Salumi charcuterie cured meat

How to Cure Meat in a Normal Fridge (Guide & Pictures)

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Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.

I’ve been curing meat at home for decades; here is a detailed method I have used extensively if you don’t have a dedicated drying fridge.

This is an excellent way to learn how to deal with small cured meat projects before proceeding to whole-muscle meat curing, which I teach in my course.

Key Points:

  • This can be done in your regular kitchen fridge
  • Salt and Red Meat or Pork are the two main ingredients you will need
  • The project can be done in less than one month

A quick summary of the steps: I will get into all the aspects to get you started on this delicious project!

How to Cure Meat in a Regular Fridge

  1. Select or cut the appropriate size and weight of meat
  2. Create the salt cure using the equilibrium method
  3. Weigh meat & record starting weight
  4. Hang the meat in the fridge, record the date & weight
  5. Remove once the meat has reached 65% of the starting weight

If you love dry-cured meat like prosciutto, pancetta, braesola, lonzo or coppa. This is a great starting point; those classics take months (apart from pancetta, maybe), so this is a simpler method people can do at home to intensify the flavor and preserve meat for a month or two.

This guide will give you the details about how to make something you can put on your charcuterie platter.

Through some trial and error, I came up with a way. I sometimes use the kitchen fridge because, for many cured meats, it’s easier than my curing chamber.

Dry cured meat in a fridge
Dry Cured Meat X3 Flavors From My Unmodified Kitchen Fridge

It’s just simple & more convenient.

I have found that the key is to get the right size and weight. Because the drying happens quickly, the whole process can be done in 2 weeks. The key is drying out the meat enough to hit the target weight (35% weight loss).

I will go through the method I use and follow with some easy recipes below, but first, here is the summarized process.

When I use this technique for short-term curing, it isn’t fermenting; it’s preserving with just enough salt so that it can be dried to about 65% of its original weight—that’s the key. Folks seem to get fermentation and preserving mixed up, so I just wanted to clarify.

Once it has reached this target weight, you have your own homemade cured salumi! Worth the little effort!

 Curing Meat the slowest food, you get the ultimate depth and intense flavors

Quote from me

I will show you the steps, then the main factors and Tips.

Process to Dry Cure in a Regular Fridge

  1. Cure the Meat
  2. Rinsing
  3. Starting weight/hanging and drying
  4. Check for hitting the target weight
  5. Slice finely

1. Curing the Meat – Dry Curing

It always starts by using the right amount of equilibrium salt cure for each project. This means you can ‘choose’ the salt taste you want to achieve.

2% – 3.5% of the total meat weight is the consensus for fully curing and getting your salt taste preference.

Saturation Method

Ham goes about 3-4 days per 1 pound / 500g. But since you have such a small piece of meat 12 to 24 hours this also depends on the meat and density of it. I would go longer but, of course, you will probably get a very salty outcome.

Ok, the rest of this rundown will be based on my preferred Eq Curing Method.

Cut the chunks of meat up to be less than 1 inch thick or under 7oz / 200 grams.

Img 0727
Beef & Pork – getting the right ‘size’ for regular fridge meat curing -under 200 grams

Equilibrium Curing Method

Here is the cure mix for a Hungarian salami-style cured pork loin (experimenting with flavor, using Hungarian paprika from Hungary of course; I will be back there soon to get some more)

Salt 2.00%
Sugar 1.00%
Cure 0.25%
Pepper 1.50%
Paprika Sweet 2.50%
Hot paprika 1.00%
Chilli 0.20%
Garlic 0.60%

Place in a ziplock bag, and squeeze as much air as possible.

Ziploc bagged cured meat ready for curing in my kitchen fridge
Ziploc bagged 5 Cured Meats Ready for Curing in my Kitchen Fridge

Make sure you get the cure into all the gaps, cover the entire meat, and rub in a bit. Do this in a bowl so that you can really make sure all the cure mix goes into the meat.

Using a bowl and curing meat before hot smoking large

5 days in the fridge, I put some weight on top to force the cure in some more if it’s in a bag (7 or 8 days is fine). Obviously can’t do this if you’re using airtight Tupperware.

Salt curing meat in a fridge large
Sneaky spot under the vegetables in the fridge for 5 days

Some Recipe Ideas to get you thinking!

A lean small bit of steak meat is a great starting point.

