I finally received my uncle's yummy ground beef summer sausage recipe, and, oops, it has (synthetic) nitrates/nitrites in it!
I'm wondering if there are some knowledgeable folks out there who could tell me if replacing the "Morton Tender Quick" with plain salt will work as well, or if I should add more salt, and/or celery juice, or cook it differently.
Day 1 - mix all above ingredients in large tupperware bowl - burp air and refrigerate
Day 2 - mix again and refrigerate
Day 3 - repeat
Day 4 - repeat
Day 5 - mix again on the 5th or 6th day and form into equal loaves of 5 or 6. Line bottom of broiler pan with aluminum foil (for easy clean up). Bake in oven at about 190 degrees F, turn every 90 minutes to retain shape and even cooking. Approximate cooking time: 7 - 8 hours.
I think I'd prefer to use fresh, pressed garlic instead of the powder, and would love some alternative suggestions for the liquid smoke, too, if you have any. Making in a smoker would be a real solution, though like my uncle, I'd probably make this in a regular oven.
I have learned through experience that it is far more convenient and effective to use garlic powder as opposed to fresh crushed garlic. The powder, because of its granularity, distributes throughout the mixture far more uniformly.
There is garlic powder, and then there is garlic powder. I dehydrate and grind all my own garlic powder. I never buy that sawdust that they sell in the stores. Mine stays fresh and aromatic for months with a good tight seal.
As for nitrates and nitrites, choose your poison. By using nitrates and nitrites, you run a small risk of getting cancer from nitrosamines. Cancer can be detected early and treated. If so, you might have a fighting chance. By not using nitrates and nitrites, you run a small risk of getting clostridium botulinum, which will be detected only after you have died, quickly and quite painfully, with no chance to treat it, fighting or otherwise. I use the nitrates and nitrites and don't think twice about it. Others' mileage may vary.
Ivan is 100% correct. Also, from the few books I've read, the nitrates and nitrites is sausage are at lower levels than many vegetables. Something about beet greens having 1000 times the level as summer sausage has assuaged my fears. I forget the vegetables and the numbers, but in another book I read something about nitrates and nitrites being useful in the intestine, naturally, to prevent botulism in the moist, oxygen excluded environment that the bacteria likes to grow in. not every toxin is unnatural, and many toxins are necessary for our survival.
Personally I avoid using Tender Quick. It means I have to make smaller batches that will be used very quickly and also I add lots of celery, chopped as finely as possible, into the mix. Celery has high levels of natural nitrites.
I dont know it it protects me from botulism, but I do like the taste. (Tho my family accuses me of overuse of celery. In soups, etc. I even chop it up & put it under the skin of baked chicken. Would never make juice without it. Ive always loved it. )
Wait! I can smoke garlic!?! This is fantastic news!
In defence of nitrites/nitrates:
I've tried with and without. Using nitrates/nitrates means I don't need as much salt. A lot less salt. Like 1/3 the amount of salt. It also keeps longer and I have a much higher success rate of curing meat with a little added help from curing salts.
Looking at ancestral recipes, the amount of nitrates/nitrites they used in pre-industrial times is scary! I don't know how anyone survived eating cured sausage, but they did. We use maybe 2% of the amount they did in modern recipes.
That said, I'm not a huge fan of nitrites/nitrates. For a start, some people are really sensitive to them. The modern stuff is processed with polypropylene glycol. It is also an ingredient I cannot make myself. It's a controlled substance in Canada so we have to register with the government if we want to use it.