What is curing salt? And when to use?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by muralboy, Jan 3, 2016.

  1. muralboy

    muralboy Smoking Fanatic

    This question was posed to me recently. And admittedly I don't have enough knowledge to answer it with much authority.

    So I am reaching out to the experts here for a better understanding.
    - What is curing salt?
    - when should I consider using it?
  2. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  3. muralboy

    muralboy Smoking Fanatic

    This is really funny - I did a little more digging and was just about to add this link to my own post.  Great explanation - good tutorial on the different cures as well.  One of the leading paragraphs in the article below - THANKS CB

    "Though salt has properties that can cure meat, when one talks about curing salts or cures they are referring to the use of sodium nitrite, potassium nitrite, sodium nitrate or potassium nitrate (saltpeter) which are used in the processing of their meat. The main reasons to use curing salts in smoked sausages are to prevent botulism poisoning, as well as impede the development of many food spoiling bacteria that can thrive in low temperature environment of a smoker. But that is not all that cures do. These curing ingredients also retard rancidity, provide the characteristic flavor, color and extend the self life of the meat."
  4. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I've been making sausage and cured products for many years, and that is still a go to site.
  5. jeff 1

    jeff 1 Smoke Blower

    Curing salt is sodium nitrite mixed with salt, normally pink and has like 6.25% sodium nitrite. It is called many different things but will usually have the #1 in it. There is also a #2 that has both nitrite and nitrate, you would rarely need that one and is intended for really long curing like as in months.

    You have to be really careful when using curing salt. You would not use it by itself and you need to get the measurement accurate or you can be poisoned either by to much or not enough. Nitrite poisoning is a real thing.

    I use curing salt/ pink salt/ Prague #1/ etc for curing pork belly for bacon, making smoke sausage, beef sticks, dry beef, pestrami, sometime jerky, hocks, jowel, turkey, home made ham, and so on. I use it in both wet and dry mixtures along with salt and sugar or sausage seasoning. Sometimes I will pump my meat. The amount of time it stays in the cure just depends on the the meat and the process. Sausage being ground is pretty much ready once it is stuffed. Bacon is 10-14 days. Turkey is only 3-4 if it has been pumped.

    It gives the meat a pink ham like flavor and texture. The reason to use it is to preserve the meat so it won't spoil or get food born illness while it is in the danger zone for extended periods of time. Meat will last longer.

    Before you start using curing salt make sure you do your homework on curing salts and cures. There are many different types out there but I only refer to #1 as curing salt having 6.25% sodium nitrite. Also do your homework on what type of meat you are going to cure. And don't cure something that's already been cured.

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