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Nov 6, 2013 10:00 AM

Ascorbic acid with sodium nitrite?

I have read that commercial meat processors need to add ascorbic acid along with sodium nitrite in cures to avoid nitrosamine formation. Do any of you do that? What is the proper ratio to weight or, say, InstaCure?

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  1. It has been a long time, I used pink salt, might have been 3/8t per 3 lbs per ground meat

    1. You need to be a bit more specific in what types of products you are discussing.

      Acid may be added to speed up a cure, or as part of it. The acidic environment causes several chemical reactions to proceed more effectively. (Don't ask me which ones.)

      Acid is also developed during a lactic acid fermentation as part of the curing process, usually in dry cured sausage/salami/salumi.

      I just use a lactic acid fermentation starter culture if I am making dry cured salumi. Other products don't need it.

      15 Replies
      1. re: JMF

        I am talking about ascorbic acid and instacure #1 or pink salt. One objection to smoking and curing meat is that it is "unhealthy" part of that is due to the formation of nitrosamines when using sodium nitrite in a cure. Research shows that adding ascorbic acid significantly reduces the nitrosamine formation. Because of that, commercially cured meats have ascorbic acid added.

        I'm wondering if any home curers or smokers here do that.

        1. re: travelerjjm

          I still don't know what type of cured meat products you are talking about.

          1. re: travelerjjm

            Say whut?
            Smoking meat is flat out carcinogenic.
            Just like smoking.
            Preserving foods via nitrites has probably
            saved more people than it has killed.

            1. re: Chowrin

              I'd appreciate some scientific or medically based citations for this please.

                1. re: Chowrin

                  I read that before posting. Other than that one, small, very specific population (Slovenians in Hungary?) there didn't seem to be any thing else.

                  1. re: c oliver

           (25 links there


                    It's old research, well studied. not surprised you aren't seeing many recent citations.

                    1. re: Chowrin

                      I read that yesterday also and obviously interpret quite differently. Studies were done in rodents at astronomically high doses. That has been the case forever. It would be flawed science to try to link that, which they didn't, to extremely small doses in humans. In addition, rodents are extremely susceptible to tumors. You can sometimes just 'poke' one and they'll get a tumor at that site. Furthermore, in my case, I'm smoking at about 225 degrees and no fat falls on the flames. That article suggests more danger from frying bacon or grilling a steak.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        The bad stuff is in the smoke--it does not matter what temperature you are using--even cold smoking like is done for cheeses gets the same spectrum of chemicals. The nitrites that are in the cured meat prevent the growth of botulism which will shorten your life considerably more than the "possibility" of any effect of the smoke or the possible formation of the nitrosamine. There is NO 100% 'safe' foodstuff out there. Let's worry more about how good things taste!

                        1. re: NVJims

                          I agree with you especially on the issue that there are other things that are going to make you far sicker. The Cancer Institute article, however, that Chowrin referenced is just a different argument on a pretty different subject. If I were looking for a totally safe like - food and otherwise - I'd be bored as hell.

                        2. re: c oliver

                          If you eat tons of smoked meat, you'll have problems.
                          I don't think most people's dosage is nearly that high.

                          1. re: Chowrin

                            Some people smoke cigarettes all their lives and don't "have problems." That's just too broad a statement - for me only - to accept.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              c oliver,
                              Okay, so I exaggerate.
                              Sunlight is a known carcinogen as well.

                              1. re: Chowrin

                                :) And lack of sunlight has caused me to have a Vit. D deficiency! They're gonna get ya comin' and goin' !