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Bacon Cure without Sodium Nitrate - Page 3

post #41 of 55

I would absolutely love a study to explain the hypersensitivities people have and to, I presume, end the debate.  Unfortunately, the data out there is happy to state what nitrates and nitrites are, though I think they frequently mix them up, and typically jump on board the "shut up about nitrates hurting you" train.  The links in the article mentioned by Pops, thanks Pops, really just state some issues about the chemical natures of nitrate/nitrite compounds and whether they will give you cancer and how veggies have lots of these compounds.  None really address the issue of headaches.


The nitrate/nitrite nay-sayers will never give up the argument if their concerns aren't addressed, rather than simply saying "your wrong if you eat veggies".  I mean no offense by that statement, but if you had a serious medical concern and you were given answers like that, you would likely get grumpy about your affliction being ignored.  A similar example was the issue of autism being caused by children's vaccinnes; we can just say "you is crazy" (which did not work), but we can do meta-analysis to show there was not a significant link between the two, which seems to have helped peoples fears. 


We need to find the real causes of the headaches, whether its preservatives as DaveOmak suggested, my suggestion about excessive nitrate/nitriting of meat by the major producers/distributers or another reason all together.  Perhaps then we can find a solution to this issues that makes us all happy.



Finally, as an aside for Banman, if you ever find your "nitrate free" meat is pink, then they are tricking you.  Nitrites make it pink and are using a trick such as sourcing their meat from parts of Canada where they don't have to list the nitrate or are using the fermented celery juice powder which has shloads of nitrites.

post #42 of 55


This is the reason people are trying to avoid Nitrates, MSG and the like. 



post #43 of 55
Originally Posted by Mike Clagg View Post


This is the reason people are trying to avoid Nitrates, MSG and the like. 



Mike, morning..... appreciate the article...   


Here is some reading you may want to consider.......     Dave


Nitrites and Botulism

So nitrates and nitrites are both harmless and ubiquitous. But is it really possible that eating nitrate-free meats could actually be more dangerous than eating meats that do contain sodium nitrate? The answer is yes.

One special property of sodium nitrite is that it prevents the growth of Clostridium botulinum. One of the most toxic substances known, Clostridium botulinum produces botulism, a paralytic illness that can lead to respiratory failure.

The botulism bacteria is peculiar bug because unlike most microbes, it actually requires an oxygen-free environment to live. Once it hits the air, it dies. So it tends to appear in canned foods, vacuum-packed foods, garlic stored in oil and improperly cured meats. It just so happens that sodium nitrite is especially effective at preventing the growth of Clostridium botulinum.

Conclusions About Nitrates and Nitrites

Given that sodium nitrate occurs naturally in foods like spinach, carrots and celery, as well as the fact that nitrite has never been shown to cause cancer, all the fuss about nitrates and nitrites might seem like typical media-driven hysteria. Moreover, the supposedly "natural" or "organic" versions of these products can contain many times more sodium nitrate than their conventional counterparts. But when you consider the increased likelihood of contracting botulism, it's actually the nitrate-free products that present the real health risk.

post #44 of 55
Originally Posted by Mike Clagg View Post


This is the reason people are trying to avoid Nitrates, MSG and the like. 



I'm not trying to avoid nitrates or fact I like em!!



post #45 of 55

Preventing Botulism...........



What sanitation methods are used to prevent infection?

The main limiting growth factors for C. botulinum are extreme temperature, pH < 4.6, low water activity, food preservatives, and competing microorganisms. Strains of C. botulinum can be both mesophilic and psychotrophic, with growth between 3°C to 43°C (38°F to 110°F). Therefore, strains can grow not only at room temperatures, but at normal refrigeration and higher temperatures. Proper cooking and handling is important to eliminate C. botulinum in food, so refrigeration can be more effective.

While most bacteria cannot survive at a low pH, some proteins such as in soy and beef have protective agents that allow them to grow at pH < 4.5. Low water activity inhibits the growth of C. botulinum, which is why dehydrated foods and foods high in salt and/or sugar do not support its growth. Food preservatives such as nitrites, sorbic acid, phenolic antioxidants, polyphosphates, and ascorbates, as well as lactic acid bacteria, inhibit the growth of C. botulinum.

Most outbreaks of foodborne botulism are the result of poor home canning. Proper time, temperature, and pressure are required to destroy the heat-resistant spores, and proper storage methods are necessary to ensure the safety of the consumer. A pressure cooker can be used for home canning purposes because it can reach temperatures higher than boiling (212°F), which is necessary to kill the spores (2).

While the botulinum spores can survive in boiling water, the botulinum toxin is heat-labile. Heating food to a typical cooking temperature of 80°C (176°F) for 10 minutes before consumption can greatly reduce the risk of illness.

The suggestions below are good examples of how to prevent foodborne C. botulinum:

  • If consuming home canned foods, heat low acid foods to at least 80°C (176°F) for 10 minutes and corn, spinach, and meats for 20 minutes.

  • Oils infused with garlic or herbs should be properly refrigerated.

  • Canned food products, both home and commercial, should be inspected before use. Cans with bulging or damaged lids, leakage, or off odors should not be used because growth of the bacteria can often produce a gas, causing the can to expand.

  • Home canned foods should be canned in pressure cookers to ensure the proper time, temperature, and pressure requirements to avoid the growth of the bacteria and spores.

  • Although commercial food products have a low rate of botulism, read the label and throw out any and all damaged or expired cans.

  • If canning meats, use nitrites or salt in the brine in addition to heat to reduce the growth of C. botulinum.

  • Vacuum packaged meats should be refrigerated or properly stored in the freezer for extended use.

