Cured Vs Uncured – What’s The Difference?

What is the difference between cured and uncured meat?

The main difference between uncured and cured meat is the method by which food is kept. Cured meat utilizes artificial preservatives to extend its shelf life, whereas uncured meat is based on natural preservatives.

Meat is a rich food source that is rich in nutrients. It was consumed by humans for thousands of years.

The most popular sources of meat in the world are animals like cattle, pigs, and poultry, in addition to sheep, goats, and buffalos. Other sources of meat that are not as well-known include camels, yaks horses, and ostriches.

Whatever the source of the meat, one thing that they all have in common is that they are extremely perishable. This means that they will spoil if they are not stored and preserved correctly.

To address this problem, humans devised the process called “curing”, which has been a crucial survival skill throughout the decades.

Today, even though refrigeration has made the preservation of meat significantly easier, however, cured meats continue to be an extremely popular option due to their strong flavor.

Learn more about the distinctions between meats that are cured and those that are not especially about bacon hot dogs, ham hot dogs, pepperoni, hot dogs, and salami!

Cured vs Uncured Meats

A large portion of the population in the world particularly in the US is addicted to processed meats, such as sausages and bacon. They’re a major part of our breakfasts, and they make the ideal sandwiches.

Have you ever thought about the process by which your favorite meat is prepared and processed, and what it is different from other methods?

Cure and uncured meats can be preserved. It is possible to think that meat that is not cured can be described as “fresh meat” with nothing added however that’s not the situation.

What Is Cured Meat?

Cured meat is the type you typically see in supermarkets identified in the supermarket as “processed meat”. It makes use of chemical and synthetic preservatives like sodium nitrite as well as sodium nitrate and a salt mix to protect it from spoilage.

Curing does not just extend the shelf-life of the meat but also provides it with an extra savory taste. Curing also gives the meat an attractive, pink appearance.

The most well-known types of cured meats that are sold on the market are bacon, hot dogs prosciutto, pepperoni, and pancetta.

What Is Uncured Meat?

Uncured meat On the other hand in contrast to what it is called remains to cure. However, the curing agents that are employed for it are different from those used to cure the curing meat.

Instead of using artificial preservatives, meat that has not been cured makes use of natural preservatives like celery powder and the juice of celery, sea salt as well as beet juice extracts.

If it is found that the not-cured product is made from natural nitrates or Nitrite sources, it’s required in the USDA to identify it as “uncured” and “no nitrates or nitrites added”.

Uncured meat is similar to the meat that is cured and is cooked and consumed in the same manner however, it appears lighter since there aren’t any chemical preservatives that are added to it.

It also has more sodium because salt functions as a preservative. As a result, it has a saltier taste.

Which Is Healthier?

Nitrites, while naturally occurring in a variety of vegetables, can pose an ill-health risk when used to cure meats.

When the nitrites in the preservatives, as well as the protein in the carcass, react, they make an organic compound called “nitrosamine” that may lead to cancer.

Because of this, cured deli products that contain nitrites as a preservation agent are viewed as a risk to health for a while.

While it is true that the sodium nitrite in cured meats is only 1 percent from the animal, it’s present and could cause health problems in the long haul.

Similarities of Cured and Uncured Meats

Apart from the fact that both cured and non-cured meats are preserved with natural and synthetic preservatives They also share a lot in common:

  • Both are treated,
  • Both have distinct flavors,
  • The majority of people are prepared to eat, without cooking and
  • Both must be refrigerated immediately after opening.

Differences Between Cured and Uncured Meats

Here’s a quick an overview of the main differences between uncured and cured meats:

Cured MeatMeat that is not cured
Conserved with chemical and artificial additivesConserved using natural ingredients
Colors of deep pink or redPaler light pink color
A more rich flavorLighter flavor
Shelf-stable for longerMore shelf-stable than cured meat.
Contains less saltMore salt

Cured Bacon Vs Bacon That’s Not Curred and Turkey Bacon

Bacon is without certainty one of the best food items. It doesn’t matter if you put it in your burger, or enjoy breakfast with it the delicious treat is difficult to miss.

