confused about nitrites/nitrates prague salt #1 or 2 for curing

Discussion in 'Curing' started by expat smoker, Feb 10, 2013.

  1. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have some idea of the nitrate break down process... but not an expert by any stretch of the imagination.. There are folks that get paid to analyze chemical reactions and the side effects of such break downs and effects on the human body... I rely on the experts.... chemists so to speak.... and I follow their advice....

    Discussing the "theoretical" application of chemicals that are "not allowed" to be applied to food, in my opinion, is moot...
  2. I appreciate that answer. I will keep researching.
  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    [quote name="CDN offroader"

    Rather than just say "No, because Dave Omak says so" try actually answering the question. You may get less "filibustering"

    Bacon, NO "Nitrate is no longer permitted in any curing method for bacon." FSIS handbook,pg 28 - very clear direction

    Jerky, unsure I am personally unable to locate any information that says cure #2/nitrate cannot be used in jerky. If you have a reference that says that, by all means share it. Thats why I asked.

    Cure #2 is unnecessary for jerky, but the sodium nitrite in it would cure the jerky, so specifically I am asking would the sodium nitrate remain as a residual product, or would it break down under the heating process for the jerky? If not, would the remaining residual nitrate be above the max allowable limits?

    *This is a purely speculative question and is not intended to mislead anyone or encourage unsafe practices. When in doubt, stick with known curing practices and recipes.[/quote]

    For all practical interpretation, jerky is cooked... If you wanted to "dry cure/age" jerky for months, like some meat products that cure #2 is designed for, then by all means, use cure #2 on your jerky... Additional salt will be necessary to approx. 4%, (if I remember correctly)... initially cure in a refer until the initial chemical reaction has taken place... then hang to dry at approx. 48 degrees F for months to allow the nitrate to combine with bacteria that turns/converts the nitrate to nitrite... That is speculation based on making country hams, prosciutto etc. that are not intended to be heat cooked, but eaten chemically cooked so to speak... I have not seen a recipe that allows for cure #2 to be used to make jerky...

    It is not ME saying that stuff.... It is someone who gets paid to do analytical studies... and the effects of chemical breakdowns on the human body, to determine the health safety risks..

    Prague Powder #2
    Used to dry-cure products. Prague powder #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.)
    It is primarily used in dry-curing Use with products that do not require cooking, smoking, or refrigeration. This cure, which is 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.

    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.
  4. eyendall

    eyendall Newbie

    For me, more heat than light  so far in these exchanges. Let's see if I understand the salt-sodium nitrite combinations in wet and dry curing, and the role if any of Prague powder.

    1. If I have both salt and sodium nitrite then there is no need for Prague powder.  Correct?

    2. For a dry cure mixture, the amount of nitrite is related to the weight of the meat not the amount of salt. Correct?

    3. For a wet cure brine the ratio of salt to nitrate should be 15:1 i.e. the amount of nitrite is related to the amount of salt: one pound of mixture would have 15 oz salt and 1 oz of nitrite.  Correct? (This 15:1 ratio is much easier to apply then wrestling with 93.75% and 6.25%).

    The brine recipe which follows comes from a post on this forum:

    "real simple curing brine:

     for every 1 gallon of water, add:

    1/3 - 1 cup sea salt (depending if you're on a lo-salt diet)

    1 cup granulated sugar or Splenda®

    1 cup brown sugar or Splenda® brown sugar mix

    1 tbsp cure no. 1 pink salt

    stir thoroughly until clear amber color, pour over meat, inject if necessary to cure from inside-out as well as outside-in

    weight down with a partially filled 1 qt or 1 gal. ziploc bag or bags to keep meat immersed"

    The amount of salt recommended for the brine varies from 1/3 cup to 3/3 cup yet the amount of Prague powder remains the same-1 tbs- with the 1/3 cup of salt having three times the concentration of sodium nitrite as  the salt in the full cup. This doesn't make sense to me. For this recipe wouldn't it make more sense to use all Prague powder? That way the ratio of salt to sodium nitrate would be the same whether using 1/3 cup or a full cup.

    And how much does one tbs of Prague powder weigh and how much sodium nitrite would it contain?

