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Old 11-16-2004, 03:40 PM   #1
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Homemade Sausage Quandary

Hi everyone :)

I have a recipe I'd like to try from the book, Julia and Jacques, Cooking at Home. It's a Sausage en Croute and the sausage is made from scratch, then wrapped and cured for a few days. My question is, the recipe calls for 1/8 tsp of Potassium Nitrate (saltpeter), which keeps the sausage pink while it cures.

Now, I have read that this can be poisonous in certain amounts, so I was wondering if something like Morton's Quick Tender Salt can be substituted, and will it keep the meat pink like the Potassium Nitrate? If not, does anyone have a source for a food grade Potassium Nitrate, as I'm assuming 1/8 tsp in about 2 lbs of pork will be ok.

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Old 11-16-2004, 04:03 PM   #2
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Standby on this one, Lisa. The resident experts (and there are many) will be here fairly soon to answer this one!

(Looking forward to reading this thread later...!)
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Old 11-16-2004, 04:16 PM   #3
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Thanks so much, Audeo..as I know the advice here is golden. I'm looking forward to it, as is my Thanksgiving appetizer table. :)
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Old 11-16-2004, 04:39 PM   #4
 
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You do know that this is not necessary to make a good sausage. The potassium nitrate is only to keep the meat pink, not to flavor the sausage. You can just leave it out.
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Old 11-16-2004, 05:16 PM   #5
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I know..but with this appetizer, presentation is important to me, as I will be having 20 people over for Tday. It's so beautiful when you slice into the bread and see the deep pink sausage with pine nuts or pistachios studded throughout.
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Old 11-16-2004, 05:29 PM   #6
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You can definitely use the Morton's Quick Tender. Just use that in place of the salt. No need to adjust for the amount of salt peter. In fact, I would use 3/4 the amount and test the batch by cooking a little bit and tasting for saltiness. The Morton's stuff is very fine and tends to weigh out heavy for the volume.
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Old 11-16-2004, 05:54 PM   #7
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So, since my recipe calls for 2 tsps of salt, add a little less than 2 tsps of the Morton's (of course I'll fry up a few spicy sausage meatballs to taste), and forget about the saltpeter measure altogether?
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Old 11-16-2004, 08:02 PM   #8
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More on Potassium Nitrite. Yes it is used as a coloring agent, but also performs a much more valuable service in the meat. Many years ago, before refrigertation, most sausage were dry cured. It was found that potasium nitrite inhibited the organizm that secretes the botulizm toxin. Over the years, it was found that sodium nitrite was a powerful carcinogen. Studies were therefore undertaken to determine if there was a safe amount of salt peter. It was found that there was. And, happily, it still inhibits the microbe at the level considered safe for human consumption.

That is the reason that sausages such as salamies, and pepperonies still contain potasium nitrite. The same is true for Virginia Hams, and other meats curred slow and low.

When the sausage is cooked, there really isn't a need for the salt peter as the heat kills the microbe. But if you are curing rather than cooking, it's a good thing to use.

Oh, by the way, the botulizm toxin is the deadliest poison on the planet. I can't give the exact figures, but I know it's leathal in amounts of singel parts per million. A bit of searching and I could give you the proper amounts for both the poison toxicity, and for how much salt peter is required to protect without causing cancer. Btu right now, I've got some other chores to attend.

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Old 11-16-2004, 08:17 PM   #9
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Thanks for the informative post! I'm assuming Morton's Tender Quick contains Potassium Nitrate, but probably not enough to cause any danger, or else it wouldn't be on the market. I'm still concerned with the amount I should use, though.
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Old 11-16-2004, 08:20 PM   #10
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This is straight from the Morton Home Meat Curing Guide.

The recipes for sausages says to use 1 1/2 level teaspoon of Morton Tender Quick per pound of meat. No other salt is used.

BTW, it contains both potassium nitrite and potassium nitrate. It's interesting how they write about it. Salt is the preservative, but the potassium nitrite and nitrate are described as curing agents.
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