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A step in the curing process prior to curing that involves the rubbing of food with a mixture that is used to preserve foods. The curing compound typically includes salt, sodium nitrite, other nitrites, and seasonings that are rubbed on the surface of the meat. The meat is then hung to dry, allowing it to age anywhere from a few weeks to over a year, depending on the variety of meat that it is. Generally, the aging process is approximately six months, although it may be as long as 2 years. During this time the curing compound penetrates through the entire meat, drawing out moisture and thereby preserving the ham. The weight of the meat is greatly reduced. The loss of moisture produces a more intense flavor and deepens the color of the meat. Dry cured meats may also be smoked.
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