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Dry Age Bags...

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Posted (edited)

Looking to have ago at making some Pancetta and came across Dry Ageing Bags, that quite a few sites recommend, if you can't air dry things like Pancetta around the home, but can store them in your fridge, after the initial wet cure. I have a vacuum sealer and thinking of buying some of these bags for dry aging/curing not just Pancetta but maybe steak and joints of beef, if they prove to be useful and work well.

I believe vacuum aid strips are recommended for sealing these bags as well? has anyone any experience of these bags and their usefulness, where air drying really isn't an option?

Separate question. Initially thinking of doing a flat pancetta. If anyone has tried making their own, do you cold smoke it or not?

 

Edited by sotv
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Yes these do work quite well and the bags form a membrane around the meat that binds with the meat surface proteins. The vacuum sealing is not as a preservative by excluding air but it is to ensure that the bag covers and bonds intimately with the surface of the meat.  With the older type bags, if you wanted to smoke the meat then you would have to do this between curing it and placing it in the bag, however with the newer bags you can smoke it after it has been packed.

The vacuum aid strips are only required if you have a side suck vacuum packer as the dry ageing bags are not textured. If you have a chamber vacuum sealer then these are not required.

Yes I have made pancetta. It is easy to make and turns out well.  You can either smoke or not - it is up to you. I have done both and they result in different flavoured products. It is down to personal preference. Make 2 and smoke one and see which you prefer.

You mention wet curing the meat. This kind of defeats the object as the meat will take up 6-10% water during the immersion cure - which you then have to remove again through the air drying.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Wade said:

Yes these do work quite well and the bags form a membrane around the meat that binds with the meat surface proteins. The vacuum sealing is not as a preservative by excluding air but it is to ensure that the bag covers and bonds intimately with the surface of the meat.  If you want to smoke the meat then you would have to do this between curing it and placing it in the bag.

The vacuum aid strips are only required if you have a side suck vacuum packer as the dry ageing bags are not textured. If you have a chamber vacuum sealer then these are not required.

Yes I have made pancetta. It is easy to make and turns out well.  You can either smoke or not - it is up to you. I have done both and they result in different flavoured products. It is down to personal preference. Make 2 and smoke one and see which you prefer.

You mention wet curing the meat. This kind of defeats the object as the meat will take up 6-10% water during the immersion cure - which you then have to remove again through the air drying.

Thanks for the reply, poor choice of terminology with regards to wet cure.  Had the liquid release from initial dry cure on my mind.

Did you use the normal amounts %/g of Prague Powder per kg as you would for regular bacon? Also is it correct that you should use #1 or #2 for pancetta for cooking but just #2 if intend eating uncooked?

Do you leave the rind on or off for the curing process, most of the articles I have read, use the terminology skin on is preferable. Can't tell if that is rind left or just  the fat cap left after the rind is removed.

One last question if you don't mind. Does £17 delivered for 10 sized medium bags or £28 for £0 large dry aged bags sound a fair price

Edited by sotv
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As you are applying the cure to the outside and it is diffusing into the meat you should use a similar strength cure as you would for bacon - though for air dried meats that are cured for several weeks/months you would use Cure#2. Typically Cure#2 contains 6.25% Nitrite and 4% Nitrate (though some formulations can vary) so when used at 2.5g / Kg the ingoing Nitrite is 156 mg/kg (Ppm) and the Nitrate is 100 mg/Kg. If you are injecting the cure (say, in a large bone-in ham where you want to get the cure close to the bone as quickly as possible), all of the cure goes into the meat and so you could reduce the Cure#2 to 2g /Kg.

The Nitrite is there to control the growth of bacteria spores (primarily Botulinum), however this is broken down over time and needs to be topped up if the meat is to be stored for weeks/months. The Nitrate in the Cure#2 is there to slowly break down into Nitrite to continue to provide bacterial spore control. For any meat that you will be air drying for weeks or months you should be using Cure#2. When using the air dry bags in the refrigerator this is not as important for shorter drying periods as the cooler fridge temperatures will also slow down any spore toxin production , but in my mind it is better to be safe and I would still use Cure#2 for these.

