Free pointer on converting US cure #1 and cure #2 recipes to European ingredients

Free pointer on converting US cure #1 and cure #2 recipes to European ingredients

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In this free downloadable document you will read about the functions of nitrites and nitrates in meat curing and how you can convert American recipes in which cure #1 and #2 are used to products that are available in the EU.

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In this document (largely based on the dutch ‘Worstbijbel’ (‘sausage bible’) by dutch foodwrter Meneer Wateetons you will read about the functions of nitrites and nitrates in meat curing and how you can convert American recipes in which cure #1 and #2 are used to products that are available in the EU.

Nitrite

Nitrite has a number of functions, the most important of which is that nitrite (actually: sodium nitrite) works powerfully against one specific bacteria: Clostridium botulinum. This bacterium prefers an oxygen-poor, slightly acidic environment. Let’s say: the inside of a drying sausage. However: a dose of only 0.015% nitrite (0.15 gram pure nitrite per kilo of meat) is enough to prevent the growth of this Clostridium botulinum. (As a bonus, nitrite also takes works against Salmonella). Another reason that sausages- and charcuteriemakers like to use salt with added nitrite, is that meat salted with it will retain its fresh red color. A cooked ham without nitrite would turn gray, a pâté would turn gray or even green without nitrite, a cured salami brown. So it also has a cosmetic effect. All common meat products you will find at the butchershop thank their appetizing look to the use of nitrite. Finally, nitrite gives a hard to describe but pleasant extra ‘ripened meat’ flavor to your meat.

Nitrate

Nitrate (actually: potassium nitrate or saltpetre) has no direct effect on the shelf-life of your meat. However, over time it breaks down into nitrite. This is useful, because nitrite itself also breaks down over time, thereby losing its effect. By also adding nitrate to your meat product you create an extra supply of nitrite in your sausage or charcuterie. A time-released dose of nitrite, as it were.

Final % of salt, pure nitrite and pure nitrate needed for different common meat products:

Please mind that these are the final percentages needed, dry or wet curing (charcuterie) commonly uses more salt, which is not utilised fully.

  • fresh sausages – 1,5-1.8% salt + nitrite none but 0,015% is optional
  • Fast dry cured sausages 2,5% salt + 0,015% nitrite
  • Slow dry cured sausages 3% salt + 0,015%  nitrite + 0,03-0,09% nitrate
  • Most dry cured charcuterie: 3% salt + 0,015%  nitrite (+ optional 0,03-0,09% nitrate)
  • Pates and terrines: 1.8% salt +  + 0,015% nitrite

Dosing your nitrite and nitrate

You don’t just add a teaspoon of pure nitrite and or nitrate to your meat, but always add them the form of a pre-mix of nitrite/nitrate and salt. However, there are different pre-mixes avavailable in different parts of the world as you will see below.

Most parts of Europa

There are two mixtures on the market in the EU, which we will discuss in more detail below:

  • Nitrite salt (0.6% nitrite). Also: ‘coloroso salt’
  • Salvianda (0.6% nitrite and 1% nitrate and 0.2% dextrose)

Not a mix

 

United States and Canada

Salt-nitrite Blends:

  • Instacure #/Prague Powder # 1: 6,25% nitrite
  • Instacure #2/Prague Powder #2: 6,25% nitrite, 1-3% nitrate

Just like EU nitrite salt and salvianda, these are salt-nitrite/nitrate mixtures which, however, contain more than ten times (6.25%) the amount of nitrite. Consequentually, Cure # 1 and #2 are always supplemented with table or kosher salt to create a mix that will have a final percentage of nitrite and nitrate that is roughly the same as when using nitrate salt or salvianda. By contrast EU nitrite salt (0,6%) and salvianda salt do not need to be mixed which table or kosher salt but can be used pure.

Important take away

US cure # and #2 need to be mixed with salt. EU nitrite salt (0,6%) and salvianda salt do not need to be mixed and can be used pure.

Translating US recipes to EU ingredients, some examples

For example, you read one of the Marianski & Marianski books.

Example 1 – slow dry cured sausage

US Recipe In grams p /kg EU ingredients In grams p/kg
3% salt (cure #2 accounted for) 28 3% salvianda 30
Cure #2 2,3
OR
3% nitrite salt 30
0,03-0,09% potassium nitrite 0,3-0,9

Example 2 – fast dry cured sausage

US Recipe In grams p /kg EU ingredients In grams p/kg
2.5% salt (cure #1 accounted for) 23 2.5% nitrite salt 25
Cure #1 2,4

 

Or you are reading the Ruhlman & Polcyn books.

Example 3 – Fresh hot smoked sausage

US Recipe in grams p/kg EU ingredients In grams p/kg
17 g kosher salt 2 % nitrite salt 20
2.7 g Cure #1

 

Example 4: coppa, dry cure

US Recipe in grams p/kg EU ingredients In grams p/kg
55 g kosher salt  5,8 % salvianda 58
2.7 g Cure #2
OR
5,8 % nitrite salt
Roughly 0,06-0,18 % Potassium nitrate 0,6-1,8
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