Meat Preserving And Curing Guide

A Cured Meat Guide for Everyone

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If the origins of fermentation and the making and eating of fermented foods was based on food preservation, then meat serves as one of the best examples of the application of this technology. When, many thousands of years ago, wild or domesticated animals were slaughtered for food, unless some sort of low temperature storage was available, either the entire animal had to be cooked and consumed within a relatively short amount of time or the meat would spoil. Even if these early consumers were less discerning than the more sophisticated consumers of today, rotten meat still must have had limited appeal. Of course, it must have been far more troubling to eat meat that lacked obvious signs of spoilage only to suffer hours or days later from a serious illness of one form or another. Comminuted, or chopped or ground, meat products must have been even more prone to spoilage.

It probably did not take long, therefore, for some aspiring food scientists to develop ways to preserve meat. Drying was undoubtedly among the first of these technologies proven to be successful. It was probably observed that smoking and salting were also effective. If, however, a small amount of sugar was added to a meat mixture, and if the salt level was not too high and other conditions were just right, then an entirely different type of product could be produced, one that had a tart but appealing flavor and lasted a long time, especially if combined with drying. Moreover, if the salt also contained sodium or potassium nitrate, a highly desirable cured meat color and flavor was also achieved.

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