    Am I missing something?
  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    eyendall, evening...... where are you from that you add pure nitrite to food....

    anyway, you are correct. If I have both salt and sodium nitrite then there is no need for Prague powder. Correct? Prague Powder is salt and nitrite...

    About your other questions.... as a general rule, salt, sugar and nitrite are added to meats to facilitate a curing process... salt and sugar are hygroscopic and are the engines behind the "osmotic" process of equilibrium... stuff in, stuff out until it is equalized.... In the "fresh food/meat" curing process, we add salt and sugar at palatable levels.... nitrite as cure #1, Prague Powder, Pink Salt is added at a rate consistent with the FDA curing section... different meats require different levels of nitrite as do different curing processes... It's complicated..
    So, about the ratio of salt to nitrite totally depends on the curing process and meats being cured.... salt and sugar are personal taste... As home curing fanatics, we aren't governed by the government.... we try to strictly adhere to safe food practices when it come to pathogens... botulism, trich, salmonella etc.
  6. eyendall

    eyendall Newbie

    Hi Dave

    Thanks for your response.

    To answer your question I am in Canada. It puzzles me because you too add sodium nitrite to food but do so through the medium of Prague powder. Prague powder is for those who lack confidence in their math skills and are prepared to pay more for a little security and convenience. Food grade sodium nitrite is is cheap and readily available in the US: try Amazon for instance. In the end, sodium nitrite is sodium nitrite regardless of the source and the important thing is to keep the proportions of salt and nitrite at 15:1. That will take care of botulism.
  7. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The problem arises when curing say 5#'s of pork sausage and getting ready for stuffing into casing... as an example.....

    How do you accurately add 0.35 grams of nitrite and get it homogeneous throughout the meat...

    Most, if not all home sausage makers, do not have the equipment to do that.....

    Are you a professional meat shop or have a meat market etc...

    And to clarify an important point....

    The owner of this forum wishes all recipes posted comply with the US FDA ..... simplifies stuff for our readers...
  8. eyendall

    eyendall Newbie

    "3. For a wet cure brine the ratio of salt to nitrate should be 15:1 i.e. the amount of nitrite is related to the amount of salt: one pound of mixture would have 15 oz salt and 1 oz of nitrite.  Correct? (This 15:1 ratio is much easier to apply then wrestling with 93.75% and 6.25%)."

    I said this in an post above and realise that it is incorrect. The ratio of 93.75% salt to 6.25% sodium nitrate is actually the formula for prague powder. You can make your own. You would add this prague powder mixture to your salt which obviously would mean using much, much less sodium nitrite than what I mistakenly assumed above..

    I would still like to know how much sodium nitrite is needed per !lb meat for both wet and dry cures, rather than relying on someone else's recipe.

    The USDA maximum of 200 ppm in commercially sold cured meats doesn't help me with this calculation. Anyone?
  9. Hi, for the ratio requested, figuring the amount is a simple cross multiplication formula, where the required PPM over 1000000 is equal to the required nitrate over grams of product(meat) for example 200/1000000=x/453.592 (one pound expressed in grams) X= 0.9072 grams.

    Measuring this accurately is a challenge. This is why, if I have it understood correctly, a pre mix such as Prague is used. Because nitrites are not to be underestimated or used carelessly, accurately mixing the nitrate with salt, then using this product, reduces any error in measuring the nitrite by 1/15, thus increasing your safety in using it.

    In the above formula, replace 200 by the PPM you require, and 453.592 by the actual weight of product to be cured.

    Somebody correct me if I am out to lunch.
  10. ricemania

    ricemania Newbie

    If your in Thailand...Celery juice works as a great substitute..for Pink Salt
  11. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Quote from The Sausage Maker..

    Celery Juice Powder (CJP) contains naturally occurring nitrites and nitrates (which breakdown to nitrites with the help of bacteria native in meat itself). CJP is now commonly being used for giving sausages and meats a cured appearance and taste without the use of synthetic sodium nitrite/nitrate. There is no standardized, USDA recommended curing time for specific amounts of CJP for consistent curing action so products using vegetable based nitrites/nitrates (such as CJP) must be cooked prior to consumption. CJP may clump/harden during transit in the Summer months, it is not spoiled and has not lost effectiveness, simply break up and/or use as weight measure instead of volume if this occurs to your CJP order.

