View Full Version : where in the world do I find saltpeter for corning venison?

November 19, 2001, 04:21 PM
I've called all over trying to find a place that sells saltpeter (the only hard to find corning ingredient) and all I've gotten is the telephone equivilent of a strange look.
I've tried pharmacies and all the area hunting supply stores.


Mal H
November 19, 2001, 04:26 PM
Saltpeter is rather hard to find because it is one of the ingredients in black powder. Some stores don't want to carry it for that reason. I have found it at several pharmacies in the past, but under its chem name - Potassium Nitrate. You might ask for it by that name and see if the blank stares get any brighter.

November 19, 2001, 04:36 PM
Hmmm, two cookbooks I have say to use "saltpeter or sodium nitrate". Can I use either/or or is the chemical name of saltpeter sodium nitrate and not potassium nitrate?

Greg L
November 19, 2001, 04:52 PM
Where are you planning on keeping the venison after corning it? If it is in the freezer or refrigerator then you really don't need the nitrates. When I make corned beef I just submerge the meat in a heavily salted brine solution for a week or so (easiest way is to put the meat in a ziplock bag and fill it with the solution enough to cover it) and then if it isn't going to be eaten right away it goes in the freezer.


Fred Hansen
November 19, 2001, 04:54 PM
Saltpeter is a generic term for several nitrates. The one that most think of first is potassium nitrate, Chile (the country) saltpeter is sodium nitrate, I believe that this is the one found most commonly in food. Lime saltpeter is calcium nitrate etc... Anyway, now would probably be a bad time the go sniffing around for a black powder component. Try a google search, and I think you will be able to find what you need. Good luck!:)

November 19, 2001, 05:39 PM
Sorry to be so dense but a few more questions:

Greg L, do you find that leaving out the saltpeter alters the taste at all relative to that "corned flavor"?

jmbg29, so any of those nitrates would work?

Thanks for the replies so far!

Greg L
November 19, 2001, 06:10 PM

I don't really notice a difference in taste (well I do, mine tastes much better than the store type :D ) as far as the "corned flavor" goes. One nice thing about making your own is that you can adjust the spice levels to suit you. I have a receipe for garlic corned beef that has friends coming out of the woodwork inviting themselves over when they hear that I'm making it.

I just sent the receipe for it to your email that you had listed here.


Fred Hansen
November 19, 2001, 06:29 PM
I really don't know, my experience with nitrates lies in a realm other than culinary.;)

November 19, 2001, 06:30 PM
send it on over this way too!!

Greg L
November 19, 2001, 07:24 PM
How about I just make post #300 completely off topic. ;) :p


For 6 lbs of meat. (most any cut will do. We usually use round or a brisket)

8 cups of water
1 ½ cup salt
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp pickling spice
4 cloves garlic (crushed) or 4 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp whole peppercorns
2 large bay leaves

(if you don’t like garlic as much as we do feel free to cut the amount in ½)

Bring everything to a boil and then let cool off.

Place the meat in a large zip lock bag (I usually have about 2 lbs per bag)

Divide the solution between all the bags. Seal them getting as much air out as possible.

Refrigerate meat for 5-7 days turning the bags over at least once per day.

After 7 days it is ready to cook.

Cook as you would regular corned beef (boiled with potatoes, carrots, & cabbage). Dump about ½ of the solution that is in the bag into the pot (if you dump all of it in it won’t hurt it but it will be very salty).

If you don’t want to cook it immediately you can throw the entire bag into the freezer and get it out whenever (this is what we usually do. We make up 15-20 lbs at a time and freeze most of it)

Brett Bellmore
November 19, 2001, 07:43 PM
Morton's "Tender Quick salt" for making sausage is a combination of salt and saltpeter. You can sometimes find it in larger grocery stores.


Does this help?


November 20, 2001, 01:59 AM
If you read the ingredients on many packaged meats (bacon, ham, various sandwich meats) you'll see sodium nitrite and/or sodium nitrate. These have long been used in the curing of meat.

Salt curing (NaCl), used for 1000's of years, primarily acts to dehydrate the meat and any microbes. Historically, it was also desirable because the meat developed a stable pink color(associated with ham and bacon)....folks thought this was due to salt. Nope, it was due to impurities of sodium nitrite/nitrate. Nitrate is reduced to nitrite which then undergoes a series of reactions with the muscle pigment myoglobin resulting in the pink compound nitrosmyoglobin. Sometime during the 16-17th century saltpeter (sodium and potassium) was found to be more desirable in meat curing that plain salt, due to the effects on color and flavor...primarily color.

Nitrates/nitrites inhibit bacterial growth and especially effective in inhibiting Clostridium botulinum. Very good. But, they also form nitrosoamines during cooking and digestion; potent carcinogens.....not good.

Looking at that meat label again, you'll also see sodium erythrobate...this little gem actually acts synergistically with the nitrites in speeding curing, inhibiting bacteria, color stabilization and reducing the formation of nitrosoamines. Thus, the producer can get by with less nitrites.

Fred Hansen
November 20, 2001, 02:07 AM
Science Rules! :cool:

Good Guy
November 20, 2001, 02:34 AM
You can buy sodium nitrate online from www.sausagemaker.com .
They market it under the name of "Instacure". I've ordered it from them for sausage making. There's a toll free number (888-490-8525) for any questions you have.

November 20, 2001, 01:35 PM
DC, your response sounds suspiciously like the introduction to my Masters Thesis! Good answer.

The sodium erythorbate is a stereoisomer of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and is used principally to reduce any residual nitrate/nitrite to or below the legal limit (156 ppm).

Cured meats without some sort of nitrate/nitrite in them have the characteristic color of cooked meat (grey/brown). The nitrite ion does fix the color to a nice pink hugh we associate with ham, bacon, hot dogs, etc. It also does add a characteristic flavor, but many people miss it.

The antimicrobial factor of nitrate/nitrite inherent in cured meats is where the true value is. Hot dogs have a longer shelf life than hamburger in your refrigerator, and are safer left at warm temperatures, such as a picnic -- however, they are not foolproof!

Many laboratories can slip you a little sodium nitrate or nitrite. It is not very dangerous except in large quantities.

Bruce Woodbury

November 20, 2001, 08:41 PM
I just got though looking up corning recipes on the internet and chose one which had no saltpeter but which did have both cream of tarter and sodium bicarb. What stood out was that regardless of what else they had the recipes all had sugar.

Which reminded me of something I learned in undergraduate microbiology class.

There are many bacteria which can live in salt water and some which even can digest nitrates and nitrites. But the most common contaminent bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus can't stand sugar solutions. The yeasts which can digest sugar produce alcohol, a well known germicide. So the old country recipes for sugar cured hams were actually hams which were less likely to have deadly bacteria contaminating them.

My 2 cents worth.

November 24, 2001, 05:57 PM
I use Morton's tenderquick for corning venison. Morton's has a cookbook with a good corning recipe in it. I use tenderquick for any preserving I do , including game birds and fish. You can buy it at some grocery stores and most feed stores. They also make salt cure for hams and such. It's called sugar cure. Good stuff!!

Bud Helms
November 24, 2001, 06:55 PM

Please don't do that. You should know I'm a geek for details. Now I'm all weak in the knees and hyperventilating!

Tim Tang
December 4, 2001, 11:07 AM
Has anyone tried this yet? I'm corning w/ this recipe right now but time's not up yet. Please post any results.