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Mar 27, 2012 07:19 AM

Does anyone make nitrate/nitrite free smoked meat in Montreal?

For people with migraine problems, it would be great to be able to find a safe smoked meat. Any guidance would be appreciated.

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  1. Most of the places that make their own Smoked Meat won't have them.

    1 Reply
    1. re: EaterBob

      Sorry, but they all use nitrites. If they didn't, the meat would be grey.

    2. Sk8Tn, "safe" is a relative term. Meats cured with nitrites almost always contain ascorbic acid which cancels out the possible bad effects. I've never seen or heard of nitrite free smoked-meat and I doubt it even exists.

      And don't be fooled by so-called uncured or nitrite/nitrate free meats. They have just as much if not more nitrites than regular cured meats. It's just that the source is different (celery powder) than in the normal stuff and there's a loophole in the regulations that lets them label it "nitrite/nitrate free" It's actually a load of BS.

      True nitrite/nitrate free meat is hard to find. It also spoils very fast so you have to be extra careful about food safety.

      3 Replies
      1. re: SnackHappy

        valuable information. You can't just trust a label these days.

        1. re: SnackHappy

          Maple Leaf, Natural Selection meats are in the process of revising their labelling after a CBC Marketplace investigation. They advertised their new, natural selections meats as being nitrite/nitrate free, but celery powder was one of the ingredients.

          1. re: eatwell

            I saw that Marketplace episode too, the local players I guess will have to change their labeling as well. i.e. Viandes des Charlevoix (which make some real good ones BTW), Valens cold cuts, etc..

        2. Just to add...
          Montreal smoked meat is practically, by definition, cured with nitrites. As Snackhappy says, if not, the meat would be grey (with, perhaps a reddish smoke ring along the inside edge of the meat).
          Speak to a Texan about smoked meat and they assume you're talking "brisket" - the same cut as "Montreal smoked meat", but simply rubbed and smoked instead of rubbed/cured/smoked/steamed.

          I think if you want nitrate free smoked brisket, you'll have to look for southern BBQ joints. Bo Finger has it on their menu (I'm not a fan, but thats another story). *Maybe* Ice House and/or Kitchenette and/or Boucan has it (although its not evident on-line). There may be others, but I don't recall.
          Realize it ain't like Montreal smoked meat, but it will be nitrite free smoked meat.

          1. Thanks everyone. There are some American pastramis and corned beef selections that are nitrate free, so I just hoped for the better tasting smoked meat. The nitrate free versions will start to turn grey if you don't eat them quickly after opening, so it's best to only buy what you need that day; however, when they are fresh, they do look and taste good.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Sk8Tn

              Hi Sk8Tn,
              I don't wanna beat a dead horse.....
              I like SnackHappy's words

              "And don't be fooled by so-called uncured or nitrite/nitrate free meats. They have just as much if not more nitrites than regular cured meats. It's just that the source is different (celery powder) than in the normal stuff and there's a loophole in the regulations that lets them label it "nitrite/nitrate free" It's actually a load of BS."

              So you may think some American pastramis and corned beef (and hot dogs and bacon and and and) are nitrite free, but I'd be dubious.
              Maybe have a look here

              then here
              notice they say "no added nitrites" but then "organically cured with celery...", just like SnackHappy & Ruhlman say, bullshit.

              Like Ruhlman, I'm not happy with the deception...have a look here
              where this "savvymom" is apparently not so savvy...they are actually endorsing a product full of nitrites by claiming "nitrate free" - a double faute in my view: they're mixing up nitrates and nitrites and are duping people into thinking the dogs are nitrite free.

              1. re: porker

                Thanks, porker for putting up the links.

                I did a bit of googling about nitrite-free pastrami and found a few of them are cured with beet powder which contains nitrates. And I thought nitrates were supposed to be scarier than nitrites. It just goes to show how a bit of FUD and dodgy labelling can get people to buy just about anything.

                1. re: SnackHappy

                  I don't *necessarily* mind dodgy labelling, but this seems more than that - kinda downright misleading.

                  BTW, I had to look up FUD. I thought perhaps "Fucked Up Details", but "Fear, uncertainty and doubt" will do it.
                  Interestingly and coincidentally enough, FUD is one of the largest brand names of processed meats (think cold cuts, bacon, and hot dogs) in Mexico.
                  (Mrs Porker and I always joke while on vacation in a Mexican grocery "wanna get FUD?" "FUD sounds good." "how about hot FUD?" "sliced FUD on a BIMBO?" etc etc)

                  1. re: porker


                    Fud on a Bimbo sounds like an appetizing snack. Maybe with a cup of Hornimans tea?


                    1. re: SnackHappy

                      Hornimans sure sounds good, but I prefer to wash it down with chilled pocari sweat

                      5 Bimbo girls;

                      bimbo enjoying FUD on Bimbo;

            2. facts about nitrite and nitrate.
              last words of article
              "But when you consider the increased likelihood of contracting botulism, it's actually the nitrate-free products that present the real health risk."


              3 Replies
              1. re: maj54us

                I would assume the big guys have the "nitrite free" curing down pat using celery products.
                A home cook, as Ruhlman says, might not have such an accurate method: the nitrite content in celery products (I don't know, powder, extract, whatever) may vary, the absorbtion rate might differ under different circumstances, etc etc.
                So doing this at home leaves the door open to potential hazards of under-curing.
                I would assume to counteract this, you'd wanna overkill on the celery product, adding more nitrite than needed or wanted.

                At least with the synthesized stuff, you know exactly what you're getting and can use the correct amount for your application.

                1. re: porker

                  This man who had tv segment on a discovery channel show many years ago explained what to eat and drink to neutralize the effects of the bad oxidants. If my memory is good it had a combo of drinking orange juice with the smoked meat or tomatoes juice. Unfortunately can't find it on the net.

                  1. re: maj54us

                    Yes, vitamin C (ascorbic acid) neutralizes nitrates. That's why it's added to industrial cured meats.