  • Pork, Beef, Lamb Loin – types of Coppa-style cured meats
  • Pork Belly – Pancetta style
  • Beef Eye Round – Braesola style / nice and lean
  • Dry Cured Duck Proscuitto – use a farmed fat-quality breast
  • Cured Chunk of Pork Butt

Tips

  • Remember in the fridge, you don’t want to go over about 1-inch thick & 200g to avoid excessive case hardening (tough on the outside)
  • When curing the meat, I like to use a right-sized mixing bowl. This means you can really make sure the salt (and spice) that you have carefully measured out with the equilibrium curing method will be infused.
  • The best is Vacuum Packed, but Ziplock bags are what I use; it’s an easy option (but I kinda prefer containers) -single-use plastic, I feel, is a waste. But works really well (if you can get compostable Ziploc bags, that would work well)
  • Make sure the cure is inside every crevice or of meat
  • Accurate scales of 0.1 decimal place do help a lot with measuring precisely
  • Kosher salt / Trapani sea salt is my go-to salts – there are others and remember salt does vary considerably with weight, so grinding to a fine powder and weighing accurately is the best practice.

2. Rinsing

Water, wine, or beer – take your pick. Just a light rinsing with water, on the odd occasion it might be red wine if you so desire.

I like to wash with tap water generally, then maybe apply a spice bomb coating over the meat. When it’s wet from rinsing, you can load some fine ground spices.

For venison or beef – some juniper berries, toasted pepper & dry rosemary go nicely, only need a few juniper berries they are powerful!

Spice Grind your ‘coating’- then just dust/sprinkle/rub the meat after rinsing so it sticks.

Here is the meat after rinsing,

Img 1108
3 Pork Dry Cured Recipes and 2 Beef styles. After curing, before prepping & hanging in the kitchen fridge

For some bits, I choose to butcher twine tie for shape and squeeze together for shape. Wrapped & tight tying can help the drying and I think prevents case hardening as well. There is a technique for this!

3. Starting Weight / Hanging & Dry

The starting weight is really important. I use a tiny bit of cardboard or stiff paper to record the starting date, starting weight, and target weight.

Img 1113
Ready to be hung. I think the muslin wrap helps stop the meat from over-drying it a normal fridge

Basically, XXX weight X 0.65 = xxx finish weight!

Hanging in a fridge takes a little bit of creativity. But once you have a rod across the back of the fridge or another hook method. You create a loop at the top and hang that meat! Using string tied across the back could work, too (you’ll figure it out as long as it’s hanging and not touching things).

5 cured meats with twine loops haning on a stick at the back of a regular kitchen fridge.
Here are the 5 cured meats hanging in my regular kitchen fridge

Paperclips or little S hooks can make sure it’s easier to take the meat off and check the weight down the track.

If the climate suits and it’s under 60°F/18°C, you can hang it in an outdoor place with some airflow.

Muslin-wrapped around the meat is advisable so no bugs can get to it. Of course, you don’t have these issues in the fridge with quick drying.

Tip – Make sure meat isn’t touching anything whilst it is hanging

4. Check for Target Weight – End Weight Reached

Take the meat out and check if it has reached 65% of the starting weight (it lost 35% of weight). If it has, congratulations—you just made dry-cured meat!

Meat23 2 of 2
The final weight was reached for these 3 at the same time.

Once it has hit 65% of the starting weight, you can consume the pleasurable fridge-cured salumi!

It will easily last 1-3 weeks longer after 65%.

It just gets more complicated and drier on the outside.

Suppose you are going camping or on an outdoor adventure. You can take and slice up when you want. In effect, you have preserved and dried the meat enough to prevent spoilage. As long as you keep it in a coolish area, say fridge temperature to about 59/°15°C, it may tolerate higher temps

When I slice it and put it on my charcuterie board for a bunch of people – this is where your own charcuterie can be the highlight!

I like to use my senses, feel, and look at the meat to see how it’s doing.

You might get that white powdery mold on the outside, but it is good natural penicillin. But with this type of short dry curing, probably not.

When you cold smoke meat, it tends not to get much white penicillin also, if you want an overview of the craft cold smoking meat, here is a post I wrote.

TIP Cracked or Powdered pepper also works as an anti-bacterial coating and helps the preservation.

5. Slicing Finely

This is important; it has quite an impact on the flavor and perceived level of saltiness. This is why prosciutto is always super thin sliced from the deli.

When I started curing meat, I did some pretty chunky slicing. There are specific knives that really work well for cutting wafer-thin slices, but it also takes practice, like most things in life.

Tried to break down different ways of getting wafer thin-slicing here if you’re interested.

Slicing 2 of 2
The right tool and the right technique works a treat

Being able to slice wafer-thin and translucent meat finely makes a huge difference.

A sharp knife, a thin blade, either a santoku or a quality chef knife, can work as long as it’s sharp, but it takes practice like anything!

