Prosciutto

LOUSANTELLO
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Post by LOUSANTELLO » Thu Dec 22, 2016 14:58

The salt after the first week was completely gone and unseen. I took the remaining 2/3, weighed it and cut that in half again. When I dressed the next 1/3, that felt like alot of salt, but I did manage to pack it on the meat area with very little falling off. I wrapped them in unwaxed butcher paper again and re-netted them. I stacked them on top of each other over an oven rack with stainless bins under them to grab the liquid and placed them back in the refrigerator. The skin part of the ham is definitely getting slightly darker and definitely firming up. The raw meat side of the ham has no discoloration or odor at this time. I would say the raw area is a little firmer as the crevices were not as easy to open to get salt in there, but I managed to cram it in there and around the bone especially.
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Post by Butterbean » Thu Dec 22, 2016 15:37

That sounds as it should be. Actually you could have added the next 1/3 when the salt "disappeared". Basically you are just adding the salt as needed. The next addition won't be taken up as aggressively and the last will be even slower and you may even have salt left on the outside at the end of the time which you'll need to rinse off.

Next comes the slinky part and just having to wait till the salt slowly moves throughout the ham. IMO, all of this is best done in a forgetful way with patience. It just takes a lot of time for the salt to penetrate the ham. At the end of the salting time you are apt to have 9% salt on the outside of the ham with 4% in the middle and only 2% at the bottom near the skin. All this will equalize given time and then the ham will be "cured" and you can remove it from the refrigerator and do what you want with it.
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Post by LOUSANTELLO » Thu Dec 22, 2016 15:49

Right now, I have the cut side of the meat face down assuming you want these to drain. Are you suggesting that the cut side should be face up so the salt penetrates? I am not sure whether the salt is being penetrated of draining off with liquid. They are wrapped in butchers paper and the seams of the paper are on the cut side of the meat.
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Post by Butterbean » Thu Dec 22, 2016 21:42

I've never wrapped mine. I just lay them down in a meat container or a large plastic bag and add the salt to the face which is facing up and draws moisture to it. Years ago we had salt benches in the smoke houses here and you laid the ham in the bed of salt face down. In this case you did nothing but leave it there. Adding the measured amount to the face is just mimicking this.
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Post by LOUSANTELLO » Sun Dec 25, 2016 15:14

I just happened to turn on the Food channel last night. There was an Italian restaurant that makes their own prosciutto. He placed the ham with the meat side up and loaded it with salt in a rubbermaid container and refrigerated it for 40 days. After 40 days, he rinsed it real well and made a wine/garlic/ black pepper mixture. He rubbed the wine/garlic/ black pepper into the meat and put it back in the refrigerator for 30 more days. After that was done, he pulled it and made a lard/flour/black pepper mixture and rubbed it on the raw side only of the meat. That's when he tied off the leg and hung it, but he didn't say at what temperature for approximately 1 year. This is the second time I've heard 40 days for salt, but this guy also had another 30 days after the rinsing process before hanging.
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Post by redzed » Tue Dec 27, 2016 06:56

Lou there are many different ways to dry cure a ham, here are some excerpts from Fidel Toldra's work, Dry Cured Meat Products

Traditional Processing
The traditional processing of dry-cured ham was transmitted from
generation to generation and involved several stages: salting, post-salting, and
drying/aging, the most important. By the end of the process, hams were
stabilized by the presence of salt and reduction in water activity and had
developed typical sensory characteristics. Ancient practices involved rearing pigs
at home and slaughtering them around the end of autumn or early winter, just
at the beginning of the cold weather. Hams were either individually rubbed with
dry salt or left to stand in piles - layer by layer, up to six layers - and then
fully surrounded by salt. This method of salting is still used in some
modern processing facilities, mainly in Spain, San Daniele (Italy) and southwest
of France. Salting and post-salting extended for a period of time along with the
coldest winter months (December to February) while ripening/drying took place
during the spring and summer, respectively. The product was then ready for
consumption. The production sites were usually located in the middle-high
mountains where the climate is cool and dry and favors a correct drying. The
air circulation in the drying room, and subsequently the drying rate, was
manually regulated by controlling the opening/closure of the windows,
depending on the weather conditions. The operator decided, on a daily basis and
according to the weather conditions, the necessary aeration by checking the
moisture content of the hams by visual/tactile assessment.

