Among all the various means people use to preserve food, Salt is not left behind; Salt has been a food safety aid since ancient times. It was used for preserving food since there were no refrigerators or freezers then.
So, using Salt to preserve foods, especially meat, is an effective method of food preservation; it reduces the water activity of foods like meat, thereby increasing their shelf life and keeping them fit for future consumption.
Throughout this article, you will realize that using Salt to preserve foods, especially meat is much older than it seems!
Using Salt To Preserve Foods, Especially Meat
Using Salt as a food preservation technique is an ancient technique used by the Romans to preserve foods such as fish, olives, shrimp, and cheese. Salt can absorb moisture and efficiently increases the durability of foods and meat.
In addition, it also provides aroma and flavor to food. Salt is responsible for removing the water concentration from foods, leaving them almost entirely dehydrated; this means that food-borne pathogens cannot survive, thereby increasing the shelf life of various foods and meat.
Salting prevents the development of microorganisms and is especially recommended for meat. When Salt absorbs moisture from food, it creates a favorable condition to prevent the proliferation of bacteria without losing its flavor and nutritional quality.
However, Salt’s ability to decrease water activity is because sodium and chloride ions has the ability of associate with the water molecule.
How To Preserve Meat With Salt?
You can preserve meat with Salt in two ways: in brine or by salting.
1. Preservation Of Meat By Brine
Brine is a solution of Salt and water used to preserve meat and it can be prepared by dissolving Salt in water, place the food in the brine, and then keep it in a cool, dry place. Also, you can introduce a new flavors to the food by introducing spices like juniper berries or peppercorns to the brine.
However, the food can last for few months to few years depending on how much Salt is used , it can also add flavor to the food as well, though some do not like the taste of salted foods. Brine preservation will help prevent meat spoilage and extend its shelf life.
2. Preservation Of Meat By Salting
Salting is one of the most common methods of preserving meat. To prepare this method, you must cover the meat with Salt and wait for it to dry. Salting will help prevent spoilage of the meat and keep it from going rancid over time.
In addition, the Salt will help extract moisture from the meat, making it more flavorful and maintaining its nutritional properties. Ham, bacon, duck, fish, eggs, cheese, and vegetables can be salted through dry cures or wet brines for either short or extended periods to achieve desired results.
Benefits Of Using Salt to Preserve Foods, this Especially Meat
1. Foods preserved with Salt last longer.
2. This preservation technique helps preserve the nutrients of the foods and meat.
3. It is a natural method of preserving food.
4. Salt-preserved meat is much tastier.
5. Salt prevents bacteria from growing in meat, making it safe for consumption.
Other Methods Of Preservation Other Than Using Salt To Preserve Food, Especially Meat
1. By Freezing
When we freeze a product, the water activity decreases. Since the water cannot “move” into the product, microorganisms can not grow, and the food lasts longer.
Products like meats, fruit pulps, ready-to-bake cheese bread, ice cream, and frozen French fries must be kept in the freezer to preserve and maintain their ideal characteristics.
2. By Drying
Drying decrease the amount of water in a product. As many microorganisms grow with high water activity, lowering it is a way to preserve food. You’ve probably already consumed food that went through drying, such as dry fruit snacks.
3. By Pasteurization
Pasteurization is a well-known method of preservation used in the industry; it is a mild heat treatment for acidified foods. It uses temperatures below 100ºC to maintain the quality of the food and destroy microorganisms that can cause disease.
However, several foods are pasteurized. The most famous and present in our lives are bagged milk, butter, ice cream, boxed juices, and beer every Sunday afternoon.
4. By Blanching
Blanching is a treatment where the food is placed in hot water for a predetermined time. It is used to fix color, inactivate enzymes and improve texture. Many fruits and vegetables undergo this treatment.
5. By Fermentation
This process aims to control the food’s microorganisms. We can mention alcoholic Fermentation that transforms glucose into carbon dioxide, in wine, for example, or even acetic Fermentation to generate vinegar.
However, there is also lactic Fermentation responsible for cheeses. Did you know that pickles aren’t just pickles? Many people associate pickles only with cucumber, but in reality, they are usually pickled vegetables: some examples are olives, onions, and carrots.
6. By Using Additives
Famous preservatives are substances that prevent or delay the alteration of foods that come from the action of microorganisms and enzymes. We obtain long-lasting products by adding preservatives such as acetic acid and sodium propionate.
Examples are soft drinks, potato chips, sausages, and many other foods.
7. By Using Sugar
The fruit industry uses and abuses this preservation method! Adding sugar and improving the food’s flavor make it last much longer (reducing water activity). Jellies, candied fruits, and condensed milk are examples of this process.
8. By Sterilization
Sterilization is a procedure that subjects packaged food to high temperatures for a certain period to destroy possible microorganisms, pathogenic or not, and their spores.
We can sterilize all kinds of meat, fish, vegetables, and fruits in jams, syrups, pickles, creams, soups, sauces, and stews.
9. By Smoking
Here, the meats are placed on racks in an enclosed area so that the smoke does not escape but penetrates the foods. Commercial Smoking is sometimes carried out with steam pipes supplementing the wood fire.
Since smoke is antimicrobial and antioxidant, it is used to preserve foods.
Food preservation is a technique responsible for increasing the life and availability of food consumption. For example, meat, fish, and poultry tend to decompose with time due to oxidation and the presence of microorganisms.
However, using Salt to preserve foods, especially meat, helps to prolong their shelf life and retards or prevents the growth of microorganisms by absorbing their moisture content.