Thursday, January 31, 2008

Coppa V0.5 - FAIL!

FAILURE! Well, you have to imagine it happens! Trying new things, new methods or formulas will inevitable lead to some less than ideal results. Oh well.

A while back, in my 1st coppa post, I cured 2 pieces of meat using different curing methods. One,that worked, was my usual 9-15 day cure in salt and spices, the other was to soak the meat in a brine for 48 hours.

Now, at the time, I thought this was not nearly enough curing time, but I double checked with the gentleman who gave it to me, and he confirmed that it would work, and that he's done it.

Well, I tried. I soaked the meat for 48 hours, rubbed it in chili pepper and put it in the curing chamber. Lo and behold, the meat wasn't cured enough to dry properly. Even after 60 days the center stayed soft, like raw meat. I'm not sure of the chemistry behind it, but I believe this is due to the meat not being fully cured.

So there you have it. Pure, unadulterated FAILURE!


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More humidification ideas

I just received an email from another reader, Drew N., about another method for maintaining humidity in the curing chamber.

It would seem that a 50/50 mix of propylene glycol and distilled water will maintain somewhere around 70% RH. I'm told this would be considerably cheaper than using the beads or sheets I mentioned yesterday, since PG is about $8/pint. I'm not sure where you can buy it, but I can't imagine it being that difficult to source. Again, I have no idea how fast or slow this method changes the RH, but it might be worth a try.
PS: It does seem to be FDA approves, and food safe based on the Wikipedia entry.


Monday, January 28, 2008

A few thoughts on humidification

A few people have emailed me asking about humidity control methods for a chamber, and some even gave me some really good ideas, which I thought I'd pass along. Mind you, i've never tried any of these products.

A gentleman, John D., emailed me about a humidifier that can be found on Amazon, which has a built in hygrostat. It is an ultrasonic humidifier, which is what we want. I don't know what the control limits are for the hygrostat (what is the max. humidity which can be set?), or how accurate or inaccurate it is. Accuracy isn't critical, as long as it can keep a relative humidity of 65-75%. This might be something worth looking into, at only $43 shipped.

Another fellow emailed me asking about another humidifier/fridge combo, and I thought about looking into "mechanical" means for maintaining humidity. I've already discussed using a tray of wet salt, but there are other chemical that work too. These methods are used in cigar humidors, so i assume they are food safe. These are just chemical beads, which maintain the environment at a 65% or 70% RH by absorbing, or releasing water into the environment.
There seem to be 2 types. Beads and sheets. I've only looked up one brand, which seems to be well regarded in the cigar world, Heartfelt Industries.

The sheets are available in 60% and 65% RH varieties. I think the sheets would work better for bigger chambers or fridges.

The beads come in 60%, 65% and 70%. I think for a full size fridge you would need a few pounds of them. Not very convenient.

I think both these methods would work well for smaller dorm fridge size curing chambers, or wine coolers being used as wine chambers. I have no idea how often one would have to "recharge" the beads or dry them out, so they may not be very useful.

If anyone tries any one of these, the humidifier, sheets or beads, I'd love to hear about it. If you have any other ideas, or any product which may be useful, don't hesitate to email me, so I can post it, it may help other people too.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Coppa V2

I put up in cure another batch of 2 coppe a few days ago. I didn't take any pictures, because they'd be exactly the same as the other coppa pictures, so i'll just give you the formula I used.

The recipe I used is pretty similar to the last one, with a few minor changes. The 2 coppe I made were just slightly different from each other with one of them have some crushed fennel seeds. I lowered the salt a touch in both of them since the last batch was just a touch too salty.

The biggest change was the HUGE reduction in clove since the last batch was incredible over-clovey.

Coppa V2
IngredientQuantity(g)% of Meat
Pork Coppa
Salt ( Kosher)
White Pepper
Cure #22.5
Myrtle Berries2.0
Fennel (in 1)3.5

Myrtle berries are unavailable here in the US, they can be substituted for juniper berries, they're quite close. I have a feeling the fennel I put in one of them wasn't enough, it smelled great in the spice mix, but then after the cure the fennel smell was overwhelmed by everything else. We'll see, I guess that's the point of documenting next time I can adjust as necessary.

I rubbed the cure and massaged it into the meat chunks, and then put in the fridge for 9 days. I flipped and massaged the meat in the bag every 4 or 5 days.

I made a mold solution of 0.5g (1/8 teaspoon) of M-EK-4 mold mixed in 20g water, and let it sit for 12 hours. I then mixed that solution with 200ml of water, and let it sit for 20-30 minutes.

I cased them in 100mm collagen casings, and then sprayed with the mold solution and put in the fermentation box which was set at 69 deg. F.

36 hours later I put them into my curing chamber at 52 deg. F 72-75% RH.

They look great so far, and I think they'll be delicious!


Monday, January 7, 2008

Bresaola - Tasting

Well, almost exactly 30 days from when the bresaola went into the curing chamber, it's ready. The mold over the past 30 days beautifully coated the whole piece of meat, developing a nice white bloom. You can see what a nice lean piece of meat the eye of round is. There is just 1 fat vein in the middle, and this is pretty uncommon.

Here is a picture of the uncut bresaola, you can see how nice the mold looks. I have never been able to get this before, so I attribute it to the use of the mold solution I sprayed on them.

The bresaole lost 38-40% of their weight (each one was a little bit different, based on they location in the chamber, and their thickness), and only took about 30 days because they are rather lean. I maintained the chamber at about 54 deg. F, and 75% RH.

Here is a plate of thinly sliced bresaola. Look what a beautiful crimson color it has.

This is my favorite way to eat it. Dabbing it with a mixture of oil, lemon juice and black pepper. Wait about 5 minutes to let it soak in a little bit, and eat with crust bread. So good, so good.

As far as tasting notes, I think this bresaola is one of the best I've ever made. It is just a little bit too salty, but it may just be nit picking. The herbs are nicely balanced, with none of them being overly strong. It is beefy and herby. Really wonderful. Next time I'll leave it in the cure maybe 1 or 2 days less.
The texture is perfect in the thicker, central, sections. Soft, but not raw feeling. The ends are a little drier and harder, but that is impossible to avoid since they are smaller. I think the 38 or 39% water loss is just about right for eye of round bresaola.