Curing a lamb leg - worried about botulism!

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Curing a lamb leg - worried about botulism!

Postby Ciaran88 » Tue Mar 24, 2015 11:30 pm

Hey guys,

I'm pretty new to cured/dried/preserved meats, certainly have never preserved anything for >1 week.

I recently began a violin di capra with lamb instead of goat leg. Basically it's a dry cured leg left to dry for~ 3 months.

I used a recipe from the River Cottage book on charcuterie and the author basically said he and his restaurant never bother with nitrates, that he didn't think they were necessary if you follow good practice. So I didn't use any in my cure, which was basically ~60g PDV salt, 100g brown sugar and various herbs.

I cured the meat for 3 days in a vacuum locked bag, draining, cleaning and reapplying a fresh dry cure half way through.

I then made what I'm worried is the major error. I put the leg in my fan oven and left it for ~5 days there with the heat turned off and just the fan on. This worked really well for the drying, but on reflection I think the temperature inside was often >18C at times during these 5 days.

I have now hung the leg in the attic which is cool, dry and airy.

The meat looks fine, it's started to get little patches of penicillium already, it's nice and dry and smells great.

But I'm worried about botulism and that the 5 days at a higher than desired temperature might have kicked started any inside the meat.

On the other hand I have also read that botulism is only really a risk in things that involve grinding/mincing/slicing the meat, and that whole cured cuts don't have a risk of botulism because the inside of the meat won't have been exposed to the spores and so nitrates aren't needed at all anyway.

Just wondering if anyone can give their advice on this matter!

Thanks guys.

Here's a pic before the cure and as it is now:

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Re: Curing a lamb leg - worried about botulism!

Postby BriCan » Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:50 am

To put your mind at rest just using salt alone at 3% is fine for curing the leg, just do not go below 2.5% on the salt or you may have problems curing safely

Not a fan on using sugars on whole muscles but it is done % are on the low side

Botulism is not prevalent to whole muscles (surface area) as would be to ground meat (more air space)

You do not say how big the leg of lamb is so cannot advice on salt, if I was doing I would be doing a EQ cure ( equilibrium cure) a measured amount of salt x the weight of the meat sealed in a bag for no less than fourteen days possibly twenty, then hung to dry

nitrates aren't needed on whole muscle items ... but saying that for a beginner I would recommend using cure #2 until one feels safe and at ease to not use it on whole muscles --- ground/chopped/minces stuff is a hole different story and for these you should use nitrates (cures #1 and #2)

Others will be along to advise (hopefully) as well

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