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Posted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 06:54
by Alfie.M
Hi all,
Question on cures

I've been led to believe that for for air drying/ curing salamis I should use cure number 2 and that is what I have been using.
Although I was reading information on this site and it says cure number 2 should be use where drying times are longer than 6 weeks
Now the salamis I make are usually in thinner casings And dry out well within that time , say 3-5 weeks with a water loss of 35%+

So my question is, If I'm making a salami with a water loss of 35%+ that dries within 5 weeks what cure should I be using?


Posted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 09:13
by Chuckwagon
Hi Alfie.M and welcome to WD!
By the time meats are consumed, they should contain less than 50 parts per million sodium nitrite. (Most meats found at your local grocery contain less than 10 parts per million). The use of sodium nitrate in any uncooked sausage product is essential. In the very definition of Cure #2 (nitrate), the following words appear: "It must be used with any products that do not require cooking, smoking, or refrigeration and is mainly used for products that will be air-cured."

Traditionally, dry-cured sausages have been made using sodium nitrates (NaNO3). Reacting with staphylococcus and micrococcus bacteria in meat, sodium nitrite (NaNO2) is created. About 50 parts per million nitrite are required to render meat safe from clostridium botulinum although it is recommended that we use 156 parts per million (and no more) in comminuted meats. Actually, a further reduction of sodium nitrite into nitric oxide takes place and it is this nitric oxide that achieves the actual "curing" of meat. This amount of "cure" also destroys salmonella bacteria. Larger meat corporations have gradually employed more use of only nitrites during low-temperature curing, although this practice has a definite setback - the color and flavor suffers. Curing bacteria function best at 46°F. (8°C.) and higher. Therefore, using both nitrates and nitrites guarantee an immediate reaction with the meat at lower temperatures (nitrite), as well as stable color and flavor-forming properties during long-term drying (nitrate). The color development is a direct result of the interaction of the naturally-occuring myoglobin protein in the meat and the added nitrate. (It has nothing to do with the dye used in the "pink" salt).

So, by all means, continue with the use of Cure #2 (sodium nitrate) for your salamis. And for consistent, predictable, satisfactory results, please consider the use of a bio-culture such as "Bactoferm".

Best Wishes,

Posted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:06
by Alfie.M
Thanks for the great info,

Follow up question,
So there is no minimum time frame that one should have to Waite before consuming a product with cure number 2?
Also I usually cure them at 12 degrees , is this a good temp for the cure to work?
Would you also think it good practice to add glucose to my recipes.?
I have bactoferm at home it was given to me by a friend that owns a butcher and small goods company. I'd prefer not to go down that path tho because for me making salami is having a connection back to my grandparents and there times in Italy so to add a bit of cure in the mix And keep the rest the same seems to be a good compromise but if I use the starter cultures it changes the process .

And my wife gets a bit frustrated that I use the cure and she can't heat the salami latter on to make a salami cheese toasty ect . What are the issues with heating the product latter & because it is cured within 6 weeks could I use cure number 1 instead and keep the missis happy?

Thanks for the welcome, alittle bit about me,
My family's been making salami for generations , its a Italian salami with the capsicum sauce usually air dried for about 40days. Over the last couple of years I've started to make my own versions and have been using the cures , although if I was to mention the use of cures during our family salami day there would be a good chance I'd be banished .i also hunt mainly for deer and goats and utilise the meat in salamis .so far my most successful salami has been a spicy sambar salami.

Thanks again chuck wagon

Posted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 17:38
by Butterbean
Regarding your question on cooking with nitrates it is the nitrosamines which pose the cancer risk and this is not formed unless your wife cooks the product at 600F or better. Unless you married my exwife I doubt your wife does this.

BTW, speaking of your family's heritage in sausage making, its a safe bet they were using an impure salt which had nitrates already in it. Most of your sea salts do. How much is the question? Now we have progressed to the point to where we can calculate the minimal amount to use if we so choose to do it the "unnatural way" and take advantage of science rather than leaving it all to mother nature.

