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Nitrate/Nitrite content varies from country to country

Posted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 02:07
by Chuckwagon
Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite Cures

Most probably by accident, man discovered anciently that when salt was added to meat it improved its flavor, color, and shelf life. Then somewhere in time, sodium nitrate came into use as a naturally occurring contaminant of salt. Chile and Peru have massive deposits of sodium nitrate (NaNO3). Not to be confused with sodium nitrite (NaNO2), the substance is also found in leafy green vegetables. Acting as powerful antioxidants, nitrates and nitrites reduce oxidative rancidity. However, when added directly to meats, sodium nitrite is primarily responsible for the inhibition of pathogen growth including that of clostridium botulinum - the bacteria causing botulism poisoning. Nitrate in itself is not successful in producing the curing reaction. Sodium nitrate must be reduced by lactic acid bacteria (micrococcaceae species) or other natural means to be effective. In other words, nitrate breaks down into nitrite - and nitrate breaks down into nitric oxide - the substance that actually cures meat. Modern science has not produced a substitute for sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite used as agents to preserve meat and destroy clostridium botulinum. As these salts are poisonous used in proportionately greater amounts, companies have continually tried to improve upon them though their efforts have been futile.

Cure #1 is used to cure all meats that require cooking, smoking, and canning. This includes poultry, fish, hams, bacon, luncheon meats, corned beef, pates, and many other products.
Note that Prague Powder Cure #1 in the United States, contains 6.25% sodium nitrite (NaNO2), and 93.75% sodium chloride (salt). As this formula contains no sodium nitrate (NaNO3), there is no waiting for nitrate to be broken down into nitrite and it is effective immediately in curing meat. In the United States, Cure #1 is manufactured using one ounce of sodium nitrite added to each one pound of salt. When used in the curing process, only 4 ounces of cure is added to 100 pounds of sausage. Two level teaspoons will cure 10 lbs. of meat.

It is important to note that in various countries, the formula for nitrate and nitrite cures vary. For instance, in the United Kingdom, Prague Powder # 1 (Cure #1) is popular, with 5.88% sodium nitrite, the remainder being salt.

Cure #2 is used in dry-cured sausages where curing time allows the nitrate to gradually break down into nitrite. Cure #2 in the United States, contains 6.25% sodium nitrite (NaNO2), 4% sodium nitrate (NaNO3), and 89.75 sodium chloride (salt). Why so much nitrate? Remember, it is actually nitrite reducing to nitric oxide that cures meat. After two weeks dry-curing, only about a quarter of the 6.25 % sodium nitrite remains in the meat. Nitrite is simply too fast. In salamis requiring three or more months to cure, a certain amount of sodium nitrate must be added to the recipe to break down over time. Since micrococcaceae species are inhibited at low pH, sausages relying on nitrate reduction must be fermented by a traditional process. Therefore, nitrate is still used by many dry sausage manufacturers because nitrate serves as a long time "reservoir" of nitrite.
Note that in other countries, the formula varies. In the United Kingdom, Prague Powder # 2 (Cure #2) is available with 5.67% sodium nitrite, 3.62 sodium nitrate, the remainder being salt.

Potassium Nitrate (Saltpeter)

Saltpeter is 100% potassium nitrate (KNO3). Although it is used in various cures throughout the world, it is no longer included in cures in the United States (with the exception of only a few applications) as it is thought to produce cancer-causing nitrosamines when cooked at higher temperatures. Commercially, with only a few exceptions, it has been banned by law since 1975. A fatal dose of potassium nitrate is merely 30 grams. Sodium nitrite will cancel your clock at only about 22 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. You can plainly see why these cures MUST be handled correctly.

Use meat cures with caution.

Nitrates and nitrites must be used with caution. Both are considered toxic in larger amounts and for that reason, strict limits on their use have been established. Usually, the amount of added sodium nitrite lies in the range of 50-200 mg. per kg and sodium nitrate in the range of 200 to 600 mg. per kg. Both cures have been formulated so that 1 (one) level U.S. teaspoon will cure 5 pounds of meat. It is always a good idea to weigh the cure for best accuracy. Dissolving the cure into a little water ensures adequate uniform dispersal throughout the meat

Again, notice that formula #1 contains only nitrite while formula #2 contains both nitrite and nitrate. One curing agent must never be confused with the other within any recipe and one certainly must not be substituted for the other. If you mix, cure, and smoke sausage, or cure and smoke hams, it becomes your responsibility to follow directions mixing exactly four ounces Prague Powder with one hundred pounds of meat, or for us home consumers, precisely two level teaspoons mixed with a little water for even distribution, for each ten pound batch of sausage. If you are mixing only five pounds of sausage, add just one level teaspoon of curing salt. Always remember that any recklessness in mixing these salts may potentially injure someone. Measure twice - mix once! Incidentally, the product known as Tender Quick* contains 0.5 sodium nitrite, 0.5 sodium nitrate, salt, sugar, and propylene glycol (for brined meats)

The strength of nitrates and nitrites themselves do not vary. It is the amount added to a sodium chloride (salt) carrier that makes a cure stronger or weaker in comparison to others. One MUST look at the label to be safe. In Sweden, folks call their product Colorazo at 0.6% nitrite. In France, it`s Sel nitrite` at 0.6% nitrite. In Poland, the nitrited salt cure Peklosol is available at 0.6% nitrite, and in Germany, it is Pokelsalz at 0.6% nitrite content in salt. As you can see, Prague Powder Cure #1 in America is ten and a half times stronger than European cures, with the exception of some of those in the UK.

