For tens of thousands of years humans have cured meats to preserve and flavor them. With the invention of refrigeration, curing was no longer necessary for preservation purposes, but we’ve continued to use it. The process of curing gives the meat a flavor worth savoring. You only have to think of bacon to appreciate the delicious taste and aroma.
Cured meats have been plagued by some bad publicity lately as some of them can cause cancer. The culprit, in this case, are the nitrites used to preserve the meat. The good news is that not all cured meats contain nitrites. The Italians, for example, have stopped using nitrites in the manufacture of Parma ham.
There are two basic ways to cure meat: dry or wet. The wet process is called wet curing or pickling, and involves submerging the meat in a salty solution or injecting brine into it. The dry process involves rubbing salt onto the meat and air drying it.
Cured meats are particularly popular in Europe and it’s impossible to imagine a trip to an Italian restaurant that doesn’t include the smoky, salty flavors of prosciutto.
People enjoy cured meats across the world. This infographic offers a view of what’s to offer, so the next time you enjoy a platter of tapas at your favorite restaurant, you’ll know just what to tuck into.