Click on the Image Gallery for the referenced step-by-step photos.
OK, homesteaders . . . here’s another installment of
Morton Salt’s superior booklet, A COMPLETE GUIDE TO HOME
MEAT CURING. How to Butcher a Pig told you how to butcher, halve
and chill a hog. This section takes you most of the way
through curing the pork that results.
Again, our special thanks to Murray J. Pearthree, Morton
Salt Regional Sales Manager, for granting us written
permission to reprint from the booklet.
It pays to do a neat job of butchering and trimming
The black guide lines in the picture show where the
different cuts should be made for cutting up the carcass.
Well trimmed meat cures out better and with less waste. The
principal cuts are ham, loin, bacon, shoulder. and jowl.
All of the other pieces can be classified as trimmings.
There is both pride and pleasure in unwrapping a neatly
trimmed ham, shoulder, or bacon side months after the meat
is cured. By doing a neat job of trimming all of the small
extra pieces can be used to greater advantage for sausage,
head cheese, scrapple, etc. than if they were left on the
larger cuts where they would dry up in the cure and be of
Meat should not be cut up and put in cure until it is
thoroughly chilled. Bone souring is often the result of
meat being improperly chilled or from the application of
salt on warm meat. It is often believed that meat should be
trimmed and salted as soon as butchering is completed or it
will not take the salt properly. Nothing could be further
from the facts than this, because actual harm instead of
good can easily be done by salting warm meat.
When salt is applied on warm meat it helps hold the animal
heat in and this heat, along with moisture, gases, and a
little blood that is usually in the joints, makes an ideal
combination to start bone taint which in a short time may
cause souring and spoilage. Meat spoilage can result from a
number of causes. If the hogs arc hot and excited when
butchered, the meat will be in a feverish condition, making
it much easier for souring to start before the meat can
take the cure. If a good bleed is not obtained, the excess
blood around the joints can easily cause souring to begin.
If a good chill is not obtained, the natural bacteria in
the meat multiples faster than the cure can take hold. If
salt is applied on warm meat. this can cause souring to
start by helping hold the animal heat in the meat instead
of allowing it to escape.
Start cutting up the carcass at the shoulder (figure 1), sawing
through the third and fourth ribs at right angles to the
back (figure 2). Each side has 14 ribs.
Complete the cut with the knife and turn the shoulder over
and cut off the jowl (figure 3) at a point where the backbone ends,
which is in line with the wrinkle of the neck.
Trim some of the cheek meat from the jowl and flatten it
out with the broad side of a cleaver or hatchet and square
it up by trimming with a knife (figure 4). The trimmed jowl is known
as a “bacon square” and can be cured and used the same as
bacon, or used for seasoning with boiled foods.
Remove the neck bone from the shoulder, leaving very little
meat on the bone. Trim up the shoulder and cut off the
shank (figure 5). This is the “long cut” method of trimming and will
give you the maximum of cured meat from the shoulder. Shank
is sawed off above knee joint (figures 6 & 7).
Long Cut Shoulder Ready for Curing
Where smaller cured cuts are desired, the shoulder can be
divided between the smallest part of the blade bone,
producing a picnic shoulder and butt (figure 8). The picnic shoulder
will cure out quicker than the long cut method and makes a
convenient, handy size shoulder for small families. When
the shoulder is separated into picnic and butt the clear
plate, which is the covering of fat on the top of the
shoulder butt, is trimmed off. This fat may be cured for
seasoning or used for lard. The lean portion is known as
the “Boston” butt and can be cured or used for sausage.
When neatly trimmed up the picnic shoulder has the
appearance of a small ham.
To take off the ham, saw on a line at right angles to the
hind shank and at a point about three finger widths in
font of the aitch bone (figure 10). Finish the cut with the knife and
start shaping the ham by curving the cut on the belly side (figure 11).
To remove the tail bone slip the knife under the tail bone
and continue the cut along the bone, keeping the knife as
flat as possible (figure 9).
