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Best hot dogs without nitrates or nitrates?

I bought wonderful no-nitrate hot dogs at a Santa Cruz, CA area Whole Foods a few months back. They had a good flavor, not too much sodium, and an outstanding snap.

Assuming they would still be sold by the store, I didn't note the brand name. Now I can't find them.

Any recommendations?

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  1. did it contain celery juice?

    It would not be safe to make hot dogs without some type of preservative

    Even Fearless Franks by Niman Ranch which clearly states on the label that there are not added nitrates or nitrites contains celery juice which is high in nitrates. Please don't be fooled by misleading labels and advertisements or pay a premium when you are being mislead.

    2 Replies
    1. re: scubadoo97

      There are specific USDA regulations on what you can or cannot say when making bacon and hotdogs (and related items) without the pure chemical nitrates/ites. Things like 'not cured', 'keep below 40deg', not added nit... (except those contained in celery juice), .... Part of the reasoning is that the level of chemicals in the juice are harder to control and monitor.

      Companies like Niman and Applegate use things like celery because it gives the desired product qualities (like color), and can still be labeled as 'organic'. They are not trying to reduce the total nitrite/ate levels in your diet.

      1. re: scubadoo97

        You consume nitrates daily in fruits, vegetables, and grains. Anything grown in soil pulls nitrates out of the earth.

        Niman Ranch addresses the relationship between curing salts and celery juice on their websight.
        They aren't misleading anyone. The info is present for whomever cares to look for it.

        I eat a ton of spinach and a lot of kale. Both are loaded with soil born nitrates. Artichokes have a boatload too. A nitrate free diet will like likely end in starvation.

        Science heavyweights like The National Academy of Sciences, the American Cancer Society and the National Research Council have all published studies concluding there is no health risk from consuming Nitrites.

      2. I think Trader Joe's sells a nitrate free hot dog.

        7 Replies
        1. re: carolinadawg


          Common people, wise up to this stuff. The Fearless Flyer hot dogs at TJ does contain nitrates. Doesn't matter where the nitrates come from, it no more healthy or unhealthy in one form or the other.

          1. re: scubadoo97

            So are you saying that eating celery means ingesting nitrates?

              1. re: scubadoo97

                Agree with your information. Here is a link to good NYT article


                There is no nitrate/nitrite free (hot dog) lunch.

                1. re: scubadoo97

                  That was suppose to be come on people, not common people. Sorry for the auto correct typo.

                  To the OP did you call WF and ask which brands they carried a few months back. Odds are they know

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    The guy in the butcher department was clueless and couldn't remember.

              2. My life is a litany of exceptions, and in the wonderful world of hot dogs I make (as I almost always do) an exception and have what tastes just really great. So my response is not going to be of interest. I'd look for hand crafted sausages. They are usually a good sub for dogs.

                1. Well, this has turned out to be a different discussion than I'd thought. I'm grateful for the instruction about nitrate/nitrites.

                  But regardless of the health claims, we really liked the pasture-raised, celery juice-only hot dogs I got at Whole Foods. It was the flavor and the snap that hooked me.

                  So for those of you who have tried hot dogs labeled pasture-raised and no nitrate/nitrites and liked them, what is your favorite brand with good snap and flavor and not overwhelming sodium?

                    1. Someone told me that nitrite-free meats still contain nitrites! They use a celery powder, which has "natural" nitrites. Nitrates are in green vegetables.

                      Isn't this "nitrite-free" labeling a hoax?

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: lemarais

                        Have you actually seen 'nitrite-free' labels? Or just 'no nitrates added'?

                        USDA requires labels like:
                        ""no nitrates or nitrites added except for those naturally occurring in ingredients such as celery juice powder, parsley, cherry powder, beet powder, spinach, sea salt etc."

                        1. re: paulj

                          That's the fine print. The front of the packaging can say in giant print "Nitrite Free"* with just an asterisk referring you to the tiny print on the other side of the package. If not a hoax, it's deceptive. Just read some of the posts here.

                          1. re: lemarais

                            OK, I'm wrong. I'm more familiar with Trader Joes organic bacon, which I'm guessing is repackaged Applegate Farms. Applegate sticks closer to the USDA requirements, putting more stress on 'organic'. http://ask.applegate.com/applegate/to...

                            Niman does use the 'nitrate free' claim
                            "Our "uncured" all beef franks are naturally preserved with a proprietary blend of celery juice and spices, curing them without the "cure" for those who prefer nitrate-free preparations"
                            (though that doesn't exactly claim they are nitrate-free).
                            Niman does have a similar disclaimer in their FAQ

                            TJs Fearless flyer on
                            " So we developed our Uncured Hot Dogs. They're made with 100% beef, with no casing, no fillers, no preservatives, no MSG and no added nitrates or nitrites (except for the naturally occurring nitrates in celery juice and sea salt)"

                        2. re: lemarais

                          sodium nitrate is sodium nitrate no matter the source. The only difference is that when you add it yourself from a pure source you can control the amount. Not so with celery powder as nitrate levels can and do fluctuate.

                          1. re: Zalbar

                            There was a study a couple years ago that found that organic hot dogs had anywhere from half to 10 times the amount of nitrite as hot dogs with sodium nitrite added.

                            WIth bacon, the range for organic was from 1/3 the amount of nitrite to twice the nitrate as conventional bacon.

                        3. I'm curious if the OP is still searching for the product?

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: porker

                            If the OP isn't, someone else surely is, so it's great to have this discussion there for the use of other people who may be seeking the same information. Thanks, all!

                            1. re: The Chowhound Team

                              Great discussion indeed.
                              More to the point, I was wondering if the OP is searching for the product on based on the "wonderful" experience a coupla months ago.
                              Or if they were searching it out because of its "nitrite/nitrate free" claim.
                              If the latter, how does the discussion affect the search if at all?

                            2. re: porker

                              Definitely. See yesterday's post from moi.

                              1. re: porker

                                Reading the responses and looking on the internet, I have deduced that they must have been Applegate Farms "Big Apple Hot Dogs."

                                They have a lamb casing, I see, and 360 mg of sodium, which is lower than the others I have checked. And the reviews all mention the "snap," which is part of what we liked.

                                The flavor and snap must have subconsciously brought memories of NY metro area dogs way back in the day.

                                So nitrates or not, they were really good, we thought. Now I just have to find them again in the Monterey Bay Area.

                                1. re: Discerning1

                                  Have you tried Trader Joes? They have their own packaging, but they must be made by someone like Applegate.

                                2. After trying a number of different options, I have a sodium-induced headache. I'm pretty sure the ones we liked were the Big Apple by Applegate, but can't find them (even with the Applegate locator).

                                  The TJ's Applegate was way too sodium-heavy for me. No wonder hot dogs should be a rare treat.

                                  I am really looking forward to my local fish CSA delivery today of sand dabs after all this salt!

                                  1. Celery has nitrite in it, but no nitrate.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: lemarais


                                      "But companies that label their products natural or organic must use natural sources of the preservatives. They usually employ celery powder or celery juice, which are high in nitrate. A bacterial culture is used to convert that to nitrite. The resulting chemicals are virtually identical to their synthetic cousins. When the products are packaged, both conventional and natural products contain residual amounts."