15 January, 2009

Making Capicola Update - Visiting the Capicola

It's been four days since the pork loins were seasoned, cased, and hung in the attic to begin their journey toward becoming capicola. It's time to check on them and see how they're doing.

On the left is what the capicola looked like when we first hung them: the casing was opaque and very pale, and the salted pork loin was quite yielding to the touch. The outside of the casings always picks up some of the seasonings when you're stuffing them, so you can see little bits of the pepper clinging to the outside.

Although the capicola has only been hanging for a few days, the appearance has already changed. The difference is quite dramatic at this phase - from now on the changes will be much more subtle and hard to distinguish. Take a look at the picture on the left and you can see the difference: The casing has begun to dry and is now more transparent. Lean and fat areas of the pork inside can be clearly seen, and so can the pepper covering the surface of the meat. The meat is taking on a rich, chestnut brown color which will deepen and become more mellow over time. The casing is just slightly tacky to the touch, especially on the bottom bits from which meat juices had been dripping. The capicola feels more rigid when pressed - although it yields a bit, the meat has actually become quite firm, and this will also continue as time goes on.

By this time, the capicola is no longer actively dripping, but it is still losing moisture via evaporation. Many of the plastic cable ties are loose and it's time to tighten any that need it, using a pair of pliers. As I tightened the straps, I noticed that some of them pulled tighter by almost half an inch!

Once the tightening is done, I close the closet door, turn out the lights, and return to the warmth of the living room and the bright fire of the pellet stove. For at least this first month, I'll be stopping in to check on the capicola every few days. It will be time for another photo update in three or four weeks.


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