Himalayan Pink Salt

Is Himalayan Pink Salt Good for Curing Meat?

I have used Himalayan pink salt for meat curing, but it seems there’s a bit of confusion about whether it’s a good thing and also actually what it is.

This isn’t going to be very scientific (but will have links) but I have done a little bit of research before I have used it in the past for curing various meats.

I have used Himalayan Pink Salt for curing fish, pork, deer, duck, and many other types of meat. So I thought I would just share some of my experiences and talk about the confusion as well with pink curing salt.

Here’s a quick answer if you’re in a rush, then I’ll just rattle on about some of the things I’ve learned with some links as well.

Himalayan Pink Salt 1
Photo by monicore from Pexels

Is Himalayan Pink Salt Good for Curing Meat?

Himalayan pink salt can be used for meat curing, however, it does contain more trace minerals compared to sea salt. This may influence meat curing results. There is a large difference between Himalayan Pink Salt and Pink Curing Salt.

If you start digging deep into the internet through Google, you’ll find that even in the Himalayas around Pakistan when most of the Himalayan salt comes from they used the pink Himalayan salt for preserving fish.

But I haven’t been able to find specifics in English in regards to this.

There are also a lot of health claims about the benefits of either consuming Himalayan pink salt or being close to it or putting it into the water and drinking the water.

I’m not going to get into that type of detail, this is more just related to curing meats.

My Experience with Himalayan Pink Salt for Meat Curing

In the past, whether making dry-cured bacon or some other form of dry-cured meat I actually can’t remember specifically which time. But I definitely have used it on multiple meaty projects, and I haven’t noticed any difference in the outcomes.

It is just the extra trace minerals like uranium, even though it is an incredibly small amount and I know it’s not going to have an impact. But I just don’t like the idea of putting uranium in my bacon even if it is a microbe tiny little dot.

(Uranium is naturally occurring, in tiny tiny trace element amounts)

Himalayan Pink Salt 3
Image by janiceweirgermia from Pixabay

What is in Himalayan Pink Salt?

Below you’ll find a link to a table that gives you a full breakdown of what trace minerals are present and Himalayan salt. Most of it is very similar to the various sea salts out there, it kist has a few extra trace minerals.

98% is actually pure standard sodium chloride a.k.a. pure salt

2% is made up of all the other trace minerals. The majority seems to be similar.

Click on this link here to see all the other bits and pieces that are present. Considering many of these are small decimal places of parts per million or ppm. This really does consist of incredibly small amounts.

Here is the link to the full breakdown of the minerals quite a chunky list.

What Does Pink Curing Salt do to the Meat?

I wrote a whole post going into a bit more detail about pink curing salt.

Here is a quote from a meat science textbook to summarize –

adding nitrates to meet will improve flavor, prevent food poisoning, tenderize the meat, and develop the pink color widely known and associated with smoked meats

Marianski & Marianski – meat production of quality meats and sausages

So just to be clear this is pink curing salt no.1 or no.2 , this is not in the Himalayan pink salt.

I don’t know about you, bu even through I have known the difference for decades, it still is hard for my brain to process the difference!

Curing for Seasoning vs Curing for Preserving

Curing gets a little complicated sometimes if you are unfamiliar with the lingo – this site is obviously dedicated to dry curing meat, but also aspects of brining using a wet cure.

Some people use the terminology of curing meats with salt before smoking/cooking the meat – often called hot making especially in the United Kingdom.

And then you have that type of salt curing we’re you are really just seasoning the meat before cooking it -like a giant ribeye steak or T-bone.

Sea Salt vs Table Salt vs Himalayan Salt

Personally I like to stick to good quality sea salt for my meat curing.

Sea salt has a bunch of trace minerals in it and is basically evaporated ocean water. Since this is what I have been using for over 10 years for meat curing I’m quite happy to stick with this.

Table salt is more of highly refined salt, often it stripped of minerals and is more pure sodium chloride. Then depending on which one/brandtype – you get, it can be iodized since iodine is something that people supposedly miss out on in the diet.

But table salt is not a good option for meat curing because of the addition it sometimes has of anticaking agents to stop it sticking together.

These anticaking agents can have an offputting flavor I have found in meat curing, so I personally won’t use it.

There is another article I just read which also goes on about Celtic salt with a brownish color, I haven’t personally use this.

When I was traveling through Italy recently I do remember going into a café somewhere in Umbria around central Italy which had six different types of sea salt! I remember there was a blue Persian salt and also a black salt – ok I dug out the foto!

Grey Salt, Smoked, Pink Himalayan, Persian, Black!

Now I did end up getting some black Himalayan salt last year, and it has this interesting sulfur kind of smell and taste. It seems to also be called Indian black salt.

Anyway for cooking not meat curing we are generally always using sea salt or Himalayan salt.

Why is Himalayan Pink Salt Pink?

Himalayan Pink Salt
They Glow Nicely Salt Blocks! Image by Queven from Pixabay

Himalayan salts have varying shades of color including white, pink and dark red. The pink or red color is generally attributed to iron oxide, copper or red marl (clay or silt).

https://www.cargill.com/salt-in-perspective/himalayan-salt-vs-table-salt-vs-sea-salt

What is in Pink Curing Salt?

Pink curing salt has two versions either number 1 or number 2.

The simplest way to think about it as curing salt number one is for short-term meat curing projects that under 30 days. Whilst pink curing salt number two is for longer-term dry curing projects such as dry-cured salami or any of the classic Italian salumi.

Pink curing salt no. 1 only has sodium nitrite and sodium chloride

  • 93.75% table salt
  • 6.25% sodium nitrite

Pink curing salt no. 2

I’ve been reading the latest science on nitrates turning into carcinogens when heated to higher temperatures (350°F I think), I do not use pink curing salt number one for making bacon since I like to cook it until it’s crisp.

But I do use pink curing salt number one for pastrami since I won’t be smoking and cooking the meat much past it’s internal doneness temperature, which is below 350°F.

I use pink curing 2 for dry curing salami that I am not cooking with over 350°F,.

 

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References:

INTERESTING FACTS (About Sea Salt)

Pass the Salt (But Not That Pink Himalayan Stuff) – Science Based Medicine site

Is Pink Himalayan Salt Better Than Regular Salt? – Healthline

Comments

  1. Hello from Lancashire, England. Thank you for this interesting page – it came up in a Google search as I’ve just bought some pork belly to try my hand at curing bacon.
    Just a query, please: you refer to ‘nitrates’ being present in curing salt number 2 and suggest there is a link to carcinogens. You go on to say you don’t use curing salt number 1 in bacon because you like it crispy. Am I misunderstanding or have you written number 1 but actually mean number 2?
    Many thanks!

  2. Really informative article. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. We were looking to understand what curing salt was after trying to follow a recipe my father gave us from Chef Michael Symon, making his own bacon. This helped us determine how we might like to go forward and possibly come back to learn more! Cheers from Michigan!

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