  • Keep hot foods above 57°C (135°F) and cold foods below 5°C (41°F) to prevent the formation of spores.

  • Wash hands, utensils, and food contact surfaces with hot soapy water after they touch raw meat or seafood, before food preparation, and after using the bathroom.

post #46 of 55
It is possible to make bacon without added nitrite, it's done by some of the smokehouses in the south.
In the info that Dave posted above, you'll notice that "low water activity" is one way to prevent botulinum growth.
"Low water activity inhibits the growth of C. botulinum, which is why dehydrated foods and foods high in salt and/or sugar do not support its growth."
Bacon is salted and then dried until the water activity level is low enough to prevent botulinum growth before the bacon is cold or warm smoked.
Unfortunately, an expensive meter is required to accurately measure water activity level.

post #47 of 55

I sympathize with those having headaches and migraines; I had them for many years, only later to find out they were all caused by stress and misfunction of the spine, once leaving my job due to strokes and getting my Atlas properly adjusted; bingo, instant relief (see  Not that I recommend that train of discovery, mind you, lol!  My sister had migraines all her life; so severe she'd curl up in a ball in a black room, only getting up to throw up for a week or two; she retired at 55 from it; then found out 2 things - a chiropracrtor and heliobactor factor for her ulcers (discovery that they can cure ulcers).  She now lives a relaxing and full life.

post #48 of 55
Originally Posted by Mike Clagg View Post


This is the reason people are trying to avoid Nitrates, MSG and the like. 



Mike no reflection on you or your beliefs...But, not only is Holly's information inaccurate and taken out of context from selfserving reports, but for every " Study " that says A, B or C causes Cancer, there is another study that refutes the findings of the first. She uses the word Nitrates very broadly. Fact is with the exception of Classically Dry Cured or Artisan Dry Cured styles of sausage like Salami, Pepperoni and a few other types of Charcuterie, NOTHING on this list, including Domestic, Commercially Produced Pepperoni which is typically heated (USDA reg requires heating to 145*F or 128*F for 60 minutes) is made with Nitrate...I won't even get started on MSG as there has never been a Conclusive and/or Repeatable study that links the 100 year old use of MSG to anything...JJ

  • Beef jerky
  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Pepperoni
  • Hot dogs
  • Sandwich meat
  • Deli slices
  • Ham
  • Frozen pizzas with meat
  • Canned soups containing meat
  • Frozen meals with meat
  • Ravioli and meat pasta foods

…and many more meat products

post #49 of 55
Originally Posted by tstruck View Post

I'll be sharing the bacon with a group of people that eat "Paleo" or "Primal" so I would like to keep all ingredients natural.  I also try to cook with all natural ingredients if possible.  Nitrates don't really scare me personally as I eat a ton of sausage with nitrates.  However, I would like to keep it natural for the group I will be cooking for.  Thanks!


If someone is truly on the paleo/primal kick, sugar and maple syrup would be out for them as well.

post #50 of 55
We havent heard back from the original thread starter... hope he is ok!

Think ill stick with the nitrites myself.. biggrin.gif
post #51 of 55
So last night I put 5 lbs of bacon in a dry cure of 1 cup kosher salt and 1 cup brown sugar. Am I going to die?

I am guessing I should walk to the store and rub some pink salt on it from what you guys are saying as I am now a bit nervous as a first timer. Is there something else I should do like this guy to rescue this meat?
post #52 of 55
Originally Posted by hammocksmoker View Post

So last night I put 5 lbs of bacon in a dry cure of 1 cup kosher salt and 1 cup brown sugar. Am I going to die?

I am guessing I should walk to the store and rub some pink salt on it from what you guys are saying as I am now a bit nervous as a first timer. Is there something else I should do like this guy to rescue this meat?

Read all the posts in this thread....  there is a lot of good info in there......



post #53 of 55

A very good reason to avoid sodium nitrites and nitrates is: if you have Gout or Gouty arthritis, they will trigger extremely painfull flare-ups. I'm in hospital at this moment because of eating commercially cured bacon. I'm about to have surgery to remove the fluid from my gout, from my left knee. It caused a massive infection. Surgery is the only recourse besides amputation.


So, for me and my brother, sodium nitrites and nitrates could actually cost us our limbs. Goodbye ALL commercially cured meats! Plus, nitrites and nitrates raise blood pressure and inhibit healing of wounds. So, good luck with your cures using that stuff. I intend to keep my limbs.

post #54 of 55

Hope all goes well with your operation. If Nitrate/Nitrite effects your Gout, there are many Vegetables, especially Celery, Beets, Cabbage, Carrots, Radishes and Spinach that contain high levels of Nitrite as well, more than Bacon. There are many foods out there that cause health issues for people. Peanuts are a HUGE problem for many. I had a student that felt terrible after " some " classes. We didn't discover her problem until we started the Baking segment and she was sick after every class. She discovered she was allergic to Gluten, Celiac Disease. Meats can be cured with just salt but the amount needed to keep the meat safe from the Clostridium Botulinum bug and others, is very high and has to be soaked out to make it edible. Good luck...JJ

post #55 of 55
Since I did not know about nitrite/nitrate and gout, I googled it and I found this about asparagus...... Didn't know that either...

... (from the link) ......
There are some foods that a person with gout may consider as "safe" but are they really? Asparagus is one of the largest uric acid producing "healthy" foods around. Asparagus is made up of proteins and amino acids known as Asparagine. Asparagine has the highest number of ammonia molecules within it and therefore produces the highest amount of uric acid. Asparagus needs to be considered a very high gout trigger. Those who consume a lot of this vegetable need to be aware that it may be causing their problem.
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