Anyone curing/drying whole meats?

Someone mentioned Biltong in another forum I use, and got me interested in making it. I found a website (down at bottom below) with lots of advice on making whole muscle charcuterie and decided to give several of them a whirl. Anyone else make this kind of stuff? I got interested and am having fun with the process of making it for the last few months. Who knows, maybe I’ll burn out on it soon and it’ll just be a flash in the pan, but I’ve enjoyed it so far.

Here’s some Biltong I made, complete with Doggie1 salivating in the background. I got 9 pieces like what is shown from about 3.5 pounds of bottom round that I’d butchered from a sirloin tip subprimal. It shrank quite a bit so the cut pieces you see do not represent the thickness of the bottom round pieces; rather, I cut them on the bias to make them wider. Good stuff, though.


Here below is what I used as a drying chamber. It’s a Sterilite-type tub with screen-covered holes drilled along the bottom for air inflow, bigger hole in the lid for a variable speed fan to draw air through, dowels mounted along the top and a socket for a 40-W incandescent light to add a bit of heat.

The second photo below was inspired by one of my daughters who said, “Aw, look, you’ve got a little jail for your meats!” I guess it does sort of look like they’re in jail.



I like the Biltong pretty well - especially the flavors imparted to the beef from the cure/marinade, and the beefy flavor itself, but decided I don’t like that much coriander flavor, so I rinsed off the outsides after the drying step. Still lots of coriander flavor but not quite so overpowering.

In the last couple of days I used the same box to make 3.7 pounds (starting weight) of jerky from the bottom round of another whole sirloin tip that I broke down, which yielded about 1.4 pounds of jerky. I rigged up 3 floating cooling racks, vertically, using paperclips as stringers. Took about 28 hours to dry in this box (using hotter lamp as mentioned below).


This is really bad lighting for the photo (sorry!) but I think you can get the basic idea. I wanted it a bit warmer for jerky v. Biltong so I used a 74-W incandescent (100-W equivalent “energy saver” bulb that draws 74-W). I had to tent over the bulb with a foil arch because I was afraid of marinade drips hitting the hot bulb and exploding it. Also it got very hot under the bulb (and this transferred through to the table it was on - unfortunately I “smoked” the urethane finish a bit) so I wrapped a flat dishcloth in a foil packet and put it in the box under the bulb as insulation.

On to other cured meats!


In the extra fridge in the basement I have hanging L-R a cured eye-round for Bresaola (Italian), a flattened (20 pounds weight several days while it was curing) beef tenderloin for Basturma (aka Pastirma and others - Armenia/Turkey/Greece/others - note traditionally this is eye round not tenderloin), and the white end of a cured pork loin for Lomo Curado (Spain).

On the rack on the bottom are Capocollo (Capicola, Gabagool - Italian) and another eye-round that I’m dry aging before I cure it for a second batch of Bresaola. This photo was from 2 weeks ago - the Lomo Curado and Capicola are now vac-bagged in the upstairs fridge trying to get the moisture to equilibrate a bit because they developed a bit of a hard rind - not very palatable! This fridge is too cold and too dry, really.

Here’s some stuff I’ve recently completed, as-sliced:


At the top is the Capicola - you can see from the piece at the top left, the portion overhanging the plate, that it’s still got some over-dry rind. This is after 2 weeks bagged to equilibrate. I’ve read it can take a few more weeks for fridge-dried salumi to equilibrate well, even though all the stuff I’ve made were wrapped in a “steak dry-aging wrap” cellulose material prior to hanging for the drying step.

This dry aging wrap stuff is supposed to slow the drying process down more like what you’d see in a humidified, warmer, meat drying chamber, but IMHO it doesn’t. At least not in this fridge (which may be an outlier - super cold even at warmest setting and a freezer close to - 25°F - it’s a freak of Kenmore). With the meats I’ve got currently drying, I’ve decided to do 5 days on/off, vac bagging on the off days, to see if I can avoid getting such a hard, dry rind that I got in some of the earlier stuff I tried.