Regular Fridge Meat Curing Guide

All the steps are really important to follow, it’s a craft to cure meat and make it dry-cured, yes there is a recipe. But simple guiding principles also need to be followed for quality outcomes.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment or ask a question.

Here are the main principles, expanded on below.

  1. Quality Meat & Sizefresh or frozen but fresh before being frozen
  2. Equilibrium Curingto get the right amount of salt for curing
  3. Nitratespersonal choice (Under 30 days Pink Curing Salt #1 / Over 30 days Pink Curing Salt #2). Trusted good meat, I don’t bother
  4. Environmenthanging ideally, hygiene basics
  5. Time & Weighingrecorded before/on completion
  6. Molds – powdery white good
  7. Equipment see below the basics
  8. Some Easy Starter Projectssee below

Disclaimer—Common sense and using your eyes, mouth, and nose are really important. If it doesn’t smell or look right, it probably isn’t. Through evolution, we can detect ‘off’ food generally.

With this short-term dry curing, you won’t get the funkiness anyway, though. That happens over months of drying curing meat. The drying will intensify the flavors.

Some starter recipes I like are listed at the bottom:

  • Pancetta (unsmoked or smoked)
  • Braesola style Cured Beef Cut (most red meats farmed or wild work awesome) – spiced with juniper, garlic & oregano (or anything else you conjure up – spice bomb!)
  • Lonza style – Pork Cut – Spanish & Hungarian style

If you have some favorite spices/herbs for meat combinations – this is a great way to play around with your own cured meat or to make a special addition to your charcuterie board.

1. Quality & Size of Meat

Charcuterie norcini traditional cured meat large
Traditional Cured Meat in Umbria, Italy – Norcini old-school dry cure experts

What has worked really well for me is meat not thicker than 1 inch in size, and less than 7 oz or approx. 200 grams.

Meat curing in a fridge
More on this later, but this is my basic setup behind one of the fridge shelves.

TIP – Fat will also dry very slowly and leaner cuts of meat work better.

It goes without saying if you will go to the effort of producing delicious cured meats. You want to make sure the source & traceability of the meat you use is of a decent standard.

If you know the passion is behind the meat you use, you know it’s going to be quality -that’s my philosophy.

I am always looking for passion for all types of food.

2. Equilibrium Curing

Traditionally meat was salt-cured by covering it entirely and waiting a certain amount of time based on weight (known as the ‘saturation method’ or ‘saltbox’ method. This can make it hard to produce a consistent outcome, and nowadays, equilibrium salt curing is a great way to get more consistency and precision.

Now, the one piece of equipment I recommend for equilibrium curing is accurate digital scales to 0.1g accuracy; most people don’t have a kitchen scale that goes down to 0.xx or 0.x (1 or 2 decimal places). You will generally have an accuracy of 0.03 to 0.07 oz or 1 or 2 grams (it’s easier to work out curing in grams).

Because equilibrium curing is about the precise salt to cure and achieve the taste you want the scales make a huge difference in getting it right. Trust me, I have cured meat with friends and tried to use spoons that are volume-based, and it sucks when outcomes aren’t up to scratch.

The reason is that different brands and shapes of salt, for instance, mean that one teaspoon of a certain brand vs. another brand can have different weights but the same volume.

Have you ever wondered why those cups, teaspoons, and tablespoon recipes didn’t come out right? This inaccurate approach still occurs with most food recipes worldwide.

Anyway, more about decent scales are below under Equipment.

Let’s say 2-3% – It means xxx weight of salt per xxx weight of the meat.

Using the metric system makes this simple.

20 grams salt per 1000 grams, or if you prefer

2 grams salt per 35.3 oz 

In all the books and recipes, 2% is about a minimum, then the meat needs to be put in a Ziploc bag, vac pack ( or silicon sous-vide pouch (working on this method).

The meat can absorb the curing mix much more effectively if the bag has no or minimal air. Also, you have more flexibility when leaving it in the fridge days or a week longer while curing.

When I was in Montenegro, trying their famous smoked prosciutto (Njeguški pršut), they love salt-cured meats and have many Balkan variations of dry-cured meats and salamis. 4-6% is not uncommon. But for me, that is maxing it out (they use saturation salt methods generally, too). Most Western folks would find this way too salty (can be offset with fruit or other matches though).

Remembering also that dry-cured meat is often sliced wafer-thin or it really should be, this also varies the ‘perceived’ saltiness and chewiness.

Working on silicon reusable methods (sous vide silicon bags), which are better for the environment than single-use plastic!

The weight of salt varies, so choosing a non-iodized sea salt is the best way to go.

Suggestions: Fine Trapani Sea Salt / Kosher Salt / fine sea salt

Salt curing pork

Spice Grinders are also super useful for getting a fine curing/spice mix, more on that later too.

