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Sep 8, 2000 12:42 PM


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I'd like to make a jamaican rib dish that calls for saltpeter. Haven't been able to find it yet. Does anyone have any suggestions on where to find it? Any chain drugstores, as i live in Tampa, Fla.

In addition, i'd like to know if consumption has any adverse health effects. I know it has gone into the gunpowder making process, but little else. What do y'all know about it?

thanks, hounds.

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  1. You won't find saltpeter at the supermarket -- it's a pharmaceutical item. You have to ask your friendly neighborhood druggist.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Dena

      This too can be a problem if you, like most NYC residents, do not have a "friendly neighborhood druggist" but only a faceless neighborhood RiteAid or Duane Reade. I have tried unsuccessfully to buy lime at the RiteAid pharmacist; they looked at me like I was crazy. I imagine asking for saltpeter would bring similar results. Are there any neighborhood pharmacies left in the city?

      1. re: Jeremy
        Frank Language

        "I have tried unsuccessfully to buy lime at the RiteAid pharmacist; they looked at me like I was crazy. I imagine asking for saltpeter would bring similar results. Are there any neighborhood pharmacies left in the city?"

        Well, there's still a few; whenever I'm able, I go to Block Drugs at 101 2nd avenue (at 6th street). It's completely a family-owned business, and they'll even notarize documents for you. I say "whenever I'm able" because they can't possibly stock everything, being just a traditional behind-the-counter pharmacy, but they'll order anything for you they don't have in stock.

        There are two Carmines - father and son - both pharmacists, and they'll answer anything for you they can. And no, I'm not a shill, just a customer; I've been going there for at least fifteen years now.

        For people in Hell's Kitchen, there's Alps Drug Co. at 42nd and 9th; this is another family-run store. The owner (I forget his name) is a holdout who owns the building and that's why he's there instead of another Starbuck's. I would guess they can answer your questions too.

        Lastly, boo on all the sellouts who sold out to CVS ProCare; although my other neighborhood druggist, Estroff Pharmacy, has become eerily efficient since becomine a ProCare pharmacy, something has definitely been lost since they "merged" with the giant.

        1. re: Jeremy

          17th Street Apothecary, bet. Broadway and 5th. I don't mind going far, far out of my way.
          Refuse to give your money to the chains, especially the super-evil Rite Aid, who pop up next to or very near other drug stores, and who are notorious for buying then trashing vintage buildings so they can erect their ugly boxes.

          1. re: karen

            Thanks for your replies, Beth and Karen! I reckon I will finally get my lime. Perhaps I'll pick up some saltpetre while I'm there...

            1. re: Jeremy Osner

              I have purchased saltpeter at a neighborhood pharmacy in Bklyn (cant rememberwhich one, tho) I am sure it can be ordered from that Sausage Man who sells sausage-making supplies mailorder out of the Buffalo NY area. I will post a link if I can find one, later. Might work better than traipsing around to pharmacies.

              Jeremy, re lime, are you talking about pickling lime? I bought it at an Agway store e. of New Haven CT once, and it would be at other places where a range of canning supplies were sold.

              If Milan Labs were still around, that would also be a place for looking for this type of item.

              1. re: jen kalb

                Hi Jen,

                I haven't heard it called "pickling lime" but yes, that sounds like what I'm looking for -- a white powder that fizzes when you put vinegar on it (Calcium Oxide?) I need it for making posole/hominy.

                1. re: Jeremy

                  I exhausted my knowledge in my post to you, but I will look on my bag at home and confirm whether its the same stuff.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    I'm pretty sure it is; I did a web search on "Calcium Oxide" and "lime" and found a pickling site.

              2. re: Jeremy Osner

                I needed a small quantity of saltpeter or potassium nitrate to make my own corn beef, where in Mentor, Ohio can this be found?

            2. re: Jeremy

              Ref to lime
              actually the lime you are looking for one can get it very easyly at a building material place at home depot for example.
              unfortunately i dont know under what name they sell it .It comes in big quantity (cement bag like).
              I realize you only need a little for making the hominy .A drugstore doesn't carry this.If you take an oyster shell and throw it in to the BBQ Coals and leave it there for a few hours then you will have your Calcium oxide ....then breack a small piece of and you are ready.

          2. As for health effects, I'm sure you've heard of Viagra. Saltpeter is the anti-Viagra.


            5 Replies
            1. re: Jim Leff



              You don't know the good musical comedy.

              1. re: E. Rutledge

                E.Rutledge, Wonderful parody! I LOLed all over the place. pat

              2. re: Jim Leff

                "As for health effects, I'm sure you've heard of Viagra.
                Saltpeter is the anti-Viagra."

