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Processed meat? What is it?

I recently saw some on-sale pre-sliced meat packets, a line of products by a company that packages at least half a dozen variations like "smoked ham" and "honey-roasted turkey." I bought a ham and turkey pack for some quick sandwiches. On trying them, I decided not to know in advance whether the product was ham or turkey. And it turns out: I couldn't tell! (I guessed wrong.)

I've since learned that "processing" means curing through salt, sugar and/or "chemical" means. Anyone know exactly what happens to makes ham and turkey hard to distinguish? (I do know that ham, in American common usage, is by definition cured in some way.)

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  1. Lots of salt and smoke flavoring.

      1. re: wyogal

        I got smoked turkey and smoked ham. Basically, the turkey came to look and taste like the thin-sliced ham. No discernible hint of turkey flavor!

        1. re: Bada Bing

          because of the smoke, if you try roasted turkey it will have a different taste.

          1. re: Bada Bing

            In my house we don't understand the appeal of turkey, so if your turkey tastes like ham, we would consider you to be lucky!

        2. I eat this stuff as a last resort when I want some lean protein and can't cook anything, as you say the taste is identical, I've always figured it must be due to the industrial cooking process, maybe they boil 5,000 pound vats of meat at a time. Whatever method they use it is something that destroys the flavor characteristics of the various meats.

          1. The processed meats that you describe are loaded with sodium, that's most likely why they taste similar.

            1. Processed meat? What is it?

              Flat hot dogs.

              1 Reply
              1. Some of the mystery meat entrees' they get in prison are the epitome of "processed meats".

                1. "Processing" is the extremely and probably intentionally vague term used to say something or things were done to something else, not just what you've described. Livestock is "processed" meaning killed and broken down into primal cuts and then additionally processed by breaking down more and packaging for cooking and/or eating. I pick up my chickens at the farm on processing day. Some parts of the pig are processed into bacon. While at the processor getting cleaned, broken down and packaged venison scraps are processed into summer sausage and jerky sticks.

                  What you're describing--lunchmeat, isn't meat that's been lovingly, thinly sliced from a primal hunk. It's pieces or bits removed (processed) from their substructures, made (processed) into paste and then pressed or put back (processed) to a cohesive unit via chemical and/or mechanical means. After that it's been (processed) extruded and sliced. What results is utterly divorced from it's original state and has lots of salt and additives. With that plus the complete absence of recognizable textural cues, it's no wonder it all tastes the same.