Bacon Cure without Sodium Nitrate

Discussion in 'Bacon' started by tstruck, Dec 24, 2012.

  1. I plan on making my first bacon and I prefer to not use sodium nitrate.  My plan is to cure the pork belly for 6-7 days in the refrigerator with kosher salt, maple sugar, and maple syrup.  I plan on using 2 ounces of kosher salt, 1/4 cup maple sugar, and 1/4 cup maple syrup per 5lb of pork belly.  Then I plan on letting it sit in refrigerator for 1-2 days and then on the smoker at ~175 degrees until meat reaches 150 degrees.

    My biggest questions:
    1. Do I need to use sodium nitrates in the curing process?  I am thinking I don't since I will be smoking to 150 degrees.  
    2. Does my salt/sugar/syrup ratios look appropriate for a 7 day cure?
    3. Any other pointers would be great
    Thanks for your feedback.
  2. Sorry, I believe this should have been posted in smoking, not cold smoking.  It doesn't look like I can delete and repost.
  3. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Its in a good place. I am not an expert on bacon but I am pretty sure you need cure to make bacon. If using salt, all you will be doing is brining.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2012
  4. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Just outa curiosity..why no cure/nitrites????

    Most of use nitrite...not nitrate...
  5. Is there a reason you don't want to use a proper cure? Cure #1 does not contain sodium nitrate it contains sodium nitrite...
  6. 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!
  7. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    What you plan on doing might be safe but it will just be a pork roast at best. and are you leaving it the brine for 1 or 2 days or 7? you mentioned both
  8. I would like to "dry cure" the pork belly for 7 days.  Then let it sit in the refrigerator for another day or two before smoking.  I really don't think the result will be a pork roast but would love to hear from others on this.  I would hate to waste some good meat.
  9. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Paleo or Primal....Like to keep ingredients all natural...Sodium Nitrite: 


    Sodium nitrite is a naturally occurring mineral  salt that can be extracted, or be synthetically produced from sodium nitrate. It acts as a curing agent, a preservative, an anti-bacterial  agent to inhibit the growth of the botulism-causing bacterium (Clostridium botulinum), and as a colour retention agent  that fixes the colour  of meats and fish, making them look fresh and more appealing to buy.

    Common Uses

    Used in processed and cured meats, luncheon meats, bacon, sausages, ham, hot dogs, salami, smoked and cured fish. Found naturally in root vegetables.

    Better Safe than Sorry! [​IMG]  Merry Christmas...JJ
  10. I do believe curing salt #1 is synthetic and not from a natural source.  Has anyone had any experience with celery powder?
  11. Some celery powder isn't natural either.
    Some of the natural nitrate has been pre-converted to nitrite.

    Last edited: Dec 24, 2012
  12. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    My understanding is that a low-oxygen environment (as you would theoretically have when smoking, either hot or cold) is one of the risk factors for growth of the bacteria that can cause botulism. But I'm sure you are planning to cook your bacon after smoking, and cooking food to 180 deg F for 10 minutes will theoretically neutralize the botulinum toxin. However, this will not eliminate botulinum spores.

    If you are dead-set against using sodium nitrite in your cure mixture, you might be playing it safest if you just used your oven to bring the bacon up to 150 deg IT. That will eliminate the risk of the smoky anaerobic environment.

    BTW, my understanding is that most paleo/primal eaters would also be against having sugar in your cure.  I belive that strict paleo/primal calls for eliminating added sugar from your diet. So ideally you would just use sea salt and seasonings in your cure if you are trying to be strict paleo. If you are going to go with sugar in your cure anyway, I vote for thowing in the appropriate amount of Cure #1, smoking the belly, and giving them real bacon.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2012
  13. Thanks, I'm still weighing my options.  For some reason, maple syrup and maple sugar is considered an okay Paleo sweetener.  I've seen maple sweeteners it in some Paleo recipes.  I don't quite understand it fully and it's not real clear why this sweetener might be okay.  The way I look at it, a caveman would eat bacon no matter what way it is prepared.  Nitrates, sugar, or whatever.  I'm still not ruling out curing salt #1.  Thanks also for the in the oven vs. smoker.  But to be honest, I would choose curing salt #1 before I decided to put this in the oven.
  14. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I would recommend your friends stay away from things like cauliflower, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, celery, and root vegetables such as carrots.

    Good luck and good smoking.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2012
  15. joed617

    joed617 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I cure my own bacon without nitrates and have had great success. I use 1/2 sugar and 1/2 salt. MY grand parents are both from Italy and they would cure thier own prosciutto just using salt .. I remember my grandfather rubbing the salt in every day and hanging it in the basement. I have some pics of my bacon and I did over cure once and it came out like prosciutto .. It was the best bacon I ever had..

    connico likes this.
  16. joed617

    joed617 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I found the pic of the bacon cured with no nitrates.

  17. Thanks Joe!  The bacon looks great.  I thought maybe it would look more grey without the nitrates.  Does your bacon with just salt and sugar taste like bacon?  Or does it taste like uncured pork?
  18. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Joe, morning...   "Bacon" , salted pork belly looks good....   We try to encourage folks to use nitrites when curing foods to reduce the risk of food borne parasites, bacteria, pathogens and botulism, just to be on the safe end of the spectrum....  

    Dry curing without nitrites takes some special precautions and a fair amount of expertise to be safe...   Nitrites eliminates a lot of those problems....

    Most folks don't understand that nitrites are prevalent in their daily diets at much higher levels than can be found in properly cured bacon... 

    Our motto is food safety first... we attempt to follow USDA, FSIS and other alphabet agencies guidelines to insure our members cure safely... 

  19. joed617

    joed617 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Looks like bacon, smells like bacon and taste like bacon ... I'm guessing it's bacon .. :)


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