                Not to mention that it's added to commercial cigarettes to keep them burning. If you hold up a Camel or Marlboro while it's burning, you'll see all sorts of sparks cominoff the coal. That's saltpeter. Nice, huh?

                1. re: Jim Leff

                  Pins, John

                  Jeez I love that show/movie...

                  (but it's really "Pins, Abigail. Saltpeter, John")

                  1. re: Jill

                    I was waiting for someone to catch that error....


                2. Source: Julia and Jacques Cooking At Home

                  Jacques Pepin writes: "Saltpeter, or potassium nitrate, has been used at least since the Middle Ages to give meat-from bologna to ham to corned beef to pate-a beautiful pink color. Salt, in large amounts, will also impart this color, but the end product will be too salty. If no saltpeter is used, the meat will be slightly pink and turn grayish after it's cooked for a while, but the taste will be just as good."

                  In the cookbook, the recipes for homemade sausage and pate call for a small amount of saltpeter but it is optional. It sounds like this is only for visual purposes and doesn't have a flavor impact. Bruce Aidell's has a comprehensive meat cookbook, titled something like The Complete Meat Cookbook that may have some references to forcemeats/saltpeter in it. If there's a local butcher who sells housemade sausages, you may be able to get some there.

                  Don't know of any health side effects so good luck.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Tida
                    Allan Kronenberg

                    Where can cooking quality saltpeter be purchased. I tried 10 local pharmacies who no longer carry it. It used to be a common chemical in kid's chemistry sets.
                    Would prefer a source in NY if possible, otherwise anywhere it can be shipped from. I will be using it to try and duplicate old recipes for Pickled Tomgue, Corned Beef Etc. Any other comments welcome.

                  2. In The French Laundry Cookbook, Thomas Keller, in dicussing a particular preparation of foie gras uses sel rose, or pink salt which contains nitrites and delays oxidization and helps with the color.He suggests availability from Dean and DeLuca or the Culinary Institute at Greystone. This seems like a viable alternative to saltpeter, for intents and purposes.

                    1. im also looking for saltpeter and havent been able to find it so if some one has told you where you can find it can you pass that info along to me.


                      P.S. i do know if you realy want saltpeter you can but it off the internet from a chemical selling company. it is usualy under science

                      20 Replies
                      1. re: brian

                        This was a sandwich meat, much like a salami, but flavored with was smoky and spiky tasting, if that makes any sense. I could eat sandwich after sandwich out of it as a kid, and did, usually on rye bread with plain old French's mustard.

                        This was in North Eastern Pa. (in cow country north of Scranton). Did anyone else out there grow up eating this? Is it still made?

                        Man, I can taste it as I type.

                        1. re: eclair

                          While I didn't grow up with it, our neighbor in Michigan was from Pennsylvania Dutch country and came home from visits East each year with scrapple and Lebanon bologna--and had a big party for the neighborhood. In particular, scrapple was very much an acquired taste...

                          1. re: berkleybabe

                            That's SO funny you mention Scrapple! My grandmother, very Pa Dutch, had cravings for grandfather always made sure she had easy access. I never got into that aspect of my heritage, although it was probably due to her cooking than the scrapple--her hot dogs were always black, and although she made an incredible strawberry rhubarb pie filling, she was lousy at pie dough, and in later life served it in ice cream bowls as a compote. (BTW, I developed a hot dog skinning process to eat hers that I occasionally crave. Could this be a culinary Stockholm Syndrome?)

                            *Hee* thanks for the reminder!

                          2. re: eclair
                            Lynne Hodgman

                            I grew up eating Lebanon bologna in a small town in NH. Thought of it recently when I sampled some salami at Whole Foods. Have no idea if it still exists, but we all loved it!

                            1. re: eclair

                              You can get Lebanon Bologna at at least one stall in Lexington Market in Baltimore. This place has every single cold cut you could think of, including some that my dogs might reject. Several include the word "loaf" in the name. MMMM, loaf.

                              You can get a sandwich with some of these products for less than a buck. I've never dared. Even a chowhound has some boundaries. :>)

                              1. re: eclair

                                Lebanon baloney--the best stuff on earth. very tangy. I bring it back to NYC every time I go home to PA. The only place I've ever seen it outside of PA was some supermarket in Boston strangely enough. I want to check the 'Amish Market' in NYC since it might be there. You can buy it online from Seltzers--although it is pretty expensive online.

                                Scrapple--never touched the stuff. As far as I'm concerned is a Depression Era food that has somehow become a delicacy. Also popular in central PA oldtimers is Dandelion dinners--I don't quite understand it--never tried to understand it.

