Ingredients for Curing Foods: Salt

Ingredients used in cures fill two main functions: preserving the food, and changing its flavor and texture. The ingredients can be separated into four categories:

1.0  Salt

Salt has been one of the most important food preservatives through most human history. When a food comes in direct contact with salts, a two-way process takes place in an effort to make the salt concentrations inside and outside the food more nearly equal. Moisture from inside the cell walls of the food is drawn out and dilutes the salt used for the cure. At the same time, dissolved salt is absorbed into cells to increase the salt concentration there. The result is foods that have less moisture and are saltier. Both the moisture reduction and the increased salt content make the food less hospitable to bacteria that cause spoilage and disease.

Of course, the reduced moisture and the increase salt content also change the flavor and texture of the food.