“Mutton Cured and Smoked at Home as Good as Pork”

In 1921, the sheep industry was in dire situation as I wrote about in my last blog. The cattle industry wasn’t doing well either. However, an article appeared that was supposed to encourage the consumption of more mutton. In the Coconino Sun, Flagstaff for February 25th, an article gave a recipe for cured and smoked mutton! The article stated that the United States Department of Agriculture believed, if farmers cured and smoked mutton it could be as delicious as pork. In 1921, the government agency stated that only 3.9 percent of the meat used in the United States was lamb or mutton. The newspaper stated, “This is partly due to the fact that there is a popular impression among farmers that after a sheep is slaughtered, the only domestic use of the flesh is eating it while it is fresh. As a consequence, the farmer’s family grows very tired of mutton before the carcass is consumed.”

The Bureau of Animal Industry within the US Department of Agriculture had done some experimental work in the curing and smoking of mutton. The directions for home curing mutton was as follows:

“The first essential in curing is to be sure that the mutton is thoroughly cooled. The meat should never be frozen, either prior to or during the period of curing.  The time to begin curing is when the meat is cooled and still fresh; the proper time is from 24 to 36 hours after killing. Because of the high shrinkage incident to curing, only large pieces, such as the legs and shoulders, are suitable for treatment.

“Mutton may be cured by using any good brine formula, but dry-cured meat is better for future use than brine-cured and requires less work. However, danger from rats and other vermin is less in the case of brine-cured meat. Both methods of curing are very successful if care is taken to see that each operation is executed properly.

“Following is the method of dry-curing mutton: For each 100 pounds of meat use 7 pounds salt, 3 pounds sugar or syrup, 2 ounces red pepper and 2 ounces black pepper.

“Mix all ingredients thoroughly, then rub the mixture well over the meat and pack it away in a box or on a table. Allow one and one-half days cure for each pound of meat the pieces average. After the meat is cured hang it in the smokehouse.”

And, that is how it was done in 1921! I think I will just buy mine fresh from Rovey Dairy in the Phoenix metropolitan area. And if you don’t live in the Phoenix area, there are farmer markets in Cochise County that carry lamb and beef from Dennis Moroney. Fry’s food also carries US lamb but won’t be as fresh as from Rovey Dairy or 47 Ranch (Dennis Moroney). So eat that lamb. It has lots of protein.

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