Salting.
The Spanish Serrano and Iberian hams are pre-salted for the
addition of nitrate. Hams are nitrified either manually or in rotary drums with
a mixture of curing ingredients, mainly salt and nitrate, in the form of a curing
salt (sodium chloride with 4% potassium nitrate). In some cases, like French and
country-style hams, the curing salt, which already contains salt and potassium
nitrate or sodium nitrite, is used during the salting stage. In Bayonne hams,
curing salt (salt + 0.1 X sodium nitrite) can be used to a maximum of 20 g/Kg
ham. Nitrate can be used to a maximum amount of 2 g/kg ham if alone or 1
g/kg ham if curing salt is also used. In other cases, like Parma hams (the use
of nitrate was banned in 1993), there is no addition of nitrate, and this step is
thus unnecessary.
There are two main procedures for the salting stage, depending on the
control of the salt added to the hams: undetermined salt supply and exact salt
supply *

Undetermined Salt Supply.
This procedure is mainly used in Spain and part
of France and Italy. The hams are completely surrounded by salt (rough sea salt
or refined mineral salt) and placed layer by layer into stainless steel bins with
holes at the bottom for dripping removal (Fig. 3.5). The hams are left fat side
down to allow the curing ingredients to diffuse under the conditions.
Alternatively, sea salt or mineral salt (coarse to medium grain) may be rubbed
onto the lean surface, and the hams are then placed on shelves. The outer
surface is very important because penetration of salt takes place only on the lean
meat area. The usual conditions for salting are 1.1 day per kg of ham at 3-4C
and high relative humidity to prevent excessive dehydration of the surface. A
second salting, which may be necessary for heavy hams, is a common practice
in several types of hams. For instance, French hams are washed and salted again
for an additional period of time. Weight losses may reach 3-4% at the end of
this stage for a typical evolution during the processing of different
types of hams. When there is an abundant surface moisture, especially in
exudative hams and front hawed hams, which can facilitate the dissolution of
salt and its penetration into the meat, the time is reduced by 2 days.
Exact Salt Supply
The exact amount of salt per kg of ham is added on the
lean surface and hand-rubbed. This process is longer because it is necessary to
wait until all the salt has been absorbed. It may take between 14 and 21 days,
depending on the size of the ham. The process is complicated and the
hygrometry must be well controlled. In the case of Parma hams, the lean surface
is rubbed with medium-grain salt (20-30 g per kg of ham) and the skin is
rubbed with 10-20 g of wet salt (coarse salt with 20% of water) per kg of ham
(Parolari 1996). The salt is renewed at the beginning of the second phase, and
the relative humidity is decreased to favor mild dehydration of the surface
moisture.

Post-salting or Resting.
The hams are washed with water by rinsing and
brushing for the removal of residual salt from the external surface. Hams are
then left on platforms or hung on drying rails or steel shelves and placed in
chambers for salt equalization. The complete homogeneous distribution of the
curing agents through the entire piece usually takes 1-2 months, depending on
the ham size, ratio of lean surface to mass, pH, presence of intramuscular fat
(which constitutes a barrier to salt diffusion) and temperature of the chamber
(which regulates the diffusion rate and type of process). The relative humidity
progressively decreases as the resting stage progresses. The weight losses are
around 4-6 % . French hams are typically heated at 22-24C for a week in order
to dry hams after washing and fix the color.

