Salumi Charcuterie Cured Meat 2 small

Equipment for Meat Curing Guide – What You Do & Don’t Need

The equipment for curing meats & smoking can be really simple and you may have what you need. It’s a big category and it has morphed into a skill and craft with so many options you can do at home.

Will breakdown all the bits and pieces whether you want to dry cure, hot smoke, cold smoke or make healthy protein snack that will last for a while like jerky (in a cardboard box if you want).

Salumi Charcuterie Cured Meat
Dry cured meat done at home, olive wood board from Italy!

It’s all cured meat!

To start with I will talk about what you need to begin with, which isn’t much. Then, I will tell you about some more advanced equipment.

Meat curing also covers a very wide topic, whether it is dry curing, hot or cold smoked foods. There are some exceptions, for instance low & slow beef brisket is not cured before the moderate low smoking is done.

You may just want to take a portable smoker camping in case you catch a fish. It’s all part of the curing topic.

What Equipment do I Need for Meat Curing?

A cool area & or a fridge is the basic are you need. There are many types of meat curing categories. For making jerky, a dry or warm area is needed. Smoked meat needs some sort of smoking device, cold or hot smoked. Dry-cured meat can also be made in a standard fridge or curing chamber.

Meat curing and smoking are ancient forms of cooking & preserving. If you have a cool area with air flow, you can do certain dry-cured meat projects.

These wer made in my standard kitchen fridge, took about 2 weeks. Including fully curing, and hanging them in the fridge at the back.

Charcuterie Salumi Dry Cured Meat Picture
Charcuterie Salumi Dry Cured Meat – from my standard kitchen fridge

Actually, I wrote a whole article on using a regular fridge, please find it here.

Also, you might like to look at (fast – not low & slow)hot smoking fish, which I have done for many years and have experimented with a few different techniques through trial and error.

Will cover Advanced Equipment further down the post, and mention the gear needed for salami and salumi equipment.

Beginner’s Guide

So you want to start meat curing, it isn’t hard. To start with you may have what you need laying around at home already. Go for some biltong (or jerky).

Biltong & Jerky

Biltong is a high protein snack or addition to salads etc that doesn’t take much effort. Great for travelling, backpacking or camping (my pick of cured meats for outdoors here).

homemade cured meat biltong
homemade cured meat biltong

Cardboard Box, Light & Fan

I started with biltong before jerky, so I was always hanging the chunkier style of meat. You can use a cardboard box if you are so inclined.

Basically you have some air circulation and a little bit of heat from a low wattage say 40-60 watt bulb.

The classic recipe is salt, vinegar and crushed coriander. Narrow strips of beef are then tied with string and hung.

Here is a super easy guide I wrote on biltong.

Biltong Box

For the next level up, the concept is the same as the card board box method above, a commercially bought biltong box is generally made of perspex, with a fan and light in it. My good friend is a chili biltong madman- some smoked paprika and other bits make this a great treat when on a hunt, or you just have a lot of red meat to deal with.

Essentially a meat curing chamber is a biltong box the same as a cardboard box, light bulb, and fan. You just don’t have as much control over temperature & humidity. For jerky & biltong, you don’t need it

Curing Meat in a Normal Fridge

In just a normal fridge, green bacon (unsmoked), pancetta or hot smoked meat can be made (pellicle formation in a fridge – for more info on this, please find a link here.

Gravlax

Can be salt dry cured for 24 hours, put in the fridge to cure. Then washed off and used. Will last about 1 week after curing from my experience.

Beetroot gravalax or citrus are great flavor combinations.

Homemade Gravlax Salmon
Homemade Gravlax Salmon

Small Dry Cured Meat

If the weight is under about 7 oz or 200 grams, I have had some success with small meat curing projects in a normal fridge.

Hot Smoking Equipment

Pot/Wok Tea Smoked Meat

If you want more info on hot smoking fish here is a easy guide, check it out here.

All you need is some foil, wok, rice and tea you can smoke some fish. It’s a Chinese style of tea smoking that can yield some incredible results. You can do this inside, but sensitive fire alarms might be an issue!