                                1. re: Mike

                                  I was born in Lebanon, PA at 940 Gilford St., in 1946. Unfortunately, I was an ARMY brat and left my Grandmothers house to go to Germany in 1952 and we never returned to live in Lebanon. But, I remember sitting in my Uncle Vincent's lap and he used to cut off hunks of Weaver's Lebanon Baloney with his pocket knife and give them to me. It was his favorite food. I developed a taste for it, but other than the ones he sent at Christmas, I have only seen it once in a Market in Anaheim, CA. My favorite is a slab of baloney on a sub roll, with deli mustard and tomato and lettuce. I found this message at five this morning when I was looking for a place to buy Weaver's on the internet.

                                  1. re: Louis

                                    Upon searching for a way to purchase Lebanon Bologna online and have it shipped to me, I stumbled onto this article entitled "Saltpeter". It brought me to a page of replies to an original message about saltpeter and Lebanon Bologna, but I do not see any way to find the original ad or to go back to the home page. Can anyone tell me what the original comment was about? Is there saltpeter in Weaver's Lebanon Bologna???? Thanks in advance to anyone who can clear this up for me!

                                    1. re: Kelly
                                      Scrapple Junkie

                                      Can't help you find it. But not only did I grow up with Lebanon Bologna, it is my favorite. But, after one summer as a deli clerk at a WaWa, I started getting severe headaches -- because I ate Lebabon bologna sandwiches so often. :(( I assume its the chemicals, but does anyone have any idea which? Is it the saltpeter?

                                    2. re: Louis

                                      Dutch Valley Distributors sell Lebanon Bologna. Their # is 18007334191. We are from Lancaster Co. PA and love Lebanon bologna too.
                                      Sandra Begly

                                      1. re: sandra begly

                                        I live in Tioga County, New York and Lebanon Bologna is sold at local markets (Big M). Saltpeter is not used anymore, instead sodium nitrate is in curing salt.

                                    3. re: Mike

                                      Scrapple is a very simple, basic, satisfying food. Think polenta. Scrapple is just cornmeal mixed with meat scraps and juices.

                                      1. re: 2chez mike

                                        The scrapple I'm familiar with is made of cornmeal, pork scraps, fatback, and lots of salt and pepper. I think the fatback gives it that wonderful creamy inside and cripsy crust when you cook it in an iron skillet.

                                      2. re: Mike

                                        I buy Seltzer's Lebanon Baloney in Southern
                                        California at Von's in Westlake of all places

                                        1. re: Ken

                                          My mother's lunch-meat-of-choice for my school lunches was Lebanon baloney from Oscar Meyer.

                                      3. re: eclair

                                        I was introduced to this product in Ouhau for the first time, of all places! My compaion at the time did hail from Indiana, so maybe that's why, but I remember likeing it alot!

                                        1. re: eclair

                                          I lived outside of Harrisburg in the early '50s and devoured LB to the point of addiction.
                                          Found it in a deli in Toledo in the '70s and then nada here in the Midwest UNTIL last year when lo and behold there it was in the Jewel deli priced at $5.99#. Now, my 5year old granddaughter is a junkie and demands her "spicy meat" sandwich whenever she pays a visit.
                                          Selzers online is a good source!
                                          Happy munching!

                                          1. re: eclair

                                            I grew fond of Lebanon Bologna when I lived in Philadelphia. The business at the link below claims to be the largest producer of Lebanon Bologna, and they will ship it.


                                            1. re: eclair

                                              Yes, I live in missouri now, But grew up in Illinois. and had relatives in Harrisburg,Pa. we would travel on vacation every year to Pa. and to lebanon and buy 10lb rolls of bologna spicy and sweet. Now today they even sell it now in our schnucks stores here. i buy a pound every week. I still Love the stuff. How about you if you go on the web at www.Lebanon Bologna you will find the website for seltzers where it is still made in Ps. and they will send you a catalog and you can order what you want. tlk to u later Leo

                                              1. re: Leo

                                                I spent many summers as a kid in the 50's on my grandma's little farm in Lebanon PA, and with my aunts & uncles in nearby Annville and Palmyra. I was born in Lebanon but moved to CT at an early age. Always had Lebanon bologna, sweet bologna, scrapple, ring bologna, etc. In CT I have always been able to purchase this product at Stop & Shop markets. When visiting PA I always buy as much as I can. I recently moved to FLA and online searching brought me here. I recently bought Boars Head brand. Not bad, but I am now looking into Seltzers and Weavers. Everyone who has ever tasted these PA delicacies has loved em. I know I always will