Meat Preservation Tips


Meat preservation – principally concerned with the application of measures to delay meat spoilage which are caused by municipal chemical and physical changes.

Three general principles of meat preservation:

1. Prevention of microbial growth

  • Exposing meat to high or low temperature
  • Treatment of meat with substances e.g. salt, nitrite, other chemical preservatives which will kill microorganisms or delay microbial action.

2. Prevention of oxidation and/or rancidity

  • Prevent too much exposure to light and air
  • Addition of antioxidants like butylated hydroxyl toluene [BHT] or butylated hydroxyl anisole [BHA]

3. Prevention of enzymatic reaction by exposure to high or low temperature.

Methods of Meat Preservation:

1. Drying – removal of moisture from meat from its original water content [70%] to about 15%.

Two ways of drying:

  • Natural – use of natural sunlight to reduce the moisture content of meat.
  • Artificial – use of a chamber equipped with heating elements maintained at a temperature of 110°F – 120° F [43°C- 49°C] and relative humidity of 85% is used for drying.

2. Smoking – process of subjecting meat to the action of smoke and heat generated by burning hard wood and/or saw dust.

3. Salting – is a simple method of dehydration in which the salt causes the withdrawal of water from the tissue of both meat and spoilage organisms.

4. Curing – is the application of salt, sugar, nitrite [potassium or sodium nitrite] and other preservatives and adjuncts.

Three [3] ways of curing:

  • Dry cure method – application of curing ingredients in dry form.
  • Sweet pickle cure – ingredients are dissolved in water to make up the sweet pickle solution.
  • Combination – could be done wither by combination injection with sweet pickle and soaking in curing brine or injection of pickle and application of dry cure.

5. Refrigeration – exposure of meat to the range of 36° to 50°F [2°C-10°C] to retard mold and bacterial growth for a limited period only.

6. Freezing – exposure of meat to a temperature range of 0°F to 32° F [-18°C-0°C] resulting to crystallization of the water in the tissues, thus, inactivating the enzymes and the bacteria present.

7. Canning – the hermetic or air tight sealing of food in cans or jars and heating under pressure [pressure cooker, retort, autoclave] to reach temperature above 100°C at specific period of time.

8. Freeze-drying- removal of moisture from the tissues by sublimation or the transformation of the moisture content into gas without passing the liquid state.

9. Irradiation – transfer of extremely large amount of energy to effect very rapid and selective biological and chemical changes in meat.


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