How Fermenting Differs from Salt Curing and Drying Foods

Fermenting is a glamorous term for decaying your food in a controlled method. But fermentation is not the only method of food preservation. Salt curing and drying are commonly heard terms that may be confusing to sort out from the fermenting process.

  • Salt curing: This method of preservation is easily recognized in the cured favorite: bacon. Dried beef and real country ham also have the strong taste from curing's main ingredient: salt.

    You can add other ingredients to the salt mixture to help cut the strong salty taste and add additional flavors, but you can't entirely hide that salty flavor. Plain salt curing has fallen out of favor over the years. It successfully cures the meat but imparts a harsh flavor. Some meats are still preserved country-style, or plain salt cured, but they must be soaked before cooking to remove the excess salt and make the meat palatable.

  • Drying: This is one of the most delicious techniques for meat storage. Drying a piece of meat properly only enhances the flavor and creates a uniquely flavored product that truly satisfies. Drying is how jerky is made.

    The flavoring you add becomes concentrated as the meat dries. This process results in a chewy, delicious snack that packs a protein punch. From sweet to spicy, you'll find a never-ending array of flavor profiles for jerky. You can dry meat in an electric dehydrator, an oven, or by sitting it out in the sun.

An electric dehydrator is the best and most efficient unit for drying, or dehydrating, food. Today's units include a thermostat and fan to help regulate temperatures. You can also dry food in your oven or by using the heat of the sun, but the process takes longer and produces inferior results to food dried in a dehydrator.

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