Bacon Cure without Sodium Nitrate

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

  1. stevemax

    stevemax Fire Starter

    I made bacon with pork belly, kosher salt, pepper, jalapenos and garlic. I brined it for 8 days in t refrigerator flipping it every two days. I did not use any other chemicals. I asked my local smoke shop if I needed the nitrate and they said no because the temp of fried bacon will exceed any temp necessary to kill any bacteria.
  2. stevemax

    stevemax Fire Starter

    Here is a good YouTube video that explains why you should (however) use sodium nitrite.
  3. joed617

    joed617 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Morning Dave, I was responding to his post in which he stated that he "was't going to cure using nitrates" I myself do not use a cure but that's just me I've researched this method for years and having been raised by a family that cured meat  .  I'm not promoting not to use a cure, I was just stating facts that it can be done if you if you use caution and know what you are doing. I also dry age meats without a cure as well as my sausage. There is also a special light that can be used to kill air born bacteria  I believe it's called a UVC light and that light kills 99.9% of most bacteria, mold and so on.. I do agree with you Dave.. Safety comes first and nitrates will reduce this risk. I with you on this Dave:)  
  4. re: the above video

    Yikes!!!!! :icon_eek:
    Bad video!
    He doesn't know what he's doing!!!!
    He uses WAY too much cure in that video!!!!!!
    More than 2.5 times what is necessary!!!!!

    re: nitrates/nitrites in bacon
    Bacon without nitrite/nitrate isn't all that uncommon.
    A lot of the old smoke houses in the south don't use it in their true dry-cured cold-smoked country bacon (don't try that at home unless you know what you're doing!)

    Last edited: Dec 25, 2012
  5. joed617

    joed617 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    HI Martin,

    Nitrates I think were used with salt back in the 1800's .. I do believe bacon predates that era if not mistaken. I have a commercial kitchen and I'm also a chef. My kitchen and my methods had to pass both the city health as well as an FDA inspection. I had to write the proccess of how the food was, cured prepared, handled  and my methos of smoking and they took samples and I had to pay for the lab tests, Had I not passed on any level I wouldn't be able to open, I've been in biz for 6 years now and knock on wood still going strong. I think there are lots to learn here and many methods to use. I joined back in 2006 many of us old guys and gals have moved on. I pop in every once and a while and see many new faces. I'm happy this place is thriving and I will give advice and will show there are many ways to cure meats .. including <yuck> vinegar... as in pickeling meat. Indians use to hang the meat at the Tee pee opening on top .. once the smoke incase the meat no bacteria could enter .. bacteria needs moisture to survive .. I don't know everything but I know what I know .. I wouldn't tell anyone how to cure thier meats .. but there are a few ways to do it safley. People starting out should use nitrates to be safe.  BTW.. I am still learning and researching on a constant basis. I will continue to grow :) I think <as my wife tells me> I'm a food geek.... laugh

    Be Safe,

  6. The bacon brine recipe I got from my chef he uses saltpeter which is sodium nitrate or cure #2. I'm just learning about curing bacon and I've heard people using both types of cures. Im wondering if the type of cure is based on how long you brine it? Like if you brine for only a few days cure1, or 15 days cure2. I use cure1 whenever I do jerky I have seen a lot of recipes where salt is the preservative, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. Botulism is pretty nasty. There are a lot of cures that just use salt, and cure1 is 93.75% salt. It can be done but again, it's safety especially if you're feeding other people you wouldn't want to make them sick. I would use a basic brine recipe instead of dry curing, and add cure for how much meat. maple syrup or other natural sweeteners should work fine.

    Anyways this is the recipe I got

    12Cup water

    2 cups kosher salt

    1 1/3 cup Brown sugar

    1 Cup maple syrup

    4tsp vanilla

    5Tbs saltpeter

    Mix brine and add 8# pork belly. He said 2-3 days in the brine should be enough.
  7. Sorry, but your chef doesn't know what he's doing.
    Cure #2 is NOT saltpeter.
    You should be using Cure #1 to cure bacon, in the proper amount.
    Cure #2 and saltpeter are for long term curing, but never bacon.

    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
  8. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Salt Peter is not the same as Cure #2, although Cure #2 does contain a very small amount of Salt Peter. While Salt Peter has some uses in curing, in it's pure form it is used in such small amounts, for home production, it is difficult to measure and not recommended. 

    Salt Peter aka Sodium Nitrate is not recommended in a Brine because there is no way to guarantee the amount or rate of breakdown into the active ingredient in the curing process, Sodium Nitrite, with an " i "...From the UDSA Inspectors Handbook... Furthermore it is banned from use in the USA for Commercial Bacon production based on its conversion to a Nitrosamine a known Carcinogen. Since it's Breakdown can't be controlled there is no way to tell if any Bacon you made will be safe. I would stick to using Cure #1 or Morton's Tender Quick for your Bacon Brine and leave the difficult to use Salt Peter to large production of items other than Bacon...JJ



    Nitrate is used as a source of nitrite.  If nitrate is used as the curing agent, the conversion

    (reduction) of nitrate to nitrite by bacteria in the meat or poultry is a necessary step in the

    development of the cured color.  The amount of nitrate that is reduced to nitrite is dependent

    upon the numbers of nitrate-reducing bacteria and several environmental conditions such as

    temperature, moisture content, salt content, and pH.  Hence, the conversion rate and subsequent

    amount of nitrite that is formed is difficult to control.  Similarly, the further reduction of nitrite to

    nitric oxide, which reacts with myoglobin (muscle pigment) to produce the cured color, is also

    affected by the same environmental conditions.  If nitrite is used as the curing agent, there is no

    need for the nitrate reduction step, and the development of the cured color is much more rapid.  

