Traditional Curing Preservatives

For 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 preservatives.

The 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.

The 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.

If you have a favorite recipe that has proved satisfactory and you want to use sorghum or molasses instead of sugar add one pound more of the molasses.

For example: If you have been accustomed to using 2 pounds of sugar then use 3 pounds of the other sweetening.

Salt 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 used.

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Did You Know?
Some 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. FREE Recipes