Oh no…I’ve been slimmed:
I am sure we have all had the same experience, your looking to save a little here and there, so instead of going out to lunch everyday you decide your going to pack your lunch this week. So on Sunday you go to your local grocery store, grab a number, wait…and…wait…and…wait, and finally your number is called. You step up and tell the person behind the counter you would like 1 pound of sliced ham, 1 pound of sliced turkey and maybe a little cheese. Checking out you feel good about yourself, you’ll save some money, and the sandwich will be made just how you like it. Monday comes you make your turkey sandwich and off to work you go. Tuesday comes around you make your ham sandwich and off to work you go. Wednesday comes and you go to make your turkey sandwich, only to open the package and to your disgust the turkey is just covered in a slim. You open the ham and find the same. You throw both in the trash, now your out all the money you spent on the lunch meat. Three to four days in the fridge doesn’t sound right. What causes this and how do you avoid it?
Basically it is the breakdown in the proteins in the meat combined with the decomposition due to bacterial growth. The reason it occurs so quickly is the lunch meat at the grocery store is generally wetter then say at a smoke house or specialty food store. Bacteria thrive on wetter surfaces and spread much quicker then on a drier surface. That’s why smoked meats last longer. For example smoked turkey and smoked ham lunch meat on average will last 10 to 12 days in the refrigerator. Curing and smoking meat is an effective means to preserve meat. The salt from the cure and the smoke create an environment not conducive to bacterial growth. In particular the smoking process creates a naturally drier product which does not allow for the same rapid growth of bacteria as a wetter grocery store deli meat. Thus slowing down the formation of “slim” on the meat.
While some meats in the grocery store are labeled “smoked”, manufactures will increase the percentage of curing solution that is pumped into the product prior to smoking which, even if it is actually smoked it still makes for a wetter product. Additionally, manufactures will use liquid smoke in the curing processes to give the meat a “smoked” flavor without actually smoking the product. Again, leading to a much wetter product and one more conducive to bacterial growth and the development of “slim”.
So the next time you go to buy lunch meat, consider natural smoked meats over your local grocery store deli. Not only will the produce last longer, the enhanced flavor from the smoke is one your taste buds will thank you for.