What does it mean? Cured v.s. Uncured meat. I often take information I’ve learned over time for granted, until one of our wonderful customers asks a question and gives me a moment to pause and realize not everyone may know the answer. This is the case with cured v.s. uncured meat.
Curing meat has been a tradition since 3000 BC and started in Mesopotamia.
Even back then families knew the importance of preserving their meat and vegetables. Most often salt and herbs were used in the process. Salt naturally draws out the moisture from meat and kills harmful bacteria. Herbs were used to flavor the meat as it dried. One such herb is celery powder which has natural nitrite (preserving) properties.
The process of using salt and herbs to cure meat takes time, often up to two weeks depending on type and thickness of meat. Technology over the years has allowed many advantages, and disadvantages to the curing process.
Today, meat that is labeled as cured IS NOT done so with salt and herbs.
Instead our modern curing process involves injections of potassium nitrate and sodium nitrite (in conjunction with Monosodium glutamate). This cuts down on time and allows meat to cure in a matter of hours instead of weeks. This is a huge advantage to consumers who demand their products quickly as well as at a cheaper price.
On the other hand the modern curing process of chemical injections can also be seen as a disadvantage for the very same reason. Our farm friends and family know that they want the healthiest meat possible. That starts from the birth of the animal, continues its life through quality care, and continues to both the butchering process and the quality processing of that meat.
It would certainly defeat the whole purpose of high quality meat to raise an animal without chemicals only to rush the process in the end and cure the bacon or ham with chemicals. 🤦♀️
Our farm chooses to do it the old fashioned way! We have a wonderful butcher, Wahoo Meat Locker, who is skilled at curing our pork products the old fashioned way with salt and herbs. Yes, this does take longer but the quality of the end product both in taste and health for our customers makes it worth the extra time and money. Because this is not the standard for today’s meat process meat labels that do not use chemicals often say “uncured” meat. When in doubt read the ingredients! Ours will always list all the ingredients used in full transparency.
Keep your questions coming!