Homemade Sausage Quandary

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Lisa110

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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.
 

Audeo

Head Chef
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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...!)
 

Lisa110

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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. :)
 

choclatechef

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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.
 

Lisa110

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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.
 

Psiguyy

Sous Chef
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Aug 24, 2004
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843
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.
 

Lisa110

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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?
 

Chief Longwind Of The North

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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.

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
 

Lisa110

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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.
 

Psiguyy

Sous Chef
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843
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.
 

Psiguyy

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Lisa110 said:
So that would be 3 tsps total. Why does that scare me? LOL

Does that mean you're using 2 lbs of meat? If so, I wouldn't use more than 3 tsps. That would be the upper limit. In fact, I'd cut that back to 2 tsps and do a taste test. That's my preference. Your's may be different.
 

Lisa110

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That's exactly what I'm going to do, Psiguyy. Actually, I checked the recipe again, and it called for 1 1/2 lbs of ground pork butt, so I will probably add 1 tsp, then cook a piece and taste, and see if it needs a little more..and so on..and so on..and so on..although by the strength of this stuff, I highly doubt I'll need much more than one 'so on'. LOL

Thanks so much!
 

Psiguyy

Sous Chef
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Yeah, the first time I used the stuff, I was making a recipe that called for salt. I figured I'd substitute it 1 for 1. HAH! It turned out so darned salty, I had to buy and grind up more meat to cut the saltiness.

If the recipe calls for 2 tsp salt, start with 1 tsp of the Tender Quick.

If you were making a dried and cured sausage such as salami, then I'd insist on following the recipe exactly. Wouldn't want to suffer from botulism.

The funny thing is the Tender Quick isn't all salt. It's got sugar and the nitrite and nitrate in it too.

Let us know how the sausage turned out.
 

pst1can

Senior Cook
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Sep 29, 2004
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London, Ontario, Canada
Lisa110...this has been a very interested post, I have considered to try make my own sausage before but have never got around to it. Please post again with your results....I would really be interested. Thanks Pst 8)
 

scott123

Senior Cook
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Feb 22, 2004
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Lisa, the nitrates in the quick tender, as choclatechef mentioned, are strictly for aesthetics. You should cook a piece and look at it, not taste it. Other than the additional salt you're adding, tasting it will mean mean very little.
 

Psiguyy

Sous Chef
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Aug 24, 2004
Messages
843
scott123 said:
Lisa, the nitrates in the quick tender, as choclatechef mentioned, are strictly for aesthetics. You should cook a piece and look at it, not taste it. Other than the additional salt you're adding, tasting it will mean mean very little.

Not necessarily. According to Morton, the Nitrates and Nitrites are there to cure the meat. I've seen their recipes for corned beef and salami, so it's not only for aesthetics, although in many cases, it is.
 

scott123

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Psiguyy, you're right. If Lisa is utilizing it for curing, though, then cooking it/tasting it will be equally as meaningless.

Nitrates, for anyone interested, aren't, by themselves, carcinogens. Nitrate cured meat, when heated to high temps forms nitrosamines. Those are the bad guys. And the operative word here is high temps. Boiled cured meats (corned beef, hot dogs) are relative benign from a perspective of nitrosamines. Browned cured meats like bacon are where you find the most nitrosamine formation.
 

Psiguyy

Sous Chef
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
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843
All I know is, I sure wish they'd make the "carcinogenic" bacon instead of the safe kind they make now. I miss the old sliced bacon that gets super crispy instead of the kind that just gets hard like they do these days.
 

scott123

Senior Cook
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Feb 22, 2004
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Psiguyy, have you tried changing the temperature you cook your bacon at? I've noticed that if I cook the same batch at different temperatures one will be stringy/jerky-like, another will be hard as a rock, and yet occasionally I achieve a melt in your mouth flaky/crispy. For the longest time I thought slow and low was the secret. Now I'm not sure. I do know that a shift in temp changes the outcome pretty dramatically.
 

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