Curing salt is a type of salt used to conserve foods for longer and give them a longer shelf life. It eliminates microbes and kills bacteria through the chemical process of transforming sodium nitrate into sodium nitrite. The sodium nitrite gets rid of the moisture in the food so bacteria will not have the proper conditions to thrive.
There are many types of curing salt but you might want to avoid nitrates altogether. If that is the case, keep reading because we put together the best curing salt substitutes you can use.
We will tell you right from the start that saltpeter is one of the best substitutes for curing salt. However, you can also use celery powder or sea salt.
Curing Salt Substitutes
The following curing salt substitutes can save the quality and taste of your food without using nitrates.
Saltpeter is potassium nitrate and it is very efficient in preserving meat. This alternative to curing salt is used since the Middle Ages and it can be also used as a meat tenderizer.
This ingredient can also work as a thickening agent in many foods such as stews or canned foods. If you are cooking meat at home, saltpeter is a great replacement for curing salt.
You should use the same amount of it considering your taste as well. Saltpeter kills moisture in meat cells, so bacteria and microbes will not be able to grow, so your food will stay edible for a longer time.
2. Celery powder
A different substitute for curing salt that might actually surprise you is celery powder. If you are looking for nitrate-free foods, using celery powder is one of the best alternatives to curing salt. If you don’t find celery powder you can use celery juice in the same way.
You can replace the same quantity of curing salt with celery juice and powder. Keep in mind that celery has natural nitrates but these are not chemically modified as the nitrates we find in curing salt. For this reason, celery is labeled as a nitrate-free food.
3. Non-iodized sea salt
Non-iodized sea salt is easy to find and a great replacement for any type of curing salt. You can use this type of salt in all foods and you will notice that your dishes will last longer.
You should use non-iodized salt because it will not alter the taste of your food. The iodized salt might give your meat a slightly different taste. Keep the same quantity of salt you would use and prepare your food as usual.
4. Kosher salt
Kosher salt is not as common but if you do find it in stores, know that it can replace curing salt successfully as well. You can use this salt in all kinds of food from veggies to meat. It is non-iodized.
This salt was used by ancient Jews to preserve foods containing different kinds of meat. It has a neutral salty taste and it is nitrates free. Kosher salt is not as salty as other types of salt.
So, if you choose this substitute you might want to add slightly more of it to get the salty taste you want. However, this comes down to personal preferences so go with what you like in terms of food taste.
5. Himalaya salt
Himalaya salt is very popular and easy to find. This pink salt can replace curing salt. However, the shelf life or the time your food is preserved for might be slightly shorter.
You can use this salt for meat curing. It will also offer it a pleasant taste. The best part? It is rich in minerals. Meaning, it’s healthier for you than other types of salt. In terms of ratio, you can use the same amount of Himalaya salt as you would use a curing salt.
Vinegar can be a great compromise if you need to cure fish. It will preserve all types of fish for a long period of time thanks to the acidic level of vinegar.
You can use vinegar instead of curing salt when you are trying to preserve fish. However, you will have to prepare it differently.
Instead of adding a pinch of curing salt to your fish, you will have to soak it in vinegar. You can use any type of vinegar except balsamic vinegar.
Curing Salt Substitute for Jerky
If you like jerky meat, you might be wondering how to preserve it best. Jerky meat is meat cut in thin slices and dried with curing salts. But can you enjoy your favorite jerky meat without adding curing salt? Fortunately, yes you can.
You will have to replace it with other types of salt like non-iodized sea salt. Celery powder or celery juice will not work as well for jerky. But Himalaya salt could be a great substitute for curing salt in jerky meat as well.
How do you make curing salt?
If you don’t have this type of salt in your kitchen, you will be glad to discover that you can actually make this type of salt yourself. We can’t call the preparation of curing salt a recipe as you will simply be mixing two main ingredients in a bowl.
You will need 1 oz of sodium nitrite and 1 pound of table salt. If you don’t have table salt you can use sea salt in the same quantity. Mix the two in a bowl and use the mixture on your meat just like you would use your regular curing salt.
You can use this homemade curing salt for meats that you are planning to smoke or fresh sausages and they will last longer. You can also add other seasonings and herbs to ensure a richer flavor for your food.
What can you substitute for pink curing salt?
If you need to substitute pink curing salt, your best option would be Himalaya salt. It has a similar pink shade but it is also efficient in curing meats as you need.
You can use the same amount of Himalaya salt as you would use your regular pink salt. Keep in mind however that Himalaya salt will give your food a richer taste.
Is curing salt necessary?
Yes, the curing method is necessary. However, you can use curing salt substitutes so this type of salt is not really a must. Using a curing salt substitute is essential especially in foods that contain meat.
Bacteria and microbes can grow fast in meat foods so you need something that will alter the conditions so that bacteria can stop developing.
Uncured meat is not safe and it can be contaminated with bacteria that can affect your general health and even have poisoning effects.
You can replace your regular curing salt with one of the substitutes in this guide and your food will last longer at the quality you want it to have.
Whatever substitute you choose, make sure you always use a curing ingredient especially for foods that contain meats. This is important for both your health as well as the good taste of your final dishes.
Thank you Saurabh. This was so helpful to me as I am making my own organic and healthier venison jerky. I did not want to use curing salt as I recognize the negatives in nitrates and nitrites, I will freeze my jerky to extend the shelf life. I chose celery salt and Himalayan salt subs. Keep up the good work!!
Hey Jeanne, I am glad this was helpful. Thanks for your feedback.
Thank you so much for posting substitutes for the controversial Curing salts. Truly appreciated. Can you please post here regarding how much qty of Himalayan Pink Salt to use for Brining 2.5 lbs of Meat(I.e for preparation of corned meet by curing it in Brine for 5 to 10 days in the refrigerator).
oh my, I am so thankful, was looking for just this very guidence, amazingly helpful, now off to start my first batch of nitrite nitrate free jerky and sausage, will also freeze to extend shelf life, hope to be able to find you again to report on the outcome. Blessings to you and ur blog,
Thanks so much for this. I was about to drive 20 miles to get curing salt and now see I can just use the Himalayan Pink Salt I already have in my pantry to cure my pork belly. I will then freeze it until ready to use.
Again, many thanks!
If I am pressure canning meat do I still need to use a curing salt? I don’t want to use nitrates or nitrites, so I am looking for a substitute for Morton’s Tender Quick. I have Himalayan salt.