So, what is so hard about preserving meat?
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Just wrap it well and throw it in the freezer, right?
Wrong. Well, sort of wrong.
Meat can be preserved by freezing, of course, but the Master Food Preservers of El Dorado County stand ready to assist by offering a free public education class on deli meats on Sept. 10th and another free class on sausages on Sept. 13.
Both classes run from 10 a.m. to noon and will be held at 311 Fair Lane, Placerville. Learn how to make sausages using the right ingredients, how to smoke meats and fish and how to dry and preserve without fear. Now, that sounds better than just tossing plain old meat in the freezer.
Two rules for handling meat products must be kept in mind at all times.
First, cool it. Keep all meat, poultry and fish at 40 degrees F or below at all times.
Second, clean it. Keep all surfaces that have been in contact with animal products clean by using a bleach and cool water solution. The formula, 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 gallon cool water, will ensure that contamination does not spread.
The Master Food Preservers volunteers at the classes demonstrate how to keep surfaces and tools free from pathogens that can cause food borne illnesses. Be sure to wash hands as well.
Learn how to cure meats using various methods. The class handout explains that “Curing is actually a general term referring to any process that helps preserve meat. It can mean salting, brining, aging, drying or canning. The goal of all of these processes is to slow spoilage and prevent the growth of microorganisms.”
Of course, as with most home projects, the right equipment makes any job easier. During the class demonstrations many different types of tools will be used. From simple, hand-operated options to fancy electric gadgets, come and learn how to prepare, use and clean the tools used while preparing meat products at home.
In addition to learning how to choose the correct equipment, learn how to pick and use the proper types of casings, seasonings and additives to ensure delicious results from home curing.
Make sausage, corned beef, salami and bologna at home and create a signature recipe using safe additives and safe techniques. Who will be the next “Sausage King (or Queen)”?
Questions about safe home food preservation? Call the Master Food Preservers and leave a message at 530-621-5506. A Master Food Preserver will return the call.
The Master Food Preservers are also available free of charge to speak to organizations and clubs about food safety or food preservation topics. Just call the number above to arrange for a speaker for small or large groups.
For more information, be sure to go to the Master Food Preserver Website at cecentralsierra.ucanr.org/Master_Food_Preservers/.