Meat preservation has been used by civilizations for thousands of years to provide a long-term protein source that won’t spoil during storage or travel. The preservation of meat through curing dates to antiquity, often discovered through accidental mis-handling of meat. The most common methods used to cure meat include salting, brining, smoking, and drying. All these preservation methods rely on the control of water activity. In fact, the legacy of Shelf Stable Meats (SSM) and water activity go hand in hand. Ancient civilizations did not have an exhaustive understanding of water activity or why these preservation steps worked, but instead discovered them through trial and error. In so doing, they discovered the fundamental truth that still alludes many processors today, that its water activity control, not moisture content control that makes cured meats shelf stable.
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