OK, we are now two weeks downstream from rubbing our pork loin pieces with Tenderquick and putting it in bags to cure in the fridge.Today the meat comes out of the fridge. It has become quite firm in the curing bags.
We are now going to remove it from the plastic bags and rinse it off with cold water. After rinsing it well, we are going to pat it dry with paper towels.
We have mixed up a spice mixture. The basic recipe for the spice mixture is 3 tbs sugar, 2 tbs coarse black pepper, 1 tbs ground coriander, 2 tsp garlic granules, 1 tsp mace, 1 tsp allspice and 1 tsp ground juniper berries. (This is a slightly altered version of Sweet Coppa Mixture from Charcuterie by Ruhlman and Polcyn). I made a triple batch. I used my coffee grinder to grind the coriander and juniper berries.
Rub the spice mixture well all over the meat. It is a good idea to wear latex gloves while handling the meat - you really don't want the bacteria on your hands getting on the meat!
Now the meat needs to be tied up and hung to dry. I use a wood cabinet, originally intended for dehydrating foods, over a laundry sink with a dishpan full of salt water in it. The dishpan of salt water is to provide humidity. Where you live and what your natural conditions are will dictate what you do. The ideal temperature and humidity for drying meat is about 60 degrees F. and 60 - 70% humidity. The back part of my daylight basement is about 60 degrees F year round, but the humidity is too low - normally around 35%. My friend Marc Grove is able to hang meats in his garage in Apalachicola , FL, and have a suitable temperature and humidity without any special controls. A humidity of around 50% seems to be OK, and when it is up around 70%, it seems to promote mold growth, so I would not worry if the humidity were on the low end.
Here is my cheap thermohygrometer, I got it at the hardware store for about $20. I really don't know how accurate it is, but it gives some kind of idea!
We will leave the meat to dry for about 3 weeks. I will know when it is ready more by how it feels to the touch than anything else. You won't go wrong drying it for three weeks though. We will check it periodically for mold. White mold is fine but black or green mold is bad. If you get any black or green mold growing on your meat while it is drying, rub it with vinegar, pat it dry and put some more spice mixture on - and try to lower the humidity!Stay tuned, in about three weeks, we will take the meat from the drying cabinet, slice it paper thin and vacuum pack it to enjoy - never fear, it will be consumed long before it might spoil!