropology of food with a focus on how indigenous foods have traveled and been integrated into world cuisine. Read all of Carole's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.



6/4/2016

Finished Bresaola 

There are plenty of methods for preserving meat. Whether you are bringing home a side of venison, harvesting your flock of chickens, or just making a trip home from the grocery store, being able to preserve your food is an age-old requirement.

These days, the refrigerator or freezer are the most common methods of food preservation. But another traditional method of preservation is dry curing. Dry curing involves salting and then drying of meats until they are safe to eat and shelf-stable, even at room temperatures.

If you've ever read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods and wondered how they put their food up for the year without a refrigerator, this is it. With a little bit of salt, some time, and the right conditions, you, too, can turn your leg of venison into prosciutto or your farmstead's pork belly into pancetta.

What Do You Need to Dry Cure Meat?

At its simplest, you will need a cut of meat and a quantity of salt. You may want to add a little bit of sugar, pepper, and some spices as well.

Pretty much any cut of meat can be used for dry curing. There are traditional cuts, of course, that are used: pork belly is used for pancetta, the leg is used for prosciutto, the pig jowl is used for guanciale.

But even if you don't use a specific cut of meat (or even if you swap venison or goat for the traditional pork), the process is the same, and the taste can still be amazing.

Curing MEat IN Zipper Bag 

The Cure

The first step of dry curing is to cover your meat with the salt and spices. For every 100 grams of meat that you have, you will want to add about 2.75 to 3.5 grams of salt to the cure.

This amount is important! With too much salt, your meat could end up inedibly salty. With too little, it may not be safe to eat. Be sure to weigh your ingredients to know how much to add.

After salting, place your meat in a zipper bag and keep it in the refrigerator. Turn it every day to distribute the cure. You will want to keep it in the fridge until it is uniformly firm (about 1 day for every 1000 grams of meat).

After curing, rinse off the excess salt with water. You can also rinse the meat with wine at this point for additional flavor. Allow to dry and tie up with butcher's twine. Be sure to weigh your meat!

The Drying

Now comes the waiting. You will need to hang up the meat to dry, but it's important to get the conditions right. Dry-cured meat will dry best at approximately 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit and 70-80 percent relative humidity.

You can easily maintain these conditions using a product like The Cave. Once the meat has lost 30 percent of its weight, it will be safe to slice and eat. Depending on the cut of meat you have used, this can take a couple weeks up to several months.

That's it! Preserving your meat through dry curing takes a couple more steps than just throwing it in the freezer, but it tastes infinitely better. Soon you will be on your way to eating dry-cured delicacies.

Finished Bresaola Cured Meat Hanging 

Karen Christian is a fermentation enthusiast and co-owner of Swiss Hill Ferments. She is a trained chemist who prefers to tinker with fermentation projects rather than chemicals these days. Learn more about Karen’s “The Cave” home fermentation control unit on Kickstarter.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.








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