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Preservation by Salting

The origins of this technique are obscure, but was certainly used by the ancient Egyptians, but Christianity did more for the salting business than the church fathers could have foreseen. Lent (the forty-day fast that precedes Easter) became the most profitable time for fish merchants (who became salting experts), but Fridays throughout the year were almost as good. Until as late as the mid 16th century it remained legally possible for an Englishman to be hanged for eating meat on a Friday!

There are two distinct methods used to preserve food, using salt:

Dry curing - this is when the meat, or chosen preserved item, is bedded down in granulated salt; sometimes this is lightly spiced or herbed. This method is the one used for many traditional types of bacon, and for producing gravid lax from salmon.

Brining - the item to be preserved is submerged in a solution of salt and water. There is less weight loss using this method, but the taste and original character of the food won"t be so pronounced.

For both techniques the raw ingredient had to be in first-class condition to be worth salting, as with the cost of salt, and the weight loss of the product, salting added 40% to the cost of the article. Hence the expression - "worth its salt".

In medieval times salting was the only way of keeping meat and fish through the long winter months; unless it was kept alive until needed.

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