Dry Cures

In a dry cure, the cure ingredients (salt, plus seasonings and, in many cases, sugar and Prague Powder) are mixed together and packed or rubbed over the food product to coat it completely. The length of time required to dry-cure meats depends on their thickness. Lean meat 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick requires 3 to 8 hours, while a whole ham needs about 45 days. During a long cure, the food is repeatedly turned and rubbed with the cure mixture in order to maintain uniform contact. It is important that the entire surface area be coated.

The curing procedure for sausages could be considered a dry cure. However, in this case, the cure is mixed directly with the meat. Because no time is required for the cure to penetrate to the center of the meat, the curing process takes place very quickly, although the products may be air-dried or smoked for a longer period before being consumed.

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