I pride myself to have mastered the art of smoking a German Schinken, similar as the Italian Prosciutto.
The difference is that Schinken is cold smoked and dried and ready in about eight weeks, versus Italian Prosciutto is hung/dried for about a year
I watched many German YouTube clips, joined Social media groups about smoking meats, and developed my own method. I held on to this recipe for a very long time, and since I am traveling more, I thought it is time to pass it on.
You will have to follow many steps, also buy equipment to make Schinken. First, you will need a smoker. They can be bought at Costco, Sams, Lowes or Home Depot. If you don’t have any of these stores, smokers can also be found on Amazon.
Temperature and humidity play an important role in curing meats and involves the preservation of meat through the use of sugar, salt, herbs and spices to draw out moisture.
The temperature for curing meat should be between 50 to 60 degrees, if you have a basement, that would be ideal. It allows the enzymes in the meat to break down proteins and fats, creating the flavors we love in the Schinken and Prosciutto. Temperature is not the only important factor when curing meat.
Drawing out moisture changes the flavor of the meat and extends the shelf life dramatically.
To prevent the meat from drying out too quickly, humidity levelswhile drying should be between 60% to 70%!. That allows the good texture and growth of good bacteria.
The Smoking process:
The meat goes through this process to extract moisture and inhibit bacterial growth. The cured meat is exposed to smoke, which imparts the distinctive smoky flavor. If you are smoking the meat, it will take time, depending on the product hours to days. There is a trick is to expose the food to smoke. The meat internal temperature needs to be kept lower than 100 F. This is usually accomplished by keeping the food in an unheated chamber while smoke from the “Cold Smoking” attachment (see on Amazon below)
The cold smoking technique goes back a long way, and was often used to preserve meat through the winter when food was otherwise scarce. In Germany, farms and homes in villages often included a Smokehouse, a separate building for the purpose of smoking and storing meats.
Since I usually start smoking Schinken or Speck, and fish like Salmon or Mackerel early November, I had a lot of smoked goods as gifts for Christmas. I vacuum pack, so it will last least 6 month in the refrigerator. It taste great withmy Bauernbrot
6 Juniper berries (crushed), can be substituted with 3 bay leaves.
6 Black peppercorns (crushed)
3 tbsp sugar, preferable brown
3 tsp Herbs of the Province, or Italian seasoning
4 large garlic cloves, halved
Wood chips for smoking, use Alder, Cherry, Apple wood (can be mixed)
My experience is that Sams Club has the best meats, so I purchased 3 large pork loins for Lachs or Nuss Schinken. I have a large Masterbuilt smoker with a cold smoke attachment. There should to be a constant temperature anywhere around 45 to 55 F when drying, and hanging the Schinken, preferable it would be a basement You will need: Curing Salt, Pink Prague Powder #1
Day 1: Curing: Immerse the pork pieces in the cure marinade for 7 days (up to 2 weeks for thick pieces) in a food safe plastic container or a cooler.
Day 7: Wash the meat and soak in water, changing into fresh water 5 times at the beginning. Leave it soaked in fresh cold water for 48 hours in a cool dark place.
Day 9: Remove from soak, rinse again and dry off with paper towels. Hang up to dry in a cool, airy place for about 3 days (recommended temperature 45 to 55 F). If there is no basement and the room is too hot, maybe a window air conditioner can achieve this with a temperature control.
Day 11: Cold smoking: Prepare smoker by attaching the cold smoke attachment (see Amazon). Cold smoking actually means 55 F to 77 F. Choose a day where the heat does not exceed this temperature. I used Alder, Cherry, Apple wood chips. Mix or use alone. I found Hickory too strong.
Smoke 8 to 12 hours. Let rest overnight in the smoker, then smoke again all day, and the next up to 4 days. (I only smoked for 2 days).
Day 15: Hang to dry and cure on meat hooks for 4 to 6 weeks in an airy cool place at 45 to 55 F.
While hanging to dry, the room humidity should be 65% to 75%. (70% is the sweet spot to prevent the meat from drying out too quickly).
Slice thin, It should have a nice pink-red color.
After 4 to 6 weeks of hanging and drying the Schinken should have a nice pink-reddish color. I have a food slicer that cuts meats very thin. Can be stored vacuum packed in the refrigerator for up to 6 month.