If the hams were faced when the carcass was hung up to
chill, each ham will now require comparatively little
trimming. When the tail bone is removed, the hams should be
smoothed up and all loose pieces of meat trimmed off and
put in sausage (figure 12). If these corners and loose pieces are left
on the hams, they will dry up in the cure, having little
food value, and the hams will be less attractive. Hams that
are neatly trimmed cure better and are easier to wrap.
If hams are exceptionally fat, and if too much fat is
objectionable, the hams can be skinned. This is done by
leaving a collar of skin around one-third of the ham at the
shank end (figure 13). The balance of the fat is trimmed off leaving
about 1/4 inch of fat over the lean (figure 14). Skinned hams do not
keep as well as hams that are not skinned and for that
reason skinning is not recommended as a general practice.
After hams are trimmed, saw off the shanks just below the
button of the hock (figure 15).
To separate the loin from from the belly the ribs are sawed
across at their greatest curvature (figure 16). This is about 1/3 the
distance from the top of the backbone to the bottom part of
the belly edge. Make this cut so as to include the
tenderloin with the loin (figure 17). After the ribs are sawed through,
finish the cut with the knife completely separating the
belly side from the loin. Lay the belly on the table shin
side up and smooth out the wrinkles as well as possible
with the palm of the hand. A few sharp blows from the broad
side of a cleaver or hatchet will help loosen the spare
ribs from the belly (figure 18).
Now turn the belly skin side down and trim out the ribs (figure 19).
Start this cut by loosening the neck bone at the top of the
ribs and keep the knife as flat as possible to avoid
gouging the bacon. pull the ribs upward as the cut is made
and trim as close to the ribs as you can. The cartilaginous
ends or “buttons” of the lower ribs are left on the bacon.
Square up the bacon by trimming the lower edge first to a
straight line (figure 20). All of the “seeds,” the mammary glands along
the lower edge, should be trimmed out of choice bacon. Next
trim the top on a line parallel to the lower edge until a
good streak of lean appears and then square both ends
enough to reach an attractive lean streak (figure 21). Frequently there
is an uneven space at the front end of the bacon, which is
known as the bacon brisket. This may be cured or used for
sausage or lard.
Trimming Tenderloin from the Loin
The tenderloin is the small lean muscle which lies
underneath the backbone in the rear of the loin. It is one
of the most popular of all pork cuts to be used
It is generally prepared by cutting across into pieces
about 1-1/2″ thick and Frenching (figure 22). This is done by placing
the pieces of tenderloin on end on a strip of parchment or
waxed paper and folding the paper over the top of the meat.
The meat is then struck a sharp blow with the flat side of
a cleaver, flattening it out (figure 23). The paper keeps the meat from
sticking to the table or the cleaver. These delightful
morsels cannot be equalled for tenderness by any rather
Removing Back Fat
After taking out the tenderloin, remove fat back from the
loin by placing the loin skin side down; set the knife
about one fourth inch under the lean or muscle meat, and
make a full length cut (figure 24). Reverse the loin and make the same
cut from the other side. This separates the fat back from
the loin. The fat lack may be used for lard or may be cured
out and used for seasoning when cooking. The remaining fat
on the loin should be smoothed up to where it is not over
one fourth inch in thickness (figure 25). The loin is one of the
choicest cuts of the carcass and you will note it is made
possible by center splitting down the middle of the
backbone instead of cutting along each side of the
backbone. One of the most practical ways to use the loin is
to cure it as Canadian style bacon or grind it rip for
After trimming the loin, cut up the other one hall of the
carcass starting with the shoulder and finishing with the
It pays to do a neat job of cutting and trimming. You will
get a uniform cure and your meat will have a better flavor
and a more appetizing appearance.
For Quality Meat remember these important points:
1. Select thrifty hogs of medium weight, 8 to 10 months
2. Keep hogs in a small pen 24 hours before
butchering–give them plenty of fresh water, but no
3, Sticking is the best method of killing–it is the
most practical and most humane.
4. Get a thorough bleed–cleanliness in dressing and a
quick, efficient chill.
