A sausage is not a sausage without the curing salt. The same is true with tocino, it may look like it but taste will be different. Prague powder or curing salt is responsible for giving the processed meat product it characteristic flavor and color.
Try to make tocino without prague powder. Drop me a comment, if you prove me wrong.
It also function as preservative. A substance that kills spoilage bacteria, especially the dangerous Clostridium botulinum.
Curing Salt has different formulations:
Cure #1 — 6.25% Sodium nitrite: 93.75% Salt. For fresh and cooked sausages.
Cure #2 — 6.25% Sodium nitrite: 4% Sodium nitrate and 89.75% Salt For dry-cured sausages.
Tender Quick — 0.5% Sodium nitrite, 0.5% Sodium nitrate, Salt, Sugar, and Propylene glycol. For brine curing.
Saltpeter — 100% Potassium nitrate, it is not recommended due to difficulty in measurements.
In high concentrations it may yield these possible side effects. They are the results or various studies. Prague powder concentration in finished products is limited to 200 ppm as stated in Philippine Regulation on Food Additives. Some regulatory agencies require lower values.
- It forms carcinogenic nitrosamines in meats when exposed to high temperatures. However, antioxidants like vitamin C and E may inhibit nitrosamine formation. Studies have linked it to various types of cancer.
- It has been linked to the triggering migraines in migraine prone individuals.
- Frequent ingestion of cured meats may cause COPD, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- If ingested in high concentration, it may cause methemoglobinemia, a disorder characterized by the presence of a higher than normal level of methemoglobin (metHb) in the blood.