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Furry collar


Steve Harford
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Just about to start slicing some cured and smoked loins and a collar and surprised and disappointed to see that the inside of the collar is furry. Never had this happen before so I thought I would ask for advice here before I throw it. I’ve sliced off the ‘ solid’ end and that’s fine and tastes as it should. 

I did my usual 3% Lucas curing salt with 0.4g sugar and was careful ( I thought) to rub it well in to the inner part. This was then vac packed and left in the fridge for 2 weeks followed by 2 days pellicle forming, then 52hrs total smoke. Since then it has been hanging in the fridge. 

The temperature of the fridge was at 4C at all times. 

As you can see it has a grey/green colour to the inner surface which was slightly furry when first inspected. 

My first thought was that the I hadn’t been thorough enough with curing it but surely it would smell off if that was the case?

Since starting to write this I have chosen to bin it. 

9314280D-7DC6-4DF7-9A5B-5ABC4BE34A28.jpeg

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Hi Steve

From the photo it looks like a mould growth. It is highly likely that swabbing with a 50% vinegar solution would have been fine but without more information on the type of mould I cannot be sure. The growth of the mould, whilst probably safe to eat, is likely to have affected the meat flavour in the areas where it was growing - usually imparting a bitter taste. Even though you used the cure, mould is not inhibited by Sodium Nitrite and it will also still grow in applied salt concentrations up to 5%. I think that your problem was probably down to your method.

You did not say whether the 2 days pellicle forming were also in the fridge or what the temperature was inside your smoker. It also sounds as if you were curing it with the collar closed. This could give a nice "cozy" damp place for some moulds to survive and even thrive. I think that the main cause of the mould growth was the 52 hour smoke. 52 hours is a long time for a smoke - was this all done in one session or was it split with the meat being returned to the fridge in between smoking sessions? Mould will still grow slowly even at fridge temperatures and the ambient smoking temperatures in your smoker would have given the mould a good environment grow rapidly.

What I suggest for next time are the following:

  • When you are curing the collar leave it opened up whilst it is in the cure and vac packed and reduce the curing time to 10 days
  • Once you have rinsed off the cure, ensure that the meat is left in the fridge for only a few hours to dry. To be honest, you do not need to leave it for a pellicle to form however if you want one then limit it to only 12-24 hours.
  • Reduce your smoking time to a maximum of 48 hours and then do this in 8 hour stages, returning the meat to the fridge in between. A good way to do this is to smoke overnight when it is cooler and then return it to the fridge during the day.. 
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33 minutes ago, Raptor72 said:

Could you smoke this just the once ? 

Just like the cure, the smoke flavour takes time to diffuse throughout the meat. This will happen just as quickly with short "top up" bursts of smoking with a rest in between as it will with keeping it in the full smoke for the full time. The major downsides of such long periods of smoke are over smoking, where more of the heavier, bitter, tars are also deposited onto the surface of the meat, and the prolonged exposure to warmer temperatures which will encourage faster mould and bacteria growth. Yes the smoke does act as a mild antibacterial and anti-fungal however it only reduces the growth of some moulds and does not completely prevent it. The inhibitory effect would be greater on the surface of the meat however inside the closed meat cavity very little smoke will actually penetrate directly and so there would be a lesser effect during the smoking period.

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Thank you Wade. 

The meat was in the fridge between smoking, which was 3 full CSGs in total.  I do it overnight then bring it into the fridge during the day but I’m wondering from what you have said, that the air was too damp as it was rainy. 

Next time, I will hold the flaps open the whole time to get better circulation. I’ve previously tied it all up right from the very start with no problem. A waste of a good piece of meat but a lesson learnt. 

 

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Sorry to hear about the meat 😞

Air/Smoke flow through the smoking chamber is very important. The less flow you have the moister the air inside will become and the more likely it is to condense on the meat surfaces, the greater the warming effect will be from the smoke generator and also the more the bitter tars will be deposited. Yes, you should keep those flaps open.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Interestingly, I have just done another batch where, due to being hospitalised, the cured loins were left in the fridge for 3 days. When I went to smoke them this morning I noticed some furry bits on one of them. This indicates, to me, that there is too high a humidity in the fridge. This is with a new fridge but never happened in the old one even for several weeks of being sat there. I can’t see how the air circulation can be any different. In fact this fridge is bigger so it should be better. I’ve even turned the stat down to 3 dog so it’s not temperature. 

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12 hours ago, Steve Harford said:

Interestingly, I have just done another batch where, due to being hospitalised, the cured loins were left in the fridge for 3 days. When I went to smoke them this morning I noticed some furry bits on one of them. This indicates, to me, that there is too high a humidity in the fridge. This is with a new fridge but never happened in the old one even for several weeks of being sat there. I can’t see how the air circulation can be any different. In fact this fridge is bigger so it should be better. I’ve even turned the stat down to 3 dog so it’s not temperature. 

If you are vac packing it while it is being cured then the humidity in the fridge should not be an issue as the meat will be in its own microclimate inside the bag. The lack of air inside the bag should also inhibit most mould growths.

A couple of things to check...
What is the actual temperature inside your new fridge. If you have a digital probe leave it there and see what temperature it stabilises at. If you have an upright fridge and the door is open and closed regularly then the temperature inside takes a while to get back down to 4 C after each open. It can remain at 6-8 C for a while afterwards.
Are you actually vacuum packing the meat in the bag or just using the vac packer to effectively seal it inside. The more air you get out of the bag the more the meat will press together (removing internal air pockets) and the less oxygen inside the mould will have to grow.

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The portable digital temp gauge reads 3degC inside and just before I close the door it o my gets up to about 5. 

The curing is done fully vac packed. 

After washing off it is patted dry with kitchen towel and hung inside the fridge  

I did notice a small amount of moisture on the meat surface when I checked it. This makes me think it’s a humidity problem. But I’m doing nothing different to that which I’ve always done, except that it’s a different fridge. I will double check the temp with my thermapen.  

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