Anybody has a recipe to make smoked bacon without nitrite?
It is possible to make air dried bacon without it, but I yet have to find a recipe for smoked bacon that does not require it. The idea is that since smoking is anaerobic, there are chances that botulism will develop during the process. Using nitrite prevents the growth of the spores.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in his DVD pig in a day does not use nitrite, but his recipe is for air dried bacon. In dried air charcuterie, their are no chances of botulism to develop because the anaerobic conditions are never present. This is not the case with smoked charcuteries where the smoking time is anaerobic and at low enough temperatures that botulism could develop (according to Ruhlman and Polcyn), so that is why the nitrites are used. So I am a bit concerned to just leave them out unless I am certain that I create conditions where botulism cannot occur.
I wonder if creating an acidic condition on the surface during smoking would be good enough. If I remember correctly, botulism cannot develop if the pH is below 4.6 (don't quote me on that one).
Location: Northeast Oklahoma, Formerly Zone 6b, Now Officially Zone 7
Well, the last time I sat in Bio 2 class Richard Nixon was president and my hair was a little longer...so don't quote me either!
Moisture content (water activity) has a lot to do with the ability of the botulinum spores to grow. Check page 6
CDC on Botulism
Temperature, pH, competition from other microorganisms, moisture, and oxygen. Salt brining, either dry or wet, will reduce the internal moisture, think speck or prosciutto, but these products are air dried for months. Then give it a smoke, which should reduce the moisture level even more. No moisture, no botulism (& fingers crossed).
It's unfortunate that nitrites are presumably bad for us because they're really effective at preventing botulism spores from growing and from the spores producing toxin (note the differences in an additional 100 micrograms/gram of nitrite levels). Effects of nitrites on botulism
I can't remember where I got the recipe but I thought it was the farmsteadmeatsmith video. Cured in the fridge below 40 to stay relatively safe. Then smoked for flavor more than preservation.
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Eric, I looked at the reference and I have even more questions.
To prevent the spores to produce the toxin, you want 1) Low temperature 2) Low pH 3) Low water activity (10% NaCl solution) 4) High level of oxygen 5) Food preservative (nitrites) 6) Competing micro-organism.
However, the document says that some strains of the spore can grow at temperatures as low as 3.3C (37.94F). Now, in practice I am not sure what a 10% NaCl solution would be. I mean, if you have a brine, you could measure the concentration, but in the case of a dry rub, I am not sure how one would do that. I am not sure the competing micro-organism would be very happy in the smoke, although I can see that as being useful for other types of charcuteries.
Adrien, a 10% solution would be 100 grams salt in 900 grams of water. Looking at folks that make prosciutto and the like, they pack it for days or weeks depending on the size of the specimen. I suppose the idea is to let it weep water until it stops, you can't get the moisture content any lower without applying heat (or air drying in low humidity) after that.