Posted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 17:58
by IdaKraut
Butterbean wrote:...Unless you married my exwife...
Too funny. Way too many people cook sausage at much too high a temperature. My ex (from 40 years ago) was guilty of this.

Posted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 22:22
by Alfie.M
Thanks for clearing that up, very funny butter bean, that's what I thought aswell, I believe they have there recipe and it works for a number of reasons that we probably can't tell just by looking at it.thats why I wanted to use the cures especially since I'm experimenting with new recipes and using wild self harvested meat. I think the capcucum sauce plays an important part in the process. They currently use 22grams of salt per kilo and its a regular Uniodised salt , but I know they use to use a lot more, but as the grandparents stopped making it and my uncles took over the operation they reduced the amount of salt.

Posted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 00:01
by Cabonaia
Butterbean wrote:BTW, speaking of your family's heritage in sausage making, its a safe bet they were using an impure salt which had nitrates already in it. Most of your sea salts do. How much is the question? Now we have progressed to the point to where we can calculate the minimal amount to use if we so choose to do it the "unnatural way" and take advantage of science rather than leaving it all to mother nature.
This comment got me thinking. It is probably impossible to use the traditional recipe grandpa used back in the old country, because you can't use the same salt. Grandpa may have preferred a certain salt he got from a certain dealer. Where is that salt today? Nor can you use the same wild yeasts that influenced his sausage.

My wife bought some very rough, rocky, greyish sea salt and I made some bacon with it. Came out fine. But I didn't keep doing that because a) I don't know what is really in that salt, and b) even if I did, it could change. That was for curing a whole muscle. I would never try a minced and stuffed sausage with just sea salt, unless I was making fresh sausage. God bless grandpa, all the same. :grin:

Posted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 03:38
by Baconologist
"A bacon cooking study, "Effect of Frying and Other Cooking Conditions on Nitrosopyrrolidine Formation in Bacon" (Journal of Science, Vol. 39, pages 314-316), showed no evidence of nitrosamines in bacon fried at 210 °F for 10 minutes (raw), 210 °F for 15 minutes (medium well), 275 °F for 10 minutes (very light), or 275 °F for 30 minutes (medium well). But when bacon was fried at 350 °F for 6 minutes (medium well), 400 °F for 4 minutes (medium well), or 400 °F for 10 minutes (burned), some nitrosamines were found. Thus, well-done or burned bacon is potentially more hazardous than less well-done bacon."

Source: ... /index.asp

Posted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 07:22
by Alfie.M
Thanks for your comments, in Australia there is a very big Italian community still making salami the traditional way including my family, I once asked about cures at a salami supplies specialty store, the owner told me to go and buy store bought salami if I want to use cures and he didn't sell it, so I purchased it on eBay instead.


Posted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 08:23
by Chuckwagon
Clostridium Botulinum is a common obligate anaerobic bacterium microorganism found in soil and sea sediments. Although it can only reproduce in an oxygen-free environment, when it does reproduce, it produces the deadliest poison known to man - botulinum toxin. One millionth of a gram ingested means certain death - about 500,000 times more toxic than cyanide. Botulinum spores are extremely persistent and will survive heating up to 250°F. (121°C), freezing, smoking, and drying. An obligate anaerobe cannot grow in the presence of oxygen. Without oxygen, the addition of sodium nitrates or sodium nitrites is necessary to prevent botulism poisoning. It also becomes crucial that meat be removed from the "danger zone" temperature range as quickly as possible during any preparation or cooking process. This includes grinding, mixing, and stuffing sausages - procedures often supported using ice, ice water, or refrigeration and freezing. As bacteria need moisture to multiply and meat is about three-quarters water, it becomes an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria, even when it is mostly dried.

The rod-shaped bacterium was first recognized and isolated in 1896 following the poisoning of several people who had consumed bad ham. It was later discovered that due to the enzyme superoxide dismutase, the bacterium might actually tolerate very small traces of oxygen. Once again, botulinum spores are extremely persistent and will survive heating up to 250°F. (121°C), freezing, smoking, and drying. Insidiously, they lie in wait for the right conditions to occur and give no foul smell or taste, making it even more treacherous. In non-cooked fermented sausages, the microorganism must be destroyed using a combination of salt, a drop beyond 5.0 pH, and a minimum drop in Aw water activity to 0.97 or less.

