Curing meat by using a salt brine was a widely used method of preserving meat before the days of refrigeration. This is the way one cures pork.
Brine barrel filled half way up with 1 cup salt per 2 gallons of hot water (that's 32 parts water - 1 part salt), and a bit of vinegar -
BETTER - Brine Barrel filled 1/2 way with 5/8 cup salt 3/8 cup curing salt per 2 gallons hot water, and a bit of vinegar.
Cut your animal up into ham sized pieces (about 10 - 15 lbs each).
Put the pieces in the brine barrel and let it soak for 6 days. Now that your meat is salted, remove the meat from the brine, dry it off and put it in flour or gunny sacks to keep the flies away. Then hang it up in a cool dry place to dry. It will keep like this for perhaps six weeks if stored in a cool place during the Summer. Of course, it will keep much longer in the Winter. If it goes bad, you'll know it!
Putting it in a brine barrel, filled half way up with 4 cups brown sugar to 3 gallons water - and a bit of vinegar (note: no salt): Inject some of the sugar brine mixture into the already salted meat with a weed spray unit (used only for that purpose ... we use a sharp tip with holes drilled in the end to allow the brine mix to penetrate deep into the meat) then put the meat in the sugar brine for 3 days.
Remove the meat from the brine and smoke it for 3 days. Now put your smoked meat into flour or gunny sacks to keep the flies away and hang it up in a cool dry place to store. Smoked meat preserved like this should keep in the Summer for at least 4 months if stored in a cool dry place. It will keep much longer in the Winter, or if refrigerated.
Salt and sugar both cure meat by osmosis. In addition to drawing the water from the food, they dehydrate and kill the bacteria that make food spoil. In general, though, use of the word "cure" refers to processing the meat with either sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate. These can be obtained through your locak chemist shop.
Sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate are the basis for two commercially used products: Prague powders #1 and #2. Prague powder #1 is a mixture of 1 part sodium nitrite and 16 parts salt. The chemicals are combined and crystallized to assure even distribution. Even though diluted, only 4 ounces of Prague powder #1 is required to cure 100 lbs of meat. A more typical measurement for home use is 1 tsp per 5 lbs of meat. Prague powder #2 is a mixture of 1 part sodium nitrite, .64 parts sodium nitrate and 16 parts salt. It is primarily used in dry-curing.
One other commonly available curing product is Morton's Tender Quick. It is a mixture of salt, sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate and sugar. Ask your butcher or grocer to stock it for you.
Brine Cured Pork
Mix salt, brown sugar and salt peter, add this to the water and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir to dissolve sugar. Skim off any scum that may form while boiling after everything is dissolved. Remove from heat and chill until quite cold.
Pack the pieces of meat into clean barrels or earthenware crocks, placing them as close together as possible. Now pour the cold brine over the meat making absolute certain the meat is completely covered. Put a board over the meat that just fits inside the container and place weights on it to make sure that the meat is emerged in the brine. When curing larger and smaller pieces of meat at the same time, place the larger pieces on the bottom and the smaller ones on top. This is so the smaller ones can be lifted out without disturbing the larger pieces. The small pieces do not take as long to cure as the bigger ones.
The meat should be cured in a temperature that is just above freezing. If the meat is cured at a warmer temperature the brine may show signs of souring. If this should happen, remove the meat and soak it in lukewarm water for an hour or so. Wash the meat in fresh cold water and be sure to throw out the soured brine. Clean out the container, repack the meat and make a fresh brine in original proportions.
After the meat
is cured the pieces should be soaked in warm water and then washed
in cold water or even scrubbed with a brush to remove any scum
that may have accumulated during the curing process.
Hang the meat by very heavy cords in the smoke house and allow to drain 24 hours before starting the smoking.
Hard wood is the best to use for smoking and the temperature in the smoke house should be 100-120 degrees F. The ventilators should be left open at first to allow any moisture to escape. Smoke until desired flavour and colour is achieved.