Ever since the discovery of the culinary benefits of salt several thousand years ago, it has evolved to become a must-have kitchen item. Curing salt is often referred to as pink salt due to its colour, and is highly valued for its preservation properties.
Curing salt should not be confused with table salt, despite their similarities. For one, you cannot sprinkle curing salt on your food the way you would table salt. Even though they are both salts used in flavouring, and preserving food, it should be understood that table salt is simply sodium chloride while curing salt possesses additional chemicals, primarily sodium nitrite.
Archaeologists date the discovery of salt back to about twelve thousand years ago when Neolithic or Stone Age Man discovered that salt possessed preserving properties that helped it to draw out moisture from food.
It is understood today that microorganisms like bacteria and fungus thrive where it is damp. As certain foods cannot keep for long before this microbial infestation sets in, the value of salt becomes all the more apparent. Curing salts
food via the chemical process of osmosis, which helps to decrease the water potential of the food, making the growth of damaging microbes impossible. Curing salt is not the same as Himalayan pink salt, which, though has the same pink colouring that characterises most curing salts, is halite, which a higher percentage of sodium chloride than regular table salt
Curing salt is valuable as it is used in processing meat. It is used to pickle meat when producing the likes of sausage, bacon and corned beef. The pink colour that characterises most curing salts is the presence of a type of red dye.
When applied to foods like meat, it gives it a pinkish colour that conveniently differentiates it from table salts, which can be directly applied to cooked meals, unlike curing salt. Curing salt prevents botulism by killing the causal bacteria clostridium botulinum.
When they are used to cure meat, curing salts produce nitric acid resulting from a chemical reaction that changes the inherent sodium nitrate into sodium nitrite. Although nitrites consumed in unmonitored quantities can be quite toxic and harmful to human health, the amount of nitrite generated here poses no threat to health.
It is key to remember at all times that curing salt in itself is quite toxic. The toxic substance in it, nitrates, breaks down to nitrites over time, which is why it can be used in processing food at all. It is used to cure meat, roasts, poultry and steaks.
There are two main types of curing salts i.e curing salt 1 and curing salt 2. The former is used to cure meats that are generally cooked, canned, or smoked. Such meats include ham, poultry, fish, and corned beef. The latter is used for products like hard salami, dried sausages, and pepperoni.
Where to Find Curing Salt in Grocery Store? What Aisles
Curing salts can be a tricky item to find because they are naturally toxic to humans if ingested in overt doses. Curing salts can also be very difficult to find in grocery stores. Nevertheless, you need not look farther than the option highlighted below when seeking to purchase salts to cure your meats:
- Spices Aisle: When there is regular salt, you are likely to find curing salt sitting right next to it on the same shelf. The former is more popular, but the latter is highly sought-after by cooks. You are sure to find curing salt where there are cooking spices, so be sure to check out this aisle the next time you go salt-hunting at your local grocery store. Take note to ensure that you’re not buying Himalayan Pink Salt, as it looks very much like curing salt while having a different chemical composition.
What grocery Stores sell Curing Salt?
The following stores are the likeliest places for you to find curing salt:
- Your local butcher’s: As curing salts are primarily used to process meat in ham, bacon and the likes, your local butcher is very likely to have some good, quality ones stocked.
- Amazon: You can buy just about anything on Amazon, and that includes curing salts. You should note, however, that there are two types of curing salts sold on this platform i.e curing salt one and curing salt two. If you’re looking to cure meat, then curing salt one is your answer.
- Walmart: Walmart’s curing salts are sure to be found in the spices sector. You also have the option of searching for a store close to you, if you cannot procure the item from known stores around you.
- World Spice Merchants: The name says it all: spices. You are also guaranteed to find curing salts here.
- Asian market: Seemingly an out of the way option, Asian markets are a great pplace to scout for and find curing salts for sale.
The most important guide to buying curing salt is to mind the colour (ensuring you’re not buying Himalayan Pink, where you mean to buy cure one.
There truly are no alternatives to curing salt. Options that have been touted are almost always processed via the use obeetroot juice, or even celery, as they contain nitrates that are sure to be toxic to health if taken without caution or medicall recommendation.
Any alternative proposed by a knowledgeable friend is likely to cause cancer. As curing salts contain nitrates and nitrites, you should always take care when using them. And yes, celery powder is NOT an option- you could accidentally ingest toxic amounts of nitrates without even knowing it!
Saltpetre, non-iodized sea salt and raw sugar are also alternatives that have to be taken with a pinch of salt, figuratively-speaking
Now that you know all about curing salts, you can go ahead and experiment with your meats, ham, bacon, steaks and even pepperoni. These are all exciting foods that can make the mouth water, as well as sate the appetite if made with a great recipe.
Thank you read: “Where to Find Curing Salt in Grocery Store?”