What is cured meat, anyhow?

by Kate Steadman

I swear to god I almost googled this last night after pausing too long in front of the bacon section and thinking “ok, but what is cured anyway?” It’s kind of like when I ride the bus to work and I’m so tired my only thought is “so exactly how does the system operate that controls when the voice calls the stops?” (ahem, not the biggest morning person.)

Anyhow, the Kitchn says:

Curing is actually a general term referring to any process that helps preserve meat. It can mean salting, brining, aging, drying or canning. The goal of all of these processes is to slow spoilage and prevent the growth of microorganisms.

More detail at their blog.

Now I don’t want any lip about how I’m supposed to know this already. I knew curing meant some kind of salting or something but I didn’t exactly know what.  And at least a few of you thousand readers do not either.

Besides, the Paper of Record told me I was making ricotta but several of our readers disagreed. How do I even know what’s true anymore!

6 responses to “What is cured meat, anyhow?

  1. “What is cured meat, anyhow?”

    Awesome.

    This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

  2. Curing usually means treating with salt and or nitrates. This can include cooking as in hams or not cooking as in prosciutto.

    Salting and brining are both salt treatments, one being with dry salt, the other with a salt brine.

    Aged meats are not necessarily “cured” by my definitions.

    I have never heard of canning described as curing though cured meats (corned beef/hot dogs) can be canned to create shelf stable vs refrigerated versions.

  3. see what I mean?

  4. You have to join the secret curing society to know more. Just be content with the imperfect and the vague.

  5. I think by aged meats they’re referring to things like prosciutto and jamón serrano that are salt-cured and then aged.

    And yeah, I’m skeptical of canning as a method of curing. Basically, I see curing as salting (whether dry or wet) and/or smoking. I suppose drying without salt or smoke would work, but are there any methods that do that? Aging can be a part of the curing process, and is in making the best cured meats.

  6. so is the meat raw???

    for example, honey cured ham (deli cold cuts)???

    Iam I to assume it is edible because it
    is cured, or do I still have to cook it??

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