5. Do a neat job of cutting up the carcass and trimming the
pieces. Do not over-cure or under-cure the meat. Curing
directions on following pages.
Toproduce the highest quality cured meat it
is important that every step– the selection of the
live animal, the butchering and the curing be handled with
the utmost care and attention.
Introduction to Meat Curing
The purpose in curing meat is to convert live hogs or
other meat animals that are thrifty and in good condition
into high quality cured meat products to keep for future
The following points are of real importance in
turning out high quality cured meat:
1. Be sure that the hogs or other meat animals are quiet
and in proper condition when butchered or otherwise the
meat may be feverish before it is ever put in cure.
2. Handle the job of butchering, bleeding, and cleaning
efficiently and promptly because the natural bacterial
action that causes decomposition and spoilage sets in
immediately after the animal is killed.
3. See that the meat is chilled as quickly and as
thoroughly as possible. Thorough chilling of meat arrests
the natural bacterial action and holds it in check until
the curing ingredients have a chance to offset further
4. Do a good job of trimming and curing, and test the meat
while it is in cure. Use high quality curing ingredients
that are especially prepared for the purpose.
5. In general, all meat should be cured at
temperatures between 38 and 44 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower
temperatures slow the curing process, while higher
temperatures can cause spoiling.
Only Two Curing Methods:
There are only two major methods of curing meat; the Dry
Cure and the Brine or Sweet Pickle Cure.
The Dry Cure is the method most generally used, especially
for the heavier cuts such as hams, shoulders, and bacon.
The Sweet Pickle Cure is more generally used for the
smaller pieces. Either the Dry or Sweet Pickle Cure is
good. The method used is a matter of personal preference.
Morton Sugar Cure and Morton Tender-Quick may be used for
Salt Alone Cannot Produce the Highest Quality Meat
The highest quality meat cannot be turned out when
salt alone is used, because salt alone hardens the muscle
fibres and tends to make the meat oversalty and dry.
To produce quality cured meat other ingredients must be
blended with the salt in the correct proportions, and when
this is done the cure is then termed the “Dry Sugar Cure”
if used in dry form, or the “Sweet Pickle Cure” when used
in the brine form.
Morton Sugar Cure contains salt, sugar, saltpetre, black
and red pepper. a combination of spices. It is available in
two forms: without smoke and with natural hickory smoke
flavor. This makes it a complete sugar-curing salt, and a
complete product of this kind produces the highest quality
Carefully Blended Ingredients for Quality and Safety
Salt is the basic curing ingredient for meat, but to
produce product it is necessary to blend the other
ingredients with the salt. The sugar tends to retard the
hardening action of the salt and gives a more pleasing,
milder flavor to the meat. The peppers and spices give a
delicious balance to the flavor and improve the keeping
qualities after the cure is completed. The saltpetre
strikes in ahead of the salt and helps bring out and retain
the rich, cherry red color so desirable in cured meats. The
natural hickory smoke flavor imparts the flavoring
properties of wood smoke to the meat while it is curing.
This method of curing and flavoring at the same time saves
extra work–does the job safer and adds new delicious
flavor to the meat.
Morton’s perfectly blended Sugar Cure makes the practical
cure for applying on the outside of the meat. In addition
to applying Sugar Cure on the outside of the meat a better
and more uniform job of curing can be done if the meat is
pumped along the bone and at the joints when it is put in
cure. Morton Tender-Quick is the ideal product to use for
making the pumping pickle.
Tender-Quick is a special cure perfected for the purpose of
pumping along the bone area in hams and shoulders, for
pumping extra large bacon, and for making into a pickle for
curing the smaller pieces.
Tender-Quick consists of the highest grade meat salt and a
combination of super-quality curing ingredients so
accurately proportioned and so perfectly blended that it
produces a fast cure, improves flavor, makes meat more
tender, and prevents over-saltiness.
A Quicker Cure
The natural bacteria that are always present in the blood
and tissues of live hogs begin to multiply as soon as the
hog is butchered.
