So, being a pure newbie at this i obviously don't have much of a basis for argument, but my understanding from some of the bacon recipies/instructions that i have read up to this point mention that A) Nitrite based cures are not necessary for home based bacon making/use and B) Naturally (salt) cured bacon will taste better than store bought chemically cured bacon. Again, I am not really taking sides on this, just trying to sort it all out.
this is one post (of many) that i have read concerning using nitrate cures versus not.
There is one main concern when curing and smoking meat, and that is botuslism. While botulism is most closely related with improper canning procedures, food-borne botulism also occurs in meats that have been improperly preserved. To prevent this, commercially cured/preserved meats contain sodium nitrite, which acts both as a preservative and a color fixer. (This is what gives store-bought bacon that bright red color.) In quantity, sodium nitrite is toxic and has been linked to migraines in certain people. While that is of concern, the quantity required to be toxic would only affect someone eating Homer Simpson levels of bacon. The main concern with sodium nitrite, is that when it is exposed to high heat in the presence of protein (like a piece of meat treated with sodium nitrite being cooked), proteins in the meat bond with the sodium nitrite to produce nitrosamines. It is also possible for nitrosamines to form from sodium nitrite in highly acidic conditions, like your stomach. Basically, the frying and eating of nitrite containing bacon presents the perfect scenario for nitrosamines to enter your system. Unlike sodium nitrite, which we know is toxic in large quantities and may make you sick if you eat too much, certain nitrosamines have been proven to be deadly carcinogens.
That sounds bad right?
The sodium nitrites are necessary in a large industrial setting, where many different individuals, machines and movements are involved to ensure that the resultant product is botulism free. The home chef can better control the variables and handling procedures, and can get those assurances without the nitrites. Oh, and your bacon will taste much, much better than anything you’ve purchased in plastic wrap, I can guarantee it.