HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >


ISO - (pink) curing salt

Hey 'hounds, I am excited to try making confit pork belly this weekend but just realized I'm short a key ingredient and am not sure where to source it. It is salt that contains nitrite and goes by many names: pink salt (not the Himalayan type), tinted cure mix (TCM), DQ curing salt, insta cure #1...I live downtown and will go where I need to to get it but the closer the better, I am going to ask the Healthy Butcher when I p/u my belly (!!!), but I don't think they sell it and I really want to make sure I have it...thanks in advance!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Asian stores are supposed to have it but I didn't find any. There are several large commercial suppliers but they tend to be 905ers. I have a hand rubbed ham on the go, and I ran out, so the best I could come up with was potassium nitrate ($6/150ml) from Rexall. The pharmacist had to order it, but it came in two days.

    1. I spent forever looking for this salt with no luck. Apparently it is commonly found in US grocery stores under the brand name Morton Tenderquick. So, if you're travelling to the states or there is probably a website online you could order it from.

      Let me know if you find any. Thx.

      1. If you are willing to go to Woodbridge, call Canada Compound. http://www.canadacompound.com/

        1. This thread from the Ontario board discusses various curing salts:


          I haven't tried buying any locally. I'm just as happy to buy it online from a Canadian vendor and have it delivered! Although, I think it would be great if the Healthy Butcher decided to carry it...

          1. If you decide to use potassium nitrate from a drugstore, here's a page with standard mixes, adaptable to pork belly.


            1. Thanks all, I'll look into it and post my findings...if any...*fingers crossed*

              1. So, here's the story, curing salt (which can be dangerous due to nitrite content) is kinda like a controlled substance, only sold to vendors with some kind of credibility (ie: butchers, professional kitchens...), so don't count on getting any in TO, unless you have a "special connection" of some kind, it turns out I have a friend who is going to help me out by adding the salt to my dry cure mixture and applying it to the belly for me...I am going to try to get some online for next time but I figure I'll need to prove something I can't in order to do it...


                11 Replies
                1. re: Recyclor

                  What a routine! I'm glad we worked through it on this thread.
                  For my purposes (one or two slow country ham cures, every January) I'll stay with saltpeter from Rexall; but, the fast-cure pink salt is probably better for you.

                  By the way, I realise you are going first class with a Healthy Butcher pork belly, but have you seen the stacks of fresh bellies in the Asian markets? I've had good luck with these.

                  1. re: jayt90

                    I figured I'd go big this time and next time try something mid-range in cost (HB bellies are about $8/lb) to see the difference, thanks for the tip j90...when I asked at Healthy Butcher, they were very helpful, and he said if I was planning on freezing afterwards or eating it all right away (not a bad idea!) the benefits of the nitrites in the curing salt wouldn't really be a big deal, mostly would just enhance color, so he said I could go without and use kosher salt...he mentioned that his family makes dried sausages and pancetta with just regular salt...

                  2. re: Recyclor

                    I've never seen it in a Toronto supermarket (Wegman's has Tender Quick products on the shelf), but it's easy enough to get. Canada Compound certainly has it, and you can order it online from stuffers.com in BC or the Sausage Maker in Buffalo.

                    The generic "pink salt" gives you more flexibility in recipes than some of the other products. Morton Tender Quick works brilliantly, but it has a distinctive taste that will affect your outcome. Generic saltpeter from a pharmacy (usually must be ordered, but may be on the shelf in some neighbourhoods) works well also, but the quantities differ from recipes that specify "pink salt" or "Prague Powder" and I've never found a reliable conversion table. The Sausage Maker probably is the best source of information.

                    I don't agree with the info you got from the Healthy Butcher. What they told you is SOMETIMES true, but not always. If you are just experimenting, you can cure something that tastes good without using any nitrate/nitrate or similar additives. If you have specific expectations, you may be disappointed.

                    For example, I have learned that "curing salts" are never needed for salmon. Smoked salmon, lox, gravlax, and hot smoked salmon are always fine without them. "New England style" corned beef, with no nitrates, is excellent once you get past the weird gray colour. But I've never tasted a hot dog that was nitrate-product free and also edible. And my homemade pastrami simply doesn't taste like pastrami without some kind of chemical cure (despite my successes with corned beef).

                    1. re: embee

                      Thanks for the info embee...I'm new to curing and making charcuterie items so I will be doing tests initially for a while and keep your suggestions in mind...