It is important to get a good bleed and a good chill as
soon as possible after the hogs are butchered to help hold
this natural bacterial action in check until the curing
ingredients have had time to penetrate into the fibres of
the meat and set up curing action. A good job of chilling
arrests the bacterial action long enough to give the salt
and curing ingredients an opportunity to strike in and
start the cure. In large pieces of meat, such as hams and
shoulders, the bone joints are always the danger spots
because bacterial action develops fastest around the bone
area. If the meat is not properly bled the many small
tendons, ligaments and tiny muscles form a convenient place
for the collection of blood. If the meat is not properly
chilled out, gases and interior animal heat will be
retained. When the cure is appled on the outside of the
meat, it must work entirely through the thick meaty
portions of the hams and shoulders and into the bone area
before the natural bacterial action can be arrested around
the hones and joints, and it is in this area that the
natural bacteria multiply the fastest and can most quickly
cause bone taint.
That is why the easiest, quickest, and safest way
to cure hams and shoulders is to pump a pickle made with
Tender-Quick along the bone area and apply Sugar Cure in
the regular way to cure from the outside toward the
Morton’s “Combination” Cure
Using Morton Sugar Cure and Tender-Quick in this manner is
termed the “Combination” cure. TenderQuick cures from the
inside bone area outward and Sugar Cure strikes in from the
Tender-Quick makes a perfect pumping pickle. The only
practical way to apply the TenderQuick pickle along the
bones and at the joints is to dissolve TenderQuick in
water, making a pickle which can be drawn up into a Morton
Meat Pump and then injected into the meat along the bone.
The water used for making the pickle should be boiled first
and allowed to cool.
The Tender-Quick pickle, when pumped into the meat, starts
curing around the bone area immediately. It does not make
the meat over-salty, and helps eliminate bone taint.
As soon as the Tender-Quick pickle has been pumped along
the bones, Sugar Cure can be applied on the. outside of the
meat in the regular manner. By using this combination cure
the cure starts both inside and outside at the same time.
The hams and shoulders will be delicately pink, delicious
in flavor, and perfectly and uniformly cured throughout,
The bone area will be just as well cured as the balance of
the ham and there will be no over or under-cured spots.
It’s the cure itself that makes fine hams and bacon.
Morton Sugar Cure and Tender Quick contain everything
necessary for perfect curing everything necessary for
The purpose of pumping meat is to get the curing
ingredients distributed throughoutthe interior of
the meat in order that curing can begin or, the inside and
cure outward same time that curing begins the outside and
Cure meat from the inside out at the same time, it is
curing; from the outside in. You will get a quicker, more
uniform and milder cure with no, over-cured or under-cured
spots–no bone taint. Every bit of the meat will be
thoroughly cured, mild and delicious in flavor.
Pumping meat is one of the best safeguards against bone
taint and bone souring, and especially if the meat were
insufficiently chilled or frozen before being put in cure.
Pumping meal insures a more uniform cure. It is advisable
to pump hams and shoulders next to the bone, as well as
large bacon. Pieces such as tongues, dried beef, corned
beef, Canadian style bacon etc. can all be improved in
mildness and uniformity of cure when pumped.
Start Curing at the Bone
It require much longer for the curing salt to penetrate
into hams and shoulders and set up enough curing action
around the bone if the salt is applied only on the outside
of the meat. The bone area is the danger zone when curing
meat and if the meat around the bones, which is made up of
small ligaments, muscles, and connecting tissue, is not
thoroughly cured. The whole ham or shoulder is inferior in
quality and flavor.
Tender-Quick contains salt and a combination of quality
curing ingredients that make it especially suitable for
pumping meat. When mixed with water, Tender-Quick goes into
solution easily, and, when pumped into the meat, penetrates
quickly and uniformly into the meat tissues surrounding the
After the meat has been chilled and cut up, lightly rub
the pieces with Morton Sugar Cure and place skin side down
on a tilted table to drain for some 6 to 12 hours. Use
about1lb. for each 100 lbs.of
meat. Thislight application of the sugar-curing
Salt will draw the first flush of blood and water from the
After the meat is drained, make a Tender-Quick pumping
pickle for pumping the large pieces.