Botulinum toxin is broken down by cooking (85 C for 5 minutes or 80 C for 10 minutes) and so theoretically you could produce separate "cooking" and "raw" versions of the pancetta (with and without Nitrate). You would only want to consider this though if you are planning on frying and eating the pancetta in quantity in order to reduce the risk of Nitrosamine formation from the Nitrate at high frying temperatures. The USA have banned the use of Nitrates in commercially produced bacon because of this risk and the EU are discouraging its use but have not banned it. But unless you are planning to only use your pancetta like bacon I would just produce the one version (with Cure#2). 
Botulinum toxin is one of the worlds deadliest neurotoxins - but it is also quite rare - and so you need to ask yourself if you would feel more comfortable eating the Cure#1 version after several months wondering whether you have cooked it sufficiently... or face the minute theoretical risk (still non proven in humans) of increased risk of cancer from the Nitrosamines when frying the one cured with Cure#2. Personally, I would go with the Cure#2.

I take the rind off and I think this is the more common way of producing it. I have tried pancetta that was made with the rind left on and ended up chewing and spitting out the rind as it had not softened.  

Those prices seem quite reasonable. There are now a number of brands to choose from, however they are all still quite expensive as they are used in relatively small quantities. 

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Posted (edited)

Hi Wade

Thanks for the detailed and informative response and I will follow your advice. I am going to try this recipe for the cure https://ourdailybrine.com/how-to-make-rolled-pancetta-recipe/ Will do a flat version rather than rolled and using the dry age bag rather than hanging it.

The bags from wealdpackaging as per your link, were the ones I spotted. Ijust need to measure a 1kg piece of Pork belly first before ordering and order some Prague Powder #2 and should be good to go. Just need to decide whether to give it a cold smoke between the 2 week cure and sealing it in the dry age bag.

Thanks for the advice.

 

Edited by sotv

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Marc from Weald Packaging is now a forum member @MarcWillm and he has offered 10% discount on products bought from them by Forum members. These orders will need to be placed with them directly by email (enquiries@wealdpackaging.co.uk) and quote the discount code "Woodsmoke10". 

Thanks Marc, that is much appreciated :thumb1:

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Hi All, 

My pleasure, i will try my best to offer my own advice and opinions as i have 15 years experience in the Meat Industry. 

Please feel free to contact me directly at any time on 07423 458238 and also marc@wealdpackaging.co.uk 

I am actually away for 2 weeks after this week but i will be contactable and the guys at HQ will also be monitoring my emails and enquiries. 

My pleasure :) 

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1 hour ago, MarcWillm said:

Hi All, 

My pleasure, i will try my best to offer my own advice and opinions as i have 15 years experience in the Meat Industry. 

Please feel free to contact me directly at any time on 07423 458238 and also marc@wealdpackaging.co.uk 

I am actually away for 2 weeks after this week but i will be contactable and the guys at HQ will also be monitoring my emails and enquiries. 

My pleasure :) 

Welcome to the forum and the discount. 2 weeks time for ordering , will be ideal for me as wife going in for a knee replacement today and will give some time to get back to normality after the op before trying to make some homemade pancetta for the first time.

A few of quick questions, for when I am ready,

Which bag size do you recommend forr a 1kg piece of pork belly .

I have this Luvele vacuum sealer. Reading your PDF I will need the vacuum sealing strips, is that correct?

I see you do cures as well. Was going to get some No2 Prague Powder, do you sell it or a ready made curing mix for Pancetta?

Any other things similar to Pancetta you recommend trying with your bags.

Thanks

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1 hour ago, sotv said:

I have this Luvele vacuum sealer. Reading your PDF I will need the vacuum sealing strips, is that correct?

