All professional chefs begin their training in the cold kitchen, commonly referred to as “Garde Manger.” The most highly prized skill of cold cooking is the creation of spectacular charcuterie presentations. But you do not have to be a charcuterie chef to assemble a well assorted and mouth-watering charcuterie board. Admittedly, home characuterie creations are infrequent due in large part to high prices of deli-meats but need not be so.

Many home cooks may not realize: homemade deli-meats or forcemeats are not particularly difficult to make and are certainly more economical. What is needed are a meat grinder, your choice of meats, and patience. For example, animal-derived casings can be purchased from butcheries and meat grinders from specialty kitchen equipment retailers. Unfortunately, a key ingredient which has become increasingly difficult to source is the food additive: sodium nitrite (SN).

SN is a white, inorganic compound which attracts and soluble in water. Historically, salt has been used for the preservation of meat but with misgivings. in contrast, sodium nitrite when combined with the salt serves as an excellent food preservative. The cured meat develops a pink color associated with cured meats as opposed to the brownish gray color of salt-preserved meats.

For the aspiring home chefs who wish to blend their own curing salt, simply mix 94% sodium chloride (salt) and 6% sodium nitrite together. To cure meats, the recommended proportion is 4 oz. of curing salt for every 100 lb. of meat, or 0.25% of the total weight of the meat.

To aid the home chef in the creation of charcuterie, I have made available small packets (50g each) of SN available on this website. Each packet would yield approximately 20 kg of forcemeat.

For ideas and recipes, please look for my upcoming blog on this site.

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