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Mar 14, 2011 05:03 PM

corned beef without nitrites?

Anyone know of a source for corned beef without nitrites? Or can you recommend a good producer/purveyor you like? I'm north of Philadelphia (Willow Grove area) but will travel!
Thank you.

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  1. If you have a Whole Foods anywhere near you, they sell Wellshire Farms corned beef, which has no nitrites, and is delicious.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Isolda

      I saw it yesterday in WF and was curious about it. Glad to see your positive feedback. I plan to try it this week. Thank you!

      1. re: Isolda

        Turns out Whole Foods makes there own corned beef without curing it sometimes. Saw it this weekend at a location in Jersey. They usually make things upon request at the butcher, however I'm not sure how it tastes.

      2. I would think Wegman's would have it, and that's probably closest to you, but I don't shop there, so I don't know. The Jenkintown Whole Foods also isn't too far from Willow Grove, and they should definitely have it.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

          How do you "corn" something without nitrates? The nitrates are what pickle the meat, and all the so-called "no nitrate" products use naturally occurring nitrates found in celery, etc. So, in other words if you want to eat corned beef, you have to be willing to eat the nitrates along with it!

          1. re: 94Bravo

            Yes, nitrAtes but not nitrItes. No doubt I've been eating them all my life (bacon, anyone?!) but a friend just went on a rant and so I have a new food quest!
            Thanks for the ideas...I should have thought of Whole Foods.

            1. re: caitlinhc

              Actually, you use nitrites in fast-cured food such as bacon and corned beef. Nitrates are used in slow-cured foods like salamis.

              You can make your own without adding nitrite salts (ie pink salt), but the meat will be gray and lack the characteristic taste. As the poster above mentioned, the majority of "no added nitirite" products actually contain high levels of nitrite from leafy green juices, particularly celery.

              For more information search "Harold McGee" and "nitrites". He wrote a great article in the NYTimes a few years ago about this topic.

            2. re: 94Bravo

              Historically 'corning' refers to the grain size coarse salt used to preserve chunks of beef and pork. The nitrates/nitrites preserve color, and to a degree help with the preservation (preventing bacteria growth), but aren't central to the process.

              And as noted in a long 'uncured bacon' thread, celery seed or extract can be used as an organic source of these chemicals. But government rules (USDA?) restrict the use of 'cured' in this context. The label may say something to the effect "Uncured. No nitrites or nitrates added except those occurring naturally in celery powder, not preserved". Those 'except' levels may be just as high as in conventionally cured meat.

              Possible health warnings usually focus on changes that can occur in these chemicals at high temperature (400F or above). That might occur in grilling, or frying of bacon. But corned beef is usually slow roasted or cooked in water, so the temperature stays around 200F.

          2. Trader Joe's is currently selling two versions of uncured corned beef.

            2 Replies
            1. re: LovinSpoonful

              Sorry I threw out the label, but I made two corned beefs from a cellopack that I bought
              at the market downstairs in the Philadelphian that probably did have nitrates or nitrates
              in the pickling mix, but there were totally different from any other corned beef I ever made
              due to a difference in cooking procedure.

              I made them in my crockpot, for four hours! Result: juicy corned beef, soft, but not
              salty. Best ever, and I don't think it was due to the product so much as the cooking

              1. re: LovinSpoonful

                I grabbed one from TJs (not sure which) and it was one of the best I've ever had.

              2. You can make killer-rockin-good corned beef without Nitrates OR Nitrites.

                This link:

                tells all -- it's the best corned beef I've ever had, commercial or not, and aside from having the presence of mind to remember to go get the beef a week early, it's as close to idiot-proof as you can get.

                I'd make it myself even if I *could* buy corned beef at the supermarket!