3. Nitrates  

Do you need them for these short-term fridge projects? About everybody does. For uncooked dry-cured meat, which will be eaten within a month, you would use Curing Salt No. 1. Here is a full write-up on Nitrates – please read it.

It’s a personal choice.

I take an expert exert to explain better:  

Nitrates & Nitrites are naturally occurring chemicals that our bodies rely on. Green vegetables such as spinach and celery are loaded with them. As much as 95% of the nitrates in our bodies come from vegetables……

What’s rarely noted is that is the powerful impact nitrites have on the flavor of meat. They are why makes bacon taste lick bacon, not spareribs, and what makes ham taste like ham not roast pork……

Indeed, as noted in one study, “Since 93% of ingested nitrite comes from normal metabolic sources, if nitrites caused cancers or was a reproductive toxicant, it would imply that humans have a major design flaw.”

Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing by Michael Ruhlman

Preservative sodium nitrates/nitrates are in many foods, but you just don’t know they are in there. They are often on packages, such as E250 or E249.

I often don’t use trusted meat that is fresh and looked after well for whole-muscle meat curing. But for dry-cured salami, definitely. It is because minced meat has more exposure to the environment.

You use a minimal amount, so ordering a little will last a long time generally

Curing Salt #1 – It’s for short-term cured meat projects less than about one month or dry-cured meat that will be cooked.

i.e. this fridge project, bacon or pastrami

Curing Salt #2 – This is for long-term curing with the meat, which you will NOT cook, but it will dry/hang for over 1 month. 

ie. dry-cured meats like lonza, bresaola, pancetta, prosciutto (Italian’s dry minimum of 12 months)

Effect of Nitrates/Nitrites—They have a good effect on flavor (which makes ham and bacon taste as they do) and give the meat a nice hue of red/pink, depending on the red meat, for instance. If you don’t use them, the meat is grey.

It’s cheap also.

So a fundamental dry-cured meat for the fridge example:

  • 1.5- 3.5% Salt (I like the taste of around 2.0%)
  • 0.25% Curing Salt No.1
  • 0 to 1.5% Raw sugar

Quick Summary of Pink Curing Salt – Curing Salt No. 1

Known as:

  1. Pink Salt No. 1
  2. Instacure No. 1
  3. Prague Powder No. 1

Consists of:

  • 6.25% Sodium Nitrite
  • 93.75% Sea Salt / Sodium Chloride

Prague Powder #1 (Pink Curing Salt No.1)

One of the most common curing salts. It is also called Insta Cure #1 or Pink curing salt #1. It contains 6.25% sodium nitrite and 93.75% table salt.[3] It is recommended for meats that require short cures and will be cooked and eaten relatively quickly. Sodium nitrite provides the characteristic flavor and color associated with curing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curing_salt

No. 1 or 2 Curing Salt It is PINK so it is not confused with normal salt. Keep safe and out of reach of all humans & animals.

Himilyan Pink Curing Salt is not the same. It is pink from minerals but doesn’t have the nitrates that pink curing salt has.

For this regular fridge, for example, say, cured pork Lonza

starting weight = 250 grams (easier in grams)

You would use 2% sea salt (fine/powdered) (250 x 2% = 5.0 grams salt for equilibrium curing)

and

0.25% Curing Salt No. 1

250 x 0.25% = 0.625 of a gram! (minimal quantity, should take up a tiny amount of a teaspoon)

On the calculator, it would be 250 X 0.0025 = 0.625 g

So it would be 0.6 g on a kitchen scale to 1 decimal place or 0.63g on a 2 decimal place scale.

80% of your nitrate consumption comes from spinach, radishes, and your saliva! I have read that we produce nitrates in our stomach.

Nitrates are found in small amounts in processed meats, and in much larger amounts in healthy foods like vegetables. They are also found in drinking water and produced by our own bodies.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-nitrates-and-nitrites-harmful#section2https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-nitrates-and-nitrites-harmful#section2

If you haven’t tried making bacon, pink curing no. 1 is also useful in the cupboard.

Here is a list of a few pink-curing salt suppliers I use on Amazon:

4. The Curing Environment

My kitchen fridge is generally around 40-45°F/4-7° C.

The ideal temp is 52°F/11°C

For this short-term curing, since the outside won’t have time to harden, this temp is fine if you go by the weight/size as mentioned.

Any modern fridge has a bit of air circulation, which is also essential for meat curing.

My fridge has a humidity of about 25%; this means small bits of meat and short-term (days/weeks, not months, of meat curing).

