Salting means any action involving the application of salt to a food, such as meat or fish, in order to delay its shelf life and to preserve it longer. In the process of preparing the ham, this preservation process is a fundamental part to make a piece have a certain flavour. Obviously, enhanced by the expert hands of the master ham producer the raw meat turns into delicious Jamón. Both elements, quality of the meat and the personal touch of the “cook” need each other very much.
Food preservation: The Salting
With the salting process we manage to absorb all the humidity of a food. Consequently we paralyse the activity of microbes and bacteria that can deteriorate it. In other words, this process partially dehydrates the food while intensifying its taste and keeping the bacterial life at bay. In the preparation of ham, this process is carried out by burying the pieces in salt.
So, as far as salting is concerned, different techniques can be used to make ham, although the classic one is known as ‘battery salting’. To achieve this, the pieces are stacked in stacks of 1m or 1.5m high, at a rate of 10/15 cm of salt per layer of ham. The hams are normally placed side by side and surrounded by salt. The expert must avoid that they touch each other until they reach a maximum height of 6 to 8 hams. The time the hams and ham shoulders spend in this way will depend on different factors, including weight. The salt used in the preparation of Iberian ham and ham shoulder is usually a mixture of sea salt, sodium nitrate and nitrite. The success of the salting process will be responsible for the level of preservation and the final quality of the piece.
Salting is a process of curing food, in addition to being used in the preparation of ham,. It exists since ancient times and is used in the preparation of other meat and fish products.