                      1. re: Recyclor

                        I purchased Mortons Tender Quick form Nicey's Food Mart in Scarborough (several locations in GTA). Although pricey, it is the only place I have found that carries it. An excellent book about charcuterie is appropriately named "Charcuterie" by Micheal Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. Available at Chapters or online.

                        1. re: EFER

                          ..thanks for the source tip EFER...I'm with you on the book, it's the one I have aswell, the recipe I'm doing tomorrow is the pork belly confit on p.264, I have 4 lbs of back fat rendering down right now!!!...I got into a discussion with one of the employees at the ever helpful Healthy Butcher and he said they have tried some of the other curing in that book, namely dry aging and have had little success (since the atmosphere/humidity/salty air/etc. of California is so different from here) and have been working out their own methods to get good results...for me, so far the fresh sausages have been stellar!

                          1. re: Recyclor

                            The authors, Ruhlman and Polcyn, are in Ohio and Michigan. Some people have had mixed results, others much success.

                            1. re: jayt90

                              ..I must be confusing the location with another reference he made, thanks jay90 for clarifying...but I do know he was referring to this book regarding differences in method because I had it in my bag and we did look at it...

                              1. re: Recyclor

                                Rulhman says air dried sausages are the most difficult. I'll be happy with a nice lightly smoked ham. That is a great belly recipe on p. 264.

                          2. re: EFER

                            It's a great book - we got it for Christmas, and have since cured and smoked bacon, canadian bacon and pastrami, all with excellant results. If you ever get to Buffalo, there's a great supply store called 'The Sausage Maker' in the Clinton St Food Terminal (maybe 15 minutes tops from the Peace Bridge) that carries pink salt, bacon hangers, and a whole lot of other curing supplies.

                            1. re: jeanmarieok

                              ..thanks jean, sounds like an interesting stop to make if i'm down there...glad the book is working for you too!

                    2. really silly question but i've been wondering for a while - what does ISO stand for?

                      3 Replies
                        1. re: rld

                          oh thanks, haha, it had me stumped:P

                        2. re: apple_pie

                          heheh...I just figured it out like last week...this was my first post with it...

                        3. hey
                          down south here in states we use sodium nitrate to cure fat meat, you can buy that at your drug stores or you can buy morton curing salt at your food stores if you ask them to get it for you
                          works on all type meat from pork to wild game, even inject it into pork shoulders before bbqing the southern way, keeps the meat moist
                          southern cook

                          1. hey to you mind if i ask about what you are cooking, as i am down south in the states, never heard of confit pork belly, now we cook cured fatback, we cure our own down here on the farm, would like to know about this confit

                            1. Readily available at (hang on let me get the receipt) Ho Long Supermarket, 253 Spadina Avenue. Sold in little cello bags, I paid 99 cents for 100 grams of "Nitre Powder". It is in an aisle together with all the other bagged spices etc. Find the msg and you're almost there!

                              19 Replies
                                1. re: grandgourmand

                                  I doubt if is. At 100g, there wouldn't be enough salt for a cure or a rub. But there would be enough nitrite or nitrate ( I can't tell from the name 'Nitre Powder') to mix with salt sugar and spices, if a recipe was available.

                                  Recently the Highland Farms stores have been selling what amounts to a home curing kit:
                                  They have whole pork legs, or whole pork shoulders, at $.99 /lb, and on the same counter, 1kg bags of 'Readycure', which contains salt, sodium nitrite, and sodium bicarbonate. $4 a bag, which is enough for 100 lb meat in a dry cure. The curing salt comes from Canada Compound of Woodbridge.

                                  Metro also offers whole pork legs@$.99/lb, in cryovac.

                                  Has anyone found less expensive whole pork legs or shoulders?
                                  Or heritage pork whole legs or shoulders?

                                  1. re: jayt90

                                    I saw at Loblaws the other day, they had pork legs for 99c /lb. I think that's as low as it gets. Any cheaper, and I'd be questioning the safety, etc.

                                    Hey Jayt90, did you end up getting a weber smokey mountain? I saw a few of your posts on some threads of interest (re: WSM). In case you're still looking, Costco has one online for ~$300 incl. taxes and shipping. That's about $100 less than elsewhere. However, I noticed it's the old version. Last fall, weber came out with an updated 18.5" and introduced a 22". I'm sure the old one works perfectly fine.

                                    1. re: grandgourmand

                                      A year ago I saw pork legs or butts as low as $.79/lb , but those days are gone.
                                      I'm still using a spherical Weber, but I have just ordered a WSM from the online source. Thanks for the tip.