The onset of its symptoms can occur quickly and include nausea, stomach pain, double vision, and spreading paralysis, ultimately reaching the heart or respiratory organs. Although fatalities occur yearly, especially in countries where home canning is popular, the risk of acquiring botulism is very, very low. Worldwide, there are only about 1000 cases of botulism each year. However, the lethal consequences of poisoning may make you wish to reconsider the proper addition of sodium nitrate/nitrite in your products to almost eliminate the risk. I believe that one thousand cases annually are one thousand too many! :shock:

Best Wishes,

Posted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 01:15
by story28
Does anyone know how nitrates are bound to the salt in synthetic Instacure 1 and Instacure 2?

A colleague oh mine had a customer say they could only eat natural nitrates and nitrites, and that she was allergic to the synthetic variety.

Posted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 02:36
by Alfie.M
I do agree with you chuck wagon, just explaining what the culture is like in aus around my area. Can you recommend some good products for measuring the ph and aw .


Posted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 04:16
by ssorllih
story28 wrote:Does anyone know how nitrates are bound to the salt in synthetic Instacure 1 and Instacure 2?

A colleague oh mine had a customer say they could only eat natural nitrates and nitrites, and that she was allergic to the synthetic variety.
This is speculation but may be close. Desolve sodium nitrite or nitrate in water and in a tumbler mixer atomize the solution into a quantity of pure salt. This would coat the salt crystals with sodium nitrite and if the evaporation rate was adequate the salt would stay "dry" while picking up the sodium nitrite. 6.25 % is a rather large level of "contamination" but it could be controlled.

Posted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 09:14
by Chuckwagon
Jason wrote:
Does anyone know how nitrates are bound to the salt in synthetic Instacure 1 and Instacure 2? A colleague of mine had a customer say they could only eat natural nitrates and nitrites, and that she was allergic to the synthetic variety.
Hi Guys, Please allow me to throw in a couple of cents worth here. Inexperienced and unqualified people have introduced all kinds of supposedly "nitrate-free" products to meet the resulting consumer demand for what the misinformed public sees as a health threat. What the public may not know is that not only are their fears over nitrates completely overblown, but these "nitrate-free" products can actually contain many times more nitrates than conventional products. For instance, a truly nitrate-free hot dog would be much more likely to make a person sick than a conventional one. How is this possible?

First of all, there is no such thing as "synthetic nitrate". Sodium nitrate is simply a naturally occurring mineral... a type of salt that happens to be a particularly effective food preservative. Sodium nitrate is present in all kinds of vegetables (root veggies like carrots as well as leafy greens like celery and spinach) along with all sorts of fruits and grains. Basically, anything that grows from the ground draws sodium nitrate out of the soil. If this seems strange, remember that the word nitrate refers to a compound made of nitrogen, which is the single largest component of our atmosphere. Every time you take a breath, you're breathing 78 percent nitrogen. The soil itself is loaded with it! As you know, one of the things that happens when sodium nitrate is used as a curing agent is that the sodium nitrate is converted to sodium nitrite. It is sodium nitrite that actually possesses the antimicrobial properties that make it an effective preservative. It's particularly effective on clostridium botulinum as well as salmonella.

So what about all those supposedly "nitrate-free" hot dogs, bacon and other so-called "uncured" products? Since completely uncured hot dogs are not palatable to consumers, it's very rare indeed to find a product that is totally nitrate-free. Instead, manufacturers make claims such as "no nitrates added." The reality is that companies that make nitrate-free hot dogs have to use something to substitute for the sodium nitrate. Celery juice is a popular choice. And guess what celery juice contains lots of? Sodium nitrate. And guess what that sodium nitrate turns into when you eat it? Sodium nitrite! You see, the sodium nitrate that we consume through fruits, vegetables and grains is also converted to sodium nitrite by our digestive process. When we eat fruits, vegetables or grains, our bodies produce sodium nitrite.

