Cured Meat & Nitrates (Research Summary)

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Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.

I am not here to debate whether or not nitrates should be used, it’s up to you to decide. All I can do is say what I do and what I’ve learned.

There is a food scientist blogger who put together a very decent science-based post on nitrates/nitrites and cured/processed meats, it’s worth a read. 

Here is a link to a recent article highlighting that ‘prosciutto’ vs frankfurters shouldn’t be classified as the same in terms of ‘processed’ meat. Which is what organizations like the World Health Organization have been doing.

Probably the most useful research to me on nitrates/nitrites. It’s a long news article below.

The key to what is being said is about cooking nitrate meats especially to a certain point, like crispy bacon level.

The dry-cured meat projects I do and eaten without being cooked predominately.

But when I make pancetta for cooking carbonara, for instance, I don’t use nitrates and make sure the meat is of fine quality and processed and dry-cured the right way.

Bacon and Prosciutto are very different products.

One aspect of this article is that they focus on nitrates’ history in bacon rather. Most of what I write about is all about dry curing meat (link to charcuterie/dry cured meats category list on this site).

Using nitrates is a personal choice that you need to decide on.

If you read books like Salumi by Ruhlman or Sausage Making at Home by Maranski (check them out here).

Just like Parma Ham has salt, pork, passion and at least 12 months of drying.

Locally around where I live, there are two commercial cured meat producers that do not use any preservatives such as sodium nitrate or nitrite. They have to strictly adhere to moisture testing and also looking at acidity but as long as these things are managed and structured. The authorities accept that any risk of unwanted bacterial for curing whole muscle are being dealt with.

My advice is do your own research get some of those books above and come to your own conclusion.

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