In Australia, Cure #1 is known as Glow #1. It contains 7.8% sodium nitrite and is used in cooked sausages. It is added to meat at the rate of 1.6 grams cure per one kilogram of meat OR one level metric teaspoon (5.6 grams) per 3.5 kilograms of meat.

In Australia, Cure #2 is known as Glow #2. It contains 6.0% sodium nitrite PLUS 4.0% sodium nitrate and is used in dry-cured, fermented sausages at the rate of 4.5 grams cure per kilogram of meat OR one level metric teaspoon (5.6 grams) per 1.25 kilograms of meat. This cure is also used (in higher levels) in dry-curing whole muscle meats. (See specific recipes for instructions.)
The use of saltpetre (potassium nitrate) in Australia is not recommended although its use is still legal.

Best Wishes,

Cure #1 for Australian and New Zealand applications

Posted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 04:34
by crustyo44
As we are getting a few members from Australia joining the forum, I thought that it is appropriate to inform everybody about the regulations here in regard to Cure #1.
Mind you, I didn't find this out but an extremely helpful and brainy gentleman on another forum who researched it for me so he could advise me accordingly.
I am still grateful.
Australia and New Zealand regulations are 125 ppm. and the Mariansky calculator can be adjusted to work it out. Things are getting to easy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If anybody has more information available, Please post it. I WANT TO KNOW!!!!!!!!!

Posted: Sun May 26, 2013 19:27
by Marcelo
Recently bought a kg of salt and cure # 1, here in Brazil is sold with 6% sodium nitrite, and the seller informed me that it should use the package to 25kg of meat, this is 40gr per kg. 4%. Is this possible?

Posted: Sun May 26, 2013 21:19
by ssorllih
In the USA the cure #1 is 6.25% sodium nitrite and 93.75% salt NaCl and we use 2.5 grams per kilogram of meat. You need/want to target 156 parts per million sodium nitrite in the meat.

Posted: Sun May 26, 2013 23:12
by Marcelo
so, should I use 2.5 gr / kg 0,25% cure # 1 and add more salt and seasonings and wait for the right time to cure every recipe, and so smoke or cooking. or 1% if it is something that will dry without cooking or smoke and eat before 60 days.
I'm still learning to use only the cure # 1 only later I try to understand the cure # 2.
These proportions are right, I can use a rule to bologna sausages and bacon?

Posted: Mon May 27, 2013 00:04
by ssorllih
Not quite that simple. It is worth reading through this web site: There is much good information contained within.

Posted: Fri May 31, 2013 20:45
by Marcelo
I keep reading a lot, but things are still confusing. Here in Brazil, it is difficult to find pure curing salt, with no seasoning, and seasonings ready I am not pleased. Purchased two types of curing salt. one said 6% sodium nitrite and 94% salt. the other does not bring proportions, but says it contains sodium nitrate and salt, and advises the use of 0.5%. I intend to make a salami this weekend, and I'm thinking how to use these salts, 0.25% of nitrite, and 0.5% of nitrate. or forget the cure # 2 since I intend to eat this salami before 2 months.

Posted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 05:32
by Jimmy Beef
HI guys, My first post. I'm a bit torn between using and not using nitrates/nitrites. Whilst you may get more from leafy vegetables that does not make it OK. That is one of the problems with industrial agriculture and the excessive use of water soluble nitrogen predominantly applied in the nitrate from. That is one reason I try and grow stuff myself although at times the farm does not allow me that time. I know many and have read of many Italians who never use nitrates so why is it so necessary? Is it because the meats you are purchasing have been raised in a confinement/industrial system which increases the likelihood of the bacteria that causes botulism? The main reason I want to make my own salami is so I don't have to use nitrate/nitrite. I raised the pigs myself in a clean environment. I have also been told I must use wormicides and vaccines with my cattle and yet with my management practices I have no requirements for such chemicals in the system.

Posted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 15:42
by el Ducko
Let me urge you to look around on this forum for discussions on that exact question. (Translation: "You are not alone!")

The primary reason for using nitrite/nitrate is to prevent the growth of Clostridium Botulinum. However, there are other good reasons. We'd hate to lose you to botulism, but it's your decision. There are plenty of good FRESH sausage recipes for you to use. For salami, though...

Here's a start on your reading: a recent post at ... s+nitrites . Read on down, and pay attention to our resident microbiology expert, Chuckwagon. The section posted Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:27 is particularly useful. There are many other discussions on the forum, too, so dig around a bit. (The search function will help, but is limited, so some amount of digging is required, particularly for long threads.)

Welcome! Enjoy! Post again.

Posted: Tue Apr 29, 2014 02:21
by Jimmy Beef
Thanks El Ducko. Yes, have been busy looking at both sides of the debate. Will keep delving further into it - research is something I enjoy doing (it took me til the age of 27 and a Masters before I realised - and now I'm a farmer.