PH Scale

Life loves balance, often best in the middle. The level of acid or alkaline is a prime example of nature taking the centre line. On the pH scale above, it starts at 0 (most acidic) and goes up to 14 (most alkaline). Human blood sits just above 7, anything of a slight difference either way and this are serious health implications.

At the start of the salami, or any fermented sausage, making there is a short period when the product is made more acidic. This is achieved by adding a starter culture which contains acid producing bugs. These are almost identical to the bacteria that get yoghurt going. The salamis are kept in a warmer environment to start with, to encourage the culture to perform a process of fermentation. This creates a hostile environment for any harmful bacteria and adds to the overall defensive structure of the preserved meat. The cumulative effect of all of these methods of charcuterie help to create great food with a long shelf life. Matured cheese shares a number of these secrets …


If I was to say that we are going to inflict death by imploding cell walls, exposure to acid, gassing, rubbing in salt or poisoning, you would possibly be fair in thinking of medieval executions. The truth is that every day, food curers and charcutiers do just these things to preserve food. All of the processes are natural and most of them have been around for centuries. When ships set sail across the oceans a staple dish was salted cod. All the moisture had been drawn out of the cod and it could be reconstituted and cooked up months into the journey. It is also rumoured to be one of the origins of “Salty Dog” as a reference to an experienced sailor. What would have happended if the same piece of cod had not been preserved?  How long would it have lasted in the ship’s galley? Also, how heavy would the food supplies on board have been?

Over the next few blogs, we are going to look at how some of these techniques work, the science and maybe some history to go along with it. If you have ever tried fresh pastrami and enjoyed it’s rich flavours, then you will have experienced the benefit of at least three of these tactics of chemical warfare.

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