                                      1. re: jayt90

                                        I happened to be in Scarborough this afternoon on some other errand, so I ended up swinging by Highland Farms. Man, that place is great. They had a great variety of products. I was most impressed when I saw they had sausage casing on the cold shelf in the meat section. Some butcher shops look at you like you're from outer space if you ask for hog casing. Anyhow, they also had larger casing for salumes, etc.

                                        the original purpose of the stop was to get a bag of the readycure. Thanks for the tip, I'll give it a whirl on some homemade pancetta.

                                        1. re: grandgourmand

                                          Would the Readycure work for foie gras torchon? I want to make some this holiday season, but can't find the pink salt required.

                                          1. re: welcometoevsworld

                                            You don't need pink salt to make a foie gras torchon,
                                            however I believe readycure is most likely the same 'pink salt' for a short cure (under a few weeks) you want sodium nitrite for any longer you want sodium nitrate and nitrite combo cure.

                                            1. re: flying101

                                              Ummm...pink salt IS sodium nitrite and Ruhlman uses it. Most foie gras torchon recipes use it to maintain the pink colour. I just want to know where to get it.

                                                1. re: welcometoevsworld

                                                  Pink salt isn't solely sodium nitrite, pink salt is a loose term that generally is used for Prague Powder #1. Basically it is regular table salt and 6.25% volume by weight sodium nitrite (and then some colouring).

                                                  And Ruhlman states (and many would agree) that pink salt is purely optional.

                                                  But if you want to spent the money you can buy a 25kg bag of Prague Powder #1 from Canada compound for $35. http://canadacompound.com/

                                              1. re: welcometoevsworld

                                                Bass Pro Shop at Vaughan Mills has it and it is cheap. William Sonoma also carries it but is expensive for a small quantity (maybe $14-18 a jar... can't remember).


                                                1. re: wontonfm

                                                  Thanks, all. I hope I can locate it at one of those spots!

                                                  1. re: welcometoevsworld

                                                    Williams-Sonoma, at least at Yorkdale, sells it as "Curing Salt". Bright pink in a short jar with the rest of the spices. About $12 a pop. so not cheap relative to the others. But possibly more convenient, depending on your proximity to a W-S.

                                                    1. re: tbonetak

                                                      With regards to the WS option. When I checked during the summer all of the curing salts had an expiration date of Nov/Dec. So be sure to check expiration dates!


                                    2. re: scrummy

                                      Is the Nitre Powder pure sodium nitrite or is it the same as the rest, which seem to be a 6.25% concentration with the rest being table salt??? I bought some from this store after reading your post... Another way to ask I suppose, how much nitre powder do you use to cure 5 lbs of pork belly?

                                      1. re: Paul472

                                        I think it's mixed with salt, as I wasn't sure myself so I mixed it with salt and it only provided a "light pink" cure for my home made sausage.

                                        1. re: asagiri

                                          If it was pure it would be very toxic, and need to be cut to 6.25% or less. Hopefully the instructions are included or else this is a potentially lethal package.

                                          1. re: jayt90

                                            I can't imagine it is pure but the instructions are only in Chinese. It is a retail market where its for sale. For those looking, Ive found pink curing salt is available through Williams Somoma in Toronto for about $12 for a small jar. Pricey but convenient.

                                          2. re: asagiri

                                            I think so too coming from a retail outlet. Thanks.

                                      2. Just to bump up this thread... Today I bought pre-packaged Readycure curing sale (made by Canada Compounds) at Longo's right on display next to cuts of meat (directly next to the natural sausage casings).

                                        It was sold by the bag; $3.99 for 1/kg (much better then having to buy a large order directly from Canada Compounds).

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: flying101

                                          Which Longos? I checked a couple and they scratched their heads when I asked for Readycure


                                          1. re: smiley1437

                                            Agreed. I didn't find any there either.


                                          2. re: flying101

                                            Highland Farms carries it. Alternatively, you can easily take a side-trip to CCC while making a Ontario BBQ or Nella Cutlery run.

                                            1. re: biggreenmatt

                                              Thanks biggreenmatt, I'll try Highland Farms...I'm not out at Ontario BBQ that often (they don't like wiping my drool off the Lynx grills...)

                                              1. re: smiley1437

                                                Readycure is usually on top of the meat counter at HF.
                                                I have also seen it at Loblaw in Pickering, beside the corned beef.

                                                1. re: jayt90

                                                  Just purchased 100g of pink salt from the Sausage Partners on Queen St E. (near Greenwood). They are unaccustomed to requests for pink salt but were willing to sell me the 100g for $3.

