Well, you asked for it. Here, Smoky answers the most commonly asked questions. He is direct, honest and offers an insight into the time proven techniques to preparing great barbecue that is unavailable elsewhere. If you are unable to locate the exact answer you are seeking, feel free to contact him directly and ask!
He returns all questions . . . . . . .
FAQ Subject: Curing meats with saltpeter
I see some recipes on your site - and some articles by "Smoky" - that advocate using saltpeter to cure meat. Saltpeter is poisonous.
Today, modern cures are available that are made with sodium nitrite (to cure "smoked" and "semi-dry" products) and with a sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate blend (for "dry cured" products).
I highly suggest you pick up a copy of Rytek Kutas' GREAT SAUSAGE RECIPES AND MEAT CURING (available from www.sausagemaker.com) and read it. I've read it, and I'm fairly certain that saltpeter, while it will cure meat, is dangerous to use
In excess, salt peter (potassium nitrate) and sodium nitrate are both poisonous. In excess, oxygen and water are toxic. Try living with out them. Potassium and sodium nitrates and nitrites have been used in curing meat for more than 5000 years because it is about 16 quadrillion times less toxic than botulism, which it prevents.
I have a copy of Rytek Kutas book and he used both.
I suggest that you pick up a copy of "Piers Plowman" written in the 1600's by Alexander Pope who wrote "A little learning is a dangerous thing, drink deep or not at all from that pierian spring."