The Basics of Salting and Preserving Meat

Here are some beginner tips for salting and preserving meat at home and on your own.

| November 2015

  • Salting Meat
    The key to salting meat is the process of diffusion: the tendency for substances to disperse through another substance until equilibrium is reached.
    Photo by Hector Kent
  • Dry Curing
    In dry-cured meats, nitrates, nitrites, and their intermediate compounds are responsible for the flavor, color, and, most importantly, the safety of the meat.
    Photo by Hector Kent
  • Dry-Curing Pork Cover
    Author Hector Kent offers step-by-step instructions on how to safely create a mouthwatering cut of pork, from the butcher block to your plate, in “Dry-Curing Pork.”
    Cover courtesy The Countryman Press

  • Salting Meat
  • Dry Curing
  • Dry-Curing Pork Cover

From the hills of Italy to the Spanish plains, dry-cured pork has been an essential (and delicious) food source for many cultures. In Dry-Curing Pork (The Countryman Press, 2014), Hector Kent explains the techniques and traditions of dry-curing in clear and accessible language. This excerpt, which explains the basics of the dry-curing process, is from the Section, "The Art of Dry-Cured Meat."

The application of salt to meat is the first critical component of dry-cured meats. Salting also includes the addition of nitrates and nitrites, if used.

When people ask what dry-cured pork is, I describe it as “salty, old meat”—a description that not everyone sees as favorable, but I find efficient and accurate, as you can’t have dry-cured meat without salt and age. Salt both prevents the growth of unwanted bacteria, and aids in the drying of the meat.



Embrace the saltiness of dry-cured meats, and if you’re trying to limit salt in your diet, slice the meat thinly, and consume in moderation. There is a small range of adjustment to salt concentration you can make in the recipes, but as with all preserved foods, important and inflexible guidelines dictate the amount of salt. The recommended guideline is more than 2.6 percent salt in all dry-curing, and 0.25 percent curing salt.






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