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Jan 13, 2013 08:59 AM

Pink curing salt (sel nitrité?) in charcuterie and foie gras?

So my big resolution of the year is to try my hand at foie gras and charcuterie.
I am looking around a bit and was working on the recipe for foie gras torchon from Thomas Keller and Eleven Madison Park cookbook.
Mom has her own recipe, but I am not super fan of it so I wanted to see what the pro do.

Both recipes call for pink curing salt. It seems that is a standard ingredients in charcuterie (keeping the meat pink) and is made of salt plus nitrites (which is toxic apparently).

I am in France, so my research led me to Sel nitrité., but maybe there is a safer option in the US.
The idea of spending time making homemade products (foie gras, coppa, cured duck) and using possible toxic stuff is not super exciting.

So can i get your opinions/experience on this?
It sounds like it is also a preservative so obviously I might need it. but I also read there could be some substitutes (2-1 salt/sugar mix).

Advices appreciated. I will be going to G Detou next weekend while in Paris and need to figure out what I will get there.

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    1. Primarily, curing salts are used as a preservative and to increase the safety of meat products that are processed at lower temperatures or are not cooked at all. It can create the red or pink color in meats cured meats.

      Yes nitrates are nitrites are toxic even deadly at certain levels. It's wise to be knowledgeable in their use.

      Here is a site that list different types of curing salts

      Cure 1 (pink salt), Cure 2 and Tender Quick are the most commonly used curing salts.

      Nitrate is called a slow cure. It has to be converted to nitrite to have it's curing ability.

      Nitrites are ready to go at the onset.

      1 Reply
      1. re: scubadoo97
        Instacure #1 is 6.25% sodium nitrite

        #2 adds sodium nitrate (1%).

        Tender Quick has salt and sugar, and (I think) even lower levels of the nitr(i/a)tes

      2. I'm in France, too -- and I've never used nitrates in my foie -- salt, pepper, and Armagnac -- and frankly have never seen a recipe in France that called for it.

        Can't help you much on the charcuterie-- there's so much good available here,, I have zero motivation to make my own.

        (I do cure my own corned beef for St Patrick's Day, but no nitrates in that one-week cure)

        I don't know if Detou would have nitraté or not.

        1. Thanks for your replies. I appreciate the pointers. It is very helpful. and I apologize for not searching more on the forum.

          We do have tons available here that is delicious, but I want to get myself ready for when we go back :)
          Our local butcher has an amazing pork paté with 10% figs(we are near sollies). If I dont learn soon how to make it, I am just never going to want to leave! I was actually considering asking if he does classes..
          eventually we will have to leave, so I need to learn !


            You really need a MASSIVE amount of nitrites before the toxicity would get to you. If you are avoiding nitrites you need to stop eating many veggies as they have much more nitrites than cured meats. You can make Charcuterie without the nitrites but it really is a overblown issue. If you are in France you may want to look up Kate Hill.


            That or look up the Salt Cured Pig group on Facebook. they have about 550 cured meat experts you can ask for opinions too.