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Help. My Home Cured Bacon is Grey

Hi all - I was so excited to make Ruhlman's home cured bacon. I followed the directions exactly except I had two smaller pieces, not one 2 pounder. I did not use curing salt but the kosher and pink salt called for. My bacon is done and the meat looks grey. It smells fine, but I'm wondering if its safe to eat. Thanks!

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  1. Hmmmm...can you post a pic? Is it grey inside? I'd fry a small piece and see how it smelled then. Was it dry or wet cured? I know ours has a less brilliant color than store bought because we don't add any coloring. It colors up nice when smoked though.

    8 Replies
    1. re: hippioflov

      It smells fine when it's fried and tasted fried, though more like ribs than bacon. @mwhitmore, I did not see the part in the recipe, and I've re-read it several tiimes, about curing salt. It says pink salt, and that was optional.


      1. re: wincountrygirl

        Hmmm, I have the Ruhlman book, and pink salt DOES mean the curing salt. What "pink" salt did you use?

        1. re: sbp

          I don't have the book. I used his recipe from the NY Times. I had no way of knowing oink salt IS curing salt. I used Himalayan pink salt.

          1. re: wincountrygirl

            Yep, that's the problem. Not your fault - the article should have made this clear. You really made more of a brined rather than traditionally cured bacon.

            1. re: sbp

              Thanks. I've already ordered the curing salt. There will be bacon from my kitchen!!!

              1. re: wincountrygirl

                That's the spirit! Allied Kenco is a good source online.

            2. re: wincountrygirl

              There's the problem. Curing salts will result in the reddish color you're missing

          2. re: wincountrygirl

            I googled Ruhlman bacon and got ruhlman.com/2010/10/home-cure-bacon-2/. I agree that the NYT recipe is incomplete or misleading. I had never heard of pink salt before but I have heard of curing salt, which is sodium nitrate.

        2. Well, if you didn't use curing salt, it won't be pink. I googled the recipe, Ruhlman specifies that he means *sodium nitrate*, not Himalayan pink salt. He also says you can leave it out, but the bacon will be gray.

          1. 'Pink Salt' is also called 'Instacure #1' or 'Prague powder' - it's sodium nitrite mixed with salt.

            1. Pink salt IS a curing salt. If you didn't cure it long enough, the exterior will be pink/red, and a band of grey in the center. If you didn't use any nitrite based salt, it won't be pink at all. Should be safe to eat but won't keep as long.

              5 Replies
              1. re: sbp

                Thank you. I wish the recipe had stated pink curing salt!

                1. re: wincountrygirl

                  It's discussed in the accompanying article.

                  1. re: sr44

                    Not in the copy I have as a friend emailed the recipe to me - no article.

                    1. re: wincountrygirl

                      Did she send a link or copy the text into the email? I got to the article from the link you provided.

                      1. re: sr44

                        sr44 - As I have said before,
                        I only got the recipe. I posted here for help not attitude.

              2. Nitrites may make it pink, but they may also have other properties. This is a paste from Wikipedia:


                A principal concern about sodium nitrite is the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines in meats containing sodium nitrite when meat is charred or overcooked. Such carcinogenic nitrosamines can also be formed from the reaction of nitrite with secondary amines under acidic conditions (such as occurs in the human stomach) as well as during the curing process used to preserve meats. Dietary sources of nitrosamines include US cured meats preserved with sodium nitrite as well as the dried salted fish eaten in Japan. In the 1920s, a significant change in US meat curing practices resulted in a 69% decrease in average nitrite content. This event preceded the beginning of a dramatic decline in gastric cancer mortality.[25] About 1970, it was found that ascorbic acid (vitamin C), an antioxidant, inhibits nitrosamine formation.[26] Consequently, the addition of at least 550 ppm of ascorbic acid is required in meats manufactured in the United States. Manufacturers sometimes instead use erythorbic acid, a cheaper but equally effective isomer of ascorbic acid. Additionally, manufacturers may include alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) to further inhibit nitrosamine production. Alpha-tocopherol, ascorbic acid, and erythorbic acid all inhibit nitrosamine production by their oxidation-reduction properties. Ascorbic acid, for example, forms dehydroascorbic acid when oxidized, which when in the presence of nitrous anhydride, a potent nitrosating agent formed from sodium nitrate, reduces the nitrous anhydride into nitric oxide.[27] Note that nitrous anhydride does not exist in vitro.[28

                The above may well be flawed, but my father in law died from bowel cancer after a lifetime of eating red meat and bacon. It wasn't much fun.

                1. Here is the story that went with the recipe.


                  It refers to pink salt and the difference between bacon made with or without it.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Bkeats

                    Thanks. Sure wish I'd seen it!!!! But it did answer my question - the curing salt was optional and the result is not dangerous, just not what I was hoping for. As soon as I get my "pink" curing salt, on to the next piece of pork belly!!

                    1. re: wincountrygirl

                      Just thought I'd update. I made the bacon again,this time with the "pink" curing salt. It is great. It's not grey, it's pink and it tastes great. I actually added a little liquid smoke to it before I put it in the oven and that give it just a hint of smoke, but the flavors from the cure are great - the fennel, etc. And it tastes like bacon now and not pork!