Category: Charcuterie & Food

chair 'flesh' and cuit 'cooked'

Parma Ham Dry Cure

Parma Ham the holy grail. Well I think I almost found it. I just used an off the shelf cure from
This worked really well the instructions on how to use it are all there and it works. What is important is that you cannot eat this meat right away it must cure for a long time. The nitrates turn into nitrites by bacterial processes. If you eat it right away like bacon you are DEAD! Slowly the meat drys and cures until is it not raw but cured and tastes good.

The basic method is…

1)         Chill the meat overnight

2)         Rub the meat with half of the cure mixture, if using a boned joint ensure that the inner surface of the meat is properly coated, massage the cure into any crevices. I suggest you try a couple of kg of meat to start with. I did a piece with skin on from a leg but a loin works really well as it is so tender.

3)         Vacuum pack. (I did cling film which works but can leak)

4)         Leave the meat to cure in the fridge for 15 days. (yes seems like a long time)

5)         Unwrap the meat and repeat step 2 with the remaining cure mixture. Reseal

6)          Leave the meat to cure for another 15 days.

7)         Unwrap the meat and leave to soak in tepid water for half an hour.

8)         hang the ham for 3 hours in a draughty cool room can leave on a metal drying rack. (the skin looks very wet and horrible now)

9)         Smear the meat side of the ham with a mixture of lard and black pepper. Hang the ham in a warm room for 3 days, (an airing cupboard is ideal). Best to warm lard before it goes on, use a bag over your hand and seal any cracks. I hang in fishnet stocking large open weave.

10)       Hang the ham for a minimum of 30 days at 15 degrees Celsius with a 70% relative humidity.

11)        For smaller cuts of meat reduce the cure time by a third and the hanging time by 20%

I suggest you take good care of ham any cracks move over the lard to close. You should get a white mould form that is good and healthy. Any green mould cut off and wipe with vinegar. Any drips wipe away
Try and make sure the place you hand is dark, cool, medium humidity. Any extremes and will not work. You can wrap it in muslin as well to try and stop drying out too much. Also you can take off the skin first as it becomes very very hard, really depends on how the meat is cut to the benefit. If you are doing belly pork this way then reduce drying time and remove before curing.

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Dry Cure Bacon

Loin Bacon or Belly Pork Bacon is the easiest of all to make. Simply take a piece of free range pork like Gloucester Old Spot. You want a thick slab from an older animal which has been allowed to gain a medium to thick layer of fat on it.

Method is easy…

1)      Prepare correct size of vacuum pack with double sealed end, roll over the top to stop it getting wet

2)      Add pork and cure mixture then shake to distribute.

3)      Seal end with vacuum seal and double seal end.

4)      Leave in cold fridge and turn daily.

5)      You need to leave it for (at least) 24 hours per ½ inch or 13mm then add on 2 days. This means belly at least a week and loin more.

6)      When ready sometimes you can tell when it is really firm, wash off in cold water, pat dry with kitchen towel. Put on metal drying rack in fridge for a few hours.

7)      Can be cold smoked as well at this point or packed and frozen. Can eat right away or leave for a day to get more flavour.

I would say that these figures are conservative and you could add a little more normal salt and cure longer and it will taste fine. Also this bacon will not last like commercial bacon so best to freeze in vacuum packs and eat on defrost. Also if freezing leave in large pieces for belly then cut to lardons later.


  • Bacon Loin or Belly 2825g
  • Old English Bacon Cure Ready mixed (30g per 1000g) 84.75g
  • Brown Sugar 16g (balances salt adds flavour and helps preserve)
  • Spices – mix what you want. Why not try out…Juniper berries, bay leaf, black pepper, mace, oregano, sage for a range of flavours. You cannot do any harm as long as they are not indian spice mixes which are too harsh.

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Pork and Herb Sausage 90% Meat

This recipe is a modification of my Pork and Sage Basic recipe. I have included more spices and also an emulsifier called supaphos which keeps more moisture in when cooking and also helps bind everything together. This one was as I had a whole pig delivered and needed to make something of half of the trimmings about 16lbs

  • 6.8kg Old Spot Trimmings from whole pig. Minced on large only.
  • 6 Large Free Range eggs
  • 9 tea sp Milled Black Pepper (38g)
  • 8.4 tea sp Milled Sea Salt
  • 3 tea sp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1.7 tea sp Ground Mace
  • 3.5x Squirt Tomatoes Puree Concentrate
  • 3.4 table sp Maille Dijon Mustard
  •  550 gram Fresh White Breadcrumbs from Large white Tesco tin loaf (include crust)
  • 1000ml water (including 8 ice cubes)
  • 24 ice cubes for adding later.
  • 55 grams of Supaphos emulsifier

Mix the dry spices and split into three when mixed. Then add the wet ingredients in thirds and add the following

  • 6tsp Dried Sage
  • 6 tsp Dried Oregano + extra 1 squirt tom puree
  • 6 tsp Dried Marjoram + Paprika 1/2sp?

You can really swap for anything you want at this point but I went for simple.

Then add 8 ice cubes to each whilst mixing to keep cool

Then take a third of pork and mix with the spices then chill overnight. If any ice cubes have not melted then remove. Do for each third. Cover and label to ensure you don’t get confused.

Next day soak pig intestine skins, you will need about 3 feet for every lb you will do. Rinse in water and soak for 1 hour.

Load up the stuffer and put on about 10 feet of skins on the stuffer. Too much and they will go dry.

Feed through one mixture at a time. Make sure you leave a gap of a few cm at the end and start of every 1lb or 500g. This is so you can tie the ends and leaves space for adjustments.

Now to make the shapes, just check for air bubbles and uniformity. Adjust gently and twist to make the size desired. I made some hand width size and some half a hand. Cut at the 1lb size or 500g by eye.

When done with one batch return in bowl to fridge. Then clean out any trapped sinew from stuffer and repeat.

Arrange sausages into nice shapes, either curls or in “bunches” then freeze in bags. When starting to get hard take out and vacuum pack. This way any moisture or fluids will not ruin your seal. Label with date and type!

Pictures to follow!

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This is a pancetta / dry cure bacon which is really very good.

In this version I have split half an Old Spot Belly (skin removed). Each bag has a 630g slice which has two versions of the cure.


1)        Weight pork first 630g for each piece

2)       Ratio for dry cure mix is 30g/kg. So for this we need 18.9g. I round up to 20g.

3)       In this case I use three identical ceramic bowls of same mass and check and recheck my dry cure. You can buy it here

4)       Then I take the following mix and add to my cure bowls, Dried Sage, Pinch salt, Pinch Brown Sugar, Large Pinch Pepper  or Several Crushed Juniper Berries.

5)       Make up a vaccum bag and make sure you do a double seal on one end.

6)       Add the cure to the bag, then add the meat, give a shake to distribute and quickly seal the end. If you are not quick fluids will come out of the meat and make it impossible to seal the bag.

7)       Double heat the seal to ensure it is firm or make a second seal.

8)       Rub all over but not to generously.

9)       Leave in fridge (very cold one) for 1 day for every ½ inch + two days. In this case It was 2.5” so that is 5 days + 2 days is 1 week. I turn every day to get fluids evenly spread.

10)    Gently rise in cold water discarding fluids and washing away thoroughly.

11)     Place bacon on metal rack in tray to dry for a while then cut in to chunks.

12)     Either vacuum pack or simply bag up for freezer or use within a week or so.

You will find that you might want to add extra salt as I do as I have found that the bacon is not salty enough. Also I think if you leave a little longer than a week it is also ok. Don’t worry about going over on cure time.

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