As stated above, this page serves as a glossary of terms that you may come across in this blog. As new terms and phrases are used, this page will be updated accordingly, so check back often.
Curing Salt (Prauge Powder)
One powerful preservative, particularly in the production of cured meats, is nitrate (and nitrite). Nitrate breaks down into nitrite, and help to keep meats safe by inhibiting the growth of pathogens such as C. Botulinum, the pathogen responsible for Botulism.
In the Middle Ages, nitrate was often incorporated by using saltpeter (potassium nitrate). In the modern age, we make use of a more standardized sodium nitrate. This is often called "curing salt" or Prague Powder. There are two varieties, which are distinguished by the nitrate vs. nitrite content.
As an aside, most "uncured" meat products you see in stores are, in fact, cured. Instead of using a mineral source for nitrate, producers make use of celery juice for its high natural nitrate content.
pH is a measure of how acidic or basic something is. This is measured on a scale of 0-14, with 0 being the most acidic, 7 being neutral, and 14 being the most basic.
Common examples are:
Lemon Juice: ~2.2
Baking Soda: ~9.5
Salinity is a measure of the amount of salt in something. This is commonly described as a percentage.
Sea water, especially from high-salinity sources like the Dead Sea, can have a salinity upwards of 20% or more.
Saturation is a termed used to indicate that something is completely dissolved, absorbed, etc. and trying to add any more wouldn't do anything.
In the context of this blog, it will often be used in the context of making a salt-water brine. Dissolving salt into water until no more salt will dissolve, and instead settling to the bottom of the container.
Water activity is a measure of how much water is available for biological processes. It's often confused with how dry something is. While dryness can be a decent indication of a lower water activity, it's not a sure-fire method.
Some things, such as salt water, have a lower water activity as well. This is due to a portion of the water being tied up in keeping the salt in solution, and thus unavailable for biological processes.
Water activity is measured on a scale of 0 (absolutely 0 water available) to 1.00 (pure water).