How Long Does Salt Cured Meat Last With and Without Refrigeration!

September 22, 2021

I know you love cured meat as much as I do, else you won’t be reading this article. One thing that we all know is that curing helps extend the shelf life of meat. However, do you exactly know how long does salt cured meat last? The experience I have over the matter is preached in this article. Let’s get started.

What Is Salted Meat?

Although refrigerators are the main option most people use to keep meat from spoiling, there have been many other methods throughout the history of humankind. Using salt to preserve meat is perhaps the oldest out of them.

However, nowadays, extending the lifespan of meat is not the only objective we focus on in terms of curing meat; the distinguished taste of salty meats has become the primary goal of most. 

Who Invented Salting Meat?

As humans, we only realized the importance of using nitrates on meat in order to preserve it in the 20th century. That said, salt for curing meat has been there from the time of Homer (around 850bc). Back in the day, people had no clue about nitrate, but the usage was there even when Homer lived. 

Why is Salted Meat Less Likely to Spoil?

Before I explain “how long does salted meat last,” it would be ideal to understand the theory behind what causes to extend salt cured meat shelf life. Well, as you would assume, it is because of salt. Salt acts as a preservation agent by nullifying the growth of bacteria. 

What Kind of Salt is Used to Preserve Meat?

Alright then, does salt kill bacteria in meat? Yes, curing salt will kill the bacteria growth in meat. When it comes to curing meat with salt, it is crucial to understand the type of salt you want to use. Although there are several types of salt, I will divide all of them into two main categories in order for you to understand precisely; curing salt and regular salt.

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Regular Salt

Regular salt or table salt is what we use in regular dishes. Sodium and chlorine are the main ingredients of table salt, and you can say it is pure sodium chloride. However, I cannot recommend you to use regular salt to cure meat even though it is still possible to use it for the job. 

One of the major issues table salt has in terms of curing meat is that most of them contain iodine. Iodine can blend an awful taste with the cured meat. In addition, the anti-clumping agents of regular salt have the tendency to make the meat get lumpy. If you really want to use table salt to cure meat, at least try to use non-iodized version of it.

how long does salt cured meat last
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Curing Salt

As the name says, this is the salt that is specified to cure meat. Talking about the ingredients of curing salt, it also has more than 90% of table salt in it (sodium chloride), but the difference is that curing salt consists of sodium nitrate.

The sodium nitrite of the salt helps to slow down the bacteria growth of the meat, and this is the type of salt that is in use to produce sausages, bacon, harm, and pastrami. 

If you are new to curing meat, note that curing salt has various names, and they can be overwhelming when you are at the market. Some of them are pink salt, Prague salt, and Insta cure salt.

However, you cannot use curing salt in the day-to-day dishes as you would do with regular salt. Curing salt is harmful to the body when used in raw form. That is because of the nitrite contingent of the salt, but that is not something you need to worry about as the nitrite in the salt gets converted to nitric oxide during the curing process, which is considered safe for the human body. 

How Long Does Salt Cured Meat Last?

Yes, you and I know that salted, dried meat lasts more than fresh ones, but how long does salt cure meat last? It can’t be forever, isn’t it? Let me share my observations with you. I will let you know about the shelf life of cured meat when and not stored in the fridge. However, there are few other contributing factors as well. 

The brining method you use, the type of meat, amount of salt, and the salt type all have a say on how long will salted meat last. Simply, you got to have a better understanding of how meat was salted and the usage of salt if you are salt curing meat at home. 

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How Long Does Salted Meat Last With Refrigeration?

There are various types of cured meats, and most of them do require refrigeration to survive. That said, there are certain cured brands that remain edible even when you keep them at room temperature (unopened). However, once the package is opened, you must keep cured meat in the fridge if you want a better shelf life.

So, how long can salted meat last in the fridge? Keeping cured meat in the fridge will give you a shelf life of at least six weeks. When kept in a freezer, it will last for months. Again, these numbers can fluctuate on several factors, and even there are heavily cured meat sorts that have the capability to last indefinitely when kept in a fridge. 

how do you increase the shelf life of salted meat?
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How Long Does Salted Meat Last Without Refrigeration?

Although salt curing meat is a good way to extend the shelf life, they go bad if you don’t store them in the fridge after opening the packages. When the meat receives oxygen, it will cause the shelf life of cured meat to go down drastically. As per my experience, once you take the meat out of the fridge, it will go bad within a couple of hours if you don’t use it.

So, just because the meat is cured, don’t expect it to last for a considerable time period under room temperature, not more than three hours.

How Do You Increase The Shelf Life Of Salted Meat?

