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Where can I buy curing salts?

I am having a hell of a time finding curing salts for chow's pancetta recipe. I don't want to order online, so has anyone seen or purchased curing salts in San francisco? With so many restaurants doing housemade salumis and such, you'd think this would be easier to get.


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  1. You want Prague Powder #1or Pink Salt.Pink salt is NaCl and sodium nitrite with a little food coloring to distinguish it from table salt. Pink salt for curing is not from Murray River, Hawaii or Tibet. I got some by asking nicely in a restaurant where they cure their own meat and where I was a fairly regular customer. You don't need much. Longer cures for salumi and such require Prague Powder #2 which is a different compound.

    1. kosher salt comes to mind (really cheap). i prefer run-of-the-mill coarse sea salt (pretty cheap) but it's all good.
      am i missing something?

      6 Replies
      1. re: steve h.

        curing salt is not just salt.
        it usually contains sodium nitrate and/or sodium nitrite.
        two common mixtures as mentioned by wolfe are:

        Prague #1: 6.25% Sodium nitrite: 93.75% Salt (for fresh and cooked sausages)
        Prague #2: 6.25% Sodium nitrite: 4% Sodium nitrate and 89.75% Salt (for dry-cured sausages)

        1. re: kungful

          cool. is that a common formula in italy where they cure those beautiful hams? any difference in spain where they do a pretty good job, too?

          1. re: kungful

            You can actually cure meats and sausages w/o nitrites/nitrates. And, in fact, its becoming more and more preferable.

            1. re: chemchef

              You certainly can but I'm not sure it would be appropriate with rolled pancetta (assuming the OP is rolling) given that the interior of the roll could grow anaerobic bacteria.

              1. re: Junie D

                My step-father (full-blooded Italian) does it all the time, and we haven't died yet. :-)

              2. re: chemchef

                There are nitrite-free cures, but it's potentially dangerous to substitute table salt for curing salt in a recipe.

          2. Had the same experience last fall with no time to wait for an online order. It seemed bizarre to us also that it was so hard to find. We finally bought some from the great guys at Willowside Meats in Santa Rosa. They actually advertise no nitrates in their sausage, because they freeze them immediately, but use the pink salt in their bacon and so on.

            Willowside Meats 3421 Guerneville Road, Santa Rosa 707-546-8404

            I'd say it is worth the trek to sample some of their work.

            We made pancetta from Ruhlman and Polcyn's Charcuterie - amazingly savory and so simple.

            Willowside Meats & Sausage
            3421 Guerneville Rd, Santa Rosa, CA

            1 Reply
            1. re: Junie D

              thanks for your suggestion. i, too am in the same predicament...got my pork belly already and thought it'd be no problem to find the salts!

              UGH. what an annoying thing to be searching for. and i need so little of it! i'll check out some local restaurants and if that doesn't work i'll be heading up to santa rosa!

              thanks a lot!

            2. Any butcher with housemade sausage might sell you some.

              This is a butcher supply place, dunno if they sell retail:

              Carlson's Seasoning & Food Equipment
              50 Mendell St # 12, San Francisco, CA

                1. re: chilihead2006

                  The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of curing salt for 11 pounds of pork belly. The smallest sausage maker amount is 1 pound for $8.99 plus shipping. Trying to wheedle some out of a local bacon pancetta maker, priceless.

                2. I agree the shortage of curing salt in Calif is amazing. Was in MO several years ago, and plenty of Morton's Curing Salt on the shelves. You might want to check this web site.

                  1. Check the Morton site where you can purchase on line:
                    Check the link to Merchandise and then meat curing.
                    There is also a "Product Locator" to select a product by Zip Code


                    3 Replies
                    1. re: saltygator

                      Morton products appear to be similar to Prague powder #2 with both nitrites and nitrates. One has additional ingredients including sugar. It is suggested for dry curing bacon. Their recipes show Canadian bacon but not regular bacon or pancetta .In addition, according to their product locator, it is not available within 50 miles.

                      1. re: wolfe

                        Be careful. Morton's curing salt is definitely not similar to Prague powder #2. It is a ready to go curing mix of nitrate, nitrite, salt and "other quality curing ingredients" (whatever that means) according to their web site. It might be a perfectly fine curing mix on it's own, but do not substitute it in a recipe that calls for Prague powder.

                        1. re: Zeldog

                          The Morton's has significantly less nitrite and nitrates and you are correct they are not interchangeable but should be used according to the own recipes.

