Curing is the process of adding salt to the food before it is cooked. The method helps in preserving the food naturally. Since ancient times, humans have learned to store food by preserving food. Curing and smoking were the two most popular methods for this purpose.
Here we are going to discuss the benefits of curing food and different methods to do it.
Benefits of curing
Many of you might think that if you can flavor the food with marinades and sauce then why to try curing. Of course, it has its benefits too that make the food more flavorful and safer for consumption. Here is what curing does to the food.
Prevents bacterial growth: Curing reduces the water storage potential of the food by changing its chemical composition. This creates an unfavorable surface for microbes to breed.
Reduce food poisoning: As it prevents bacterial growth in the food, it also makes it safer for consumption reducing the risk of food poisoning.
Enhanced shelf life: As it protects the food from bacterial contamination, it also increases the shelf life of the food. This helps to naturally preserve the food for longer.
Adds flavor: Curing involves the use of salt, sugar, and nitrite or nitrate. Salt adds flavor to the food, sugar balances the harshness of salt, and nitrite or nitrate slows rancidity further balancing the flavor.
Methods of curing
Curing is mainly done for smoking meat. There are 4 popular methods of curing meat that we are going to discuss here.
Dry Curing: In this process, the dry cure mix is applied directly to the surface of the meat. It is then transferred to a zip lock bag and refrigerated for a few hours. Generally, ham or smaller cuts of meat are cured this way.
Wet Curing: The dry cure mix is combined with water to create a highly concentrated solution called brine. The meat is soaked completely in this solution or injected inside it with the help of a meat pump. Then the meat is transferred to the refrigerator for a few hours.
Combination Curing: This process involves both dry and wet brining. Here, the outer surface of the meat is cured with a dry mix and the inside is flavored by injecting the brine. The rest of the process takes place in the refrigerator like wet or dry curing.
Sausage Curing: This process is completely different from the above ones. In this method, the cure mix is combined with ground meat which is then refrigerated for a while. The sausage is taken out just before cooking.
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