Curing Salt, Nitrites/Nitrates & Botulism
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Curing Salt, Nitrites/Nitrates & Botulism
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Thread: Curing Salt, Nitrites/Nitrates & Botulism

  1. #1

    Curing Salt, Nitrites/Nitrates & Botulism

    Thanks to Nepas for allowing me to repost this here.

    Nitrate & Nitrite Cure info - By Nepas

    I get asked about this a lot.

    CURES - Cures are used in meat products for color and flavor development as well as retarding the development of bacteria in the low temperature environment of smoked meats.

    Salt and sugar both cure meat by osmosis. In addition to drawing the water from the food, they dehydrate and kill the bacteria that make food spoil. In general, though, use of the word "cure" refers to processing the meat with either sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate.

    The primary and most important reason to use cures is to prevent BOTULISM POISONING (a serious food poisoning). It is very important that any kind of meat or sausage that will be cooked and smoked at low temperature be cured. To trigger botulism poisoning, the requirements are quite simple - lack of oxygen, the presence of moisture, and temperatures in range of 40-140 F. When smoking meats, the heat and smoke eliminates the oxygen. The meats have moisture and are traditionally smoked and cooked in the low ranges of 90 to 185 F. As you can see, these are ideal conditions for food poisoning if you don't use cures.



    There are two types of commercially used cures.

    Cure #1 (Curing Salt #1, Prague Powder #1, InstaCure #1, DQ Curing Salt #1)
    Used to prevent meats from spoiling when being cooked or smoked at low temperatures. This cure is 1 part sodium nitrite (6.25%) and 15 parts salt (93.75%) and are combined and crystallized to assure even distribution. As the meat temperate rises during processing, the sodium nitrite changes to nitric oxide and starts to ‘gas out’ at about 130 degrees F. After the smoking /cooking process is complete only about 10-20% of the original nitrite remains. As the product is stored and later reheated for consumption, the decline of nitrite continues. 4 ounces of Cure #1 is used to cure 100 lbs of meat. A more typical measurement for home use is 1 level tsp per 5 lbs of meat.


    Cure #2 (Curing Salt #2, Prague Powder #2, Instacure #2, DQ Curing Salt #2)
    Cure #2 is primarily used for dry/semi-dry sausages and hams that need to be aged over time, often in warmer temps. Cure #2 is a mixture of 1 part sodium nitrite, .64 parts sodium nitrate and 16 parts salt. (1 oz. of sodium nitrite with .64 oz. of sodium nitrate to each lb. of salt.)

    The sodium nitrate, acts like a time release, slowly breaking down into sodium nitrite, then into nitric oxide. This allows you to dry cure products that take much longer to cure. A cure with sodium nitrite would dissipate too quickly. Use 1 oz. of cure for 25 lbs. of meat or 1 level teaspoon of cure for 5 lbs. of meat when mixing with meat.

    When using a cure in a brine solution, follow a recipe.





    Additional notes by TentHunter:

    It's important to understand that 1 tsp of Cure #1 per 5 lbs (or 4 oz. per 100 lbs) is the MAXIMUM allowed amount for comminuted (ground) meat in the U.S. by USDA regulations. This equals 156 Parts Per Million. Europe limits this to 150 PPM.

    However, it's generally accepted (even by the USDA) that only about 40 - 50 ppm (for ground meats) is required for the nitrite to have a curing effect.

    My point is this: Measure carefully and use the recommended amounts, or a little less, but never more! DO NOT use heaping teaspoons when measuring; use LEVEL or even scant teaspoons!



    "Pink Salt" A bad practice I often see in forums and on the web is using the term "Pink Salt" in reference to cures or curing salts.

    Instead, you should always specify exactly which type of cure is to be used. This is because both Cure #1 and Cure #2 can be tinted pink so they're not confused with regular salt.

    To make it more confusing, there is also a Himalayan pink salt that has nothing to do with meat curing at all!
    Last edited by TentHunter; 03-15-2014 at 08:15 PM.
    <><
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    22.5" Weber Performer with Stoven Pellet Grill attachment
    27 + year old 22.5" Weber Kettle (still works fine)
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  2. #2

    Salt Sense

    When it comes to recipes and measuring salt, it's important to understand that salts are NOT created equal, nor do they weigh the same! That's why many die-hard sausage makers weigh their ingredients especially the salt.


