What Does it Mean to Cure Meat

Discover the ancient art of curing meat and learn how it preserves and enhances flavor. Explore different curing methods and examples of cured meats.

The Art of Curing Meat

Curing meat is an age-old practice of preserving meats by using a combination of salt, sugar, nitrites, and spices. This process not only extends the shelf life of the meat but also adds depth of flavor and tenderizes the meat. Let’s dive deeper into what it means to cure meat.

Types of Meat Curing

There are two main methods of curing meat: dry curing and wet curing.

  • Dry Curing: Involves rubbing the meat with a mixture of salt, sugar, and spices and then allowing it to air dry. This method is commonly used for curing hams and bacon.
  • Wet Curing: Involves soaking the meat in a brine solution of salt, sugar, and nitrites. This method is commonly used for curing corned beef and pastrami.

The Science Behind Meat Curing

Meat curing works by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria and enzymes that cause spoilage. Salt draws out moisture from the meat, creating a less hospitable environment for bacteria. Nitrites help prevent the growth of botulism and give cured meats their characteristic pink color.

Examples of Cured Meats

Some popular examples of cured meats include:

  • Prosciutto: Dry-cured Italian ham
  • Salami: Fermented and air-dried sausage
  • Pancetta: Italian bacon cured with salt and spices

Case Study: Smoking Meat

Smoking is a common technique used in meat curing that involves exposing the meat to smoke from burning wood. This not only adds flavor to the meat but also helps preserve it. One example of smoked meat is smoked salmon, which is brined and then smoked over wood chips.

Benefits of Curing Meat

Some benefits of curing meat include:

  • Extended shelf life
  • Enhanced flavor profile
  • Tenderized meat


Curing meat is a practice that has been passed down through generations and continues to be a popular method of preserving meats. Whether you’re enjoying a plate of prosciutto or savoring some smoked salmon, the art of meat curing is sure to enhance your culinary experience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *