The successful, savory narrative of salting food preservation is fascinating when its history and uses are examined. Here’s a fun fact, did you know it’s been reported salt has 14,000 known uses? Salt is used in more ways than any other mineral on earth.
We have to make the distinction between salt made in a factory and salt mined from the earth, or Kosher salt. Sea salt is salt which has been washed from the land into the sea. The sea is getting saltier every year by way of this process.
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Did you Know that Your Very Life Depends on Salt?
Our bodies cannot make this magnificent nutrient. We have to ingest salt to replace what is lost through bodily functions. Make sure you’re getting the real thing to ensure you are providing all the trace minerals for your body.
Salt has a scintillating saga and has played an essential role in human history. It has helped cultures thrive economically because salting is a powerful, time-honored method of preserving foods, including fish, meats, and vegetables.
Among the few means of keeping foods edible, salting has been used for most of human history, right along with smoking and sun drying. People would have struggled to stay alive during droughts, extreme winters and while traveling, without an adequate supply of emergency essentials well preserved.
Even today, starvation would be a reality for many if it weren’t for preserved meats and vegetables through the winter months. The old-timers understood proper salting food preservation methods to keep foods like sauerkraut and pickles when a great number of things could go wrong.
We often think of our ancestors as people who didn’t know as much as we do, but when we consider what they accomplished, we have to wonder how much of their knowledge has been lost. You have to agree, they did well enough to survive. We’re here aren’t we? They must have known a little something about keeping food preserved through the hard times without electricity or the modern conveniences in today’s society.
The byways and country lanes of America are the result of salt. How did I come to know that? When the first settlers came into an area, they found animal trails leading to salt licks, as well as brine springs used for licking. These later became some of the great cities of today including Buffalo, New York.
How Does Salting Food Preservation Work?
Salt works by pulling all the water from each cell within a slice of meat. It also inhibits the growth of microorganisms. Salted meat and fish are staples in many parts of the planet to this very day. Preserving meat with large amounts of salt also means it doesn’t have to be refrigerated or frozen.
Now, let’s roll up our sleeves and do some salting food preservation. I guess we’ll find out if we’re worth our salt! Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.
1. Rinse the meat well in cold water.
2. Use kosher salt or sea salt (I use Himalayan salt.) to rub a layer an inch thick on the outside of the meat. Make sure to cover the entire outside surface and to rub it in well. Being skimpy using the salt will make it possible for bacteria to form on the meat which will cause it to rot. You can even blend in other spices and herbs if you want to. Most people save those for when it’s time to cook the meat.
3. Before you begin, decide on a cool location to hang your coated meat to dry. Allow the meat to hang in the cool area for at least a month. Some people have stored it up to a year depending on the climate. You may also roll the salted meat in cheesecloth, especially if you have problems with bugs. The cheesecloth will keep the flies off, but still allow it to dry thoroughly. When you’re ready to cook it, wash off the salt and cook it up!
Using a Brine Solution for Salting Food Preservation
Do you like corned beef? I don’t care for it, but many people do. Corned beef is made by using a salt pickling solution. The recipe is easy enough for even the newest to salting food preservation. Your meat needs to be kept from 32 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit while pickling.
Make the brine solution by mixing 1 cup of pickling salt (or a combination of Kosher salt and saltpeter), 1 1/2 teaspoons of pickling spices (crushed to release the flavors) and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar. You may also want to add a little fresh ginger or cinnamon, depending on your taste preferences. I don’t.
Bring to a good boil and let boil for 5 minutes then allow it to cool before placing it in the fridge. Cool the brine solution until it reaches the temperature in your fridge. Put the brisket in an appropriately sized freezer bag or glass container (I use glass for most everything in the kitchen) and add the brine solution. Place in the fridge and turn the meat over once a day for seven days.
Be sure to wash the brine and spices off before you cook it.
Salting food preservation has the delicious delight of being used for pickling almost any vegetable which will fit into a jar. I like to use apple cider vinegar with the healthiest salt to pickle. Not only cucumbers and cabbage but your garden’s bounty including eggplant, sweet peppers, leeks, green tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, green beans and…well, you get the idea.
With the pollution of our nation’s food supply, there’s been a revival of interest in canning, including salting food for preservation. When you try this preservation method, you’ll be looking for more ways to use it. This is only a brief view of food preservation examples salt can be used for.
Do you have experience with salting food preservation you can share with us? I know my grandparents used it for pork and brine. Did yours?
Safe and Happy Journey,
Rhonda and The Pack