                                                  My bacon is curing in the fridge as I type this. Now if I can only get my friends to lay off the Kevin Bacon jokes.

                                                  1. re: Danforth_Foodie

                                                    I have pig tummy curing in the fridge too. Two of them started last Saturday and hitting the smoke on Friday evening.

                                                    How long do you smoke??


                                                    1. re: Davwud

                                                      Suspect it should take 2 hours @ 200F to bring the internal temp to 150F. I'll use my remote thermometer to tell me when it actually gets there.

                                                      Long live the Weber Smokey Mountain!

                                                      What kind of smoker and flavouring wood are you using?

                                                      1. re: Danforth_Foodie

                                                        Okay, so I've done bacon a couple times since I posted that and it seems that 4 hours at about 215° worked really well. Very nice, deep smoke flavour which I love and nicely salty. I thought it tasted like super bacon. Nothing special about it but it tasted very bacony. Not like some of the crappy mega mart stuff you can purchase.
                                                        If you understand what I mean.


                                                        1. re: Davwud

                                                          You might consider lowering your temperature to 180. I've read that you end up with a cooked product at those temperatures, rather than a bacon. Of course, if you're using a thermometer to stop the process at a meat temp of 150, there shouldn't be a problem. I'll try a lower temp next time, when I can find some pork belly that isn't over $3.00 a pound.

                                          3. William and Sonoma at the Eaton Centre have pink curing salt

                                            1. Hasn't been mentioned yet, but if one is serious about curing or sausage making or things along those lines in the GTA, the place to go is Y.E.S. Group, in Markham (Woodbine & Steeles).

                                              It's a pain in the ass to get to, but they have everything, from cures, to spices, to machinery, to equipment, to bacterium, ad infinitum.

                                              Really. It's the place to go and though they supply the meat and restaurant industries, they're super-friendly to home-cooks, too.


                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                Just saw 1 kg. bags of Curing Salt at Highland Farms recently $3.99. Labelled "Readycure" from Canada Compound Co. 391 Rowntree Dairy Road, Woodbridge 905-856-5005

                                                Says it is salt, sodium nitrate, and sodium bicarbonate.

                                                1. re: LUV_TO_EAT

                                                  I have used Readycure from Canada Compound and it works well, following instructions on the bag for brine or rub. When I needed advice on rubbing a shoulder, I called, and got through quickly to an expert, with authentic accent no less, and I finished my rubbed shoulder with a recommended injection of brine.
                                                  These are available at larger Loblaws or RCSS, as well.
                                                  The concentration of nitrite is 1/6 of pink salt, so American recipes have to be adjusted.
                                                  The Canada Compound Readycure bags are cost effective and easy to use, as well as widely available.

                                                  1. re: jayt90

                                                    jayt90 is right on about the different concentration of sodium nitrite in Readycure. Also, note that because you'll need to use more of it to get the desired amount of nitrite, you'll also be adding more of the fill sodium chloride. Which, of course, means that you'll have to scale back on the rest of the salt you use.

                                                    Here's a Canadian online source for DQ #2 / Prague Powder that is needed to make slow-curing sausages and salami: http://www.qualifirst.com/en/curing-s...

                                                    1. re: jayt90

                                                      As an FYI, the conversion % between Readycure and Instacure #1 may be found here: http://www.urbanhippy.ca/making/bacon.

                                                      Oh, and also, YES Group up on Woodbine carries #2- hell, they carry everything, and I mean everything, that a professional charcuterer (is that a word?) might need or even fantasize about.

                                                2. The anyone know the conversion of weight vs. volume for Prague Powder #1?

                                                  For example, if the recipe is asking for 1/4 cup of Prague Powder, how much does that weigh (I'm searching online for it, but the dealers I've found only sell by weight).


                                                  1. Just a heads up that local company Powder for Texture carries sodium nitrate:


                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: TorontoJo

                                                      Is that pure sodium nitrate or is it premixed with salt?

                                                      1. re: asagiri

                                                        As the photo shows, it is pure and has to be mixed down with salt , sugar and spice.
                                                        The last time I bought saltpetre KNO3 it was $15 per pound , and so this price is competitive.

                                                        1. re: jayt90

                                                          Is saltpeter shelf-stable?

                                                          I recall reading that the suggested proportion of saltpeter is 2% by weight mixed with table salt, so 2mg per 1Kg of curing salt mixture.

                                                          So if it's not shelf-stable (i.e. breaks down naturally into sodium nitrite), how long would you expect it to last?