The flavour of cured meat

  • N. Ramarathnam
  • L. J. Rubin


The origin of the use of nitrate/nitrite in the curing of meat is lost in history, but it is strongly believed that the preservation of meat with salt preceded the intentional use of nitrate by many centuries. It appears that meat preservation was first practised in the saline deserts of Hither Asia and in coastal areas (Binkert and Kolari, 1975). Salt was in common use in ancient Palestine as early as 1600 BC because of its availability from the salt-rich Dead Sea. The technology of sea-salt production was also known by at least 1200 BC by the Chinese, who early made salt from drilled wells (Jensen, 1953, 1954). Salt from the sea, desert, and as found as an efflorescence on the walls of caves and stables was used by ancient peoples in the curing of meat. These salts contained nitrates as impurities, and though saltpetre or ‘nitre’ was gathered in ancient China and India long before the Christian era, the reddening effect of nitrates on meat was not mentioned until late Roman times.


Lipid Oxidation Meat Product Sodium Nitrite Hexanal Content Meat Flavour 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. Ramarathnam
  • L. J. Rubin

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