Q.

Is there a way I can cure boar bellies into homemade bacon in a healthier way – without nitrates/nitrites?

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A.

You can cure your wild boar bellies into homemade bacon using plain salt, sugar and seasonings…but I wouldn’t recommend it.

As bad a rap as they’ve gotten lately for their carcinogenic properties when consumed regularly/in large quantities, these compounds have been used for ages (originally as saltpeter) because they produce tastier, better looking cured meat and suppress the growth of dangerous bacteria (botulism, etc) that can sneak in if your salt cure isn’t absolutely perfect.

This is why cured meat producers still use them today.  It’s also important to note that even so called “nitrate/nitrite free” cured meats usually do contain nitrites – in the form of celery extract that is cultured to convert it (check ingredients lists for unexpected “celery extract” “celery juice” “cultured celery extract” etc).  In our opinion this practice is merely an ingredient list & labeling dodge.

Especially since you’re planning on home curing rather than working in a facility that’s specifically designed for this sort of process & sanitation, I’d recommend using them – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Plus, your bacon will taste more like bacon – as this New York Times article (which I recommend reading – it has a more ambivalent view of nitrates/nitrites) puts it: “It is absolutely possible to cure bacon without nitrates; but be aware that the end product will be more the color of cooked pork and that the flavor will be akin to that of a pork roast.”

While pork roast is delicious…it’s not bacon.

– Question Submitted by Matthias W.




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