Old 06-15-2008, 12:52 PM
CajunKnight's Avatar
Join Date: May 2008
Location: South Louisiana
Posts: 263
Default Re: Do you make your own Prosciutto?

I remember growing up and everybody had a smokehouse in the back yard during winter months. It seems now that we dont have the same duration of cold days as we used to have. Therefor I have an old reach threw freezer that is about 12' long 3 feet deep and 6' high. I plan to modify the thermosta to make it a refrigerator instead and installing an exterior smoke box. I love the taste of cold smoked / cured meats. I don't remember all of the ins and outs off the top of my head but can find them easily enough.

Salt and sugar are used to cure the meat and smoke keeps the flies away. The smoke also adds a great deal of flavor. If you dont use real smoke then be very carefull with liquid because it can over power quickly. I also make my own sausage and smoke it in bbq pit or large cardboard box or old refrigerator (no electric hooked up). Usually 12 hours of about 215 degree heat and smoke will give great results. Still not as good as old fashioned ways though.
Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste
like chicken...

My 44" oven in progress...

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Old 06-15-2008, 08:35 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Mays Landing, NJ USA
Posts: 4
Default Re: Do you make your own Prosciutto?

That is tremendous that you have that resource. I would love to have some curing space, but do not have it and do not have a basement either. I will work something out though, because this curing thing is fun. Also, everything I have done so far has been cheaper and better than store bought.

The biggest problem I see with refrigerators is that the air is very dry in them. It is probably best to combine one with a humidifier. Then, we also need a 65 degree space with 70% humidity for long curing! Heck, if the resulting products were not delicious, it wouldn't be worthwhile, would it?

The author and curing expert that I referred to, Rytek Kurtas, said over and over in his book: "If you can't cure it, don't smoke it." And he stressed that ascorbic acid and even plain salt was not adequate. Plus, the nitrites in Insta-Cure, or something like, almost disappear as the curing proceeds. From what I can see, the scarey hype about cures being dangerous is not supported, provided the quantity is right.

I know that old Europeans might have only used sugar and salt, but they had hundreds of years of experience on us AND I bet they still lost more meat than we would if they did not use chemical cures.

By the way...on the pork loins I have curing, I just painted the outside of them, for the second cure, with the liquid smoke and used that moisture to help adhere the dry cure and spice mixture...looks great so far!

Anyway...good luck with you curing room project! I am jealous!

Mays Landing, NJ
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Old 02-09-2009, 11:44 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Mays Landing, NJ USA
Posts: 4
Default Re: Do you make your own Prosciutto?

In reply to Fullback...

Look for the book by Rytek Kutas. Best book on sausage-making, etc..."Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing...without being outrageously expensive.

Lots of great recipes and techniques is this book. So far, I have made corned beef, pepperoni, chinese sausage and fresh sausage and each one was the best I've ever had! Not bad for a "newbie".

"Prosciutto" is made from hams, usually (if Italian) with the bone removed. If made with a pork loin, it is called "Lonza". And, at $25 a pound, or more, it is worth trying to make! The main flavoring in these meats, by the way, comes from Allspice, pepper and nutmeg, plus the salt and smoking.

This type of (dry) curing is not all as easy as sausage making. It's hard to smoke/dry the meat in a conventional oven, for example, without cooking it and proscuitto/lonza is smoked/dried but not actually cooked.

Don't get cocky and try to make this kind of cold cut without using curing salt and don't try to guess at how much salt to use. Get some real recipes. Otherwise, you will either poison yourself with too much cure; rot the meat; or kill yourself with food poisoning.

I made a lonza once before and, though I was careful with the temperature, the meat was cooked in the oven. Not the product I was expecting. On the other hand, though the texture was different than I wanted (more like capicola), the taste was delicious.

I have one curing in the refrigerator right now. To avoid having to smoke it in the oven again, I bought a cheap marinade injector at the food market (like a syringe) and injected it with liquid smoke every couple of inches. I'm sure it will work just fine. Most home smokers, by the way, use "hot smoke" and will also cook the meat as it smokes...not what you want in this case.

A good place for spices, cures, casings, etc, is Butcher and Packer. Look for them on the Internet.

The nice thing about a Lonza, vs prosciutto, is that the whole process takes about 90 days...a good prosciutto is cured for 2 1/2 years, and even a cheap brand is still cured for a year or more! I know darned well that I couldn't do that: I would have nibbled it away to nothing, by taking little tastes, long before that!

By the way: While refrigerators are low humidity and dry things out pretty quickly, you can only rush this process by so much. Trying to dry it too quickly causes a layer to form in the meat that blocks further passage of water vapor from escaping the meat, and the inside will not dry properly. That's why the meat is wrapped in butcher paper while drying. Its not airtight wrapping, but it does control the drying rate.

Two more things: If you are going to smoke meats with cold smoke (fairly low temperature) it must be cured. The temperature of cold smoke is perfect for producing a completely poisonous (botulism) product. The saying is, "If you can't cure it, don't smoke it."

Finally, remember that there are two basic cures: #1 with sodium nitrite only, and #2 with nitrite and nitrate. #2 is a more or less "time release" cure for things like prosciutto which cure for a long time. #1 would be used for something like homemade bacon. If the right cure is used for the desired product, in the right proportion, etc, very little cure is left in the finished product by the time it is ready to consume.

Best of luck!

Mays Landing, NJ
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Old 02-09-2009, 11:48 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Mays Landing, NJ USA
Posts: 4
Default Re: Do you make your own Prosciutto?

By the way...I know the Lonza I am making right now is going to be very smokey, but that's what I want. I recently bought smoked prosciutto and it was wonderful. Of course, all prosciutto is smoked, but this was especially smokey in taste and was quite amazing.

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