Dry cured pork loin – tasting

When doing my research on foods, especially fermented or cured,  I have learned  to look first for the “tasting” post or video then decide whether to look at the preparation posting or video. If there is no tasting video – just assume it did not turn out.   Probably the best that I have seen are Gavin Weber’s cheese making videos. When tasting he tells it like it is – not all turn out and some are interesting surprises.

This experiment started back on Dec 15, 2018 and my first post on it was: Making Lonzino – Dried cured pork loin    (Yes, I waited to see if it was a slimy mess or not before the first posting).

Over the intervening weeks ,I took a few photos and weighed the pieces to track the progress.

Jan 5
Jan 12 – note how the mold has bloomed, covering the entire piece
Jan 12 – Weigh in for the spicy piece
More meat into the chamber. In this case it is some dry cured ham similar to Speck. Smells so good.

Starting at 1100 grams each the target for 30% weight loss was then 770 g. Today the spicy one was down to 789g  and I figured it was ready to test. Besides I had to make room for a Bresaola that was going in. T

he last couple of weeks have not been optimum for drying as I had to move the chamber to the garage as I was doing some wood project finishing in the basement and did not want the fumes to impair the flavor. So I have been shuttling it between garage and basement depending on the temperatures (it reached -30F here) and extraneous odors (garden tractor which I use for plowing stinks on start up). This means the ambient temp has been anywhere form 28-58F depending on where the box was – not ideal.   Plus I have been adding more meat and it may be tasing the little fan a bit with the added moisture.

Now is the time for the unveiling…

Spicy dry cured pork loin 2/18/19
First cut into the spicy pork loin and first taste
More slices. YUM

This is definitely a success. The flavor is just what I was looking for with the pork, fennel and pepper.  It is a nice subtle blend. The outer layer of collagen and mold is discarded before eating (although it is edible).   The texture is nice, but I want to dry it a bit more to get it a bit firmer. At this point is just a bit softer than prosciutto. I will probably trim the fat evenly next time. The meat is a bit softer near the fat layer.  The outer layer of meat is a bit darker than the center which could be a bit of case hardening (outside drying too fast) but the texture really does not vary much.

Weights   in grams

Date Plain pepper Spicy  Box RH
12/30/18 1101 1104  75-85%
01/05/19 1052 1056  75-78%
01/12/19 972 965 75-78%
01/19/19 906 914  75-78%
01/26/19 856 868  75-78%
02/03/19 828 840  75-88%
02/10/19 800 814  75-88%
02/18/19  749 789  80-85%
03/10/19  691 75-78%

Stay tuned . More projects underway. Dry cured ham – similar to Speck, and Bresaola which just went into the box today after 2 weeks in the fridge.

I also brought some in to work and ran samples past a few of my friends.   Overall the rating was excellent. Probably 60% would like it a bit drier / firmer but all want more.  So,  the other piece is going to dry to 35-40% weight loss and I will run another test.  Overall, I am very encouraged by the consensus on the results!

Update 3/17/19   The second (plain pepper) piece was dried to 38% weight loss and the group appraisal was that it has better texture.  However the fennel / spicy flavoring has the taste edge.

You really should not just take my first time experience as gospel. I did a lot of research prior to attempting this and I hope you do as well . Some of my favorite references are:

  • Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn
  • Olympia Provisions: Cured Meats and Tales from an American Charcuterie by Elias Cairo, Meredith Erickson
  • Salumi by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn

Plus a variety of youtube videos. Ignore any that post only a “making ” video but no “tasting” video.

My favorite youtube video is “making capicola”   she reminds me of my grandmother and covers the wrapping in collagen sheets before hanging.