Curing pork for the first time

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 24, 2011 at 6:59 AM

Hi, I am purchasing a 1/4 of a pastured pig this Thursday. A friend and I are butchering it ourselves (she's taken a class and has done this a few times, it's my first time). I am more than comfortable with the roasts, ribs, shanks, and even sausage. However, curing bacon, hams, etc intimidates me a little because it's often done with quite a bit of sugar. If I send out those pieces to a local butcher to be cured, I'm sure they'd use a lot of sugar and probably nitrates/nitrites. Any first-hand experience (I can google, but I'd like recommendations) with recipes for lower-sugar cures and/or brines? My friend has salt-cured her own bacon, but it came out remarkably salty. I am not opposed to some sugar, but would like to minimize it. Thanks!

Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

2 Answers

Medium avatar


on February 24, 2011
at 08:46 AM

I just saw a Ray Mears Bushcraft program on air drying meat and wonder if you can use this method instead of salting (this was the way meat was preserved before the widespread use of salt as a cure)? Here is a page about smoking ham which may help:



Here is a recipe for air/salt cured ham with no sugar:

http://historicalfoods.com/1863/dry-cured-ham-recipe/ (the nitrates and nitrites may not be as bad as you think they are)

If you need more information on dealing with whole pigs, then Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's book is excellent, he deals with the whole carcass on his famous 'pork days' and covers salting and smoking and lots of other ways to preserve meat:



on February 24, 2011
at 07:15 AM

Funny you should ask ... this was in my FB feed this evening: http://mattikaarts.com/blog/charcuterie/meat-curing-safety/. If you use brown sugar, you can use less than white. I think the natural molasses adds a depth of flavor PLUS more minerals in brown sugar.

Answer Question

Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!