Two hundred years ago, curing salt was necessary so that our ancestors could preserve meat. But today, do you have to use curing salt when you’re preserving meat? The answer is not really. There is more than one curing salt substitute that makes it possible to cure meat. Let’s take a look at these substitutes and how they can benefit your future dish.
What are the top curing salt substitutes to preserve meat?
1. Himalayan Salt
Himalayan salt is a popular natural alternative to curing salt. It also has a vibrant pink hue that makes it easy to mistake for curing salt.
It’s considered the best curing salt alternative because it’s rich in minerals and can improve the taste of meats. It has a coarser texture than other types of salt but is just as effective in preventing food spoilage.
You can use the same amount of this salt as you would curing salt when preparing your dishes. However, since it’s not quite as effective at prolonging the shelf life of your food, it’s best to buy smaller amounts. Be sure to mark the date on which you started using it.
2. Non-iodized Sea Salt
Another good substitute to consider for curing salt is non-iodized sea salt; it has food preservation properties and has a good amount of trace minerals depending on how it was processed. The sodium content of non-iodized sea salt is enough to keep your food for a long time.
However, it has fewer amounts of nitrate and nitrite compared to curing salt. This means it has a reduced layer of protection from bacteria that can spoil the meat.
It’s okay to use regular sea salt, but non-iodized sea salt is recommended. One, it won’t affect the taste of your food, and two, it’s better for you because it doesn’t contain iodine which is harmful in large quantities.
Saltpeter is the common name for potassium nitrate, a natural chemical used in many products both food and non-food. It has been used as a safe food additive to prevent spoilage since the Middle Ages.
Saltpeter can also be used as a food preservative and additive. It can also work as a thickening agent for recipes and as a meat tenderizer.
4. Kosher Salt
Though Kosher salt is best known for its use in koshering, a process that draws out blood from meat, it’s also great for all kinds of food preparation.
Kosher salt, an alternative to curing salt, is a non-iodized salt that can be used with all kinds of foods. It’s a natural coarse-grained salt that is processed to be free of minerals and therefore is purer than table salt.
Kosher salt is popular in meat processing because it tinges the meat and tenderizes it. It’s often used to cure meats, such as ham and corned beef, and can also be used as a flavoring. Even though kosher salt works as a great replacement for curing salt with its similar texture and sodium content, finding this in local stores can be a challenge.
5. Garlic Salt
Garlic salt is a fantastic substitute for pink curing salt. Its versatility makes it great in many recipes too. Like pink curing salts, garlic salt also contains nitrites to prevent spoilage but is not as high as the curing salt. An ideal substitute for pink curing salts, this seasoning is great for all your recipes, including meats like sausage or hot dogs.
Non-salt choices you can substitute curing salt with:
1. Raw Sugar
Raw sugar, also known as turbinado sugar, comes in crystallized form and has trace amounts of calcium, potassium, and iron. Its light brown color is similar to that of table sugar. Raw sugar is a common ingredient used to cure meat.
It’s similar in taste and color to regular table sugar, but it can also be used as a substitute for it in sugaring, a food preservation method that’s similar to pickling. Sugaring is a cousin of pickling and something you can do at home to preserve meat.
Vinegar is also a good alternative to curing salt. It is a type of product made by alcoholic fermentation that has high amounts of acetic acid. Types of vinegar with high acidity, like white wine, are used for preserving meat. It causes a pickling effect on meat that can help meat last for weeks.
3. Celery Powder
Celery powder is sometimes used as a substitute for curing salt. It contains a high concentration of nitrate, which can preserve and cure meat effectively. Many organic-labeled deli products use celery powder as a curing ingredient.
Although it is not approved by the FDA as a food preservative and remains quite controversial, many deli meat producers also use it to flavor their meats as its only FDA-approved usage.
Manufacturers and sellers label this product as organic, uncured, and nitrate-free because it does not contain synthetic nitrites or nitrates. However, the celery used in its preparation may be grown with chemical fertilizers, so the label claim is misleading.
4. Smoke (Smoking)
Smoking meat is an ancient technique that adds delicious flavor to food, but it can also be used as a preservation method. However, you might want to find other ways to preserve meat because smoking meat for a day takes at least a week to go from edible to spoiled.
Also, if you ever find yourself in a survival situation and need to preserve some meat, this is a food-preservation technique you’ll want to remember.
Smoking meat takes a long time but a few hours of smoking amounts to one week’s worth of preserved food. It is a great technique, especially when you’re in a survival situation.
5. Freezer (Freezing)
Freezing meat is a staple of modern man’s survival. With the advent of advanced technology and the availability of affordable refrigeration units, preserving food has become easier.
Whereas in the past it was a time-consuming process of curing with salt, vinegar, or sugar just to keep food edible and safe, we can now just pop our food in the freezer to prolong its expiration.
What on earth is curing salt?
Curing salt is an important ingredient in the process of curing meat. It draws excess moisture from the meat, acts as a preservative, and gives the meat a distinctive flavor.
Curing salt for meat preservation, also known as pink salt or Prague powder is a combination of 6.25% sodium nitrite and 93.75% table salt (sodium chloride). This curing compound is used primarily to give meats a rosy pink color by reacting with the myoglobin in the meat.
What is the most-used method to cure meat?
There is research stating that consumption of nitrite and nitrate can be harmful and may cause cancer when combined with other chemicals and if consumed in large amounts. For this reason, some people are choosing alternatives to curing salt with none of these elements.
Some curing salts currently on the market include only one of the elements, while others include none of them. Without these chemicals, it is trickier to keep meat from spoilage since they fight against contamination.
These days, curing meat seems to be more about flavor enhancement than food preservation. It is no longer necessary to cure meat the old way, using salt or other methods, because we now have refrigeration that preserves food.
Additionally, smoking meat, although an ancient practice, is steadily popular even to this day. Many manufacturers have included technologically-advanced features that make smoking both easy and convenient. As for curing salt substitute, there are also a variety of options that can safely and wonderfully work for your poultry and meat stock.