Sunny Castillo is bringing artisanally crafted meats to the Fairbanks area for all to enjoy.

Castillo is the owner of Ice Aged Charcuterie, a local venture offering dry-cured meats. Castillo began curing as a hobby but it quickly blossomed into a skill that her friends and family urged her to share with the community.

Her love for charcuterie began as a young girl when she lived in Spain for a period of time.

“I was always fascinated by the process of making dry-cured meats,” Castillo said. “I always loved to have Spanish ham. I was obsessed with that and their charcuterie was so good that when I got older, I decided I wanted to do it.”

She started learning the process by following recipes she found in books or online, and the more cured meats she made, the more she fell in love with the process.

“I realized that it was something I really liked doing,” Castillo said. “So I went to Italy for a week-long course on how to make traditional Italian salami. This was in the south of Italy, and it was an amazing course.”

Castillo receives all of her meats from local meat vendors, so her product is Alaska grown and made. Her main sources are Delta Meats and Interior Meats, both wonderful companies with which to work, Castillo said. The entire process — from harvesting the animals to curing the meats — takes place here in Interior Alaska.

The care and detail that goes into cutting and curing meats is complex. For each type of meat, there’s a different process; for instance, meats such as coppa, lonza, or culatello all require a different muscle and cut. Castillo does each cut herself, and then she chooses the spices and curing salts that she will use for the curing process.

When it comes to spices, Castillo’s favorite blends are ones that she has created herself. One of her salamis is flavored with chile morita, a jalapeno that has been smoked and dried slowly, and has a very unique taste. It is spicy, but it’s one Castillo and her husband are a fan of.

Castillo has also created an original recipe that includes bacon flavored with birch syrup, which she plans to offer in upcoming months.

After flavoring, Castillo puts the meat through an equalization process where the meat stays in a vacuum-sealed bag for 14 days so the salt and flavor can penetrate the meat. Then she rinses the meat out, weighs it, and hangs it up for drying. The duration of the maturation process varies greatly depending on the type of meat, ranging from 3-4 months for some to over a year for others.

“Making dry cured products takes a lot of precision, attention to detail and patience,” Castillo said.

You can order Castillo’s delicious cured meats from her website, iceagedcharcuterie.com. Currently available are lonza and coppa, for $15 per 2 ounces, pancetta, for $15 per 3 ounces, guanciale, for $10 per 3 ounces, and three flavors of salami, which are $15 each.

Castillo also has custom charcuterie boards available for purchase. The charcuterie boards come in three sizes, a small serves four people for $50, a medium serves eight people for $100 and a large serves twelve people for $140. The charcuterie board comes with your selection of Castillo’s cured meats, cheeses, crackers, nuts and fresh fruit.

To create your own charcuterie board at home, Castillo recommends having at least three or four different types of meat. Her favorites to choose from are salami, lonza and coppa.

“Those three would make a really good charcuterie board,” Castillo said. “That, with some cheese, crackers, nuts, and just whatever comes to your imagination.”

Her favorite cheeses to include on a charcuterie board are gouda and manchego to eat with the meats, and then brie to have with the fruit or crackers.

Castillo is running Ice Aged Charcuterie on her own, with occasional help from her husband, and she stressed that it may take her some time to restock once she sells out of an item.

“Every product goes through a process of maturation and sometimes it takes a long time,” Castillo said. “Maybe some things will sell out fast and we just have to be patient before the next piece is done.”

You can find Ice Aged Charcuterie online at iceagedcharcuterie.com, on Facebook at bit.ly/3wh2GOv and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/ice_aged_charcuterie.

Contact Features Editor Galina Segler at 907-459-7585, gsegler@newsminer.com or twitter.com/FDNMfeatures.

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