To make the pickle, use water that has previously been
boiled and cooled, and mix TenderQuick with the water,
stirring until it dissolves.
For curing meat that is to be kept for varying lengths of
time the following ratio of water and Tender-Quick should
2 lbs. of Tender-Quick to 3 quarts of water for meat that
is to be carried over the summer or for meat that is to be
kept 8 months to a year before being used.
2 lbs. of Tender-Quick per gallon of water for meat that is
to be kept for only 3 to 6 months.
The amount of Tender-Quick pumping pickle to use is 1 to 1
1/2 oz. of pickle per pound of meat. For ready reference
the following shows the amounts of Tender-Quick for making
a full strength pumping pickle which is to be used fear
curing meat that is kept 8 to 12 months:
2 lbs. of Tender-Quick to 3 quarts of water will make 96
oz. of pumping pickle.
4 lbs. of Tender-Quick to 1 1/2 gallons of water will make
192 oz. of pumping pickle.
8 lbs. of Tender-Quick to 3 gallons of water will make 384
oz. of pumping pickle.
The Morton meat pump holds 4 oz. of pickle. The needle of
the pump is hollow and has a number of holes in it.
Submerge the entire needle of the pump in the pickle and
pull up on the handle to draw the pump full of pickle. When
first drawing up the pickle before starting to pump meat,
work the handle back and forth a few times to get the
barrel full of pickle without air pockets. For the most
sanitary job the pump needle should be dipped in boiling
water before it is used. and while pumping meat do not
touch the needle with the hands or lay it down. When the
pump is not in use, let it stand needle end down in the jar
or crock that contains the pickle.
Draw the pump full of pickle and insert the pump needle its
full length into the meat and push with a slow even
pressure on the pump handle to inject the pickle. As the
pickle is forced into the meat around the bone, gradually
draw the pump toward you in order to distribute the pickle
as evenly as possible along the bone.
Pumping meat is simple and anyone can do a good job. The
aim is to get the pickle distributed as uniformly as
possible along the bone area. Each pumpful of pickle is
called a stroke, and after the stroke is completed and the
needle withdrawn there will be a tendency for a small
amount of the pickle to run out of the meat. Pinch the
needle hole together with the thumb and fore finger for a
few seconds after the needle is withdrawn.
While the pickle is being injected, the meat around the
needle bulges a little, which is all right, but always use
a slow even stroke when injecting the pickle.
For hams and shoulders that weigh 10 to 15 lbs. use 3 to 4
pumpfuls of pickle, which will be 12 to 16 oz. For hams and
shoulders that weigh 15 to 25 lbs. Use 5 to 6 pumpfuls,
which would be 20 to 24 oz. Always have the meat pump full
of pickle to prevent air pockets.
The X-ray diagrams (figure 26) of a ham and shoulder show the bone
structure and the lines show how and where the needle of
the meat pump should be inserted for making the five
different pumping strokes for large hams and shoulders. For
small hams or shoulders eliminates strokes Nos. 4 and 5.
For pumping bacon insert the needle in the fat part of the
heavy bacon (figure 27) and pump about 1 to 1 1/2 oz. of pickle per
pound of meat. The needle can be inserted around the edges
and at the ends to distribute the pickle uniformly.
Applying the Sugar-Cure
After the pieces have been pumped, apply Morton Sugar Cure,
using 5 to 6 lbs. for each 100 lbs. of meat. The first step
is to work the Cure around the bones (figure 28), especially well at
the hock and knee joints, working in as much Cure as the
skin covering will hold and push it well down. Then rub the
Cure in well all over the meat, using a slow kneading
motion (figure 29). Apply the Sugar Cure on both flesh and skin sides.
After the Cure has been rubbed over all of the pieces, pack
the meat in a convenient place for curing (figure 30).