It’s a style of smoking where you don’t need a smoker. It’s directly heated, similar to the portable smoker below, but you can do it indoors.

Easiest Smoker, in your kitchen in a wok or pot
Easiest Smoker, in your kitchen in a wok or pot

Portable Smoker

By using direct heat into a confined smoking area, a portable smoker can be an effective way to cook and smoke meat or other foods. I use a gas burner or the BBQ burner, if you don’t have a BBQ, even a portable gas burner can be used. Great for fishing and camping trips.

Portable Smoker Thin Blue Smoke
My Portable Smoker Thin Blue Smoke

They are simple tools, but there are a few design aspects you want to look out for. If you are interested in more details, please find a full review of a few portable smokers here.

Recently, I hot smoked some chorizo sausages I bought – very happy with the result (try and get a transparent light smoke, not a heavy white smoke for the best flavor from a portable smoker).

Charcoal BBQ or Gas BBQ for Smoking Meat

Once meat is cured in the fridge, for hot smoking you can use a BBQ with a hood or a portable hot smoker with a direct heat source, like on a gas grill.

Electric Hot Smoker or Gas Hot Smoker

For low & slow smoking I love this style, you can really play around with many forms of smoked meat, diary and vegeables. These varieties are easy to use and set & forget operations.

Adjusting with a knob control or thermostat really does help make this a set and forget option.

Some of these offer a cold smoking options that are very easy to operate. However, cold smoking is subject that definitely goes in the advanced category of meat curing. You want to get your meat curing training wheels going first.

If you wan a comprehensive post on cold smoking, please find it here.

Pellet Grills

The also has a dual purpose, being able to smoke meat with wood pellets, whilst also being a direct heat gas grill. The auto feed mechanism really doesn’t make it a set & forget smoker. As long as you have power available for plug it in.

If you want to find out more about why I think the pellet grill is the easiest smoker to use, here is a post on the easiest types of smokers.

Charcoal Smokers

The selection of charcoal smokers is intense on the market, it generally starts with a bullet, kettle or barrel shaped smoker.

Then it advances to a fully gravity fed charcoal smokers for very hefty price tags for the serious pitmasters. Also, in this skill level, the offset charcoal smokers are seen as the highest honor for the enthusiast. If you don’t mind standing or sitting next to them for 10 hours or more whilst smoking a brisket, which for some is a true pleasure.

Some people just love it!

Hot Smoked Salmon on Charcoal Kettle Grill, using the ‘Snake Method’

Advanced Equipment 

  • Cold Smoking Equipment
  • Meat Slicing – Knifes & Butcher Slicer
  • DIY Curing Chamber – components
  • Salami – Meat Grinders & Sausage Stuffers

 

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Cold Smoking Equipment

There is a lot more factors to cold smoking mainly making cure the meat is fully cured and creating the consistent environment with smoke generated from 6-8 hours to 4-5 days (refrigerating overnight is common and doing multiple sessions).

  • Smoke Generator – great for both hot and cold smoking using pellets
  • Cold Smoker- it all about consistent smoke and an environment under 77°F/25°C.
Cold Smoking Duck & Vege - Smoker generator
Cold Smoking Duck & Vege – Smoker generator

Meat Slicing

After the time and effort to make cured meat, gravlax or lonza pork loin in your fridge, I believe you want the right tool to showcase something you are proud of.

So I did some research and have bought quite a lot of equipment over the years.

Getting those wafer thin slices makes a massive difference with specifically dry cured meat like this.

Wafer thing cured meat at home
Wafer thing cured meat at home
Home Made Dry Cured Salumi Plate
Home Made Dry Cured Salumi Plate

Knifes for Slicing Cured Meat

It’s a game changer, when you can cut wafer thin cured meats for homemade lonza and pancetta it was just awesome.

The Iberian knife for ham & prosciutto is the best option in my opinion. Here are a few I have reviewed & can recommend.

The right technique also will of course give the proper results.

Knifes for Large Smoked Meat – Brisket / Ham

The hours of work to produce a beautiful smoked brisket and you then want to present it, in all its glory. Here are a few brisket & ham knives I have and reviewed in full.

