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Prague Powder


ElsieD
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I'm mixing up the ingredients to cure bacon and I have some stuff called Prague Powder with a sub heading "The fast meat cure". It is white. It is not labeled as # 1 or # 2. It also does not have an ingredient list. Is this the same as the pink powder called for in Ruhlman's recipe? I also have a jar labeled Sodium Nitrate. It is white with some yellow flecks in it. Is this the stuff I am supposed to use? To confuse things further, I also have Morton Tender Quick. Can I just use this to replace the kosher salt and pink salt in the recipe and then add the maple sugar and maple syrup to it? I knew the answer once but I haven't made any in a while and can't remember. I know there is a bacon thread re: Ruhlmans' bacon but I could not find it hence this post. If anyone can help me I'd appreciate it. This mix is for my brother in law and I'm going down to see him tomorrow. He's 5 hours away so I don't get there often so if someone can help me out ASAP I'd really appriciate it.

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According to wikipedia, Morton Tender Quick is formulated differently, and cannot be substituted. You would get wrong amounts of sodium nitrite, which could be dangerous.

Also, it says both Prague#1 and Prague#2 have 6.25% sodium nitrite; prague#2 also has 6.25% sodium nitrate. The balance in both is sodium chloride(table salt).

see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sausage_making

Saltpetre is sodium nitrate, which is used in dry cured meat products in addition to sodium nitrite, but is not a substitute either.

see also http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/nutrition/DJ0974.html

According to Morton, http://www.mortonsalt.com/products/meatcuring/tenderquick.html, their product contains both nitrite and nitrate salts, and there are links to recipes for using this.

If it were me, I'd use the Tenderquick and follow their recipes accurately. Be safe.

Edited by technophile50 (log)
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Saltpetre is sodium nitrate, which is used in dry cured meat products in addition to sodium nitrite, but is not a substitute either.

Saltpeter is potassium nitrate. Used in gunpowder, fireworks, fertilizer, etc.

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Use the tenderquick.

Toss the mystery powders, and buy some new stuff. It's mad cheap. Prauge Powder 1 is the one you want for bacon.

You need to use curing salts of known concentration and strength. Otherwise you could make someone sick or dead.

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Saltpetre is sodium nitrate, which is used in dry cured meat products in addition to sodium nitrite, but is not a substitute either.

Saltpeter is potassium nitrate. Used in gunpowder, fireworks, fertilizer, etc.

Saltpeter's been abandoned as a curing agent due to poor results.

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Prague Powder or Instacure (either #1 or #2) contain 6.25% Sodium Nitrite. Prague Powder or Instacure #2 also contain an additional 1% of Sodium Nitrate. Nitrite is the fast acting form of cure and is used in items such as bacon and other smoked goods that are not cured over long periods of time. Nitrate is a slower release form of cure typically used in items that are cured for long periods of time, such as dry cured salamis, hams, etc. The modern formulations that I have seen are all colored pink. (I'm in the US). Cure #2 is not typically used in foods that will be cooked.

Saltpeter is Potassium Nitrate. It is similar in action to Sodium Nitrate, but is outdated and typically not used any more. I wouldn't use it.

It concerns me that your Prague Powder isn't labeled #1 or #2. Is there a listing of ingredients on the label? If it lists 6.25% Sodium Nitrite, and 93% or so salt, with no mention of Sodium Nitrate, it will be the equivelant of Cure #1.

Do not use Morton Tender Quick unless your brine recipe specifically calls for it. You can't directly substitute it for any of the other cures.

HTH,

Larry

Edited to add I see that what you have does not list ingredients. Frankly I'd put off this project until you can get what is a known good product.

