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Pork FAQs

What is the difference between fresh and cured pork?

By Bob Oros

People have been curing meat as far back as the Roman times. Before refrigeration, the only way to preserve meat was to cure it.

Curing is the addition of salt, sodium or potassium nitrate (or saltpeter), nitrites, and sometimes sugar, seasonings, phosphates and cure accelerators, e.g., sodium ascorbate, to pork for preservation, color development and flavor enhancement.

Nitrate and nitrite contribute to the characteristic cured flavor and reddish-pink color of cured pork. Nitrite and salt inhibit the growth of Clostridium botulinum, a deadly microorganism which can occur in foods under certain situations.

Curing and flavoring solutions are added to pork by injection and by massaging and tumbling the solution into the muscle, both of which produce a more tender product.