Although pork bacon originates from a pig’s stomach, Turkey bacon is produced from turkey meat, which is then treated with bacon-like spices and then cut into the distinctive bacon shape.

In essence, bacon is created by letting a chunk made of pork stomach (or any other part of the pork) remain in brine or salt for a specified amount of time to keep it in good condition. However, if all bacon has been cured, what exactly is uncured bacon?

Both kinds of bacon that are cured and uncured as we have discussed previously are cured meat. The distinction lies in the way it is preserved.

Cured bacon is created through the addition of artificial nitrate in the brine and salt mixture. Uncured bacon makes use of celery powder or sea salt to produce naturally occurring Nitrates.

Other than the nitrates the distinction between cured bacon and uncured bacon boils down to the flavor and preference.

Bacon that is not cured is usually preserved in a more natural state than cured bacon and therefore it tastes more like pork belly.

It’s also generally saltier because it’s stored in brines of salt for longer in the curing process in comparison to cure bacon which uses artificial nitrates and cures at an accelerated rate.

The majority of the time, both cured and uncured bacon tastes more or less identical unless you add flavors to the brine, for example, applewood, hickory, and liquid smoke.

Cured Ham vs Uncured Ham

Favorite meat for gatherings with the family, ham refers to a particular portion of pork that is harvested from the rear legs of a hog.

It is prepared with a variety of methods like curing, aging, or smoking. When you think of curing, there are two kinds of Ham: curing and uncured Ham.

Oftentimes, it is called fresh Ham, uncured ham is not preserved with chemical brine, as opposed to cure ham, which is.

If you purchase ham that has not been cured it may be a slightly different, but naturally occurring hue than the typical pink that we are more used to.

The color difference is due to the nitrates in the chemical additives used to cure the cured ham giving it an intense pink hue contrasted with a lighter and more pale color of ham that is not cured.

Cured vs Cured Hot Dogs

Well-known street food that is sold in carts and stands across the nation, hot dogs are among the least healthy and most processed meats available on the market.

Similar to bacon and Ham Hot dogs too are high in nitrates in both the uncured and cured kinds.

The distinction lies based on where nitrates originate which are present in cured hot dogs, containing artificial nitrates, and uncured hot dogs with natural nitrates.

Uncured hot dogs taste just like the cured variety you’ve come to know and enjoy.

But, as the different brands utilize different spices for the hot dogs they can differ in flavor based on the flavorings and ingredients that are used.

Cured vs Uncured Pepperoni

Pepperoni is dry, dried, and cured and spicy Italian sausage made of both pork and beef. The most popular use for it is for pizza toppings, pepperoni can also be a fantastic ingredient in quesadillas, sandwiches as well as cheese boards.

The entire sausage can be chopped and grated and served as a topping to soups, salads, pasta, or baked potatoes.

It is mixed with seasonings like sugar, salt, and spices, after which the meat mixture is infused with a live culture that creates lactic acid.

Lactic acid is a key ingredient in curing and is what makes the pepperoni have its distinctive salty and tangy taste.

Pepperoni that is uncured or cured is alike in how they taste and how they are prepared. However, some key points distinguish them apart like the source of the preservatives that are used.

Cured pepperoni has chemical preservatives, whereas uncured pepperoni has natural preservatives.

The issue of which one is more healthy isn’t an easy one as both versions are nitrate-rich and could be harmful if consumed frequently and for long periods of duration.

Cured Vs Not Cured Salami

Salami is a kind of Italian salami, a cured sausage, that tends to be dry and tougher than other kinds of sausages. Typically, it is made with pork however, there are some variations made from venison, beef, and poultry. There are also other types of meats.

Ground meat gets mixed with fat, then mixed with herbs and spices like garlic, salt, and vinegar, following which it is placed in the casing, then dried-cured until it is dry enough.

