thebeerkitchen asked: Hey! Hope your Xmas was good and you have an awesome new year. I am just wondering what your stance is on nitrates/nitrites vs salt for curing, I'm looking at doing some cured prosciutto soon, just wondering your thoughts to put into my other research. Cheers!
Thank you and to you as well!
So it is completely up to you. Bad answer right? The use of nitrites or nitrates are good for different tasks. Purists would say a straight up prosciutto should be done with salt and a little pressure/weight for the first couple weeks to leech out the moisture. Then hang that sucker up to dry with some level of humidity control (though, again, not always necessary) which I would agree with from a classic standpoint. Nitrites will only help you fight off bad juju that might be milling around in that ham as it dry cures. Though for a prosciutto, nitrates would be the better route, as they act slowly, converting to nitrite over time. If you wanted to use nitrate, be sure you have all your measurements right to use it safely. It’s been a while, but if I recall nitrate should be used at about 0.25% the total weight of the product being cured, and of course mixed in with your salt when rubbed on.
I use nitrites in smoked sausages and when curing items like bacon, ham, pastrami, etc. Those things are warm/hot smoked though for an extended period of time, so I want to make sure any bacteria doesn’t flourish in that nice warm meat I’m taking such good care of. I’ve used nitrates when I’m hanging something to dry - salami, a leg of lamb, etc.
So don’t be afraid of the pink/curing salts. This whole “uncured” phenomenon/trend on classic items like salami, bacon, etc is a farce. Those “uncured” items claiming to be nitrite free are usually using celery juice to cure them. A couple sticks of celery or a serving of spinach or arugula takes in more nitrite than Joey Chestnut shredding 100+ cured Nathan’s hot dogs on July 4th.
I’m sure most of that are things you’ve already gathered in your research. Hope it helps though. Let me know if I can help out otherwise.