The subject of cold cuts has been one of conflict, confusion, and downright fear. So what’s the deal?
Cold cuts (aka deli meats) are pre-cooked, sliced meats intended to be eaten on sandwiches or in other quick meals. You can buy pre-sliced, packaged meat in the cooler section of the grocery store, but the best way to buy cold cuts is from the deli, where they slice the meat fresh to order.
Pre-packaged cooked meats need to have an extended shelf life, which requires preservatives (sodium nitrate is the most common one). Commercial brand pre-sliced meats are highly susceptible to bacteria and almost always have these preservatives, so it’s best to stay away from them altogether.
Many people (including myself) will not eat products with these preservatives in them. It’s best to buy organic, nitrate-free meats, and if possible choose meat that has been cooked right there in the store.
Here’s a bonus tip: If you’ve had cold cuts in your refrigerator for just a tad too long (say, 6 or 7 days), you can cook the slices before eating them. I fry them in a pan, but you can also microwave them. This will kill any new bacteria growth, and render the meat safe to eat. If it’s been more than 7 days , though, it’s best to toss it. “When in doubt, throw it out.”
Photo credit: Eaters Collective