Curing meat is the oldest way to preserve it and was done extensively in the days before refrigeration. One of the easiest ways to cure meat is with salt. Salt-cured meat can easily be made in your home with the proper ingredients. Using the salt-curing method, any type of fish, pork, beef or poultry can be cured and will remain edible indefinitely. The reason: Salt removes all the moisture from the meat. Learning the process doesn't take long, and if you like dried meats and jerky, this is the cheapest, easiest way to keep yourself supplied with it.
Clean all of your meat thoroughly by running it under cool water. Don't be afraid to use a mild soap, but be sure to completely rinse until all traces of the soap are gone. A soap with anti-bacterial agents is ideal. Pat the meat dry before you begin apply the curing mix.
Mix all of your curing ingredients. You can mix the ingredients together in a large bowl and store the mix in plastic airtight bags. Keep the mix stored as you would any of your other dry food mixes.
Rub curing mix all over the meat. The curing mix should be rubbed thoroughly on every part of the meat. You may even want to inject a liquid mix of the cure into the meat for extra curing. This can be done by adding a 1/2 cup of water to 1 oz. of the curing mix and using a meat injector (can be purchased at a grocery store) similar to one you might use to inject turkeys. To inject the liquid, stick the injector into the meat in three or four locations. The liquid will spread as the meat cures.
Set rubbed meat aside, wrapped loosely in plastic or brown butcher's paper for three to four weeks, or generally seven days per inch of thickness of the meat. Be sure the storage area is cool and dry. Set the meat up high to avoid any contamination or access by animals.
Check your curing meat every two or three days. If you see that some of the meat isn't drying at the same rate as other pieces of meat, add a little more of your liquid curing mix. Remove any meat that seems to be discoloring or has a rancid odor. Cut meat into slices if it doesn't appear to be curing properly.
Sodium nitrate can be dangerous if not handled properly. Unless you are confident about using it correctly, you can skip this ingredient in the curing process, or consider buying curing mix with all of the ingredients properly mixed for you.