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This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in French.
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Prague powder #1, also known as "curing salt" or "pink salt", is typically a combination of salt and sodium nitrite that is dyed pink to distinguish it from ordinary salt. Nitrates and nitrites, in conjunction with salt, are one of the most common agents in curing meat because they further inhibit the growth of Clostridium botulinum.
Meat preservation in general (of livestock, game, and poultry), is the set of all treatment processes for preserving the nutritious properties, taste, texture, and color of raw, partially cooked, or cooked meats while keeping them edible and safe to consume. While meat preservation processes like curing were mainly developed in order to prevent disease and increase food security, the advent of modern preservation methods mean that in most developed countries today, curing is instead mainly practised for its cultural value and desirable impact on the texture and taste of food. Untreated meat decomposes rapidly if it is not preserved, at a speed that depends on several factors, including the ambient humidity, the presence of pathogens, and the temperature. If kept in excess of this time, meat begins to change colour and exude a foul odour, indicating the decomposition of the food.
While this short shelf life of fresh meat does not pose a significant problem when access to it is easy and supply is abundant, in times of scarcity and famine or when the meat must be carried over long voyages, it spoils very quickly. Curing is able to significantly extend the life of meat before it spoils, by making it inhospitable to the growth of spoilage microbes. A survival technique since prehistory, the conservation of meat has become over the centuries a topic of political, economic, and social importance worldwide. In Ethiopia, according to Pliny,[9] and in Libya according to Saint Jerome, the Acridophages (literally, the locust-eaters) salted and smoked the crickets which arrived at their settlements in the spring in great swarms and which constituted, it was said, their sole food.
In Europe, medieval cuisine made great use of meat and vegetables, and the guild of butchers was amongst the most powerful. During the Age of Discovery, salt meat was one of the main foods for sailors on long voyages, for instance in the merchant marine or the navy. Scientific research on meat by chemists and pharmacists led to the creation of a new, extremely practical product: meat extract, which could appear in different forms.
With the spread of appertisation, the 19th-century world entered the era of the "food industry", which developed new products such as canned salt meat (for example corned beef), but also led to lowered standards of food quality and hygiene a€“ such as those Upton Sinclair described in The Jungle.

In France, the summer of 1857 was so hot that most butchers refused to slaughter animals and charcutiers lost considerable amounts of meat, due to inadequate conservation methods. Nitrates and nitrites not only help kill bacteria, but also produce a characteristic flavor and give meat a pink or red color.[22] Nitrite (NO2a?’) is generally supplied by sodium nitrite or (indirectly) by potassium nitrate. Nitrite further breaks down in the meat into nitric oxide (NO), which then binds to the iron atom in the center of myoglobin's heme group, reducing oxidation and causing a reddish-brown color (nitrosomyoglobin) when raw, and the characteristic cooked-ham pink color (nitrosohemochrome or nitrosyl-heme) when cooked. The use of nitrite and nitrate salts for meat curing goes back to the Middle Ages, and in the US has been formally used since 1925. Meat can also be preserved by "smoking", which means exposing it to smoke from burning or smoldering plant materials, usually wood. Smoking helps seal the outer layer of the food being cured, making it more difficult for bacteria to enter. The preservation of meat has allowed safe and plentiful access to this nutrient-rich food for thousands of years. Since the 20th century, with respect to the relationship between diet and human disease (e.g. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization classified processed meat, i.e.
The improvement of methods of meat preservation, and of the means of transport of preserved products, has notably permitted the separation of areas of production and areas of consumption, which can now be distant without it posing a problem, permitting the exportation of meats.
For example, the appearance in the 1980s of preservation techniques under controlled atmosphere sparked a small revolution in the world's market for sheep meat: the lamb of New Zealand, one of the world's largest exporters of lamb, could henceforth be sold as fresh meat, since it could be preserved from 12 to 16 weeks, which would be a sufficient duration for it to reach Europe by boat.
Curing has been the dominant method of meat preservation for thousands of years, although modern developments like refrigeration and synthetic preservatives are now beginning to complement and supplant it. For lesser-developed countries, curing remains a key process in ensuring the viability of meat production, transport and access. Most meats cannot be kept at room temperature in excess of a few days without spoiling, even in winter.
The necessity of conserving this food of great nutritional value for transport and storage is obvious. In Polybius's time,[8] the Gauls exported salt pork each year to Rome in large quantities, where it was sold in different cuts: rear cuts, middle cuts, hams, and sausages.

The need to properly feed soldiers during long campaigns outside the country, such as the Napoleonic Wars, and to nourish a constantly growing population often living in appalling conditions drove scientific research, but a confectioner, Nicolas Appert, in 1795 developed through experimentation a method which would become universal and in one language bears his name: airtight storage, called appertisation in French. These bad practices led to the creation of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906, followed by the national agencies for health security and the establishment of food traceability over the course of the 20th century.
The addition of ascorbate to cured meat reduces formation of nitrosamines (see below), but increases the nitrosylation of iron. Dehydration was the earliest form of food curing.[1] Because curing increases the solute concentration in the food and hence decreases its water potential, the food becomes inhospitable for the microbe growth that causes food spoilage. Nitrate is specifically used only in a few curing conditions and products where nitrite (which may be generated from nitrate) must be generated in the product over long periods of time. Common smoking styles include hot smoking, smoke roasting (pit barbecuing) and cold smoking. Pierre Briant, A‰tat et pasteurs au Moyen-Orient ancien, Cambridge and Paris, 1982 (compte rendu).
Curing can be traced back to antiquity, and was the primary way of preserving meat and fish until the late 19th century. These goods had to have been considerably important, since they fed part of the Roman people and the armies.
The Belgians[anachronism] were celebrated above all for the care which they gave to the fattening of their pigs.
If the meat is cold smoked, it should be dried quickly to limit bacterial growth during the critical period where the meat is not yet dry. Their herds of sheep and pigs were so many, they could provide skins and salt meat not only for Rome, but also for most of Italy.
The Ceretani of Spain drew a large export income from their hams, which were so succulent, they were in no way inferior to those of Cantabria.

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