sigh, I new this moment would arrive. Some food archaeology for you: the romans made salt in lead-lined pans and added blood and urine to the brine. Nobody is quite sure why the urine. However, I'm a Bacon Wizard and understand that the NEXT stage of ham making required burying the ham in wood ashes. Potassium in the ash may well combine with urea and nitrogen to make nitrates which cure pork. Here goes :(

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