Curing, during which it is placed in the natural casings or those made of synthetic, and hung to dry and cure, gives a nice texture, color, and flavor to the meat. It also stops the growth of bacteria.

The biggest distinction between uncured and cured salami is that uncured salami is made using natural ingredients instead of chemical or artificial ones.

Apart from that, the two versions are extremely alike, and both have distinct, distinct flavors.

A typical salami is made from pork that has been fermented and cured with artificial nitrogen nitrates. It is a shelf-life of long and has a distinct tangy taste. is reddish or pinkish, and available for eating right away.

Uncured salami is simply a reference to the meat that was preserved and aged by using celery powder and salt that turn into nitrates after processing.

Interesting Facts & Questions

Once you’ve learned the distinction between uncured and cured meats about the various types of processed meats you can find on the market We’ve got some additional concerns we believe you could be asking yourself!

Can Uncured Meat Be Considered Healthy?

In the quest to eat healthily and avoid processed meats, consumers will tend to gravitate toward foods that are which are advertised to be “natural”. However, just because something is labeled as natural does not mean that it won’t affect your health.

Although the meats that are not cured are preserved using “natural” ingredients, they still contain an enormous amount of Nitrates. Certain varieties may have higher levels of salt or nitrates than those that are cured.

It is all about your personal preferences.

Preservatives are found in both cure-free and uncured versions. you must decide if you would prefer preservatives made of chemicals or those that come from natural sources.

Does Meat That Has Been Cured Tastes Different?

Uncured meat is cooked and tastes like the meat that is cured. But, because it’s preserved in its nature-like state, it is much like the real meat.

It is also saltier than cured meat because it is required to remain in brine much longer to achieve the same degree of preservation that chemically cured meats do.

Are Cured and Cured Foods Have To Be Cooked?

While most cured meats can be considered cooked to perfection, however, not all can be eaten.

Curing is typically performed without heat and by using chemical preservatives to eliminate excess moisture and stop the unwanted growth of bacteria.

You can find three types of meat cured: Dry-cured meats (dried and not cooked and ready for consumption) and cured meats that can be cooked (ready to consume) and cured meats that need cooking.

Cured meats such as bacon require cooking while other kinds of meat like salami and pastrami, ham, and prosciutto, are ready to eat and don’t necessitate cooking.

Should Meats Cured Need To Be Stored In A Refrigerator?

While cured meats can be long-lasting and are highly nutritious, the best method is to keep them within the fridge, not within the kitchen pantry.

Although meats such as salami and prosciutto are preserved for a longer period it is important to keep them kept cool in the fridge, particularly after cutting and opening them.

Foods that have not been refrigerated lose their flavor because of the loss of the moisture that is present at room temperatures, rendering them unpalatable.

The optimal temperature to store curing meats is over freezing point, but less than 45 degF. Additionally, they should be kept out of the sunlight and away from food items like cheeses.

Different types of cured meats have various expiration times. Deli-style salami can be stored when stored in the fridge for up to 3-5 days, whereas hard salami slices can be stored in a refrigerator for up to fourteen days.

What Is The Best Method To Store Your Cured Meats?

The most efficient method to store meats that have been cured is to wrap them with plastic wrap then remove any air bubbles or pockets and then store them in the refrigerator at a constant temperature as far away from the light source as you can.

The best way to go about it is, however, to consume it as soon after you purchase it as the flavor and texture are just as good.

Do You Have The Ability To Freeze Meat That Has Been Cured?

While you can but it is recommended not to freeze meats that have been cured such as salami, salami, and prosciutto because extremely low temperatures could make the animal lose its distinct taste and softness.

What Is The Time It Will Need To Be For Meats To Dry?

The length of time required to cure the meat is contingent on the kind and size of the animal, as well as the method of curing used.

Naturally curing meats requires much longer than curing with artificial preservers lasting from a couple of weeks to a few days.

Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, the founder and editor of YummyTasteFood! She's a seasoned food writer and editor with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry as a former pastry chef, sous chef, and barista. When not writing about food, she explores new recipes or travels the world for culinary inspiration.