Do It Yourself Meat Curing Chamber

Salumi Meat Curing – long term meat curing over 30 days approx or for other projects that need a control climate.

DIY Curing Chamber at Home, it's big
DIY Curing Chamber at Home, it’s big
Hungarian & Spicy Venison Salamis

I will write a full post here on this with my design thoughts, currently, my large double door chamber works great. Currently, I have a 6 ft tall and 4 ft wide curing chamber, it does seem like an overkill sometimes. With the added heater panel at the rear, I have dried garlic, fruit and also grown oyster mushrooms in it.

Here is a break down of the equipment needed:

  1. Controllers – Temperature & Humidity
  2. Humidifier – for moisture
  3. Dehumidifier (dependent on design) – less moisture
  4. Cooling Unit (built-in fridge compressor often)
  5. Heating Source (maybe)

1. Controllers – Temperature & Humidity

These will generally have built-in hygrometers and thermometers.

I think it is a good idea to have a quality analog version too to confirm readings.

Controllers for Humidity & Temperature - Curing Chamber
Controllers for Humidity & Temperature – Curing Chamber

2. Humidifier – for Moisture

Compressors can have a drying effect, and overall a humidifier will be much more important than a dehumidifier. But it, of course, depends a lot on design. See here for more details on this.

2.5 Dehumidifier (dependent on design) – Less Moisture

The dehumidifier in my large chamber has worked really well for storing game (venison, ducks etc), drying/dehydrating fruit, making organic garlic powder & onion powder. This function has worked because I installed an eco-panel heater at the back of the chamber!

3 Cooling Unit (Built in Fridge Compressor Often)

You will have this wired up to the controller, so it will cycle on and off to keep within a range.

3.5 Heating Source (Maybe)

Works for the above reasons, but also you can be more precise for fermentation temperatures of dry-cured salamis inoculation!

Other aspects that you may want in your curing chamber:

  • Drill, drill bits, screw fixtures possibly
  • Secondary thermostat & hygrometer to make sure the environment is accurate
  • racks for hanging or hooks 
  • butcher’s twine for rolled meat and keeping the meat in a uniform shape (can help to expel air especially)

Depending on the project, I will generally wipe down the entire chamber with diluted bleach to make sure it keeps relatively sterile.

However, remember meat curing is about good bacteria/penicillin – once this is present in the meat curing chamber it should hopefully help inoculate near meaty creations.

Salami (Advanced Continued)

Making a great salami isn’t hard, it’s just a process. However, there is a defined process for dry cured salami (not cooked salami)

Also, the adding of good bacteria for before fermentation, means this process is definitely in the advanced section.

Meat Grinders/Mincers – Manual or Electric

Investing in a quality mincer should be important if you are going down this path. The 3/4 Horsepower that I use with a friend is a beast, being all alloy metal, we can chill all the components, which helps during the whole sausage/salami process (it stops fat binding with meat).

Good old fashioned cranking mechanism, lot of options out there. I believe you want a large funnel area so you don’t have meat falling out of the mincer.

Having control over speed can help, the issues I have had have always been around binding of meat and fat.

If you want some recommendations around mincers I have reviewed some here.

Sausage Stuffers

Whether you are making salamis or sausages you need to get your head around this equipment. Horizontal or vertical stuffers can all work well in my opinion.

I prefer to have the right tool for the job. Here are a few sausage stuffers I have used or have used with friends.

There are some ingenious thrifty ways I have found online to do this.

There are a lot of toys and equipment available, but it comes down to what you want to make and of course the resources you have available.

Related Questions

How to Cure Your own Cured Meat? Start with fridge based recipes. Pancetta and green bacon are good options, these are simple projects that use salt to create osmosis and prevent spoilage. Then, if you have a hot smoker you can add another element of flavor.

How Long does Meat Take to Cure? Depending on the recipe and end goal, It can take 30 minutes to cure a fillet of fish. For more involved projects it can 30 days to cure meat. It all depends on the meat project and the end goals.

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