    Which Salt to use?
    • Non-iodized table salt, is OK but not ideal for use in meat curing. It contains anti-caking agents and other additives that do not dissolve and can make your brine cloudy.
    • Sea Salt is OK to use, but is also not generally recommended by experienced sausage makers because it can contain impurities and is sometimes a little bitter.
    • Kosher Salt is a better choice, because there are no additives. Its downfall is inconsistency in size, so it should really be weighed.

    • Pickling salt is optimum! It's made for pickle brine and dissolves easily. It's very consistent for measuring, readily available, relatively inexpensive, AND...


    ...it's a Kosher product with no additives!
    Last edited by TentHunter; 11-24-2013 at 11:36 PM.
    <><
    MAK 1 Star General #651 - 2014 Model
    former owner - MAK 1 Star General #171
    22.5" Weber Performer with Stoven Pellet Grill attachment
    27 + year old 22.5" Weber Kettle (still works fine)
    Modified Horizontal Offset Smoker - used mainly for cold smoking.

  3. #3
    Senior Member MossyMO's Avatar
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    Very informative post, straight forward honest info here for anyone interested in sausage making. One key piece of sausage food safety info for sausage makers I feel is go by weight on all products, not measuring spoons or cups.; have scales to measure the weight of the meat and to measure the weight of the cure to the desired increment.

  4. #4
    Administrator Big Poppa's Avatar
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    Great post...Marty you are correct...Actually in serious kitchens and baking it is by weight too...

  5. #5
    Thanks for the helpful information.

    For those without a scale, I have found when weighing salts, that for accurate measurements, look for a scale with 0.1 gram resolution. There is one available for under $20 that'll fit your shirt pocket that I recently purchased.

    TD

  6. #6
    Very clear and informative post. I think I learn more on this forum than I do in the books that I buy. I think it is because the explanation of how to do things are in layman's terms were it's easy to understand. Some of the books I have bought are a little hard to understand. Thanks Cliff and Nepas for educating everyone on the techniques and steps of sausage making. I am definitely going to print these post out to use as a reference.
    MAK 2 Star General #1366
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by TrickyDick View Post
    For those without a scale, I have found when weighing salts, that for accurate measurements, look for a scale with 0.1 gram resolution.

    Good tip! The one I use was about $18. It has: 11 lb capacity, easy to read, Units = lbs/oz or grams (switchable), Resolution = 0.1 oz or 1.0 gram.

    It's great for weighing meat and larger amounts of spices (which is fine for larger batches of sausage). But, for small quantities of spices, like you mentioned, the resolution needs to be down to 0.1 grams.
    <><
    MAK 1 Star General #651 - 2014 Model
    former owner - MAK 1 Star General #171
    22.5" Weber Performer with Stoven Pellet Grill attachment
    27 + year old 22.5" Weber Kettle (still works fine)
    Modified Horizontal Offset Smoker - used mainly for cold smoking.

  8. #8
    On to read the Kutas "bible" next. Gives some interesting information about botulism. First sign is blurred vision in less than a day.
    Think I'm going to pick a fresh sausage recipe and tough it out on the KA mixer attachments this weekend if Mother's Day doesn't prevent me. I don't think I can pull off the, "I made these sausages especially for you on Mother's Day" ploy.

    TD

  9. #9
    Senior Member nepas's Avatar
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    Looks real good Cliff.
    Anytime you need some info or help just yell. One these days i will get another pellet grill.
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by nepas View Post
    Anytime you need some info or help just yell.
    You can count on it!
    <><
    MAK 1 Star General #651 - 2014 Model
    former owner - MAK 1 Star General #171
    22.5" Weber Performer with Stoven Pellet Grill attachment
    27 + year old 22.5" Weber Kettle (still works fine)
    Modified Horizontal Offset Smoker - used mainly for cold smoking.

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