In the photo at the left side of the plate is a cured/dried spicy pork tenderloin product. I am not a fan of this because it’s kind of gummy in texture. It’s edible, but gummy. Even though I dried it to 60% of it’s original weight. And most of these recipes call for drying down to 67-65% of original weight, except the jerky which you dry down to about 35% of original weight. So, in the link below, if you try some of Eric’s stuff, I’d say skip the “Calabrian Pork”. Unless you like gummy dried meats! :smiley:

Moving across the plate there’s some of the jerky mentioned above on the far right, which everyone in the family loved, a bit more of the Biltong slices in the middle, and Lomo Curado at the bottom. This Lomo Curado was the “red” meat end of the same pork loin I mentioned above. I got a whole boneless loin, maybe 7-8 pounds. You may have noticed one end of a whole boneless pork loin is very white meat, while at the other end it has a significant amount of red meat. In this case I took 2.5 pounds from each end for curing, then brined and cooked the center 3 pound part as a roast for Sunday dinner 6 or 7 weeks ago.

The two pieces of pork loin that were cured and hung to dry were hanged at the same time, but for some reason the red meat end of the loin dried in only about a month while the white meat end took almost 7 weeks, although this did include a week’s stint in a bag because it had gotten to the point where it was only losing 5-6 grams per day (for a loin still weighing over 1kg). So it had “rinded up so hard” that it was barely losing any more moisture per day. That one is now bagged and (hopefully) equilibrating so as to ameliorate the rind. The red meat end of the same loin is done and sliced and almost eaten, a favorite of my wife and kids. They also like the Capicola although the rind on the one side is still a problem. I’ve bagged the remainder of that hoping it gets better.

And I’m hoping my on-again/off-again treatment (now that I know a bit more) for the Bresaola the Pastrima will pay dividends.

That’s about it.

Oh - I also make a lot of fermented stuff: kombucha, kimchee, sauerkraut, cauliflower, (NEVER AGAIN fermented broccoli - too stinky!), etc. If folks want to discuss.

I did almost 20 generations of kombucha from making a mother from GT’s raw ginger, which near the end was getting alcohol in the 2nd ferment. I don’t mind alcohol in general but didn’t want my kombucha going over 2%. Then I bought a commercial scoby but it was incredibly slow - 6 weeks or more per each ferment (I should have read the negative Amazon reviews before buying). I’m also making cultured butter per What’s Eating Dan (ATK) videos on YouTube.

For the meat curing/drying, here is Eric Pousson’s website


Now, this is serious dedication!

I have only cured duck/goose breasts. Very simple and enough to snack on.

Ate lots of biltong in Namibia (bought kilos home). Namibian airline gives you small packages of biltong with a beer. A toothpick is included in each package, too.

Salmon “jerky” I ate in Hokkaido was so brilliant. First time seeing it anywhere. I bought enough to snack on during my 6 weeks backpacking around Japan, and to bring home. Ate it for months after I got home.

Eating salmon jerky on the train in Japan. One stick at a time. My jaws hurt so good after a few times.



I have never tried it nor have i ever cold smoked anything other than cheese. I cant be trusted to do it safely.

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C’mon Salmon Make It Hurt So Good! LoL.

Now I’ve got another couple of projects to try: making salmon jerky and curing duck breast (I wouldn’t know where to find goose around here, but I guess there’s always Amazon).


That’s about it for me as well - usually cheese just as an afterthought if I’m done grilling but the smoke box is still putting off some smoke. To be clear, though, all the stuff I’m doing in my post above is cured/dried, but none is smoked. But now that you mention it… I might try smoking the Lomo Curado next go `round. Especially the red meat end of a loin would probably nicely take up apple or (preferably, if I can find it) sweet pear smoke.

I still have a cardboard box in my shed set up as a mini-smoker. I made it based on a Good Eats episode (Alton Brown) for smoking salmon and mackerel. It’s not quite “cold smoke”, though, as the interior gets up around 140°F (and it is supposed to do this, according to AB) just due to the sawdust smoldering in the pan. But I think I could modify it with vents and the VS computer fan and keep it in the 90°F range, which as I understand is about the upper limit for true “cold” smoking.

