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Author Topic: What has happened to the keeping qualities of Ham?  (Read 2715 times)

Offline andi.smart

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The whole idea of ham (and salami and other cured meat) was to preserve it through the long winter months as I understand it anyway - so why is it when you buy ham or salami in the supermarket it has a 'use by' date of about a fortnight, after you open the protective atmosphere you are suppose to use in 2 days and unless you wrap the package in clingfilm even in the fridge it becomes unpalatable in hours?

What has happened to ham to turn it from a long-life meat storage method to something which goes off in a couple of days?


 

Offline dentstudent

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What has happened to the keeping qualities of Ham?
« Reply #1 on: 08/08/2007 14:53:05 »
Hi Andi. I live in the Black Forest in Germany, and one of the regional specialities is the Black Forest smoked ham. There are also many salami-esque sausages too. The meats here are smoked, and so the bacteria have been killed. We've kept these meats open for weeks (albeit in the fridge) without detriment. I suspect that some of the "cured" meats you're getting have a smoke flavouring which may give it the authentic taste, but none of the preservation qualities. I also think that many of the "eat within" labels are an "arse-covering" exercise, in that if someone does eat something a little, shall we say, ripe, then the manufacturer can just say "well, it does say so on the label".

What do you think? 
 

another_someone

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What has happened to the keeping qualities of Ham?
« Reply #2 on: 08/08/2007 15:37:35 »
Certainly, I have seen many salami type sausages without any protective covering in the shops (did not look at the sell by date, since I do not eat salami).

Many processed foods now have substantial amounts of water added to bulk them out.  Traditional processed food relied on being dry, so not giving the bacteria a medium in which to grow.

As for sell by dates - this is particularly amusing when it is added to things like bottled water.

It must also be remembered that while the sell by (or use by) date may only have a few days or weeks on it when you buy it, you have no way of knowing how long it has been in the supply chain before it ever got to you.
 

Offline andi.smart

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What has happened to the keeping qualities of Ham?
« Reply #3 on: 08/08/2007 20:06:09 »
I wondered if the way that cured meats were cured has altered so they no longer have their bacteria inhibiting powers, and dentstudent's comment about the way they do things in the black forest suggests that may be indeed be the case.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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What has happened to the keeping qualities of Ham?
« Reply #4 on: 08/08/2007 20:13:07 »
I suspect that the water content is higher (as has been speculated) and the salt content is much lower. Both of these will make it more likely to grow bugs.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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What has happened to the keeping qualities of Ham?
« Reply #5 on: 08/08/2007 22:02:10 »
There was a regional program on TV that I saw when I lived in Suffolk about the last real bacon and ham curer in England (he's a Suffolk man). He explained all about the traditional methods of curing and smoking compared to modern methods.

BoredChemist was right in his reply. Modern cured ham (the type you can buy in supermarkets) is just pumped full of water. You could see the difference straight away when he cut into one of his own hams and one from a supermarket. You could see the drops of water on the slices supermarket ham whereas the curer's own was dry.

The other important point, which was also made above by BoredChemist, is that of the amount of salt used. Salt has become a bogie man so modern cured ham has hardly any salt in it.

I can personally vouch for the fact that this chap's bacon and ham is delicious as he used to supply my local village store. People would come from miles around to buy it. Supermarket stuff - and, indeed, the stuff you get in most butcher's shops these days - is bland by comparison.

We also used to get properly smoked fish and cheese too - YUM!
 

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What has happened to the keeping qualities of Ham?
« Reply #5 on: 08/08/2007 22:02:10 »

 

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