                    2. Here's a Home Cooking board topic that discusses online sources and other home-curing issues:


                      1. Whole Spice at the Napa Oxbow market has pink salt.

                        2 Replies
                          1. re: wolfe

                            Thanks for the link. I didn't realize they did mail order.

                        1. FYI, I just saw two kinds of dry curing salt at the Village Market in the Ferry Building. In the back of the shop where they have salts, there are bags on the lowest shelf.

                          1. There are two places in the Bay Area, peninsula specifically, that I always get it from. Dittmers in Mountain View and Village Market in San Francisco. Dittmers charges $5 per ounce ($80/lbs!!!) or $24/lbs for more than a lbs. I faxed Dittmer to fix this pricing error so we will see if he updates the pricing. Village Market has it for around $5/lbs which is more like the price you should be paying for something that is 93.75% table salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite.

                            As a side note, the recommended amount of 25lbs per ounce is only for a dry cure. If you use a wet brine you must follow the recipe. I have used a recipe which called for 1.5 ounces for a 4-5 lbs brisket using a wet brine method.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: kreddyhvc

                              Can anyone compare saltpeter with prague powder #1? Looks like prague powder is sodium nitrate while saltpeter is potassium nitrate. Per the post above, prague powder is 6.25% sodium nitrate. The recipe i have (doing a bit of extrapolating and estimating) calls about double that as a % of table salt (1/8c saltpetre per cup of salt). So do i use twice as much and reduce the salt accordingly? Or is prague powder 2X stronger?

                              1. re: greggc

                                You really need to find a good book or resource to consult. This is not the kind of thing you should experiment with. nitrate is used only for dry cures, nitrite for wet cures. From Wikipedia (which isn't bad on the facts): "Prague powder #1 contains 6.25% sodium nitrite and 93.75% sodium chloride and is used for the preparation of all cured meats and sausages other than the dry type. Prague powder #2 contains 1 ounce of sodium nitrite (6.25%) and 0.64 ounces sodium nitrate (4.0%) per pound of finished product (the remaining 14.36 ounces is sodium chloride) and is used for the preparation of cured dry sausages."

                                Michael Ruhlman's "Charcuterie" is a good book to have around if you plan on doing this sort of work with food.

                                1. re: Paul H

                                  I would be very cautious when substituting cure #1 for saltpeter. In fact, I would not even try. The molecular structures are the same (NaNO3 vs KNO3), so it's easy to calculate how much nitrate is in each salt from their molecular weights (everybody remember the periodic table?). Figuring saltpeter is 100% pure and Cure #1 is 6.25% pure (mostly salt), a gram of pure saltpeter has about 13.5 times as much nitrate as a gram of Cure #1. But that's all theoretical. I have no idea if there might be other factors that might make a difference in how the two salts act in curing meat.

                                  As for recipes that call for saltpeter in relation to the amount of salt and converting saltpeter to Cure #1 -- I wouldn't even try to figure that out. I would separate the the cure from the other ingredients. If you have a recipe that calls for saltpeter, look for similar recipes that use cure #1 and adjust the curing step accordingly.

                            2. Surely there must be a place to buy curing salts in the East Bay. Anyone have any info?

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Gustavo Glenmorangie

                                I got some from Cafe Rouge. They won't sell it to you. Rather, it might work if you buy something from the case and inquire whether they use pink salt (yes) and hope that the counterperson is feeling generous that day.

                                I also found a package of "Curing Salt" at the New May Wah in SF (inexpensive and but since I can't read Chinese, I've been hesitant to use it). But maybe someone who can read Chinese can educate the rest of us. Assuming we trust the labeling, that is.

                                Cafe Rouge
                                1782 Fourth St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                                New May Wah
                                719 Clement St, San Francisco, CA

                                1. re: rubadubgdub

                                  Best you get that checked. You may only have an herbal remedy. ;-)

                                  1. re: wolfe

                                    I wouldn't be surprised! I will ask a Chinese cook at some point and report back. I asked an EBay friend who does charcuterie regularly, and he says he doesn't know of any local retail sources. He suggested hitting up someone who is already working with it since the quantities you can get online go a long way. His online resource is http://www.butcher-packer.com/, only $3.50/lb for #1 or #2.

                                2. re: Gustavo Glenmorangie

                                  The Local Butcher Shop sold me some today. They're also extremely knowledgeable and allow you to order special cuts that you won't be able to find elsewhere.

                                  The Local Butcher Shop
                                  1600 Shattuck Ave #120, Berkeley, CA 94709