Before refrigeration or freezing were available, other more imaginative methods needed to be found to preserve meat in order to make it available throughout the year and the simplest way is to dry it out. Examples of this would be Native American jerky or Southern African biltong. Over the ages, other techniques were developed and refined. These enhanced the flavours and textures of the meat and the art of charcuterie was born.
All of our curing techniques follow age-old traditions. To produce our artisan British charcuterie we employ both dry-curing (where salt and flavourings are rubbed dry into the meat) and brine-curing (where the meat is immersed in a highly flavoured brine). In both cases, water is drawn out of the meat and replaced by salt and the flavours from herbs and spices. After curing, the meat is air-dried - sometimes for months or even years - before it is ready to be eaten. It really is slow food!
Smoke can aid preservation by preventing the growth of micro-organisms, but it is important that it enhances the flavour and should never dominate it. For those meats we smoke, we like to use beech wood, which is softer and more subtle than oak.