What is Cured Meat ?

What is curing or cured meat?

A very ancient technique of preserving mainly pork, certain types of fish by using salt which is sometimes followed by smoking and drying. It can be done in two ways. One is dry cure by rubbing in salt or wet cured in a brine.

Meat Curing Ingredients

  • Nitrates and nitrites are the common “curing” ingredients used in the production of sausage
  • Nitrite is the compound that distinguishes fresh products from cured products
  • Nitrate is converted to nitrite during the fermentation and cooking process

Functions of a cured Meat

  • provides protection against the growth of botulism
    • extends shelf life
    • stabilizes the flavor of the cured meat
    • used to achieve the characteristic flavor and color

Cure:  Caution !!

  • Too much: can be toxic to humans!
  • Too little: can result in the growth of harmful bacteria!
  • Federal regulations:
    • maximum of 2.75 ounces of sodium or potassiumnitrateper 100 pounds of chopped meat, or
    • 0.25 ounces of sodium or potassium nitrite per 100 pounds of chopped meat

Cure Rates are Critical!

  • Most cures are added in the form of commercial premixes
  • Use the cure premixes according to labeled directions only
  • Any use other than according to labeled directions will produce an unsafe and illegal product

Addition of Cure Ingredients

  • Today we use injection, tumbling and direct mixing of cure ingredients
  • Tumbling forces the cure into the muscle under vacuum
  • Other methods include:
    • Dry rubbing
    • Artery pumping
    • Soaking in brine containing cure

Curing Accelerators

  • Speed up the curing process, reduce the holding time
  • Examples are ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or sodium erythorbate (isoascorbic acid)
  • Must be used according to labeled directions

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