Basterma Recipe


This recipe results in a whole muscle of cured meat, which can be sliced and eaten as is, without cooking.

Fermentation Time

Fermentation Type: Lacto
Primary Fermentation: 9 days
Aging: At least 2 months
Total Time: About 2 months and 9 days
Shelf Life: Up to 1 year frozen in vacuum-sealed bag

Yield: About 3-1/2 pounds.


For the meat:

  • 2 ounces sea salt
  • 0.2 ounce curing salt #1
  • 0.8 ounce dextrose
  • 0.8 ounce cane sugar
  • 5-pound cut of lean beef or mutton, such as loin or round

For the cemen paste:

  • 3 ounces garlic cloves
  • Nonchlorinated water
  • 4 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 5 ounces paprika
  • 5 ounces ground fenugreek seed


To prepare meat:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the salts, dextrose, and sugar. Distribute the mix evenly over all surfaces of the meat, and gently massage with gloved hands.
  2. Place the meat in a vacuum-sealed or a zip-closed bag, and label with the weight and the date.
  3. Press the meat under heavy cutting boards and refrigerate for 1 week, flipping the meat and replacing the weight halfway through the curing time.
  4. After the week is up, remove the meat from the bag. Rinse it, and then pat it dry. Return the weight boards to the meat, and let it ferment at 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 percent humidity for 2 days.

To make cemen:

  1. Process the garlic cloves in a food processer until minced. Add nonchlorinated water, a little at a time, and mince until you achieve a smooth paste.
  2. Transfer the garlic paste to a small bowl, and add the flour, paprika, and ground fenugreek. Add just enough water to produce a thick but smooth paste, and mix until well combined.
  3. Remove the meat from the press, and smear the cemen evenly over all surfaces in a layer at least ¼-inch thick.
  4. Hang the meat in a low-light location, such as a curing cabinet, for at least 2 months at 50 to 60 degrees and 65 to 75 percent humidity. The meat will be safe to eat only when it’s lost 30 percent of it’s original weight. Consume within 1 month, or freeze in a vacuum-sealed bag for up to 1 year. Slice thinly before serving.

For More Information on Sausage Fermentation:

Over the past 17 years, Meredith Leigh has worked as a farmer, butcher, chef, teacher, nonprofit executive director, and writer, all in pursuit of good food. Meredith works part time for Living Web Farms, where she travels extensively teaching charcuterie and food production and processing. For more information, visit Meredith’s blog!

Published on Feb 11, 2020
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Inspiration for edible alchemy.