Yes you will need the vacuum sealing strips with your side suck vac packer. Some people have used a plastic drinking straw instead but the sealing strips work more reliably.

Quote

I see you do cures as well. Was going to get some No2 Prague Powder, do you sell it or a ready made curing mix for Pancetta?

I have not seen the ingredients used in the Weald Packaging seasonings yet but it is always worth checking and putting them through a "bacon" cure calculator before you buy them. A lot of the ready made cure/flavour/seasonings, when used as directed, result in a product that is WAY too salty. A good example of this is Supracure (supplied by Weschenfelder), which would result in a salt content approaching 5% - way too high for most peoples tastes - and an ingoing Nitrite content that was twice the permitted USDA and EU maximum levels for commercial bacon. So that you are in control I would suggest that you separate the "cure" from the "flavour". Buy the ready blended flavouring spices to get that authentic taste, but make the curing salts yourself so that you are in control of the salt and Nitrite/Nitrate content.

If Marc does not supply Cure#2 then let me know and I will send you some to get you started. Whatever you do, do not buy your curing salts cheaply from Amazon or Ebay!  Only use a reputable supplier. The first (and only) pack of Cure#1 I bought from a supplier on Ebay I had lab tested before I used it - and it actually contained NO Nitrite at all.

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1 hour ago, sotv said:

Welcome to the forum and the discount. 2 weeks time for ordering , will be ideal for me as wife going in for a knee replacement today and will give some time to get back to normality after the op before trying to make some homemade pancetta for the first time.

A few of quick questions, for when I am ready,

Which bag size do you recommend forr a 1kg piece of pork belly .

I have this Luvele vacuum sealer. Reading your PDF I will need the vacuum sealing strips, is that correct?

I see you do cures as well. Was going to get some No2 Prague Powder, do you sell it or a ready made curing mix for Pancetta?

Any other things similar to Pancetta you recommend trying with your bags.

Thanks

Hello, Thank you for the warm welcome. 

I would recommend trying 250x400mm, i would be very happy to send you Samples of 3 sizes if you are able to email me your address: marc@wealdpackaging.co.uk 

As Wade has discussed yes you will need the Vacuum Aid Strips too. 

Wade would also be the best person to supply you the Prague Powder if that is ok Wade? 

I would say try and make Breasola (Dried Beef/Salmon Cut) i have a really good recipe for the marinade if you wish for it? 

I hope that answers your questions for now? 

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2 minutes ago, MarcWillm said:

Wade would also be the best person to supply you the Prague Powder if that is ok Wade? 

Yes that is fine - I have plenty here. If you let me have your address in PM I will put some in the post for you.

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Welcome aboard Marc....I can see an order winging it's way to you when we return from holls,  this has been an interesting read and I'm always learning.

Ice.

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I am up for this and wish to give it a try. Pork belly pancetta. Yummy. 

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Prague no2 needs to be mixed with curing salt?  What are the ratios per kilo, no2 2,5g per kilo, curing salt the same so 2.50 of each per kilo? 5g per kilo in all?

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52 minutes ago, MarcWillm said:

Hello, Thank you for the warm welcome. 

I would recommend trying 250x400mm, i would be very happy to send you Samples of 3 sizes if you are able to email me your address: marc@wealdpackaging.co.uk 

As Wade has discussed yes you will need the Vacuum Aid Strips too. 

Wade would also be the best person to supply you the Prague Powder if that is ok Wade? 

I would say try and make Breasola (Dried Beef/Salmon Cut) i have a really good recipe for the marinade if you wish for it? 

I hope that answers your questions for now? 

Bresola marinade recipe?

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4 minutes ago, Justin said:

Bresola marinade recipe?

Hi Justin:

The beef was marinaded overnight in Merlot and then dry cured, using cure #2 and a selection of herbs and spices for three weeks. 

It was then rinsed and vacuum packed into one of your dry ageing bags and refrigerated until it lost 38% of its original weight, which took 32 days.

