Meat in brine
Cured Meats and Meat By-products - Serbia
Meso u salamuri, Karnja d salamura (karnja sarata)
Meat in brine is prepared from all kinds of meat (pigs, mutton, beef and goat meat) and fish. The meat is preserved in salt, dry or with water added, smoked and then soaked with pig's fat for summer use. The salted meat is placed in wooden baskets and covered by wooden plate, onto which stones are placed to press the meat. Over the next month, from time to time meat pieces are unpacked, rotated and re-packed in reverse order, to guarantee even fermentation until spring. From spring to winter, meat preservation was done solely with the dry procedure, then shortly smoked and dried and then soaked with pig's fat or dried to pastrama. No additives, chemical or natural, were added except in case of pastrama, which could be covered by black or white paper and garlic. Before consumption, meat should be desalinated in water with a piece of corn stalk, said to help with the salt extraction.
This type of meat preservation was usually practiced in all rural households of Eastern Serbia the region until the 1980s, after which it was almost abandoned. With rising interest from tourists for traditional food in region of Lower Danube, production has increased for consumption in rural tourism and for family use. While meat in brine is under threat, pastrama is still produced in artisan shops, although not no longer from all kinds of meat, but just pork and river fish.
Creating meat in brine is a time consuming process, which today sees deep freezing or the use of canned meat as alternatives. However, these preservation methods cannot compare in taste to meat in brine. Although many have forgotten the technique, the poor quality of tinned meat may give rise to a revival of domestic brined meat production. However, the introduction of new food safety standards for producing and marketing this product have proven too complicated and expensive for small scale home processors. There is promise, though, for its use in rural and agrotourism opportunities.