Meat can be packed in a box or barrel or on a table. Before
the pack is started, sprinkle a little Cure over the bottom
of the box and over the pieces as they are packed. The
heaviest pieces should be at the bottom and the lighter
ones on top. Do not pack the meat over three feet deep.
Keep the curing box clear of the ground; bore a few holes
in the bottom to let the bloody water drain out.
In mild weather cover the box with a cloth to prevent flies
from getting at the meat. In very cold weather the meat
should be covered to keep it from freezing. Meat that is
allowed to freeze, either before or after it is put in
cure, will never make as nice a finished product as if it
had not been frozen. When meat freezes. the moisture in the
small cells and fibres expands and bursts the meat tissues,
which lowers the quality of the finished product. If your
meat does freeze, remember that while it is frozen it will
not take the Cure, therefore, no curing action can take
place so long as the meat remains frozen. The action
virtually stops when the inside temperature of the meat
gets below 34°. The ideal meat curing temperature is
between 38° and 40° and the nearer this temperature
the meat can be kept while it is in cure, the nicer the
finished product will be. If, due to unusual circumstances
meat freezes while it is being chilled, it should be thawed
out to about 38° and put in cure. Meat that was frozen
when chilling, or frozen while in the cure should be given
extra care and attention, and should be used up as soon as
practicable after coming from the cure.
Second Application of Sugar-Cure
After the meat has been in the pack four or five days,
break the pack and give a second application of Sugar Cure,
using about 2 or 3 lbs per 100 lbs. of meat. Then repack
the meat in a different position.
If a real mild cure is desired, do not give the second
application to bacon or small pieces. Also the meat is to
be used shortly after it comes the cure, the total amount
of Sugar Cure used per 100 lbs. of meat can be reduced in
proportion. Where meat is to be kept from one curing season
to the next, it is necessary to give it a heavier
cure–for to 6 lbs. of Sugar Cure per 100 lbs. of meat
is enough for a mild cure–8 to 9 lbs. for a full
For hams and shoulders to have the best flavor they should
season out after the cure for some 30 to 60 days before
being used, and even longer is preferable. Bacon should
season out 10 to 15 days before being used.
The amount of Cure to use for 100 lbs. of meat will vary
with different sections of the country and with individual
preferences. It does not take as much salt to cure meat in
high; dry altitude as it does in more humid sections. These
points must be adjusted, depending on individual
preferences, climatic conditions and length of time meat is
to be kept.
Fresh meat is a perishable product and to turn live hogs
into quality hams and bacon calls for proper care and
attention in doing all parts of the job. There are a number
of factors that enter into butchering and curing that have
a definite part in turning out quality meat. It is very
important not to get the hogs excited or overheated when
butchering, If a thorough bleed and a good chill are not
obtained, souring can easily start before the meat is put
in cure. Regardless of the kind of curing salt used, it is
necessary to do a good job of butchering, bleeding. and
Overhauling the Meat
While the meat is in cure. the pack should be broken and
the meat overhauled once for smaller pieces and twice for
heavier ones. These overhauling periods should be some
seven to ten days apart and the Cure should be rubbed on
any bare spots.
Length of Time in Cure
Meat should remain in cure about 2 days per pound for hams
and shoulders and about 1 1/2 days per pound for smaller
pieces. For example, a 10 lb. ham should cure 20 days; a 20
lb. ham 40 days; a 10 lb. side of bacon 15 days. Different
size pieces should cure in proportion to their weight.
Weather conditions help control the length of time meat
should cure for best results. It requires longer for meat
to take the Cure in real cold weather than in milder
weather. Much home cured meat has become over-salty by
being left in the cure entirely too long. On the other
hand, meat that is taken out of the cure too soon when the
weather remains cold may be only partially cured, because
meat will not take the Cure when the temperature of the
meat goes much below 34°.
