Food preservation is an ancient process that humans have used to combat food shortages during drought, epidemics, and floods. It’s perhaps as old as the process of smoking food. Over time, the way we store and process food has evolved in several ways. There are new methods, materials, and substances we use to keep our food fresh for longer.
Although much has changed about the process of curing, salt remains the king of all ingredients. Prague Powder, popularly known as Prague salt or curing salt, was invented in Prague to cure meat before barbequing. It was used long ago when Prague was a part of the Habsburg Empire, which was founded back in 1526. That just shows how popular and effective Prague salt is!
Types of Prague Powder
With the transformation of cooking methods, humans no longer depend on community smokehouses for curing meat. Instead, we prefer to have a personalized barbequing experience using a food smoker. The meat and the cuts vary according to our choices, which is why ordinary curing salt may not suffice all curing needs. Prague Powder comes in two variations: one is for curing larger cuts while the other is preferred for leaner meats.
Prague salt for curing lean meat
The first variation is composed of 6.25 percent of sodium nitrite and 93.75 percent table salt or sodium chloride. The mix is saltier than common salt and is perfect for short cures. This means it can be used to cure meats that do not require prolonged cooking like sausages, corned beef, and fish.
Prague salt for curing larger cuts
The second variation is more suitable for meats that require longer curing and take hours to be cooked, such as hard salami, and country ham. The second variation is composed of sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, and table salt. Like the first variation, this type of Prague salt is extremely salty compared to normal table salt. When it is used to cure meat, the sodium nitrate will break down to form sodium nitrite, leaving no trace of the former compound.
Benefits of Prague Powder
Salt has always been the prime ingredient for curing meat because of its antibacterial properties. It promotes a process called osmosis, in which the fluid inside the cells is drawn out of the cell walls. Since bacteria can grow on these cells and cause food poisoning or spoilage, salt can effectively destroy them and even prevent further growth. Though normal salt cures meat and kills bacteria, it may not be effective against all microbes. This is why Prague powder is a better solution. Prague salt can prevent the growth of deadly bacteria that causes botulism, which table salt cannot.
Prague powder is given a natural pink color to distinguish it from normal table salt. Besides enhancing the flavor and texture of the meat, Prague powder also renders a pinkish hue to the meat. It reacts with the protein component in meat to impart a natural pink color.
Use of Prague Powder
Never mistake Prague powder for ordinary salt. As mentioned earlier, it’s much saltier than normal table salt, so a little goes a long way. For instance, one tablespoon of Prague powder will be enough to cure 5 pounds of meat cut into pieces. Also, consumption of Prague powder in large quantities can cause illness. Overuse of Prague salt can turn the meat saltier or even bitter in some cases. So the next time you are set to use this pink wonder for curing meat before smoking, remember, less is more.
Tips on Smoking Cured Meat
Now that you know the benefits of Prague powder, you may be ready to change your barbequing game. To take your food smoking experience to the next level, we are sharing some super easy tips on smoking cured meat.
Keep it low and slow
Food smoking is a slow process, so be patient. It’s done on low heat, which is how the intense smoky flavor is absorbed by the food.
Don’t forget to add moisture
Remember that salt has already drained the fluid from the cells, so it might turn brittle or dry during smoking. Use a spray bottle or a brush to apply some oil or water during smoking. This will keep the meat tender and succulent.
Get a pro food smoker
Having a good food smoker is a game-changer. You don’t have to babysit it throughout the barbeque process. Instead, you can enjoy visiting with friends and family while the barbeque is working. The best example is the Bradley Smoker. The smoker comes with advanced features like a digital console, auto feeder, and dual heat elements that require some supervision. A Bradley Smoker works best with Bradley Bisquettes.
We hope the information on Prague Powder has been helpful. And with these bonus Bradley tips & tricks on food smoking, you can more confidently fire up your food smoker in the next holiday season.
Check out our entire catalog of articles on brining and curing your meat here:
What’s the Difference Between Pickling, Brining, Marinating, and Curing?
Curing and Smoking Meats for Home Food Preservation
Directions On Brining And Curing Your Meat For Food Smoking
For more great ideas on how to get the most of your Bradley Smoker, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.