curing the meat on traditional way farmers usually used pickling salt,
salt peter (sodium nitrate),
white or brown sugar or molasses. These were the necessary
others such as boracic acid, borax and soda were
often used for sweetening the brine and to keep it from spoiling
but they are not absolutely essential.
salt extracts moisture and
acts as a preservative. The sugar or molasses imparts a nice flavor
and has a tendency to keep the muscle tissue soft in contrast to
the salt, which has a tendency to make it hard and dry. So the salt
and sugar have two distinct functions to perform, the one to harden
and preserve, the other to soften and sweeten.
favorite recipe that has proved satisfactory and you want to use
sorghum or molasses instead of sugar add one pound more of the
For example: If you have been
accustomed to using 2 pounds of sugar
then use 3 pounds of the other sweetening.
peter (sodium nitrate) is not absolutely necessary as far as the preserving
is concerned but it helps to hold the red color of the lean meat.
If salt peter is not used the lean meat will be gray in color. It
may possibly be a little tenderer if the salt peter is not used as
the salt peter tends to harden the meat.
NOTE: Chili salt peter can be
substituted in place of salt peter, if only four-fifths as much is
|Did You Know?
foods, such as many cheeses, wines, and beers will keep for a long time
because their production uses specific micro-organisms that combat
spoilage from other less benign organisms. These micro-organisms keep
pathogens in check by creating an environment toxic for themselves and
other micro-organisms by producing acid or alcohol. Starter
micro-organisms, salt, hops, controlled (usually cool) temperatures,
controlled (usually low) levels of oxygen and/or other methods are used
to create the specific controlled conditions that will support the
desirable organisms that produce food fit for human consumption.