Essential equipment

Or “how did I ever live without this stuff?”

A list of items I can’t live without, especially for home curing / charcuterie purposes.

1) Digital scales – accuracy is key when weighing out things like curing salt. Digital scales are not expensive and take the guesswork out of curing and brining meats. Your stomach will thank you. I recently replaced my old ones with these – they’re accurate to the gram. Also, your baking will improve if you’ve been using analogue scales for measuring ingredients. How anyone can cook using volume measurements (cups, etc) is beyond me.

2) Digital probe thermometer. I have one with a probe on a long metal wire, so that I can leave it sticking in meat with the oven door closed and then have the temperature display / alarm on the kitchen work surface. Indispensable for checking if poultry (for example) is properly cooked. It’s also very useful for checking whether your oven temperature gauge is lying to you – mine was way out!

3) Sharp knives – Make sure that your knives are sharp – it’s easier to screw up with a blunt knife, and they’re frustrating to use.  Honing steels and knife sharpeners are cheap. If you have expensive knives (I don’t, yet.) they might need specialist care, but all knives should be sharpened from time to time, and honed regularly.

4) Meat grinder / mincer / sausage stuffer. I have an electric mincer with a sausage making attachment. It wasn’t expensive and I find it suits my needs absolutely fine.

5) Bacon / meat slicer – not really essential, but it’s nice to slice bacon so that the slices are all exactly the same. It means that they all cook at the same time. You can spend a lot of money on these if you like, but I went for an entry level one, which works great for my purposes.

6) Vacuum sealer – I just bought one of these – works great so far. It means that I can get more into my freezer, and the food doesn’t get freezer burn.

I just realised that it looks like I’m pimping out Andrew James’ products. The truth is that I bought this stuff because it was the entry level stuff, and I’ve honestly had no issues with it yet. So there you go 🙂

7) proQ cold smoke generator – This thing is absolutely great. I can get over 12 hours’ smoke from a single dose of wood dust. Much easier than running ducting all over the place 🙂