Using salt to preserve meat was a widely used method well up until the 19th century. Salt is used to inhibit the growth of microorganisms by pulling all the water out of each cell within a piece of meat. Salted meat and fish are still staples in many parts of the world, such as the Arctic, coastal parts of Russia, North Africa, Southern China, and Scandinavia. Preserving meat with large amounts of salt also means it doesn’t have to be refrigerated or frozen. Here’s how to preserve meat with sale, so you don’t have to worry about your extra meat source getting moldy, riddled with microorganisms, or just plain funky.
Rinse the Meat
Choose your type of meat to salt…pork, beef, fish, etc… and rinse it in cold or lukewarm water. The best types of meat to cure with the salting method are usually bacon, hams, or smaller cuts of meat. Shake off any excess water and pat the meat dry with a lint-free towel.
Pour on the Salt
Use kosher salt, or a mixture of kosher and iodized table salt, and rub a thin layer all over the outside of the meat. Make sure to rub it in well and to cover the entire outside surface. Being skimpy with the salt will enable bacteria to form on the meat and it will end up rotting. What a waste! Oh, and you can even mix in some herbs and spices if you want to, but you can always save those for later when it comes time to cook the meat.
Hang it out to Dry
Find a cool environment to hang your salt-coated meat in. It should be someplace with a temperature under 50⁰F but above freezing. Allow the meat to hang in this cool area for up to a month or longer. Some information I read said you could store it up to a year, but I’m not positive about that length of time. If you have issues with flies, you can also wrap the salted meat in a coating of cheesecloth. It will keep the flies off of it, but still allow it to dry thoroughly. Check on the meat every few days, just to make sure it is actually curing and not rotting where it hangs. If it starts to smell funky, toss it out and try again. When it comes time to eat the salted meat, be sure to wash off as much of the salt as possible. You’ll then be able to cook it up and eat it in the recipe of your choice.
Want to do everything yourself from raising the meat to preserving? We recommend this Home Butchering Handbook: A Living Free Guide (Living Free Guides)
Sailors commonly ate salted horse meat or beef on their vessels. This was such a huge part of their daily diet that the salty meat was often referred to as “salt junk” or even “junk” for short. So, in the 18th century, the very first “junk food” was the extra salty meat sailors consumed.
What type of meat would you try curing with salt?
This post is part of the Simple Saturday Blog Hop.