Sadly, meat products such as bacon and sausages have had some bad press over the past few years. But despite these opinions, these products still remain popular, best sellers at our butcher and deli shops. This is because when it comes to curing or smoking, you can beat the flavour of the end result.
History of Curing and Smoking
According to the Great British Meat Company:
“Curing and smoking are among the earliest cooking techniques and can be traced back to ancient Egypt. They were initially a result of the requirement to make use of whatever food was available and to extend food life so it could be used through winter periods when food was scarce.
“Over the years advancements in technology and food science have invariably altered production processes, and ingredients used, but the basic premise remains the same. Curing food, by adding salt, or smoking it, has a dehydrating effect, which in the days before refrigeration was essential for preserving meat because it is the moisture of the meat that fosters bacterial growth and leads to food spoiling.”
Reasons for Curing and Smoking
We all know that fresh meat does not have a long shelf-life. Once an animal has been slaughtered and butchered, the meat will naturally begin to gradually deteriorate. This is not a negative as this is the process that improves the meat’s texture and flavour, for example dry-aged mature beef.
Meat spoils when moisture and fat break down which is why meats with a high fat content (such as beef, lamb and pork), take longer to spoil than those with less fat (like poultry and game). Curing and smoking applies ingredients and create conditions that control the process or slow down the deterioration, so that this process happens safely over a prolonged period.
The key to successful curing is the reduction or removal of moisture in the meat, which is a deterrent to any bacteria that may spoil the meat. At the same time, this process is advantageous to the bacteria and microbes that protect meat and add flavour. This bacteria is beneficial and thrives in dry, salty conditions.
It is the unique structure of salt which serves to preserve meat. It is comprised of small, highly concentrated, super-active positive and negatively charged atoms that penetrate foods. Salt draws out moisture, which limits the growth of the microbes that cause meat to spoil, while the salt itself travels into the meat, and promotes the benign bacteria that brings out flavour. By slowing down deterioration, salt creates an opportunity for flavour to develop.
Smoking complements salting by adding a range of flavours while also having a preserving effect.
In short, it’s the natural process of curing and smoking meat that makes it taste so good and is far better for you than freezer food or a microwavable pre-prepared meal which is full of food preservation additives.
At Deli Cymreig, in addition to the range of bacon and sausage products that are so popular, including our own recipe sausages using local ingredients; we also stock a huge range of cured and smoked meats. These are slaughtered and butchered in our farm in Llanmorlais and then cured and smoked in our very own on-site ovens.
To view our full selection of meats and other deli products, visit us at Swansea Market or you can purchase online at www.bestonlinedeli.co.uk