How long does salt cured meat last? (+3 methods of curing salt)

In this brief discussion, we will answer questions like “How long does salt cured meat last?” Why do we cure meat? What increases the shelf life of cured meat? And what are the impacts of cured meat on health?

How long does salt cured meat last? 

The potential shelf life of cured meat varies depending upon the type of meat in question but in general salt cured meat can last from months to years. 

Why do we cure meat?

Salt-Cured meat not only has a prolonged shelf-life as the sole benefit. A number of health and sensory benefits are also attributable to salt-cured meats. These include:

  • Prevention from bacterial contamination
  • Enhanced taste and flavor 
  • Preservation of the color 

What is curing salt?

Curing salts are a mixture of table salt (sodium chloride) and sodium nitrate. They are used for pickling meats. 

How do you cure meat with salt?

Curing meat from salt has different methods like brine curing, dry curing, sausage curing etc. 

What is brine curing?

Brine curing involves following steps:

  • Combine curing salt and water to create a sweet pickling brine. 
  • Prepare this solution in a non corrosive bowl such as plastic or glass. 
  • Soak the meat completely into brine. 

What is sausage curing?

The sausage curing method is accomplished by mixing curing salts and spices with ground meat. The curing process is then done in the refrigerator. 

When the curing process is complete, the sausage is cooked before serving.

What is Dry curing?

Dry curing involves following steps:

  • Apply the cure mix directly on the meat. 
  • Place meat into a plastic food storage bag and tightly seal.
  • From there, put your meat in the refrigerator and let the curing process take place.
  •  After curing, remove excess salt by rinsing your meat.

How to store cured meat?

There are certain conditions of storage to be fulfilled to ensure prolonged shelf-life. These conditions are: 

  • Store the meat in proper packaging material like plastic or paper.
  • Meat should be stored at a cool temperature (either in fridge or in refrigerator)

What makes cured meat last so long?

When meat is cured it’s coated with salt. Salts kick-starts a process where all the moisture on the inside of meat is drawn to the skin, from where it evaporates. Where there’s no water, there’s no environment for bacteria to grow and thrive. So, meat remains preserved and edible free from bacterial contamination. 

How long does cured meat last in the fridge?

Once it has been removed from the packaging or it has been cooked, it lasts for 7-10 days maximum in the refrigerator. Consume the meat within a short time span after it has been cooked to avoid food poisoning. 

Which meats can be salt-cured?

  • The most familiar form of salt-cured meat is probably bacon, which is a preparation made by the curing pork belly with salt, sugar, and smoke, then slicing it crosswise into thin, narrow strips.
  • Ham is made by taking the entire rear thigh of a hog and curing it with salt, sugar, smoke, and other seasonings. Some types of ham, such as prosciutto, are also air-dried for extended periods.
  • Corned beef is another type of salt-cured meat, which is made by soaking a beef brisket in a liquid solution of salt, sugar, and spices called a brine. 
  • Other salt-cured meats include sausages such as salami and chorizo; pancetta (also made from pork belly); soppressata (made from pork thigh with red pepper and salt); liverwurst (a spreadable sausage made from pork and pork liver); and summer sausage (pork and beef).

Is salt cured meat bad for health?

Salt-cured meat is rich in sodium. The high sodium in salt-cured meats renders it rather unsuitable for some people who suffer from chronic heart and kidney diseases. So, in such cases people need to be wary of the portion size of meat before consuming it.

How to recognize spoiled meat?

Spoiled meat will have a distinct, pungent smell that will make your face scrunch up. Texture – In addition to an unpleasant scent, spoiled meats can be sticky or slimy to the touch. Color – Rotten meats will also undergo a slight change in color. Poultry should be anywhere from a bluish-white to yellow in color


In this guide, we discussed : “how long does salt-cured meat last?” In addition, we highlighted benefits of curing meat, reason for prolonged shelf-life of salt-cured meat, different types of salt-cured meats and potential health implications of consuming salt cured meat.