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Old 03-22-2007, 06:53 PM   #1
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Question Purpose of and Source for Saltpeter in Corning Beef?

If anyone missed it the episode on corn beef on good eats was very good. I have a question for you all though. One of the ingrediants used and he said if you want that traditional red look to the beef (which i do) is saltpeter. Has anyone tried to find this locally? Is it hard to find? Do most of the drug stores have it? Do you usually have to go to the pharmacy counter and ask for it or is it somewhere else?

thanks,
Ncage

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Old 03-22-2007, 08:55 PM   #2
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Ncage1974

Don't know what your plans are but you Might try Morton Tender Quick. It contains among other things, Potassium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrate (saltpeter) It is a meat curing product. It is used by TV chefs to create the much sought after "smoke ring" in meats. This "trick" was at one time used by unscrupulous competitive BBQ teams. Today "smoke rings" are not a part of the judging process in sanctioned BBQ events... making it a moot point.
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Old 03-22-2007, 10:29 PM   #3
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I thought salt peter was used in shot guns to keep the little hooligan kids as it stings when they got a shot in the butt trying to steal apples and such or to convicts to keep them from having so called unatural
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Old 03-22-2007, 11:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpmcgrew
I thought salt peter was used in shot guns to keep the little hooligan kids as it stings when they got a shot in the butt trying to steal apples and such or to convicts to keep them from having so called unatural
Lol thas funny. It is used in gunpowder. Which i think is why people look at you wierd when you buy it and its just not out in the open probably.
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Old 03-22-2007, 11:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Bob
Ncage1974

Don't know what your plans are but you Might try Morton Tender Quick. It contains among other things, Potassium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrate (saltpeter) It is a meat curing product. It is used by TV chefs to create the much sought after "smoke ring" in meats. This "trick" was at one time used by unscrupulous competitive BBQ teams. Today "smoke rings" are not a part of the judging process in sanctioned BBQ events... making it a moot point.
Thanks Bob for the tip. I might to have to look into that.
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Old 03-23-2007, 08:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncage1974
Thanks Bob for the tip. I might to have to look into that.
You are welcome! Mr Cage! Just research the product before you proceed. It(saltpeter) can have very serious medical side effects if used improperly.


Miss Mcgrew
I think it was "Rock Salt" that was loaded into shotgun shells
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Old 03-23-2007, 10:14 AM   #7
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Thanks Bob I guess I got them mixed up that makes more sence.
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Old 03-23-2007, 10:34 AM   #8
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Yup, rock-salt loads make great "tresspasser loads". However, in today's world, even that could get you into serious trouble if you peppered some miscreant's rear while they were tresspassing onto your property.

I've seen small packets of saltpeter at a local Chinese grocery store. If you have any ethnic markets, you might try there as well as at a drug store.

Saltpeter, yes, is an ingredient in gunpowder, as well as other explosives. In today's world, it is very hard to find, and can attract attention from law-enforcement if they think you're trying to make a bomb.
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Old 03-23-2007, 04:46 PM   #9
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As much as I like Alton Brown - IMHO he really dropped the ball on this one because potassium nitrate comes in powder, small crystals, and large crystal forms. Without knowing which form he was using - using a volume measure could be dangerous.

Ironically - his episode of Corn the Beef is going to be on again this evening (23 Mar 2007) ... but here is his recipe for corning beef.

I have to second Uncle Bob's suggestion to consider using Morton's Tender Quick ... as does the National Center for Home Food Preservation on their page about Curing and Smoking Sausages - look under the section on Nitrates and Nitrites which says in part (but, I suggest you read the entire section):

... Extreme Cautions must be exercised in adding nitrate or nitrite to meat, since too much of either of these ingredients can be toxic to humans. ...

and

... it is strongly recommended that a commercial premixed cure be used when nitrate or nitrite is called for in the recipe. The premixes have been diluted with salt so that the small quantities which must be added can more easily be weighed. This reduces the possibility of serious error in handling pure nitrate or nitrite. Several premixes are available. Many local grocery stores stock Morton® Tender Quick® Product and other brands of premix cure. Use this premix as the salt in the recipe and it will supply the needed amount of nitrite simply and safely.

Oh - and a quick survey of drug stores in my area - they don't carry saltpeter anymore ... they have to have a special permit these days thanks to the "teeny" bombers and such. However, you can find it online from sausage making equipment suppliers, and the pharmacist at my son's store said you might also be able to find it at a feed store.

One other resource you might check is your local butcher ... if they make their own sausages. They might be able to sell you some, tell you how much to use, or point you in the direction of a resource.
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Old 03-23-2007, 04:50 PM   #10
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um........I thought I read somewhere that long ago saltpeter was traditionally used to render the troops less "frisky" while on R&R.

Am I dreaming?
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