We’ve covered nearly every aspect of preparing charcuterie at home. From curing salts and brines to safety tips, you should feel fully prepared to take the plunge. But a key question remains—how long should you age your meat?
Before we get to that, let’s discuss another common question associated with aging: wet versus dry. While “wet curing” may sound like an oxymoron, it has to do with the blood present in a cut of meat during the aging process. If you choose to wet cure your cut, the plastic will not allow the meat to breathe, so it ages in direct contact with the blood, giving it a more intense, sour flavor. On the other hand, dry aging allows the meat to breathe and lose water, giving it what some would consider a beefier, meatier flavor.
Okay, now back to the numbers. The length of time a cut of meat needs to be cured depends on the type of meat, the recipe you are using and the type of preservation you are trying to achieve (drying, curing, smoking, etc.). It is very important not to remove your cut from its brine, chamber or smoker too soon, as eating meat that is not fully cooked or cured is very dangerous. However, it is equally as important for certain meats and techniques not to leave the meat too long, as there is a chance that the more time passes, the more likely that bacteria or mold will begin to grow.
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