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I typically only cold smoke in the spring or fall and then at night when the air temps are low. I carve up the cheese and stick it inside the cold Egg and light some pellets. The ambient air around the cheese stays very low so the cheese doesn’t melt. :frowning:

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I like duck best, between the 2. Don’t remember the cure mixture ratio but there are plenty of suggestions to be found online.

Duck breast (cured and smoked in an old wok with super smokey lapsang souchong tea)

No idea how the Hokkaidoans make the salmon jerky. I can remember the intense “umami” flavour, texture is hard like biltong. Skin is left on. I peeled it off and ate it, too!

Look forward to seeing your experiments!


Wow those all look great! From the first photo, it looks like one can dry the goose (and presumably, duck) breast at regular old room temp / ambient humidity?

On the salmon, I’ve made Gravlax several times and like the flavor, and it gets partially dried in the curing process with the salt/sugar drawing out so much liquid. I think I’ll use my recipe for that as a starting point for jerky.

The hanging goose breast is for drying after the cure has been wiped off, and also to make a photo of it. I make these in the winter and hang them in the coldest area of the house. I have also used the fridge.

The salmon jerky might have been smoked after curing.

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Not curing whole meats but today I made these frankfurters. First time using sheep casings and making hot dog links. Here is one link I took off my kettle after smoking for about an hour.

I was sure I’d never do it again because it was such a hassle compared to making other sausages with hog casings. But then I tasted one and totally worth it :joy:. And having gone through the process this time it will be much simpler the next time. There are no good hot dogs here. I like chicken, and I enjoy a chicken sausage here and there, but I despise chicken in sausages as filler, where it should be all pork or beef or a mix of those two. They always taste foul. Every hot dog in this town is made with chicken. And of course, I love a snappy natural casing hot dog, which is another rarity.

I also made Italian sausage, with a spice level somewhere between sweet and hot. I only stuffed some casings with it and kept the rest loose for pizza, pasta, and any other cooking project.


That looks great. I’m not a huge franks guy but definitely prefer real casing over skinless.

I’m just starting to look at recipes for coarse sausages and emulsion sausages - things I can do with a food processor or standmixer, as I don’t yet have a grinder. I do make gyro meat which I guess as a meat is also like a sausage of sorts.

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It really is a sausage. I’m sure who ever invented the gyro (the machine) was using a “chivaps” recipe of some kind for the meat. I love making this kind of sausage. The Serbian version, chevapchichi, is one I was brought up with, along with some Armenian versions. Grew up with a lot of Serbs and Armenians, so I follow suit with my own cooking.

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Hey, thanks Greg. I hadn’t heard of that one but it seems pretty easy to make. I’ve noted that gyro meat recipes vary pretty widely as to the herbs used. Does this recipe below look pretty standard? Or is it missing something essential?

I love cevapi, though I’ve never seen it with pork. I love pork though, so I’m certainly not opposed. :joy:

I noticed the pork is 3X the lamb amount and was planning to modify the recipe to equal amounts of pork/beef/lamb (the way I do my gyro). Or at least jack the lamb to a full pound (because around here I can only find it in 1 lb packages). Unless I learn that would be a no-no for this sausage.

I read through about half the comments and most were in approval, I think someone actually said they’d never seen lamb in it - just beef and pork, but I think more of them said the pork wasn’t traditional. (And one who said traditionally it should have nothing but beef, pork, S&P.)

I’m with Shelly on the pork. Never seen pork used in the cevaps Branca, Serbian grandma, used to make. I can’t remember cayenne in there. Maybe hot paprika. I do remember paprika, but don’t remember if it was hot or not. Easy to make and delish. I remember grinding lamb and beef only, though. I was her muscle with the meat grinder. The Serbian thing I probably love most is ajvar and good bread. Nice side for the cevapcici. Hope you try the sausages, though.

I might try it with pork. Save some $


Lol - Shellybean! Is there anything you can’t do?!?

Thanks for the link - duly copied and pasted.

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