Let's all check in on my meat

Some people ask me, "How do you know if the meat your curing is going bad?" 

I read a book once that summed it up: If it's bad, you'll know. 


Once, a couple of years ago, I went downstairs, and one of the prosciuttos was... moving. And dripping. And in all my reading, I didn't recall that ever being called out as one of the things that was supposed to happen. But worst of all, the faint, all-is-right-with-the-world odor of meat & salt had gone slightly sweetish. In the way that your great aunt smells sweetly of medicine and must and well past its prime foundation powder. 

No. I was wrong. The 'my ham is moving' was definitely the worst part.

I lost two prosciuttos that way that year - which means I had a gap in my prosciutto supply last fall. 

The muslin sack on the furthest right cut is what I use to wrap the prosciuttos after they sit in a box of salt for a few weeks. That gives the prosciutto time to air, without being found by the flies and turned into a nursery for their young. After a year or so, I unwrap them to finish hanging. 

Interestingly, I've never had that issue with pancetta (the hanging rolls of belly in between the legs of pig).  I have no idea why. But I'm not one to start questioning the laws of the charcuterie universe. And they only hang for 8 weeks or so before they're ready anyway. 


On the other side of my basement, my coppas are looking really nice. Those first two turgid looking hunks of meat are what I wrapped in the salted, stretchy lower intestine of a cow (that's what a beef bung is) along with salt and a few other spices. They have about another 10 weeks to go before they're ready. I've never put these up before, but from what I can see, they're looking pretty happy. 

In between the other two prosciutto sacks is a much smaller lamb prosciutto which is ready... well, now.  It takes 100 days or so, instead of the 2 years, but otherwise followed the same process. 

Coupled with what's in our freezers, we've got enough meat put aside to last a while. You just have to be patient enough to wait for it to be ready.

And don't eat the ones that still move. That's pretty much a sign that things went wrong.