Sure, celery is a natural source of sodium nitrate. (Notice that no one is currently claiming that celery causes cancer or that people should reduce their intake of celery.) But by adding celery juice to their hot dogs, manufacturers can make products loaded with sodium nitrate while legally being able to claim "no added nitrates." Because all the nitrates are in the celery juice. As a matter of fact, these supposedly "natural" or "organic" products sometimes contain twice as much sodium nitrate, even up to a whopping ten times as much sodium nitrate, as conventional products.

In some countries, people are able to obtain pure sodium nitrate. Please, please, please folks... If you mix pure sodium nitrate or pure sodium nitrite, you must be aware of a few things. First of all, commercial suppliers place it on a salt carrier for us home sausage makers. Before C.L. Griffith developed his "Prague Powder", sodium nitrate would settle to the bottom of a salt barrel and uniform dispersal became impossible. People found meat products having inconsistent, unbalanced, and unreliable amounts of curing agent. In other words, you cannot simply mix it with salt and expect it to be consistent. If you live in a country where this product is not available and you must mix your own pure nitrate with salt, please be prudent enough to blend the elements with cold water and then mix it thoroughly with the meat. Next, be sure to mix it thoroughly with the meat. Lastly, be sure to mix it thoroughly with the meat! You know... uniformly! Consistently! Evenly! In other words, equally throughout the mixture. The following is a post I made to our buddy Ross Hill (ssorllih) some time ago. It explains a few details of Prague Powder.
In the early 1900s, Enoch Luther (E.L.) Griffith and his son, Carroll Luther (C.L.), opened a pharmaceutical business after C.L. graduated from the Northwestern University School of Pharmacology. Both men worked hard to establish Griffith Laboratories focusing on "bringing science to the food industry." During the 1920`s, the men worked on quick-curing meats using a new German meat-pumping process and something the Germans called Prague "salt". During the 30`s they developed the Prague Pickling Scale, a ham press, dry soluble seasonings, and specialized antioxidants. They also came up with an answer to a problem that had previously just plagued meat processors - how to intersperse sodium nitrate and nitrite into salt evenly with homogeneous and consistently unvarying uniformity. Before their invention (Prague Powder), the nitrates-nitrites would settle to the bottom of the barrels of salt during shipping etc. Uniformly mixing batches by local sausage makers was almost an impossibility. Then, C.L. Griffith had the idea that he could somehow "flash dry" or "freeze dry" the nitrates and nitrites onto salt crystals (German Prague Salts) on huge rollers. The product was enormously successful and his "Prague Powders" became a household word to small sausage-making concerns everywhere in the world. For the first time, it was possible to measure exactly the amount required. So, we see that the term Prague Powder was developed from German "Prague Salt". Today, it may be called, "Instacure", "Pink Salt", "Cure", or any number of names.
The company has continued to thrive over the decades, even producing products globally. As far as I know, their headquarters are still in the town of Alsip, Illinois. Griffith laboratories has made a remarkable contribution to our sausage-making craft over the years. Without their expertise, I would hate to think of how we would be managing nitrates and nitrites in smaller, hobbyist applications.
Best Wishes,

Posted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 18:04
by Baconologist
"No added nitrate" labeling is a legal requirement.

"Can bacon be made without the use of nitrite?
Bacon can be manufactured without the use of nitrite, but must be labeled "Uncured Bacon, No Nitrates or Nitrites added" and bear the statement "Not Preserved, Keep Refrigerated Below 40 °F At All Times" - unless the final product has been dried according to USDA regulations, or if the product contains an amount of salt sufficient to achieve an internal brine concentration of 10% or more, the label does not have to carry the handle statement of "Not Preserved, Keep Refrigerated below ___" etc. Recent research studies have shown for products labeled as uncured, certain ingredients added during formulation can naturally produce small amounts of nitrates in bacon and, therefore, have to be labeled with the explanatory statement "no nitrates or nitrites added except for those naturally occurring in ingredients such as celery juice powder, parsley, cherry powder, beet powder, spinach, sea salt etc."

Source: ... /index.asp

One well know "natural" product manufacturer, Applegate Farms, has petitioned the FSIS to have the law changed. ... Letter.pdf