Cured Meat - Gourmet Guide

June 12, 2019 | By Dave Mattingly

Cured Meat is prepared using ancient techniques that avoid cooking the goodness and flavor out of beef and pork when preparing hams and sausages. Rather than cooking, Cured Meats are salted, spiced, coated and air dried, usually by hanging them in a specially conditioned curing room. Meats are often cured using some combination of salt, nitrates, nitrites, sugar and/or spices.

Salting Cured Meat inhibits microorganism growth by drawing water out of the microorganism's cell. During curing, bacterial growth may be inhibited at salt concentrations as low as 3%, while some bacteria require salt concentrations as high as 20%. Salt may be applied directly to the Cured Meat in Dry Curing, or as a salt brine (salt dissolved in water) in Wet Curing. The Cured Meat is submerged in the brine or the brine may be directly injected into the meat. The addition of nitrates and nitrites not only inhibits microorganism growth but helps give Cured Meat a rich pink or red color and flavor. Sugar may also be added to soften the flavor of the salt. Smoking, where the meat is cooked indirectly over a fire, is another way to cure meat. Smoking gives the meat a smoky flavor that some prefer to other methods of curing. Smoking may be done in combination with salting.

Imported from Italy, Spain and Canada, our Cured Meat selections include Prosciutto Ham, Serrano Ham, Salumi in Natural Casing, Genoa Salami, Soppresata, Lomo Curado, Pepperoni and Chorizo. To find Cured Meat and the best gourmet foods and gift baskets online, begin your search at igourmet.com.