Nitrite and Bacon

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Bob K
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Post by Bob K » Tue Nov 04, 2014 16:42

Here you Go Ross...Compliments of El Ducko in the project KB thread:

Nitric oxide should not be confused with nitrous oxide (N2O), an anesthetic and greenhouse gas, or with nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a brown toxic gas and a major air pollutant.
The reaction of "stuff" with bacteria is so fast, and the bacterial concentration consequently is so low, that it might as well be instantaneous. This and the other consumption reactions keep the concentration of "stuff" so low that there is, for all intents and purposes, no reverse reaction. The limiting reaction rate for the whole scheme appears to be the consumption of nitrite to "stuff," which is why you can find a nitrite concentration in meat to which nitrite has been added, but no appreciable "stuff."

How much nitrite should be present, and how long will it last? Well... depends on how fast it is being used up (a function of concentration and temperature). Below about 40°F, the bacterial growth rate is slow and nitrite isn`t necessary. Between 40° and about 150°F, the bacterial growth rate is appreciable, so you need nitrite. Bacterial growth rate increases exponentially with temperature. However, above 150°, the bacteria die, so you don`t need nitrite. Wouldn`t it be cool if you could put in just enough nitrite that it could all be used up on the way from 40° to 150°?

And here's why there is no straightforward answer to your question about nitrite- - "How much is just enough...?" It depends on the temperature history of the mix. The government guidelines are there simply to allow enough nitrite that, under reasonable conditions, at least some nitrite will present up until the meat is treated to a high enough temperature to kill the "bad guys."

What if you can`t add enough to out-last the consumption reactions? This happens in fermented sausages, which must be in the temperature "danger zone" for months.(We`re "jumping the gun," here, but you had to ask!) That`s why there is cure #2. This mixture generates cure #1, if you will, producing nitrite without exceeding the maximum guideline.

There is a reversible reaction between nitrate and nitrite. Since nitrite is being consumed, its concentration declines, causing more nitrate to be converted to nitrite. Thus, nitrate keeps nitrite available longer without exceeding the guideline nitrite maximum concentration. Overall, nitrite still gets consumed, but it also gets produced so long as nitrate is present, until we run out of nitrate and nitrite both, finally reaching a nitrite concentration close to zero.

By that time, though, another protective mechanism comes into play in fermented sausages. If your processing is correct, the amount of water lost is enough ("water activity" has been reduced) that the "bad guy" bacteria cannot grow. More about fermented sausages, later. More, too, about semi-dried, cooked sausages, another technique for our arsenal.

This nitrite/drying strategy has been quite effective in safeguarding sausages of the semi-dried, smoked, cooked variety, and when coupled with nitrate, is just as effective for the fermented variety.
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Post by DiggingDogFarm » Tue Nov 04, 2014 16:54

ssorllih wrote:Does anyone here know the lower effective level of nitrite?
In the context of Botulinum control there isn't a clear answer.
Nitrite works in synergy with salt and pH levels in controlling the growth of Botulinum. The nitrite being less effective at lower salt levels or higher pH levels.
There's conflicting information in the meat science books that I've read in regards to a minimum effective level.
To be on the safe side, I wouldn't use any less than 120ppm.


~Martin
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Post by ssorllih » Tue Nov 04, 2014 21:06

Thank you.
Ross- tightwad home cook
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Post by redzed » Thu Nov 06, 2014 02:18

ssorllih wrote:Does anyone here know the lower effective level of nitrite?
Here is an excellent paper by an authoritative European group on the effect of nitrites/nitrates on the microbiological safety of meat products. Good scientific analysis on how ingoing amounts of nitrites work and on the resulting residual amounts. There is also a summary of prescribed amounts by various countries, including USA and Canada. Interesting to note that nitrite is less effective in high iron products such as blood and liver sausages. So the amount used in Jeffs liver sausage was probably not excessive. If you don't have time to read and digest the entire document, read the last pages with the conclusions.

http://www.gencat.cat/salut/acsa/html/c ... pdf/14.pdf
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Post by Shuswap » Thu Nov 06, 2014 15:16

I know I`m still a Beginner when this statement in the conclusion of the European study cited by Red sends me back to looking into cure #1 and its affects: "Nitrate per se has no protective activity against C. botulinum, but in some products is reduced to nitrite, which is active against C. botulinum."

Also I see several references to the affect of Ph in this report and so far I have yet to examine Ph in my sausage making especially since I've been using the Umai bags for fermented sausage and they say controlling Ph with Umai is unnecessary.
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Post by ssorllih » Thu Nov 06, 2014 19:36

Red, Just finished reading the paper and it answered all of my questions. It also explained why the canned Polish hams we used to get 60 years ago were so very good.
Ross- tightwad home cook
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Post by redzed » Fri Nov 07, 2014 08:04

Ross, I'm happy that you found it useful. While there are no direct answers in there, I came away dith a better understanding of how nitrite works. And there are so many variables to consider. The fact that the Danes use so much less nitrite is also very interesting and noteworthy. And did you notice in the stats that Poland has had more cases of botulism poisoning in the 1990's than any of the other countries except Russia? Many Poles still smoke sausage without nitrite and a common practice there is using half peklosol and half salt. So a 20g of the blend in a 1kg meat mix gives you only 60ppm. In North America we are told that we must can fish, meat and other low acid foods, only in a high pressure canner. In Poland many continue to use the tyndalization method. It is an old process where the canned food is heated three time over a period of three days. Obviously it does not work every time.