It was then vacuum packed into a conventional vac bag for 3 months to equalize flavour and moisture.

Then sliced and enjoyed!!

 

The cut of beef was Salmon cut, an often unheard of cut of beef from the Silverside. Comprising of a single muscle and so bone and gristle free, taken from the back area which has plenty of flavour, usually about 1.5 kilos in weight.

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Bresola spicing will vary depending on who is making it - but here are a couple of "traditional" curing recipes...

For ~ 1.6 Kg of topside or silverside beef

Recipe 1

36 g salt
3.5 g Cure #2
25 g sugar
2.5 g ground black pepper
2.5 g ground nutmeg
1 medium sprig of Rosemary
3 small sprigs of Thyme
10 juniper berries (crushed)

Recipe 2

36 g salt
3.5 g Cure #2
5 g ground black pepper
6 g fresh thyme leaves
10 juniper berries (crushed)
1 g finely ground dried bay leaves
1 g ground cinnamon
1 g ground cloves
100 ml dry white wine

I do like the sound of Marc's Merlot marinade and so I might try that :thumb1:

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17 hours ago, MarcWillm said:

Hi Justin:

The beef was marinaded overnight in Merlot and then dry cured, using cure #2 and a selection of herbs and spices for three weeks. 

It was then rinsed and vacuum packed into one of your dry ageing bags and refrigerated until it lost 38% of its original weight, which took 32 days.

It was then vacuum packed into a conventional vac bag for 3 months to equalize flavour and moisture.

Then sliced and enjoyed!!

 

The cut of beef was Salmon cut, an often unheard of cut of beef from the Silverside. Comprising of a single muscle and so bone and gristle free, taken from the back area which has plenty of flavour, usually about 1.5 kilos in weight.

Hi Wade and Marc p.m. sent

Sitting on a bottle of unopened Merlot here at the moment and Morrisons have Salmon Cut  Joints of Beef on offer for £8 a KG this week. So all the stars are aligned to get this done and just in time for xmas by the look of your timings? If I can start it sometime next week, hopefully.

If when you get chance if you can post the seasonings you used after the merlot marinade that would be great I would appreciate that. Although Wade's first recipe looks good to me and I have all those ingredients in my cupboard already

Thank you both for all your help, looking forward to giving the Bresola and Pancetta a go

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Good Morning, 

Please find below the list of herbs and spices:

  • Ground Juniper Berries
  • Majoram
  • Sage
  • Black Pepper
  • Five Spice
  • Brown/Dememera Sugar 
  • Thyme 
  • Rosemary

Thank you. 

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23 hours ago, MarcWillm said:

Good Morning, 

Please find below the list of herbs and spices:

  • Ground Juniper Berries
  • Majoram
  • Sage
  • Black Pepper
  • Five Spice
  • Brown/Dememera Sugar 
  • Thyme 
  • Rosemary

Thank you. 

Do you marinate the 1.5 kg piece of beef in a whole 750ml bottle of Merlot overnight or a smaller amount of liquid?

Are the Thyme & Rosemary Dried or Fresh

If you get chance would you be able to post the g weight  of the ingredients based on a 1.5kg piece of Salmon beef as well

Sorry for all the questions it is all new to me, this method and would like to get the first attempt as correct as possible.

Thanks

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When marinating the meat beforehand (or adding liquid to the cure) it is important to weigh the meat before marinating as this is the weight that you need to calculate your end weight loss from. Depending on how long you marinate your meat the meat will take up additional water (up to ~10% for long marinate periods) - which must also be removed during the air drying process. 

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Hoping to pick up a 1 kg Pork belly and a 1.5 kg Salmon Cut piece of Beef tomorrow or Sunday and thanks to the offer of the cure from Wade and hopefully sorting the Dry Age bags out with Marc over the next couple of days. Hoping to get this started next week. 

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interested to see, I am still sorting out garage and fridge freezer.  Bloody thing, need to find time to do it.

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