here is a helpful summary of the best books i have found on curing meat, dry curing, smoked foods, these are books i have re-read and refer to on this site, the best of the best! .
When I started curing meat decades ago, there wasn’t much information I could find on what I wanted to do, which was all about the classic Italian whole muscle dry-cured charcuterie. I started smoking a lot of meat that I fished in the rivers/sea or that I looked for.
You are reading: Books on curing meat
but when I first booked these below and got into the nitty gritty details. I got the theory right and it was much easier after that.
I still get asked all the time about smoked meats and dry-cured meats; it’s a confusing topic until you understand salt and the many other factors that need to be balanced. like everything, once you understand it, it’s not so scary.
so there are two set aside, I’ll focus on those as I think these are the cornerstone of anyone wanting to learn the ropes of curing meat. after reading each one (or one), you will be able to develop your own style or follow some of the classics.
The third book, which is another winner, covers much of the same, both smoking and curing meat are covered in the River Shack book, however it combines a more exploratory culinary angle. many chefs I know have loved the inspiration of this book. but I am advising on the basic basics of using salt to preserve and enhance flavor, but focusing on the methodology in detail to some extent.
then there are other books that are also great but, in my opinion, they are not in the details of these others, more on the inspiration/ideas side.
the best most useful meat curing books
- salumi the handicraft of italy dry cured
- home production of quality meats & sausages
- the river shack curing and smoking manual
These “source books” are very helpful for someone trying to learn dry cure and smoking, everything has a slightly different tone, but the same information.
The internet has too many ideas and recipes that don’t come from an expert. or just brush up on the basics, there are some risks and getting the right education means you can be on the right track (I get a lot of emails on the site and usually just say they need one of these).
but these 3 books come from well-researched sources, who have done their homework.
Storytime side note I was recently in the region around Parma, taking a private tour of the medium-sized Parma ham (king of Italian prosciutto) factory. 85,000 legs of parma ham a year (at the time, they had harrods in london). anyway, one of the owners said they lose 2-3% a year, that’s maybe because the master salt applicator doesn’t give him enough or many other factors. now for dry curing in this advanced style that has a minimum of 12 months hanging. I’d say I have a 99% hit rate, but I don’t usually cure meat for 12 months at the moment, mostly 3-6 months dry-cure.
salumi: the art of Italian curing
by ruhlman & polcyn
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what to expect
a balance between inspiration and information, ruhlman & polcyn tries to demystify the complexity and variations of Italian dry-cured sausages and pepperoni. i just drove to the bottom of italy and back for 2 months, i know these variations – it’s mind blowing from city to city.
This is a book of inspiration and a bit of a poetic tone.
I love it and although it is shorter than the Polish or English books below. covers the heart and soul of dry cured meat. The research these guys have done is incredible, they traveled around Italy and broke it down/simplified it, it’s evident throughout the book.
if Italian dry curing (and salami making) is at the heart of what you want. this is covered in a nutshell in this book.
from how to slaughter a pig with all the muscle, classic whole muscle dry-cured recipes, salami recipes (cooked and dry-cured) and some dishes to use cured meat. get stuck. I have used many of these recipes as the basis for my home-cured experiments.
these are the same guys who produced another excellent book before salumi called charcuterie, it focuses more on classic french charcuterie with some aspects of dry curing. so look forward to an introduction to dry curing, but also recipes for pâtés, rillettes, confits, and savory hash.
salumi book – buy here (for inspiration and recipes)
link of the sausage book to amazon
home production of quality meats & sausages
by stanley marianski & adam marianski
what to expect
- intense – encyclopedia of meat curing, especially focused on salami, sausages & emulsified sausage (think bologna)
- harder when English is not the first language, but whoever translated it did a good job
- incredible level of detail – by far the most comprehensive book on salami
- fish sausages – yes covered (fresh asian style with ginger and lemon zest)
- all aspects of smoking hot or cold in every way imaginable (not sure if I read about portable smokers – what I started with, I wrote about them here, for camping or backyard gas grill action.)
- more details on home and also some commercial devices
Detailed 700-page textbook on sausage and salami (and some dry-cured stuff, like bresaola).
These Polish guys are scientists and they love sausages and salami.
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cover just about every conceivable question about curing meat and smoking. the science behind it and just in-depth coverage of the trade.
When someone asks me a question and I need a reminder, this is the book I go to for the answer.
The authors put the recipes in to encourage people to use them as a base and create their own favorite recipes.
buy it through amazon here.
the river shack curing and smoking manual
by steven lamb (a very nice guy)
what to expect
- covers all the basics, it’s a great medium sized book that has a lovely English tone.
- cured and smoked meat of course with a British taste and angle
- steven has visited and traveled enough to enhance the book with mediterranean recipes and ideas
- a little more inspiration in this, it reads like a story unlike the previous marianski book
many years ago i visited river cottage, when i had all the dvd’s ever put out (smaller british tv series). My brother and I took the introductory curing and smoking meat course. a beautiful experience, but in 6 hours you can’t really cover such a big area, we left with some ideas and basic knowledge (it’s become a bit elitist these days, like very expensive for a one day course).
for the last 10 years, these guys have really been getting into it and making their own cured and smoked meats. When I took the course there, I think it was Steve who had the drive to learn more about the craft.
It is a large book and you can see that it is well researched. goes down the path of a culinary adventure and many interesting and contrasting flavors.
the river cottage curing and smoking manual – link to amazon
extra – cured & smoking inspirational books
salt, sugar, smoke
all about contrasting recipes and flavors, inspiring when it comes to looking at a range of international flavors and turning each page gives you another idea.
I love this book, it’s about curing and smoking meat. but it also has some revelations on African themes, Moroccan themes, and a plethora of other tasty ideas.
The author Diana did an excellent job.
here is a link to see reviews on amazon.