How is spam made?

Yield: 2 servings

Measure Ingredient
\N \N HOW IS SPAM MADE?
\N \N =================
\N x Chopped pork shoulder meat
\N x A bit of ham added
\N x Salt
\N x Water
\N x Sugar
\N x Sodium Nitrate

*

INGREDIENTS

There isn't really much scary meat in it, such as the stories about pig snouts and such, even though meat used for canning contains adjacent fat and connective tissues that need not be described on the label, however. Presence of tendons in canned meat is considered permissible if the amount is under 10% in contents; the reason being that finely ground tendons are believed to be digestible in the presence of other proteins. For every 100 pounds of this meat, you need about 3½ pounds of salt, a pound of sugar, and about an ounce of sodium nitrate. Nitrate is what gives Spam it's eerie pink++without it, Spam would fade to a drab meat-loaf gray. The consistency of Spam is not quite fleshlike, being too rubbery for that, and is constructed on the principle of concrete. Coarse chunks of meat are held together by a pate of finely ground meat.

Approximately ¾ of the meat is ground coarsely (through a three-eighths-inch plate of the grinder), the remaining quarter finely (one-eighth-inch plate). Grinding, mixing and curing must be done in achilled factory (34 degrees Fahrenheit) to minimize bacterial growth. Mix the 2 grades of meat with the salt, sugar, and sodium nitrate in a vacuum mixer set to a 27-inch vacuum, for 5 minutes. Release vacuum and let the mixture cure overnight, maintaining refrigeration. The next day, mix in the vacuum mixer for about 10 minutes again. The chilled meat is then ready for canning.

Though the canning plant doesn't have to be refrigerated, the meat must not warm more than a few degrees (to no more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit) in transit. Spray the inner surfacee cans with oil for easy removal, then pack with meat mixtuer and seal under a 27-inch vacuum. Spam is still raw when canned. Cooking and sterilization take place in the sealed can. The time required to sterilize depends on the size and shape of the can. The classic 3 ⅞" x 3 ¼" x 2 ⅛" oblong can takes about 70 minutes in an oven set to 230 degrees Fahrenheit. The can's sturdy design andinternal vacuum prevent explosion. Hormel's dating code is a 5-digit number on the bottom of the can, something like F04173, where F encodes the processing plant.

The first 2 digits represent the month (04 for April), the next two are the day (17 is the 17th), and the last is the year (3 means it's 1993 unless it's a really old can). There is a record of canned meat (not Spam, obviously) remaining edible for 114 years. However, a Hormel brochure suggests using all canned foods within 2 years. Says Hormel, "It is important to keep in mind that all foods are substances which arderived from living matter. All living things have life spans that are characteristic of the species. " Even Spam.

Submitted By SAM LEFKOWITZ On 08-05-95

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