Pdf version of this booklet: The Naming of Prague Salt
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At our pork processing plant in Cape Town, Woody’s Consumer Brands, we use Prague Powder to cure the meat. I wondered where the name comes from and a fascinating journey started. Prague Salt and its later version of Prague Powder are meat cures that contain sodium nitrite, a revolutionary development which transformed the cured meat industry. The name Prague Salt is closely tied with the direct addition of nitrite in curing brines. The one story is the story of the other.
From the outset, a word of caution. This is the background to the enigmatic name, Prague Salt. The historical context in Germany, Prague and in the USA are considered between the middle of the 1800 to the 1920’s, related to sodium nitrite. It does not deal with the safety of nitrite in foods. An extraordinary amount of data on nitrites became available since 1925 which form the basis of every government on earth and the Wold Health Organisation’s decisions to allowing its use in the curing of meat. A full overview of these considerations will be presented in a future article.
With that cautionary, let us begin.
In order to understand what Prague Salt is and why it is so important for meat curing we begin with an overview of the curing process.