And your remark about the canned Polish ham reminded me of the 1960's when I was still a kid. That ham was in all supermarkets in Canada, the US and Western Europe but it was rarely ever seen on store shelves in Poland. It was all exported with a small amount going to special stores where only high ranking Communist Party members were admitted. The funny thing is that my parents used to send many care packages from Canada to Poland and often they would include cans of Polish Ham. :shock: You could say they did their part in repatriating Polish ham, very much a noble gesture. :grin:

Geez, I'm beginning to sound like some long toothed geezer spinning stories, better quit and go to bed.
Last edited by redzed on Fri Nov 07, 2014 17:23, edited 3 times in total.
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Post by ssorllih » Fri Nov 07, 2014 16:51

I have some Butt portions in the freezer. I am going to cure one and pack it raw into a 1½Pint straight side canned jar and put it into a hot water bath for about 3 hours @ 180°F and the refrigerate it. It will be pasteurized and stored cold and vacuum sealed.
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Post by redzed » Sun Jan 25, 2015 06:19

Further to my exchange with Martin regarding the definition of "dry cured" by the USDA. Today (in a spa at a California resort) I had a chat with a retired inspector who worked for the agency for 35 years. We discussed a variety of things relating to the meat industry, and then I asked him about the "dry-cured" definition. He confirmed what Martin stated that it refers to to long term dry cured meats, and not a reference to curing with a dry salt and curing salt mixture. He also stated that as far as he understood, the long-term was 90 days or more.

So if a recipe for a 25lb batch of smoked bacon calls for 1/4 cup of cure #1, it is way over the allowable limit. 1/4 cup is equal to 12 teaspoons, weighing 72 grams which works out to 397ppm. That is more than triple the allowable level of ingoing sodium nitrite of 120 ppm for bacon.

You never know who you gonna meet in that tub :???: :shock:
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Post by Bob K » Sun Jan 25, 2015 15:03

Is Pancetta considered to be bacon? The Marianski recipe treats it as Dry Cured bacon at 200 ppm nitrite.

Most other recipes i've seen do not and the cure levels are up there.
For example Ruhlman in Charcuterie calls for 280 ppm.

Heck the IMAI recipe even calls for 152 ppm Cure #2 :shock:
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Post by DiggingDogFarm » Mon Jan 26, 2015 15:03

FWIW, in my studies I've often seen "dry-cured" more formally defined as less than .92 water activity but unfortunately that's not a practical definition for home curers.

One example...
Image

Source: The Health Effects of Nitrate, Nitrite and N-Nitroso Compounds, National Academy of Sciences.
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Post by redzed » Tue Jan 27, 2015 07:53

Bob K wrote:Is Pancetta considered to be bacon? The Marianski recipe treats it as Dry Cured bacon at 200 ppm nitrite.

Most other recipes i've seen do not and the cure levels are up there.
For example Ruhlman in Charcuterie calls for 280 ppm.

Heck the IMAI recipe even calls for 152 ppm Cure #2 :shock:
Pancetta is an Italian bacon and if it's dry-cured as per the USDA definition, then I'm sure that an amount higher than 120 can be used. Marianski's recipe with 200ppm is for a product that is cured for around a month so it's probably OK.

Take a look at some great pancetta made by Kyle Hildebrant:
http://ourdailybrine.com/how-to-make-ro ... ta-recipe/
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Post by Shuswap » Tue Jan 27, 2015 17:38

redzed wrote:Take a look at some great pancetta made by Kyle Hildebrant:
http://ourdailybrine.com/...ancetta-recipe/
And read the article about nitates/nitrites referred to in Kyle's article.
http://www.yourdoctorsorders.com/2013/0 ... or-health/
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Post by sawhorseray » Wed Jan 06, 2016 16:14

It seems difficult to find a massage bacon curing recipe the folks can agree upon for being effective, yet safe. The curing calculator Redzed provided in the initial thread seems to take away a lot of the guess work, thanks for posting that. Looks like a 12.5lb slab of porkbelly will take 14 grams of cure #! mixed in with a half cup each of canning salt, maple syrup, honey, and brown sugar. RAY
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Post by Bob K » Wed Jan 06, 2016 16:45

Ray-
You calculated for 156ppm which is over the bacon guidelines of 120ppm

You can change the ppm in the cure cure calculator. For bacon change to 120

For 12.5 lbs or 5670 grams the correct amount would be 10.9 grams

Have your arms recovered from Salmon fishing? :mrgreen:
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