Img 4974
I love dry cured meat – longer project 3-4 months – dry cured wild venison

The salt curing (Equilibrium Curing) and the drying can be done in your normal fridge for small bits of meat.

The ideal humidity for longer-term meat curing is 65% to 75%. (For months or years). So, a meat curing chamber, either DIY or purchased, can be used.

This is a whole other area of focus. Once set up, there are many options for curing/drying. If you want to learn a bit more about DIY curing chambers, there is quite a bit on that on this site.

Other environments that can work are under houses or in garages. Many people are also having great success (with a bit of trial and error)!

Remember, thousands of years ago, they definitely couldn’t control the environment and just did the drying near bodies of water, like lakes/rivers near Parma, Italy.

People often write comments about trying to cure whole-muscle meat in tropical areas of the world. Unless you are doing it in a fridge, there is a reason why many cured products did not evolve in hot and overly humid environments.

5. Time & Weighing Before/After

It takes about 1-2 weeks to dry out for my favorite cured meat fridge projects. This is after 4-5 days of curing in a bag beforehand, resting in the fridge.

The most crucial factor for completion is weight loss at the end once cured and uncovered.

After curing and rinsing (more on this below), you have to lose at least 35% of weight to know it has been fully dry-cured—then it’s slicing time!

For Dry Cured Projects

The curing process takes 3-5 days

The drying process takes 3-9 days

It all depends on the weight & fat; once it has lost 35-40% of the moisture, it’s ready for thin slicing and devouring.

Salumi charcuterie cured meat
My Dry cured meat done at home, olive wood board from Italy!

6. Happy Mold (for long-term projects)

Do you know that white stuff sometimes on salami? Well, that’s actually happy, healthy penicillin, protecting and nurturing the meat.

When the meat is ready to be hung or racked – the curing time is weeks, not months, so you probably won’t see any good white powdery molds. But it’s good to introduce the idea.

Dry cured meat penicillin white mold
Happy penicillin mold! (In Curing Chamber), you won’t get this in the normal fridge project detailed below)

When I first saw white salami, I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was some seasoning.

It’s penicillin – the good mold! Also widely used in medicine. But this is naturally occurring!

7. Equipment

When I started, I only had salt, spices, and a fridge. That’s all you need (and accurate scales if you want an equilibrium cure).

Of course, it depends on what you want to make! 

Important Stuff

  • Fridge(or below 50°F/15°C), a cool breezy area can suffice
  • Twine/strong string/butcher twine – for hanging the meat
  • S hooks or some other hanging method ie. wire, clothes pegs, etc..
  • Rod wood/steel the same width as the fridge shelf (see pic, optional) to make a little meat-curing clothesline in your fridge
  • Mixing bowl – to make sure all the cure covers the meat
  • Ziplock bag, Vac Pac (maybe rightsized Tupperware can work sometimes too)
  • Accurate Digital Scales – wrote a page on some decent ones at reasonable prices here (highly recommended)
  • Spice Grinder (also a manual or powdered option I recommend using the same link above) – Mortar & Pestle can also work.
Hanging cured meat in kitchen fridge large
Fancy hanging, I like the string on hooks, easy to take off a weigh

Spice Grinders do a fantastic job of making a powder to rub into all parts of the meat. You end up just getting better outcomes.

If you want to use the ‘saltbox’ traditional/ saturation method, you don’t need accurate scales, but very often, the meat will be over-salted – which hurts when you invest the time to cure your own meat.

8. Simple Dry Curing Recipes

  • Pancetta
  • Duck Prosciutto
  • Pork Lonza / Coppa / Guanciale 
  • Beef Braesola  

Following the above principles, I use the same process/method for all these projects.

Meat 2-3.5% Salt (I use 2.0% but it depends on taste and what your curing!)

Img 1349 2
What to look forward too! Dry Cured meat from my kitchen fridge

Spices Ideas – Optional

Equilibrium Cure percentages to the weight of the meat.

For Duck – citrus flavors like orange work well, 0.2% star anise, 0.1% clove (go easy on the aromatic Asian spices)

For Beef/Venison – I love 0.2% rosemary, 0.1% juniper, 0.2% pepper, 0.2% thyme, 0.2% oregano

For beef Braesola variations – 0.2% cinnamon & 0.2% nutmeg!

Pork – pepper of various kinds – green, red, and black  -then there are all the world’s varieties!

Rabbit/Hare/Goat – yet to be explored in considerable detail – although garlic & rosemary with goat for the classic Italian Violin leg style!

Related Questions

What is the Best Temperature To Cure Meat?

11° Celsius or 52° Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for dry curing meat. Humidity is an important factor for cured meats also. Salumi salt-cured meat can be done in a refrigerated area of 3°- 7° Celsius or 35° -50° Fahrenheit.