Ripening/Drying
In order to develop the characteristic dry-cured flavor
and texture, the hams in the racks are moved to the drying chambers where they
are dried and ripened at different time-temperature conditions. Traditionally, the
ripening/drying was operated in natural rooms located in places with dry
weather conditions, such as in the mountains of Spain, in the dry winds from the
Alps or Pyrenees or in the valleys of Parma or Bayonne. Today, most of the
ripening/drying is performed in well-equipped chambers with full computer
control of temperature, air speed and relative humidity. Hams must not touch
each other so air can circulate.. Aeration must be uniform to ensure
that temperature and relative humidity are homogeneous through the entire room
but not too fast (less than 0.02-0.03 d s ) , as the ham must not dry too quickly.
The excessive dryness of the ham surface retards the transport of water to the
outer surface and thus evaporation. It may also cause disjunctions among
muscles where microorganisms might penetrate into the ham. Aeration may be
performed either by convection, where the warm air introduced at the bottom
of the chamber is lighter than cold air and produces a slow movement of the air,
or by mechanical ventilation where fans and turbulence are created by baffles
on walls.
Mild temperatures over an extended period of time allow the action of the
muscle enzymes and the generation of desirable taste and aroma compounds.
The moisture content of the hams is appreciated, not only by visual and tactile
assessment, but also by weighing. Spanish hams experience a progressive
increase in temperature along the ripening stage. French hams are usually heated
to 22-26C for a few days just after the resting period as mentioned above. The
enzymatic reactions are accelerated, and the drying is performed in two phases.
Once the expected moisture loss is achieved, usually around 7-9 months of
processing, the hams are manually smeared with a layer of lard in order to
prevent excessive dehydration. Lard also avoids mold and yeast contamination
on the outer surface of the ham. The weight loss of this stage is around
20-25 % , and the total weight loss in relation to the initial raw ham weight may
reach 32-36% at the end of the process
Drying results in a harder texture of the ham. Some of them are intrinsic to the
ham such as pH (low pH favors water loss), amount of intramuscular fat (to
constitute a barrier to water diffusion), weight of the ham (which extends the
time necessary to achieve the desired water loss percentage) and water content
in the ham. The outer surface is very important because evaporation takes place
only on the lean meat area. Therefore, the ratio of ham surface to mass is
important, but so is the presence of molds that can grow and impede evaporation
by closing the pores on the surface. The chamber conditions (temperature, air
speed and relative humidity) for correct water evaporation are essential for a
successful drying.
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Post by Butterbean » Tue Dec 27, 2016 14:23

LOUSANTELLO wrote:I just happened to turn on the Food channel last night. There was an Italian restaurant that makes their own prosciutto. He placed the ham with the meat side up and loaded it with salt in a rubbermaid container and refrigerated it for 40 days. After 40 days, he rinsed it real well and made a wine/garlic/ black pepper mixture. He rubbed the wine/garlic/ black pepper into the meat and put it back in the refrigerator for 30 more days. After that was done, he pulled it and made a lard/flour/black pepper mixture and rubbed it on the raw side only of the meat. That's when he tied off the leg and hung it, but he didn't say at what temperature for approximately 1 year. This is the second time I've heard 40 days for salt, but this guy also had another 30 days after the rinsing process before hanging.
42 days versus their 40 so you are real close. Only thing the 40 day rule doesn't take into consideration are larger hams - or smaller hams. But in a way it doesn't matter much what this is trying to do is estimate the time it takes for the salt to penetrate the meat and this is pretty hard to estimate. I think what is more important is the amount of salt you use in curing because the most common "mistake" is for people to add to much salt.

Another way to do it rather than measuring is to figure 2 days per pound of ham or 1.5 days if you injected the bone. This should hit you close to your calculated figure as well. But it really goes back to the amount of salt you used. The range of salt for hams which will be aged is 1-1 1/4 ounces per pound. If you are going to make something like a city ham you need to back this back to 3/4 ounce per pound.

I think if you stick with this guide you will be able to adjust your future hams to your liking by adjusting the % salt and you will be able to gain consistency whereas simply dropping the hams in salt you really have no control. But keep in mind as you age the ham its volume shrinks and the % salt will increase and the ham will get saltier. However, the ham will get harder and your slices will surely get thinner if you cut with a knife.
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Post by LOUSANTELLO » Tue Dec 27, 2016 14:46

How did you figure 42 days versus 40? This is the second time I heard salting for 40 days. In the case of the food channel instruction, he salted for 40, then he rinsed and equalized for another 30.Here's I am told 1/3 salt on day 0-6, 1/3 salt on day 7-13 and 1/3 salt on day 14-21. That's 21 days and NOT 40? Then I was told to rinse and equalize for 7 days per 1" of fattest part of the ham. I still don't know if that was 7 days per 1" starting from day zero at salting time or 7 days per 1" starting rinse time. This should not be this difficult. I would imagine the amount of salt is the most crucial, so 20 days difference is pretty extreme.
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Post by Bob K » Tue Dec 27, 2016 15:02

