When meat is taken from the salt cure, it needs preparation for long-term storage if it is not to be cooked at once. The surface should be thoroughly washed in cold water to take off the outer layer of salt, or the meat will become too salty, and there will possibly be a damp surface which can become slimy. If the meat has been dry-cured, it can be simply brushed and left in a cool place so that the salt and saltpetre will continue to do their work. This can be accomplished at the bottom of a refrigerator.
Salt meat does not have to be smoked, but can simply be dried. It is important that the place used for drying is really dry as dampness is attracted by surface salt. The temperature should be about 60°F/15°C. During drying, a white surface layer of crystalline salt will appear which should be carefully removed from time to time.
The dried meat can be stored, and if possible, the storage place should be dark, and again a suitable temperature is about 60°F/15°C. Temperature may be as low as 42°F/10°C, but it is important to avoid variations in temperature as this can cause condensation and the deposit of a film of moisture on the meat. The bacon or ham can be hung up without covering, but it is better to wrap it in paper or cloth and then surround it with a substance which will take up moisture. Charcoal, wood ash or oatmeal (free from mites) are the most easily obtained suitable materials and will not affect the flavour of the meat, but will keep it at an even temperature, dry and free from light.
To store in this way, sift a layer of clean dry wood ash into a box and place the wrapped meat on top. Continue with layers of ash and wrapped meat if there are many pieces to be stored. Finish with a layer of ash about 8in/20cm deep, and keep in a dry place with the box raised on some bricks to prevent dampness rising. If the ashes do get damp, they must be removed, dried and replaced. If oatmeal is used, prepare in the same way, but be sure the storage area is mouse-proof.
If it is preferred to hang up the meat, wrap it in clean linen or calico and wash the bags three times in a solution of lime.
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