REVIEW - Umai Charcuterie Bags

REVIEW – Umai Charcuterie Bags

PLEASE NOTE: We were NOT paid or in any way compensated for this review.

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With our new charcuterie interest, we have been reading for some months about Umai Dry Bag products. The basic premise is that, using a FoodSaver style machine, you put your cured meat (or salumi) into this bag that allows moisture out, but not moisture or oxygen into the bag. The material actually bonds with the meat itself and prevents mold (sometimes this is good, sometimes it is bad as all mold isn't bad). We had a bad experience recently with a pancetta that was ruined by an attack of very fuzzy mold. Although it might not have killed us, we decided to trash it to be safe. The result was our immediate purchase of some of the Umai bags to try. We didn't get the whole charcuterie kit as we had most of the ingredients onhand that come in the kit. So we just bought a pack of the 10"x11" bags that arrive with the special sealer strips. If you're new to curing, you might want the whole kit so you can have ALL the ingredients that you need. By the way, there's a number of videos on their site that demonstrate how to use these bags. We strongly encourage you to look at them before beginning the project. The bags aren't cheap...but loosing a great piece of cured meat is no fun. We know that now! We ordered the bags on Saturday and they were promptly shipped by 11Am on Monday.  So a simple breakdown of the process:
  1. Cure meat in salt, pink salt, and assorted 
  2. Wait... peek, poke to see how it feels more often than necessary. 
  3. Weigh - Beginning at 2 months, we started weighing it about once a week until we reached a loss of 35%.
  4. Unwrap and try. We had some case hardening so we put it back into a regular food saver bag for another 2 months to allow the moisture to equalize. Case hardening is when the edges of the cured meat are much dryer than the center. If this is severe, it can result in spoilage of the inside, moist meat. Ours was not severe though.
 Now for the details:
  • 3lb Beef Round
  • 25g Kosher Salt
  • 30g Sugar
  • 4g Curing Salt #2
  • 5g Black Pepper
  • 2 tsp Thyme
  • 5 Juniper Berries
Cure mixture before grinding.

Cure mixture before grinding.

Coated with Cure Mixture

Coated with Cure Mixture

Put all the curing ingredients into a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder). And grind into a rough mixture. Rub ½ the cure onto the beef and place in a large ziplock or other covered vessel into the fridge for 7 days. NOTE: we divided our beef round in two and did one with some wine added in with the cure to check for different tastes... turns out it didn't make much of a difference. Rub with remaining ½ of cure mixture and place back in fridge for 7 more days. Rinse well and allow to dry at room temp for 2 to 3 hours. Tie with butcher's twine to help maintain shape (this is optional).
Checking Weight (This was one half of the bresaola)

Checking Weight (This was one half of the bresaola)

Into its resting place for 2 months.

Into its resting place for 2 months.

Place in your Umai Charcuterie Bag and seal on the MOIST setting in your food sealer. If your sealer doesn't have a Moist setting, just do two seals on the bag to make sure it doesn't leak.
Finished product. This is after another 2 months in the fridge in a REGULAR Foodsaver bag to help redistribute the moisture from case hardening)

Finished product. This is after another 2 months in the fridge in a REGULAR Foodsaver bag to help redistribute the moisture from case hardening)

Weigh the beef. You are done curing when it looses 30-35% of its weight. This took about 2 months for ours... again, we had divided ours so there was more surface area. It may take longer for a whole one. Again, we had some fair amount of case hardening and chose to put it in a regular FoodSaver bag for 2 additional months. This helped redistribute the moisture and it turned out great. We just need a great meat slicer now so we can get it paper-thin. VERDICT: We will probably invest in the Salumi kit next since this turned out so well. It's not traditional curing and does lack some of the romance, but for a beginner, it takes a LOT of the scary part out of curing your own meats.
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