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Mar 8, 2012 12:29 PM

Saltpeter (Brick and Mortar stores only) anywhere in NYC

I am trying to make a corned beef for St Patrick's day (authenticity not withstanding) and I'm having a hell of a time finding saltpeter (Potassium nitrate) to put in the cure. Fairway was a bust, a couple of old-shool pharmacies downtown were a wild goose chase (one place sent me to the next who said he didnt think any pharmacist would carry it and suggested i look into whole foods or gardening supply places). Surely there must be a place in NY that carries it - I'd love to hear from someone who has purchased it or seen it in person in a store.

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  1. Should have picked up the phone before i picked up the keyboard - just got off the phone with kalustyans who stock both sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate.

    123 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

    5 Replies
    1. re: tex.s.toast

      I've bought it (potassium nitrate) at Chinese and Vietnamese groceries in Chinatown. Pretty sure Tan Tin Hung, on the Bowery just below Grand St, would have it. Far cheaper I'm sure than Kalustyan's, but on the other hand, less certain, since getting an answer over the phone about availability might be a problem in English.

      Tan Tin Hung
      121 Bowery, New York, NY 10002

      1. re: MikeG

        good to now for next time. kalustyans pricing seemed reasonable - i paid 4 bucks for a couple ounces. I know i could have gotten a pound online for about 10 bucks, but hey, i wouldnt need a pound of saltpeter unless i was making cured meats commercially or something. good to know on the chinatown tip for next time though.

        1. re: tex.s.toast

          You don't need the saltpeter for making corned beef. Its principal purpose is to bring that bright red artificial color to the meat. I've corned beef w/o it. Meat is brown when you cook it (which is usually what happens when you slow cook meat). If you have extra saltpeter, get some sulfer and charcoal and you can make gunpowder. Use it against the lizardman like Captain Kirk.

          1. re: Bkeats

            I am aware that it is not needed for corning beef, but I want the color (artificial or not).

            1. re: Bkeats

              Unforgivably OT, but I teach video production, and last week I had the kids replicate that very sequence (easy to find if you search YouTube for "worst fight scene ever"). Usually the kids fight tooth & nail to be either the director or a camera person. This time they fought tooth & nail to play the giant lizard.

      2. When I was a kid, i'd buy potassium nitrate in hobby shops that sold chemistry sets etc. or from chemical supply companies. Universities and the military used to put it in food to kill one's sex drive.
        Salt peter is nothing I would want in my corned beef. I don't want anyone saying to me, "where's the beef"

        6 Replies
        1. re: foodwhisperer

          >> I don't want anyone saying to me, "where's the beef"I

          =) Judging by the number of kids, Irish American families didn't seem to suffer too much from the saltpeter.

          And read this:

          1. re: michelleats

            hahahaha. Well Ok then. I should research corned beef and salt peter. I wonder if Katz's uses it.

            1. re: foodwhisperer

              I think saltpetre (potassium nitrate) is more popular in Europe.

              The cure of choice in North America is usually sodium nitrite (and sodium nitrate). I'd suggest instacure #1 AKA Prague Powder 1 AKA pink salt which is a mix of salt and sodium nitrite (6.75% sodium nitrite/93.25% regular salt) to do your home curing. It takes only 17/100 of an ounce of sodium nitrite to cure 5lb of meat - kinda difficult to measure. With pink salt, you measure out 1 teaspoon - easy.

              Also remember its toxic, handle accordingly.

              Katz's does use curing compounds. I'm pretty sure its sodium nitrite rather than saltpetre.

              1. re: porker

                and just for everyones future curing needs - right next to the pouch of saltpeter i bought at kalustyans was one of sodium nitrate/pink salt.

                1. re: porker

                  Interesting, porker. I happened to peek into The Meadow, today, a store on Hudson St. in the West Village that specializes in salts. They sell Prague Powder:

                  Two kinds, one $4.25, the other $4.75, for 1.2 oz.

                  The Meadow
                  523 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

                  1. re: michelleats

                    Prague powder#1 is just another name for instacure#1 (and vice versa) and Prague powder#2 is just another name for instacure#2 (and vice versa).
                    They're 2 different products meant for different applications.

                    Ifn you find yourself in the charcuterie world, you might consider buying slightly more than re-retail:
                    $5.99/ .5lb - $9.99/1lb - $19.99/5lb (buying 5lb of the 1.2oz price @ Meadows would cost $300.00...I'm just saying).

                    Anyways, I'm happy to see the interest in home curing. The last thing I want is to scare people off...
                    but like many things, please do your research - too much cure can be hazardous. Not enough cure (in certain instances, air drying comes to mind) can be hazardous. The cure itself can be hazardous. etcetcetcetc....
                    Maybe check out Rytek Kutas' "Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing", or the modern day cult classic "Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing" by Micheal Ruhlman.
                    Many people are daunted by chacuterie. Having just a bit more information scares some people even more (maybe have a look here
                    )Me? I say take it all in, do it safe, and enjoy to the max, its easier than you think!

          2. I have seen it at Bell Bates

            Bell Bates
            97 Reade St, New York, NY 10013