    Each packet (Net Wt. 1.25 oz.) can be used for 25 lbs. of ground meat.

    1.25 oz. of Celery Juice Powder = approximately 8 tsp.

    For 10 lb. recipes use 3 1/2 tsp Celery Juice Powder

    *The USDA currently does not recognize naturally occurring nitrates as effective curing agents in meats, so if using Celery Juice Powder for products being sold to the public, the end-products must be labeled "Uncured".
    **The use of natural products, such as Celery Juice Powder, which contain nitrates are NOT recommended for making bacon.
  12. eyendall

    eyendall Newbie

    Hi Bladebuilder

    Thanks for this useful formula.

    I am not sure though that it provides the answer to what I am looking-for. As I understand the USDA 200ppm standard, it refers to the maximum quantity of sodium nitrite which can remain in the product after curing. So if I am curing bacon, how much sodium nitrite should be in my cure or wet in order to achieve a final result of 200pm in the finished product? In other words, is the concentration in the cure -either wet or dry-the same concentration you will get in the cured product? I can see this probably being the case with a wet cure but I don't see it for a dry cure where the mixture could be less uniform and contact with the meat variable. Am I over thinking this or misunderstanding osmosis?
  13. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You have misunderstood the USDA Standard..... 200 Ppm nitrite for a dry rubbed product is Maximum INGOING amount of nitrite...

    When using a brine solution, the Maximum INGOING amount of nitrite is 120 Ppm skinless..... reduce by 10% if skin is on.....

    Grams of meat X 0.000120 = grams of nitrite for a 120 Ppm nitrite infusion...
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2014
  14. This information was kindly provided by DaveOmak, it is what I use to figure quantities. The osmosis of the nitrites in different products of different densities/absorption rates ending at a quantified value, is better left to a lab capable of determining these values. Also these values are in the "deemed safe" limits of government agencies,

    200Ppm nitrite max. for a dry rub..... and 120 Ppm max. in a brine solution....

    dry rub.... 1000 grams meat x 0.000200 Ppm / 0.0625 % nitrite in the cure = 3.2 grams cure per 1000 grams..

    brine... 1000 grams meat + weight of water (500 grams) - 1500 grams x 0.000120 Ppm / 0.0625 % nitrite = 2.88 grams cure per 1500 grams meat and water....

    Both types of cure should sit in the refer for approx. 14 days.... or longer is fine... rinse and rest in the refer... form a pellicle and cold smoke below 70 deg. F for at least 4 hours or until you get a color you like... then raise the temp, if you want it cooked, to what ever temp you want it finished at...

    I would add non iodized salt at a rate of 2% and sugar at 1% for a starting point....
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2014
  15. smokinnn

    smokinnn Fire Starter

    Sorry for starting up an old thread again but this seems like a good place for this question.

    How do you incorporate Prague Salt #1 into a dry cure?  I can see it makes sense with a wet cure, but it seems like so little is used that it would not be enough to evenly spread throughout a dry cure.


  16. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    As a rule, curing requires salt, sugar, spices etc. and cure #1.... Adding at least 2% salt, 1/2-1% sugar, several grams of spices and 0.30% (for a dry brine rub) +/- cure #1...... If you mix all that stuff together, you have a fair amount to distribute equally over the meat... If you are careful this can be done safely....

    Cure additions.... ~200 Ppm for a "dry brine" rub..... ~150 Ppm in ground meats..... ~120 Ppm for bacon in a brine/cure solution....
    Last edited: May 31, 2015
  17. smokinnn

    smokinnn Fire Starter

    Thanks Dave. Do you have any good recipes for a dry cure using Prague Salt #1 that is good for smoked fish (not just cold smoked but fish that will be smoked up to ~150 internal temp) and/or turkey?  [​IMG]  

    It seems everything I find using Prague Salt #1 is wet brine.
    Last edited: May 31, 2015
  18. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Pops brine/cure is used by many for turkey.... I think turkey would be difficult to dry brine... too many cracks/crevices and bones in the inside rib cage...
  19. smokinnn

    smokinnn Fire Starter

    That's true for turkey, I have always used a wet brine for that.  Do you prefer a wet brine for fish too?
  20. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Fish recipe is in a PM..... Dave

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