How to Use the Salt Box Method for Meat Curing 

You encase the whole meat in salt (and spices if possible) for a set number of days. Once the meat is fully cured, you move on to dry curing or smoking it.

I don’t like this method because it often comes out too salty.

How Long Does Cured Meat Last in the Fridge?

It will last approximately 2 to 5 weeks for fully dry-cured meat such as prosciutto. As the meat dries out due to the low humidity, the outside layer will harden. It is best to consume the meat before this case hardening on the outside occurs.


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Comments

  1. After the meat is cured,can you slice it an vac seal in small packages?

    1. Author

      Hi Rick, yes- that’s something I have done and it can last many months, vac sealed and put in the fridge (or cool wintery place).

  2. “2 grams salt per 1000 grams or if you prefer

    2 grams salt per 35.3 oz ”

    For 2%, that should be 20 grams, not 2 grams.

  3. I have read different recipes online and some say to use pink salt and others (like yours) do not

    Is there any reason why or why not to use it?

    im planning on doing relatively quick curing like Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hey Tim, thanks for visiting.
      I use nitrates in the guided amounts, in this post I do recommend it too.
      Of course, it depends on the recipe. The quality of the meat and knowing it has had a hygienic journey since slaughtering and before slaughtering and nice cool temperature lessens the risk. But why take a risk in the first place?
      For under 30 days for curing and consumption, I use Curing Salt No.1.
      All the best,
      Tom

  4. Hi Tom, thanks — this is very helpful. I’ve done flat pancetta in a mini fridge and it worked great, and I’m now doing guanciale in my general-use fridge in NYC apartment.

    I don’t have enough room to give the guanciale its own shelf in the fridge… Is there a risk to having the hanging guanciale (wrapped in cheesecloth) on the same shelf as, say, a plastic container of blueberries that has holes in it?

    Any tips you have to avoid transfer of odors or prevent cross-contamination between the hanging meat and other foods in the fridge would be appreciated! Although guanciale will be a short-term project, I’d like to be cautious.

    Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hey Jeff, thanks for the comment.
      Can’t give professional advice about risks, but just say what I think & do from experience.
      It’s cured meat, so the salt has taken care of most of the bacteria if done correctly. Which it sounds like your doing.
      Personally, I never had smells, tastes or any issues. I make sure there isn’t any direct contact with the hanging cured meats.
      Wild cold smoked things in the fridge it can definitely create some smell, but dry cured unsmoked – never had issues.

  5. Hi Tom, Thank you for the article – very helpful. Could you please help verify a question I have, it says Pink#1 is for meats being cured for under 30 days and will be cooked after. But the Salami you did (as well as many others i have found online) are just sliced and ate – could you verify this please. Thank you so much

    1. Author

      Hey Chris,
      Traditional salami I make takes 6 weeks to 3 months to cure and dry (this post isn’t about that). This is not salami, this is dry cured whole muscle meat.
      For a short term project under 200 grams I use none or pink curing salt no. 1. Since it will be cured and be consumed in under 1 month. It breaks down faster. Pink Curing Salt No. 2 is for long term dry curing not using a normal kitchen fridge.

      If you need more info, check out this postheck out this post – its loonnngg!

      Hope this helps,
      Tom

  6. Hey Tom, thanks for the great post. I tried this equilibrium method recently but noticed a slightly off smell on both pieces of pork after 5 days curing in salt in the fridge. The type of smell i would expect to detect in i had left raw meat in a fridge for 5 days 🙂 Am i correct in thinking that any smell of this type is not a good sign and the meat should be discarded? As a newbie its a little difficult to be sure on what to expect smell-wise. I used saran wrap instead of ziploc bags and had the meat tightly wrapped. The fridge is approximately 43 F and i was using a pre-made curing salt (1% nitrates) bought from a curing company.

    1. Author

      Hey,
      Lots of unknowns sorry hard to answer.
      Trusting your nose is definitely the way, if it was me I would wait another 5-10 days.
      Using ziploc or vacpac is key to removing all oxygen or as much as poss during the cure. Not sure if clingwrap or saran would do the job.
      Pre-made curing salts…another unknown. Was the percentage high enough? 2.5-3% salt to weight?

  7. what are your thoughts of curing on wire racks instead of hanging

    1. Author

      you could give it a go, hanging reduces contact and potential ‘bad’ bacteria
      Some cold smoke will help I would think
      But hanging is best!

