From the butchery at Staverton, is our ‘Natural Cure’ bacon. Ali seems to have got it down to a fine art and recent batches have had a good, pink colour from the natural nitrates in the celery and herbs. They also give it an interesting pancetta like flavour. In the States ‘natural, plant based nitrites are becoming the norm in frankfurters and other semi cured sausage products and the jury is out on whether, in the commercial quantities they tend to use, they’re any better than normal curing salts (potassium and sodium nitrate and nitrite).
The science of curing is still a slightly grey area, as is the alleged carcinogenic nature of cured meats, but, as we eat them anyway, I struggle to believe nature hasn’t provided us with some counterbalance in plant based nitrites. Apparently it’s high temperatures that cause carcinogenic nitrosamines and many vegetables have far higher nitrite levels than cured meats so why aren’t we all dead from, for example, sautéed celery in our Bolognese ragù? Either way, we had our Natural Cure Bacon analysed a few years ago and it came back with a paltry 17ppm (parts per million) of residual nitrites – that’s around a fifth of the organic limit and a tenth of conventional. I’m deeply skeptical of anything I read on the internet. Not because it’s untrue but because it’s usually so one sided (why post it if you don’t have an agenda?) but here are a couple of links