How to Use Pink Salt for Curing Meat

The term “pink salt” refers to a compound made of sodium nitrite and sodium chloride, often known as table salt. In German, it is also known as Pokelsalz, InstaCure, and Prague powder. It is applied to meat to stop the meat from producing botulinum toxin.

Although finished, cured meats do not contain enough pink salt to make people sick or even die, pink salt is harmful to humans.

Pink salt is colored pink so that it cannot be mistaken for table salt. This colored salt gives cured foods their distinctive color and flavor. Use pink salt differently than regular table salt. Avoid adding it to your food as a garnish.

Controlling Botulism

Once upon a time, botulism was referred to as the sausage disease or sausage poisoning. In the year 1817, Justinus Kerner in Wurttemberg, Germany, was the first person to characterize it; nevertheless, the pathogen and toxin weren’t discovered until the year 1895.

The anaerobic bacteria known as Clostridium botulinum can be found in both soil and water. Food can become contaminated by spores that are airborne. It requires a low acid environment and very little to no oxygen in order to develop and reproduce.

When the bacterium multiplies, it generates the toxin that is responsible for the disease known as botulism.

Clostridium botulinum spores may survive temperatures up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius), however, they are inactivated by heating for 5 to 10 minutes at 240 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit (or 120 degrees Celsius). Home canning needs a pressurized canner.

The majority of the toxicity can be removed by heating home-canned food that is not acidic to temperatures higher than 176 degrees Fahrenheit (80 degrees Celsius).

The use of vinegar in canning recipes, the preservation of high-acid fruits and vegetables, the utilization of high sugar or salt concentrations (such as in jam or pickles), and the application of nitrites or nitrates are some additional methods that can be utilized to inhibit the growth of bacteria.

Using Nitrites

Nitrites prevent anaerobic bacteria from growing, which logically prevents the synthesis of toxins. Nitrates are a time-release type of inhibitory substance because they transform into nitrites over time.

In large amounts, both are harmful to people. As a result, home chefs are permitted to buy sodium nitrite that has already been salt-cut, lowering the risk of an unintentional overdose.

Nitrite is eventually consumed by the meat even during the curing process and transforms into nitric oxide, which really is safe for eating by humans. Nitrite consumption that is several times the recommended quantity is not dangerous.

Various Pink Salts

Cure No. 1 and Cure No. 2 are the two varieties of pink salt available. All meats that must be cooked, brined, smoked, or canned are cured with Cure No. 1 pink salt.

This covers meats such as luncheon meats, chicken, fish, ham, bacon, corned beef, and other items. 6.25 percent of it is sodium nitrite and 93.75 percent of it is table salt. For every five pounds of ground meat, one teaspoon is used.

For brine, combine 1/2 cup InstaCure No. 1 with 1 3/4 cups table salt, 2 1/4 tablespoons sugar, and any additional spices you choose.

For items that don’t need to be cooked, smoked, or refrigerated, such as dried sausages, hard salami, prosciutto hams, and pepperoni, Cure No. 2 was created. For every five pounds of meat, one level teaspoon—a mixture of one ounce of sodium nitrite (6.25 percent) and 0.64 ounces of sodium nitrate (4 percent)—is used.

The treatments cannot be used interchangeably, so be sure to use a formula from a reputable source and to follow it exactly.

Because curing meat involves such a precise set of skills, and a lack of those skills can lead to disease or worse, we strongly urge that you speak with an expert who can teach you the necessary processes and show you how to do it correctly.

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