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Curing Salt vs. Pickling Salt (When You Should Use One Over the Other)

Curing Salt vs. Pickling Salt (When You Should Use One Over the Other)

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When it comes to preparing and cooking your food, there are a lot of different things that you need to keep in mind. This is especially the case when you are working with hands-on methods of cooking, such as grilling and smoking.

From knowing exactly how long you should be smoking your food to knowing what kind of salt to use to properly cure the meat, there are a lot of things to remember. Arguably one of the most important things to know is the difference between curing salts and pickling salts.

As the name might suggest, these are two completely different kinds of salts, but many people wonder if they can be used interchangeably. The short answer is no, they are absolutely not interchangeable if you want your recipe to turn out perfect.

To fully understand this, you will need to know more about these salts, their origins, and what specifically makes them different.

What Makes These Salts Different?

While, at their cores, these are both a form of salt, there are a few differences on a chemical level that set apart these two salts. Pickling salt can be compared to table salt, but it doesn’t contain any iodine or similar anti-caking products, as it causes some minor aesthetic issues with pickling jars.

Pickling salt is also designed to be as fine-grained as possible so that it can create the brine that you pickle products in.

On the other hand, there are a few different variations of curing salt, depending on where you are looking for them. Typically, they are a mixture of your typical table salt, sand sodium nitrate.

The sodium nitrite helps to make sure that bacteria doesn’t grow on the meat while it is curing, as nobody really wants this to happen. Depending on what type of salt you get, you will usually get a different mixture of sodium nitrite or nitrate.

Curing salt is generally dyed pink as well, simply so that it is not confused with table salt, but it shouldn’t be confused with Himalayan Pink Salt either. The grains of salt in curing salts are usually comparable to table salt, rather than being finely ground.

What Kinds of Foods Are They Used With?

Pickling salt, as you might be able to imagine, is most commonly used when pickling pickles, or any other food that you want to preserve in this manner. Sometimes, despite the fact that it has a tendency to cake, people will use it in place of traditional table salt.

Some people also prefer to use it as a form of popcorn salt, thanks to its tendency to stick to foods.

Curing salt has many more uses than pickling salt does, when it comes to preserving foods. More often than not, it is used for just about every cured meat out there on the market.

Some types of curing salts are designed for meats that will be cured and eaten quickly, and give a distinct flavor. Other curing salts are meant more for meats like hard salami and hams that cure for weeks to months at a time.

Generally speaking, curing salts are almost exclusively used for meats.


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