Edited by LoftyNotions (log)

Larry Lofthouse

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ElsieD, Larry has it right. You don't need or want nitrate in your bacon, and saltpeter is way outdated too. If any of the bags are opened and don't have succinct directions for use I'd toss them also. The maximum concentration in Canada (last time I checked) is 200ppm sodium nitrite for cured meats. There's a bit of math involved but once a concentration is worked out, a decent sized bag of mix will cure a huge amount of bacon. I made a large zip-lock bag of cure and wrote on the outside of the bag the grams cure/pound meat (or grams/kilogram) for the standard cure. With the math already done I've been using this same bag of cure for almost 2 years now. It takes all the guesswork (and uncertainty/fear) out of it.

There are 3 kinds of people in this world, those who are good at math and those who aren't.

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In curing, I thought that nitrates and nitrites were converted to nitrous oxide through enzymatic action. NO is highly reactive and quickly is converted into N and O-. The O- oxidizes stuff, esp bacteria and is gone.

So why would using nitrate be bad and why would it linger after a week in the cure? Is there a food chemist in the house?

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I use AC Legg seasonings to make sausage and just looked at their site to see if they have bacon cures - which they don't. So I went to Allied Kenco, where I get my Legg's since Legg's only sells wholesale.

Here's the link to cures at Kenco. There's a message at the beginning that read's, in part, "The primary and most important reason that meat is cured is to prevent BOTULISM POISONING. In simpler terms, food poisoning. It is of extreme importance that any kinds of meat or sausage that will be cooked and smoked at low temperature MUST be cured." So that's something to consider.

In my experience, Allied Kenco is a good outfit to do business with and they have lots of stuff, including various cures.

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I'm not a chemist, but Nitrate is slowly converted to nitrite in the presence of bacterial fermentation (usually lactobacillus or similar). Nitrite is then converted to Nitric Oxide. Nitrite is a relatively fast acting agent, and nitrate is a slow acting agent dependant on conversion by bacterial action.

Here is a Website that explains it a bit more.

It turns out that there are 2 compounds called Saltpeter (or saltpetre). The Nitrate form seems to be more common than the nitrite form.

Also note that this site lists cure #2 as having 4% nitrate in addition to the 6.25% nitrite contained in both #1 and #2. This differs from other references such as This site.

Edited to add: Nitrates in the presence of high heat (frying for instance) can form nitrosamines, considered to be carcinogenic. That's why they're not used in bacon.

HTH,

Larry

Edited to remove extraneous characters and for grammar

Edited by LoftyNotions (log)

Larry Lofthouse

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I'm not a chemist, but Nitrate is slowly converted to nitrite in the presence of bacterial fermentation (usually lactobacillus or similar). Nitrite is then converted to Nitric Oxide. Nitrite is a relatively fast acting agent, and nitrate is a slow acting agent dependant on conversion by bacterial action.

Edited to add: Nitrates in the presence of high heat (frying for instance) can form nitrosamines, considered to be carcinogenic. That's why they're not used in bacon.

HTH,

That's a good explanation, Larry. Explains why long curing items, like dry cured sausage, uses nitrates as well as nitrites.

There are 3 kinds of people in this world, those who are good at math and those who aren't.

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I'm not a chemist, but Nitrate is slowly converted to nitrite in the presence of bacterial fermentation (usually lactobacillus or similar). Nitrite is then converted to Nitric Oxide. Nitrite is a relatively fast acting agent, and nitrate is a slow acting agent dependant on conversion by bacterial action.

Here is a Website that explains it a bit more.

This site.

Edited to add: Nitrates in the presence of high heat (frying for instance) can form nitrosamines, considered to be carcinogenic. That's why they're not used in bacon.

HTH,

Larry

Edited to remove extraneous characters and for grammar

Excellent website! Thanks.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I made corned beef a long time ago. The brine I used contained primarily salt. The brine called for saltpeter if yoi wanted to keep the cured beef pink, otherwise it would tend to turn gray. I never used it.

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"I'm mixing up the ingredients to cure bacon "

From that statement and the melange of curing mixtures you possess, I would caution you to throw everything away and find a reputable text/source for curing and follow that source to the letter.-Dick

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