Meat of the Month: Salted Pork or Porked Salt?

A New Series? A New Series!

With things the way they are as of late. Many of us have some extra free time. Time to work on projects, get some extra walking in, or lots of additional napping.

Part of my extra time has been spent fielding questions regarding preservation, which sparked the idea for a new series of posts.

So, I bring you, "Meat of the Month", where I will cover a preserved meat. Where it comes from, how to make it, and my personal experiences with it.

A Brief Overview

Salting, along with drying, have been used to preserve meats for centuries, and is still used today. Bacon and prosciutto are two examples of salted meats that have a basis in salting as preservation.

Salting meats serves two main purposes, though they are similar.
1. Draws out water in the meat, helping to dry it.
2. Reduces water activity (a measure of water available for biological processes) by having water that is present be tied up with keeping the salt in solution.

These two primary actions make a piece of meat less favorable to the growth of pathogens.

Nowadays, modern preservatives can do more of this, which means your bacon can be low-sodium and still fairly shelf stable.

Makin' Your Bacon!

Making bacon/salted pork is a fairly straight-forward process, and only requires 3 ingredients. Salt, pork, and Curing Salt #2 (#1 will also work as well) (a combination of sodium nitrate and nitrite).

These directions are based on the "bacon" described by the Roman author Columella

Day 0
1. Dissolve an appropriate amount of Curing Salt (based on the instructions on the label) in cool water.
2. Place pork into a seal-able container. I find a pair of zip-top bags to be helpful for it, as it controls leakage, without taking up too much space in the refrigerator.
3. Pour cool water/Curing Salt mixture into the container with the pork.
4. Cover pork with salt. I use kosher salt, as it doesn't dissolve overly readily.
5. Seal container, and place in the refrigerator.
6. Leave in the refrigerator until even-numbered days.

Even-Numbered Days
1. Remove pork from salt.
2. Brush/Rinse off salt from pork
3. Return pork to clean, seal-able container
4. Cover pork with fresh salt
5. Repeat until day 10~12.

Day 10~12
1. Remove pork from salt.
2. Brush/Rinse off salt from pork
3. Hang pork to dry, or smoke, as desired.

While the instructions here use pork as the meat of choice, you can easily substitute chicken or beef without needing to change the procedure.

Using Your Bacon

When making use of this bacon, the most important step is to remove the excess salt. This can be done by repeatedly boiling the pork in several changes of water, or by soaking overnight in a large container of water.

After the excess salt has been removed, the bacon can be used in a variety of ways (generally as a supplement of sorts):
-Baked beans
-Savory pies
and more!

The bacon can also be shredded, and used in a manner similar to salt, while imparting a rich, meaty flavor.

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