LOUSANTELLO wrote:Here's I am told 1/3 salt on day 0-6, 1/3 salt on day 7-13 and 1/3 salt on day 14-21. That's 21 days and NOT 40?
Lou Total time depends on thickness
Butterbean wrote:Take your salt and cure mix and divide it in three parts and apply a third to this cut area. After a week of it staying in the fridge and draining add another third to the cut area and let it stay another week. Apply last 1/3 and leave the ham refrigerated till the total time salted equals seven days for each inch of thickness measured at its thickest point.
LOUSANTELLO wrote: I still don't know if that was 7 days per 1" starting from day zero at salting time or 7 days per 1" starting rinse time.
Butterbean wrote:Once your curing time is up, wash the salt off the cut area and hang the ham and let the salt equalize for 20 days. At this point the ham should be "cured" and you can smoke, age or dry after this point. Personally I like to rub the cut area down with lard and black pepper to get a more equal drying.


As they say there is more than on way to skin a cat...or cure a Ham. Recipes can give general time frames and are not etched in stone
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Post by LOUSANTELLO » Tue Dec 27, 2016 15:14

OK, I read it all wrong. So basically, if the unit was 5-6" thick, the last 1/3 should be from day 14-35 or 42? That makes more sense. Then rinse and equalize for 20 days? Now I get it. Thank You
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Post by Bob K » Tue Dec 27, 2016 15:33

LOUSANTELLO wrote: So basically, if the unit was 5-6" thick, the last 1/3 should be from day 14-35 or 42? That makes more sense. Then rinse and equalize for 20 days?
You are basicly estimating
Butterbean wrote: But in a way it doesn't matter much what this is trying to do is estimate the time it takes for the salt to penetrate the meat and this is pretty hard to estimate. I think what is more important is the amount of salt you use in curing because the most common "mistake" is for people to add to much salt.
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Post by LOUSANTELLO » Wed Dec 28, 2016 22:42

Conflicting answers on this one. I made 2 prosciutto leaving the bone knuckle in. The butcher says that the bone is always the most vulnerable and most commercial prosciutto companies actually pull the bone before curing with a 4" incision at the hoof area and cutting around the bone at the knuckle side until you can twist it out completely. I asked him what they do with the gaping hole and he said thats why they press them. After I removed the bone on two new units, I calles Evan at craft and he gave me the impression that the commercial companies cure with the bone in, then remove the bone after it's completely cured and press it. Now I am lost again and especially concerned that I removed the bone on the two new ones. Suggestions?
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Post by Butterbean » Thu Dec 29, 2016 03:17

Lou, I don't think there is any right or wrong way to do them. I've cut the bone out before and pressed it. It was great when it came time to slice because I didn't have to contend with the bone but it just didn't have that look. To modern and manufactured if you will and pales when its set beside a leg with the hoof on. Personally, I think prosciutto is a bit over-rated but I do love the look of a joint or two hanging from the ceiling because that just looks cool and is a great conversation piece.
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Post by LOUSANTELLO » Mon Jan 02, 2017 15:04

Butterbean wrote:
Take your salt and cure mix and divide it in three parts and apply a third to this cut area. After a week of it staying in the fridge and draining add another third to the cut area and let it stay another week. Apply last 1/3 and leave the ham refrigerated till the total time salted equals seven days for each inch of thickness measured at its thickest point.
I am at day 21 and the last 1/3 salt was added 7 days ago. Am I measuring the thickest part of the meat when it was fresh or now that it was pressed to 4" over the last 21 days? If it's 4" tall right now, does this mean I should keep that salt on for another 7 days, then rinse and re-refrigerate to equalize?
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Post by Butterbean » Mon Jan 02, 2017 17:34

I base everything off when I cut the ham off the pig. I also keep the hams cut side up so as not to waste the salt. You are doing a lot of things I don't do so I can't offer any more than I've already stated.
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