  8. Tom,
    I enjoy reading and learning from your site.
    I make my own sausage and was wanting to try making Dried Sausage.
    I use pink curing salt in my sausage recipe so what would you suggest I do
    to proceed to drying the sausage in a fridge or other method. I have a grill and usually
    cold smoke the sausage before freezing in vacuum bags.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Author

      Hey there, so you are using pink salt but not salt curing the sausage? Not enough detail to presume what your up to sorry.
      There are a ton of ways of making salami, here is a dry cured salami rundown I wrote

      Its not a guide, just to highlight the process if someone hasn’t come across it.

  9. Hi Tom. This may be a silly question, but what do you consider the “starting weight” of the meat in relation to when it will be complete?
    You mention weighing the meat both before and after the curing process. You will obviously lose some weight as liquid is extracted by the salt cure.
    Am I looking for 65% of the weight AFTER curing or before? Before or after rinsing?

    I’m just trying to be as accurate as possible.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Author

      Heya,
      If your Equilibrium curing you are kind of creating a ‘brine’ in the bag, so you don’t end up losing weight vs using a saturation method as mentioned.
      Regardless the start weight is after curing before drying ! 🙂

  10. Hi Tom.
    Wounderful site, I’m getting some great tips.
    I was wondering if beef shin is OK to dry cure or will it make it impossible due
    to the abundance of
    sinew/connective tissue.

  11. Do you think we can cure salami in the refrigerator in cheese cloth or just uncovered? After we ferment then cool it, it is stiff enough to form into a roll. Do you think that this will cool properly?

    1. Author

      tiny salami sticks sure, the risk is drying out on the outside too fast because normal fridge runs at 20-30% I have found.
      real thin with no fermentation via starter culture is what I would do. Thinking this year I will add to the whole muscle course and do a salami course! (still in planning stages, it takes many months to film/edit)
      Cheers
      T

  12. Hey there. This is such a good guide. I’ve got into curing my own lunch meat when I lived in China and craved a good sandwich but cold cuts were either impossible to find or super expensive. All the other curing guides I’ve seen online or on YouTube seem to miss the mark in one way or another, but yours is fantastic.
    I’ve always done a “ham” or Canadian Bacon using pork loin with good results. But I’ve only just cured it for 1-2 weeks depending on my patience, and then gone straight to smoking it.
    Just to be clear, after you rinse the meat and then hang it until it reaches temp, there’s no need to actually cook it, right? I’m going to give this a go soon, and I’m pretty stoked.
    Thanks again for this great guide.

    1. Author

      Awesome thanks for the comment! This is a craft I find very rewarding.
      Hanging is what I do for drying meat for = dry cured meat
      Or I cure, hang to form a pellicle then hot smoke/cook – these are 2 fundamentally different processes! This article is about dry curing meat (or dry cured bacon). Here is a link to how I make my bacon, cheers Tom

  13. Looking to make several cuts and give as gifts. After the meat is cured I intended to vac seal them. How many months will they last in the fridge? Or can you freeze the vac bags…
    I’m concerned thawing the frozen meats will affect the texture or something..

    1. Author

      hey there!
      Vac Sealed, I’ve had for 12 months in the back of fridge. I’ve heard in the crafting curing community a 4 year stint at the back of someone’s fridge, and it was delicous, a little extreme for me though! It will also even out any hardness/dryness issues from the outside surface and inside if you vac pac 🙂
      Cheers
      T

  14. Hey ! I’m currently curing my own meats and noticed that a little water has dropped onto the meats that are covered in cheese cloth. Do you have any advice on this?

    1. Author

      Greeetings, I would just wipe with vinegar and see what happens, trust your senses!. Smell, touch, visual 😉

  15. Hi Tom.

    Just starting to get into dry curing meats and I find your article very very helpful for a newbie like myself. However, my handicap is that I cannot get hold of curing salts .e.g., Instacure or pink salt, etc.
    Any suggestions what I should do? Any substitutes or alternatives? Can I disregard them?

    George

    1. Author

      Hey, for whole muscle meats, personally, I don’t use them. After many many years of research and looking at the main reason for using it – botulism. There aren’t many cases at all realting to charcuterie – often it’s people not following canning procedures properly or indigerious fermented seals products.

      here is some other info –

      If meat is fresh and the right method of curing is used, with equilibrium curing and at least 2%, it seems to work for me for 15 years.
      But of course it’s your call, some people think the curing is the nitrates/nitrites when it’s the salt that cures – nitrates/nitrites are just to target botulism.
      (ps fridge curing/drying is often done in less then 4 weeks due, as long as there is not a lot of fat on the meat).
      Cheers
      Tom

  16. Hey Tom,

    Just getting started into this. I followed your 2% Salt .25% 1 cure for a piece of beef 207g. So 4.1g of Kosher Salt and .5g of #1. My scale only does whole grams so I did 5g of salt and 1g of #1. It did seem like enough salt to completely cover the meat on all sides. Did I do something wrong?

