Historical Salt Pork Experiment

JAS Townsends posted a video on making salt pork and I decided to replicate it.

I decided to try two types of meat. One pure pork belly for the more modern type of salt pork and a pork shoulder to provide both fat and lean. I also wanted to see if it did better or worse in a large or small container.

The ingredients are quite simple. Pork, water, and lots of salt.

A large and small sealable plastic container was used for the two meats.

A layer of salt was added to the bottom of the smaller container and then packed with the pork belly.

Once the small container was packed tight, I butchered the shoulder.

This was then cut into smaller chunks and layered into the larger tub.

Once both containers were filled I made a hot water salt solution saline enough to float an egg.

I poured this brine over the pork and salt and made sure it penetrated through the layers. Added more salt and water until the containers were full.

Once full, I added a small weight to keep the meat submerged.

Historically this was kept in barrels or crocks in cool dark places though not always. It was common to keep salted pork or soaked pork in sheds even in the hot South. Or some kitchens just had them in their larders. Being a cautious modern man, I put them in the refrigerator. I left the pork alone for three months and then tested it.

Removed from the salt and unsoaked. The pork feels a bit like thick leather. Not hard, but very firm. I fried up a piece and tasted it. Too salty, but would work fine as a seasoning for beans or greens or such that calls for “salt pork”. No mold, off smell, or any kind of discoloration.

Unsoaked pork. You can see the ring of preservation and it is the texture of hide leather.

I then soaked the meat for two hours and changed out the water a few times. It was spongy and still a bit too salty after being fried.

A four hour soak with water changes had it far too bland and soft. So a three hour soak with water changes makes for good fresh meat to eat. To test the meat, I made baked beans with unsoaked salt pork.

They cooked just fine and nobody died.