Curing salts are used in food preservation to prevent or slow spoilage by bacteria or fungus. Generally they are used for pickling meats as part of the process to make sausage or cured meat. Curing salts are generally a mixture of table salt and sodium nitrate. Common types of curing salts are Prague powder #1, which is 6.25% sodium nitrite and 93.75% table salt, and Prague powder #2 which is 6.25% sodium nitrite, 4% sodium nitrate, and 89.75% table salt.
Two types of curing salts are used in the preservation and sausage making, both called "Prague powder", and both dyed pink to help it blend better with meat and to prevent it from being confused with common table salt. Prague powder #1 or pink salt contains 93.75% table salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite. Prague powder #2 contains sodium nitrate in addition to sodium nitrite. The sodium nitrate found in Prague powder #2 gradually breaks down over time into sodium nitrite, and by the time a dry cured sausage is ready to be eaten, no sodium nitrate should be left. As an additive, the sodium nitrite or nitrate serves to inhibit the growth of bacteria, specifically Clostridium botulinum in an effort to prevent botulism, and helps preserve the color of cured meat.
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