    Thanks

    1. Author

      Hey Casey, yeah it always seems a bit sparse, but you need to just get it around most of the meat, since the bag will force the salt throughout the meat hopefully you used 250g or less. Highly recommended a scale to at least 1 decimal place for equilibrium curing. All the best, Tom

  17. G’day Tom, I have been making pork salami for a number of years now and its been great. Using salt, chilli and occasionally some black pepper and packing it in 65mm synthetic skins. They are then hanging it in the shed for 6 weeks before vacuum sealing in bags.
    This year they have been hanging for 8 weeks now and they don’t seem to be curing or hardening up. They have reduced in size and have firmed a little but they still seem a little soft. The meat was a little more fatty this year. Do you have any tips on how the make them cure and harden up at this late stage? Would putting them in the fridge in the skins help the process?
    Happy to hear your thoughts.
    Cheers
    Joihn

    1. Author

      howdy,
      really super hard to tell without checking them out, and i probably would still be guessing 🙂
      was the bind tacky enough?
      was fat to chunky?

      maybe it’s ready, and the fat hasn’t shrunk? (I would sacrifice a salami to the mythical creatures and slice a look and smell!)
      fat also has lower water percentage, so it doesn’t shrink as much as muscle meat.

      Since you are using an uncontrolled environment, this could be a factor, a low frost free environment might help?!

      I would use my senses and carefully assess after slicing open, then make a call. Firming in a frost free fridge definitely has helped a few mates firm things up!
      Cheers, all the best,
      Tom

  18. Hi Tom,
    Just starting on this fascinating ideas..

    If I want to try cold smoking, you also rinse the salt before cold smoking?
    I didn’t understand if you cure with all the spices (first 3-5 days), then you rinse spices as well?
    can you dry cure without rinsing?
    Can I cure with all the spices and cold smoke without rinsing?

    1. Author

      Hey there, you dont need to rinse, if using the eq curing method – if its cured it just means less spice/salt on the outside.
      Some guys like to add a spice coating after curing and during drying – but most of the spice will come off unless it’s a finer grind/type.
      Yes you can cold smoke without rinsing, but remember to hang it for at least 6+ hours, so a dry pellicle forms on outside (binding of protein on outside of meat), this will mean deeper cold smoke penetration!
      Cheers
      Tom

  19. Tom,

    Could this same method be used to cure sausage links. For example, if I made some fresh chorizo with 2% Kosher salt and .25% Pink Curing Salt #1 and stuffed them in hog casings, they would be about an inch in diameter. At this point I would usually hot smoke them, but could I instead hang them in my fridge and end up with a dried version. I was thinking without a cold smoke first. Thanks in advance.

    1. Author

      depending on the fridge, it may dry fast or not. only one way to find out. many don’t use a fridge , but temp should be not too much above 60F 15C – cheers T

  20. Hey Tom, I’m looking at trying my first dry cure meat.

    Would a rump steak be an ok cut to use?

    I would love any advice! Cheers

  21. hello, thank you for this guide. i followed the instructions and equilibrium percentages on some beef round steaks and boneless pork ribs. i took an old thermal-electric wine fridge, added some hooks and a humidity meter and set the temperature to 52F. the humidity when empty was at 65-70% and is now 80% (i just put them in).
    i also scraped some white mold from a commercially-produced dry-cured ham and let it sit in 65F water mixed with a little sugar for a few days. the jar it’s in smelled slightly of salami mold (i think) after a few days. i brushed a bit of it inside the fridge and on its internal fan, then brushed a little bit on a few of the round steaks after rinsing them and patting them dry.
    does what i’ve done sound like it’ll work? i’ve never dry-cured anything before and hopefully haven’t made an obvious mistake. i don’t know if my white mold harvesting and culturing was a bad idea, but i read on other websites that it can be done, and i’ve made mushroom liquid cultures before so it seemed to make sense.
    wish me luck! if this works i might find some more cheap wine fridges and make a stack of them.

    1. Author

      Haha! Nice, sounds like you’re heading in the right direction, the smell is what would give me indications for a good white mold.
      Pork ribs? I probably would go boneless, bones can add unwanted complications.
      Those thermal electric, from what I know always run ‘moist’, probably dehumidifier will be needed.
      Good luck sounds good.
      Tom

  22. Hi Tom,I’m drying some whole meats right now in my wine celler.I’m ok with the Temp 50-54 but can’t get humitidy where I would like it sticking around 58-60% what’s your thoughts?

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