    The poor control associated with the reduction of nitrate to nitrite, coupled with the fact that

    most processors today demand faster curing methods, has lead to the diminished use of nitrate in

    meat and poultry products.    

    The USDA recommended MAX amount of Nitrate in a Brine in ppm is 700...See page 12 of the handbook...

    5 Tbs of Pure Salt Peter would be 88.8g. The recommended amount of Salt Peter in a Gal of Curing Brine is 111.125g for the max 700ppm strength. Although the amount you are using is would be considered Safe...For reasons stated above I find no good reason to use it for Bacon or anything else for that matter.

    Density = weight ÷ volumemicrogram (μg)milligram (mg)gram (g)

    US tablespoon17 758 904.5217 758.917.76
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
  9. Yea, I've never used saltpeter in anything. I'm not sure where he got that recipe from but he's used it before. He went to CIA and has been a chef for years, he has cured his own meats and sausages, and has made prosciutto and lamb prosciutto. He does some smoking but it's not his area of expertise.  I wasn't sure if cure1 or 2 would be used depending on length of time you're brining? I saw some people on the forum cure it for up to 15 days. If I were to use that recipe I would replace it with the proper amount of cure1. How long would you brine a 8# pork belly, and I planned on injecting as well due to the size
  10. connico

    connico Newbie

    More info on your method... please!
  11. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    The others have covered my concerns other than  Botulism spores die at a temp of 240° not 150°.
  12. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Rockstar, this is the most commonly used Curing Brine around here, it is where you are seeing the 10-14 Day Brine times for Belly Bacon... The recipe you propose has more than twice the Salt concentration, plus you plan to inject, so it will work faster, as in the 3-4 days you were told. However it most definitely will require a several hour soak in fresh water to remove some of the salt at the end. I have used a 1/2C Kosher Salt per gallon and for my taste did not have to soak. Good Luck...JJ
  13. Martin,
    The over curing, probably using a volume of cure for any amount of meat versus using a weight of cure in ratio to weight of meat, is my current theory of why people have problems with cured meat. Whether the eater is uber natural or simply gets nitrite headaches, over nitrited meat is not the way to go. As pointed out, nitrites are natural, but excessive amounts of anything natural is dangerous : excess salt causes hypertension, too much seaweed (iodine) causes hyperthyroidism, heck too much bacon grease gives you loose stools. I really wonder how much over processing our food has lead to stigmas in American food culture that will take years to reverse. This type of education is going on in the microbrew beer market, namely not all beer tastes the same and is as widely varied as any other cuisine. Crap, feel a tangent coming, better stop.
  14. Thank you for your help, I've seen several different curing methods. I'm not sure if the saltpeter is an older method or what. However I've had a hard time tracking down pork belly, stores here don't carry it, I had my chef try his sources and there's only one that sells it but only by the case, I love bacon but that's a lot of bacon. If we cant find a single belly he said he can probably have me smoke a case for us to use. So I hope it works out, a little nervous considering I haven't tried this before.
  15. That's an awesome point. The amount of health problems and food allergens has greatly increased in the last 30 years, probably a direct result form our diets and the way we process foods. Gluten/wheat allergies have skyrocketed and my theory is that it's directly related to when they started altering wheat in the 60's.
    "Just a decade ago, gluten-intolerance levels were at 1 in 2500 worldwide. Today, it’s at 1 in 133." As for processed foods, people have been preserving foods forever, many that are commercially available today contain more chemicals and preservatives than what's been traditionally used, that's what I think is more unhealthy. Either way all the suggestions I've read recommend limiting processed and cured foods due to nitrates and salt content. Moderation is key. We're going to die some day regardless, I'm not going to stop eating bacon now.
  16. Exactly!!
  17. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I use Saltpetre at times.


  18. banman

    banman Newbie

    Using any cure, be it a sodium of whatever sort, is all dangerous for the hypersensitive ones.  This is first hand proof, since I have that condition.  any cure will cause me a guaranteed 48 hour head ache.
  19. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    banman.....  You must have headaches daily if you eat vegetables....   What do you eat ??  Vegetables contain more nitrates than bacon...

    Maybe it's all the preservatives some manufacturers put in food that you are allergic to ?? 
    shannon127 likes this.
  20. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thank you all for such a level-headed, non-inflammatory discussion on this topic!

    One thing, however, please learn and know the differences between Nitrite and Nitrate.

    I have created an Instructional Article with several outside links to papers on the differences, from basic to advanced technicals.  We are not supposed to send people to outside links, but considering the vast technical nature of this subject, I feel it necessary not to chance giving misinformation.  I've listed a few.  I need everyone else who are experts on this to list their links also; then we have a single "go to" Instructional Article we can all point to for further precise information on this subject and keep the origination within SMF.
    bovine0001 likes this.

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