Difference Between Sodium Nitrate, Nitrite and Pink Curing Salt

In this video I answer a common question about the difference between sodium nitrite, nitrate and pink curing salt. Understanding the difference will give you much more control when creating your own Charcuterie products.

If you would like to have a question answered in an upcoming video, send it to jacob@stellaculinary.com.

Further Resources

10 comments

BrianShaw
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Joined: 05/19/2011
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Nice office!

 

Great discussion of a potentially confusing topic.  Thanks.

 

In addition to Ruehlman's book, another great resource is:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Great-Sausage-Recipes-Meat-Curing/dp/0025668609

Jacob Burton
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Thanks Brian. Glad you enjoyed the video. I haven't had a chance to check out that book yet but I just put it in my Amazon que. Thanks for the suggestion.

pericowest
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Joined: 05/16/2011
Stella Stars: 328

Hello chef,

 

I have a half  prosciutto (about like the one you had in your walk in when I was there).

Problem is I took the wrapper off when I first sliced it. After I did that I wrapped it in plastic wrap and kept it in the fridge. It is developing  mold on the exterior. Should I trim off the mold, ignore it, or trim and reapply NaCl and a nitrate?

 

Jacob Burton
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If it's white mold you're fine, just trim it off and wrap loosely in plastic wrap. If the mold is green or fuzzy, you need to throw it out. I assume that the pancetta is already cured? If not, then wrap it in cheese cloth instead of plastic wrap.

pericowest
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Sad, but it is green mold.

The real thing, Italian Parma ham, pricey loss at about $19 a pound.

Jacob Burton
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Oh bummer. Yep, you're going to have to throw it out unfortunately.

Sparhawlk
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This video answered so many questions. Having bought a pot of Sodium Nitrate and then realising I really needed Sodium Nitrite. I then got a bit nervous as it seamed I was accumulating a bit of a chemistry set in mu Kitchen. This video calmed my nerves. I do have a question though, Your curing mix is basically cut with 2% Sodium Nitrite. This is then used over what ever product you intend to cure. If I mix up the basic recipe for Pink Salt 93.75 Sodium Chloride and 6.25% Sodium Nitrite, this then needs to be further cut with Sodium Chloride as per the recipes in Charcuterie" by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. Is this correct If I wanted to add sodium nitrate for a longer cure how much should I add Hope this wasn't to log Thanks once again for a great video Andrew
Jacob Burton
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Just to clarify, I use 0.2% sodium nitrite in my formulation, not 2%. So for every 1,000 grams of sodium chloride, I'll add 2 grams of sodium nitrite.

Yes, you can make your own version of "pink" curing salt using the ratios described in this video. That salt is then cut with additional sodium chloride, as specified in many Charcuterie recipes, including the ones contained within Ruhlman and Polcyn's book (which I highly recommend).

As far as how much nitrate you need, that really depends on the recipe, what it is you're curing, and the duration of the cure. However, even when I cure something for as long as 6-9 months, I use only sodium nitrite, with good results. Nitrate is only needed in rare occasions for much longer cures, and even that is debatable.
Sparhawlk
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Really clear video and answered nearly all my immediate questions.  

If I wanted to mix a suitable cure such as insta cure 2 how much sodium nitrate should be mixed in per 1000g salt to your standard mix?

Thank you for explaining things so well

Regards Andrew Sharpe
Jacob Burton
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Hi Sparhawlk, I'm glad you enjoyed the video.

Just to clarify, instacure #2 contains sodium nitrATE, where as for most of my curing applications, I prefer sodium nitrITE, as discussed in the video.

So my 1000g kosher salt mix containing 2g sodium nitrite sets my nitrite percentage at 0.2%. This is just a standard baseline that I fine works universally well for me, whether I'm dry salting or creating a nitrite brine for curing. Some recipes will call for nitrite amounts as high as 1% though based on the salt, so there will be some variations.

Instacure #1 contains 6.25% sodium nitrite, meaning every 100g of instacure #1 contains 6.25g nitrite, so every 33 grams contains 2.06 grams of nitrite. This means in every 33g of instacure #1, you'll have 31g salt (sodium chloride) and 2g sodium nitirte.

So if you mix 33 grams of instacure #1 with 969 grams of kosher salt, you'll have 1000g of curing salt with 0.2% sodium nitrite. The 0.2% ratio is one that I use almost universally for my cured meats because it fits my preferences and needs, but you'll find other recipes will call for different ratios.

Let me know if you have any more questions.

Jacob
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