Wash Meat When Taken From Cure
After meat wines from cure, wash it in luke warm water. Let
smaller pieces soak 30 to 40 minutes and larger ones about
an hour. Use a stiff bristle brush to scrub off collected
grease and salt. Then hang the meat and let it drain until
dry. Do not wrap meat until it is thoroughly dry. In damp
weather it is advisable to hang the meat in a warm room or
build a small fire to get it dry. This will help prevent
mold after the meat is wrapped.
Wrapping and Sacking Meat
If meat is left exposed to the air, slow oxidation of the
fat takes place which causes rancidness, a darkened color,
and strong flavor. Proper wrapping prevents most of this
trouble and is also one of the best methods of keeping out
skippers and other insects. Place a piece of muslin or
cheesecloth (cornmeal or flour sacks) on the table and wrap
each piece separately. Then wrap in layers of heavy paper
and place in strong paper bags. Tie bag tops so insects
cannot enter, and hang away. When hung, the pieces should
be separated enough not to touch and should be away from
walls to keep insects, mice, or rats from reaching the
meat. Meat should be hung in a dark, cool, well-ventilated
Sweet Pickle Cure
After pumping, rub with Sugar Cure, using about 3 lbs. of
salt per 100 Ibs. of meat, and pack the meat skin side down
in a well scalded crock or barrel, placing the larger
pieces on the bottom and the smaller ones on top. The top
layer of meat should be placed skin side up. After the meat
is placed in the barrel, mix a curing brine, using 7 Ibs.
of Sugar Cure with each 5 gallons of water, stirring it
well until the salt is dissolved. The water should have
previously been boiled and allowed to cool. Pour this
curing brine over the meat until the pack begins to shift
or float. This shifting permits the brine to come in
contact with all parts of the meat. Place a clean stone or
other weight on top of the meat and pour in enough
additional curing brine to fully cover the meat. The weight
should be heavy enough to hold the meat below the brine.
After the meat has been in the sweet pickle brine about 5
days, remove the meat and brine and repack each piece of
meat in a different position, again weighting it down, and
pour the brine back over it. Overhaul in this manner every
ten days during the balance of the curing period
Bacon should cure about 2 days per pound and hams and
shoulders about 3 days per pound. For example, a 10 lb.
side of bacon should cure 20 days and a 15 lb. ham 45 days.
The ideal curing temperature for the sweet pickle cure is
38° and both the meat and pickle should be at this
temperature when put in cure and this temperature held
If the weather turns mild, watch the brine closely and if
it becomes ropy the meat should be taken out and washed and
the brine boiled and skimmed, or new brine made if the
pickle gets exceptionally ropy.
If a new brine is made. it should not be as strong as the
original brine, but its strength should be in proportion to
the length of time the meat has been in cure. For example,
if the meat has been in cure about one-half the proper
length of time, only enough salt should be used to make the
new brine about one-half strength.
When the curing time is completed, take out the meat, wash
each piece, and let it dry thoroughly and wrap. See
directions for washing, drying, and wrapping.
Why Meat Should be Overhauled
It is important to overhaul by shifting the position of the
pieces of meat and getting the curing pickle remixed while
the meat is curing.
There are always spots where the meat is in very close
contact and the pickle cannot penetrate between the pieces
as readily as it should. By overhauling and changing the
position of these pieces the pickle is allowed to come in
uniform contact with all the parts of the meat.
When the position of the pieces is changed during
overhauling, the pickle should be stirred up or poured out
of the container and poured back. When pickle is left
standing undisturbed, it becomes uneven, which causes the
density of the curing ingredients in ratio to the water to
be much heavier in one place than another. Removing the
meat and pouring out the pickle, then repacking the pieces
in a different position and pouring the pickle back over
them thoroughly remixes the pickle so that cell parts have
the same density. This allows the pickle to come in uniform
contact with any spots of the meat that may have been
pressed too lightly together.
The water used for making the curing pickle should be
perfectly pure. Bacteria and inorganic life, often present
in water, do no harm when the water is used for general
purposes, but they are harmful when the water is used for
curing meat. In order to be sure that the water is pure, it
is always advisable to boil the water and let it cool
before using it to make a curing pickle.