If you faithfully follow food trends and have become a full-fledged charcuterie fanatic, you may be considering drying, salting, fermenting or smoking your own meats, making your own cheeses and designing your own carefully-crafted charcuterie platters.
Like with anything you are trying for the first time at home, there are risks and safety procedures you should follow when making your own cured meats. By following these tips for food and kitchen safety, you can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in your meats and create an enjoyable (and impressive!) treat for your family and friends.
Sanitize before starting! Preserving meats (and even making cheese) requires the use of good bacteria. When curing meat, harmful bacteria from your kitchen surfaces and the air can get on the outside of the meat. The applications of the salt is what prevents those bacteria from surviving and multiplying, but to avoid preventable health risks, make sure to wipe down all surfaces and utensils before you start.
Temperature and timing are key Because making charcuterie is all about temperature and timing, this tip is very important. If you think about it, curing meat requires getting its core temperature up to only 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This may seem strange when you consider that most things you cook get up to at least 350 degrees. If you do not keep the meat at the right temperature for the right amount of time, it can be dangerous for you to eat. Make sure to follow the directions for prepping, preserving and storing accurately to avoid health risks.
Remove moisture Removing moisture from your meat is another way to avoid bacteria, which live and grow rapidly in moist environments. Certain preservation methods require a curing chamber, and it is important to make sure this is someplace sanitary where you can control the temperature, air flow and humidity (like a small refrigerator or cooler).
Don’t forget important ingredients Especially when curing sausage, the use of pink salts (sodium nitrate and nitrite) and mold starter cultures are necessary to fight bacteria and prevent food poisoning. However, make sure to use the defined amount, because too much nitrite can be harmful.
The stages of safety are different for each type of meat and each type of home preservation. Follow these safety tips to enjoy a unique charcuterie platter this holiday season.