A Primer On Cured Meat

What Is Cured Meat?

Curing is a method of preservation which expands the product’s shelf life for a future emergency. Additionally, it includes a procedure where it adds and enriches the flavor. The common examples of cured meat are bacon, Spanish chorizo, salami, pepperoni and more.

Since long, long ago, people have had the knowledge of how to cure meat, and have been doing it since. At first, the techniques and methods were unrefined yet as society created, the systems for preserving turned out to get progressively better and over time has arguably been able to improve the taste and texture of some foods.

 

Here we will discuss the different techniques and methods on how to cure meat.

How Long Does Cured Meat Last?

Cured meat is a great method to prolong fresh meat’s restricted shelf life. However, the question is, how long does it really last? You see, cured meats do prolong the shelf life of the meat, but in reality, as we all know, meat will not last forever. So how long will cured meat last? The appropriate and honest response is that it relies upon the process and technique.

In any case, for every cured meat, when the packaging has been ripped off, the oxygen exposure will
quickly decrease the shelf life (sometimes to even as little as a couple of days).

How to Cure Meat?

Curing is the application of a blend of salt, sugar, nitrite as well as nitrate to meat for preservation, enrichment of flavor and shading appearance. Commonly, the two primary ingredients that should be utilized to cure meat are salt and nitrite. However different substances can be added to speed up curing, settle tone, enrich flavor, and diminish shrinkage during the process.

 

Salt is the essential ingredient utilized in meat curing. It acts as an additive by drying out and osmotic pressure which hinders bacterial development. Salt actually works as an additive in “country style” cured meats. The primary role of salt in other cured meats is to add taste. Nonetheless, even at low concentrations salt has some additive activity. Salt levels are reliant upon consumer’s taste, but two to three percent concentration in the product is what you generally want.

 

Nitrates and nitrites, either potassium or a sodium salt, are used to foster cured meat tone. They grant a radiant, rosy pink tone, which is attractive in a cured product. Aside from making meat look more appetizing, nitrates and nitrites have an articulated impact on flavor. Without them, a cured ham would be essentially a pungent pork broil. 

 

They further influence flavor by going about as amazing cell reinforcements or antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that keep “oxidative rancidity” at bay, which would decrease the keeping quality. Sodium nitrites additionally forestall the development of a food-contaminating microorganisms.

We will dig deeper on the different methods of curing meat below:

 

Dry Curing

This curing technique is best used for preserving hams, bacon, or smaller cuts of meat. After the meat has been directly applied with the dry cure mix which includes nitrate, it is put into a food storage container and sealed tightly. To ensure the meat is totally covered, folks like to fill the food storage container with salt, place the meat on top, and put more salt over the meat until it’s covered.

People also add some herbs and spices of their choice. The meat should then be put in a refrigerator or cool space for several weeks, until the curing process is finished. Once it is done, you should remove any excess salt on the meat by rinsing it. Lastly, you can cook the meat and taste.

 

Brine Curing (or “Wet Curing”)

This curing technique involves soaking, washing or injecting the combined curing salt and water to create a sweet pickle solution. You can easily manage the amount of salt that you use with brine curing. This is used for preserving ham, olives and cheese. It is a good idea if you are planning to cure a small quantity of meat.

To begin preparing your brine, use a plastic or glass bowl. Then, inject the brine solution into the meat. You can either use a meat pump or simply soak the meat for days. When soaking, make sure that the meat is fully submerged. You can use a plate or anything you have around the kitchen, just as long it weighs the meat down enough to stay in the solution. 

 

Like how dry curing works, this should also be put in a refrigerator or cool place while letting the curing process do its work. Note that small cuts of meat can finish curing in a few days, while large cuts can take up to weeks. Lastly, you can cook it after it’s finished with the curing.

 

Combination Curing

By the name itself, this curing technique is simply the combination of dry and brine curing. This method effectively cuts the curing time and reduces the tendency of the meat to get spoiled. The process happens inside and outside of the meat. Like how the first two work, this should also be put in a refrigerator or cool place until the curing process is finished. Afterwards, you can cook it and taste the result.

 

Smoking

Meat may even be preserved by curing it with smoke. Basically, the smoke makes an acidic covering to the meat, keeping bacteria from developing. Also, the smoke dries out the meat to give a beautiful, earthy-colored outside appearance and a trademark smoky character.

Smoking also works to establish a threatening habitat for microbes. Hot smoking uses temperatures around 160°F for more limited timeframes. Whereas, chilly smoking is the place where shelf life truly takes off. Utilizing cooler temperatures under 100°F, the primary objective is lack of hydration, and the resulting product can have a longer shelf life.

 

Sausage Curing

This curing technique, not at all like those recently mentioned, is refined by blending curing salts and spices in with ground meat. It also goes through the same curing process that should be done in the fridge like the other techniques. At the point when the curing process is finished, you can now then cook the sausage and eat it.

 

Equilibrium Curing

This curing technique is pretty much a fancy term for the general practice of getting the right amount of salt for completely curing the meat, yet additionally adjusting the flavor of the salt level. So, In case you’re stressing over putting such a lot of salt, this is the technique you ought to try. To begin with, gauge the meat and apply 3% of that weight of salt onto the meat, covering it evenly and completely, and afterward utilize a vacuum sealer to seal everything up and let it sit in the refrigerator for around 5 days.

If you notice the meat going foul at any stage of these techniques, that implies that the salt was not appropriately applied and bacteria has started to develop. There’s no genuine method to rescue meat after decay has started, so if you discover any signs of bacteria, it ought to be disposed of immediately. Then it’s time to try again! Don’t give up!

 

More About Curing To Come!

Soon we’ll be publishing some detailed how-to guides on different ways of preserving meat. In the meantime, familiarize yourself with different meats and different styles of curing. Farmer’s markets are great spots to find good cured meats.

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Kevin Fitzpatrick

I'm Kevin, the founder of Prepper Base. Ever since I discovered Prepping, embracing the Prepper Mentality became my full-time job. I started Prepper Base as an information resource for anyone and everyone interested in Prepping, Survivalism, and Off-Grid Living. I have combed the web and realized that there's a lot of garbage out there related to Prepping. So I want to help you save time with no-BS information that can truly help when SHTF. I've combed through a lot of books and websites and dove head-first into the things that interested me. I hope you can find some useful prepping information here. I am always looking for new things in the Prepping world. Please drop me a line through any of my social media accounts if you have a current event, an idea, or new Prepping-oriented product that you think I should write about. Thanks for visiting!

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