Packaging and storing salted meats are the main two elements that decide the shelf life. If you have bought cured meat, make sure the packages are fully covering the meat. Allowing air on the meat would not going to help your cause.

In addition, it should be transferred to the fridge right after the meat package is reached home. As I said earlier, whether or not the meat is cured, it should not stay at room temperature if you want the meat to last for long. 

Preventing oxidation and proper storing conditions are what you have to aim at when it comes to increasing the shelf life of salted meat.

How to Salt Cure Meat At Home?

How long does salted meat last? I assume now you have enough data to determine the time. Let’s take a moment and see how and when to salt meat at home. This is how I dry cure meat! 

The first step is to decide the type of meat. In fact, you can use any type of meat to cure, but if you are new to curing, I strongly recommend you to stick with pork as it is simple to handle compared to beef or venison. If possible, opt for a whole muscle cut. 

Does Pork Go Bad? This is How it Recognize!

Then apply curing salt on meat. Also, you can use whatever spice rub you like to add flavor to the meat. Now, place the meat in the fridge for a few days, ideally one week. After around one week, salt will adequately get inside of the meat and remove the moisture out.

Now it’s time to hang the meat. This is the most important part of curing. You must create an atmosphere that has a temperature of 60°F and a humidity level of 70%. The hung meat should lose around 30% of water weight before you consume it. 

what kind of salt is used to preserve meat?

How to Desalt Meat?

When you try a salted meat recipe, it is a must to pay attention to the salt level in the meat; otherwise, you could end up with a horrible-tasting dish after all the hard yards. Getting rid of excess salt isn’t the hardest.

Boiling or soaking the meat in water will help you de-salt fast. If you are curing meat at home, reducing the curing time and rinsing the meat are two methods that you can implement to keep meat from getting too salty. 

Benefits of Salting Meat

Here are some advantages of cured meat.

  • Curing meat helps to extend the shelf life of meat. Normally most meat types don’t last for longer periods of time, and curing is one method you can use to keep them edible for months. 
  • Salt nullifies the growth of bacteria by removing moisture. Bacteria can cause you all sorts of health issues, and by keeping meat dry, you can stay away from this issue. 
  • If you can cure your own meat, it will let you enjoy the purest of cured meat. Having control in your hand is always better than relying on manufacturers and as I elaborated, curing meat is not as painstaking as one would think. 
  • There are loads of recipes to try, and it is one of the best ways to show off your creativity when it comes to meat dishes. 
  • You can cure any sort of meat and even the cuts that you don’t use on the grill. In that sense, it can limit the wastage as well as additional bucks you pay to your butcher. 

FAQs

How Does Salt Draw Out Moisture?

The process of salt drawing out moisture is called osmosis. Also, it has to be remembered that not all salt types have the same capability of removing moisture nor every preservation process.

Salt is considered an ionic compound, and such properties have the tendency to absorb liquid water (moisture in this case) and evaporate. That is the thought behind curing meat, and that is why meat loses the size after the curing process. 

Why Do We Heavily Salt Meat When Smoking?

Curing meat means getting rid of moisture of the meat, and in order to do that, you got to use a considerable amount of salt to help the process. In addition, salt is needed to kill bacteria growth.

If you don’t apply an adequate amount of salt to meat, it will cause the meat to go bad. However, it doesn’t necessarily suggest that you need to apply more than the requirement, but yes, curing does demand a significant amount of salt. 

Try this Smoker to make Delicious Salty Smoked Meat!

Is One Year Old Salted Pork Still Safe To Eat?

It is true that salted pork usually carries a lengthy shelf life. However, the shelf time depends on various aspects. If you want an enhanced lifespan (more than one year), my suggestion would be to home-cure the pork rather than buying from stores. If properly cure and store in the freezer, yeah, there shouldn’t be any issue in consuming them after one year.

I have come across people who kept pork in freezers for around one and half years without any issues; having said that, it all depends on how you continue with the curing process. 

How Much Curing Salt per Pound of Meat?

As I mentioned earlier in the article, curing salt contains sodium nitrate, and the percentage of sodium nitrate can get changed from one salt brand or variant to another. If your curing salt has a sodium nitrate percentage of over 6%, it is advisable to use one teaspoon of curing salt for every 5 pounds of meat.

The more nitrate presence in the salt means you have to use less amount of salt. Keep the 6% margin in mind and manipulate the usage. 

Conclusion on How Long Does Salt Cured Meat Last

Actually, we have discussed way more things than the topic of this article because I thought every piece of information that I shared could come anytime into the equation. So, yes, cured meat can last considerably compared to fresh ones as long as you provide an adequate amount of the right type of salt, curing time, and storing facility. Have a great day!

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