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Organic Butcher - Owner Don Roden's Superb Meats, Fish, and Other Groceries in a Boutique Setting, Old Dominion Drive in Downtown McLean

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20 hours ago, DonRocks said:

... and some nitrate-free Virginia bacon...

If they truly do not use nitrates, it is not truly bacon. Its smoked, salted pork belly with a limited shelf life and likely an unappetizing brown appearance. Bacon by definition is and has to be cured (nitrates of some form).  If the bacon was an appetizing pink, nitrates were invariably used.  It is a deceptive (and lucrative) practice.

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8 hours ago, Poivrot Farci said:

If they truly do not use nitrates, it is not truly bacon. Its smoked, salted pork belly with a limited shelf life and likely an unappetizing brown appearance. Bacon by definition is and has to be cured (nitrates of some form).  If the bacon was an appetizing pink, nitrates were invariably used.  It is a deceptive (and lucrative) practice.

Interesting - I did not know this. The bacon was light pink, and the farm ... I can't remember the name of it, but I remember it was from Virginia, and I think it started with an "S."

Note, however, that it was the Butcher's handwritten sign that said the bacon was nitrate-free; the farm makes no such claim that I'm aware of - I'll take a closer look next time I'm in (hey, it was good bacon!)

Julien, I know this is a pain, but would you take a few minutes to educate me about nitrates? Namely:

1) Why do they turn the meat pink? I've seen the beige-colored stuff, and I imagine it can get pretty ugly with age.

2) What is the precise definition of curing?

3) What is the precise definition of bacon, and did it originate in Denmark? (During a World Cup game, England was playing Denmark, and the English fans were chanting, <assuming best Cockney accent> "Shove your bacon up your arse!"

4) Is the smoked, salted, nitrate-free pork belly to which you refer ever any good, even early in its shelf life? I thought nitrates were mere preservatives.

5) Why do nitrates have a bad rap? Are they bad for you? Do they occur in nature? Why do they do what they to do bacon?

6) Would you consider offering some classes - perhaps even some online classes? I would consider driving up from DC to attend one. You may not be interested in such a thing, but I'd be happy to try and use my connections to get you some type of show. Heck, maybe I'll do one with you.

Your expertise, as always, would be *greatly* appreciated. Also, please let us know where you are now (same place?) If so, I'm *more* than happy to give you some Social Media Luv, for whatever good that will do you - still, I'd love to do this for you, and it's the very least I can do.

PS: Tri-tip #4 - outstanding once again, but definitely a different dry-rub than #2 - this one used dehydrated onion, and a lot of white spices; the other one (and the best of the bunch) used more red-colored spices. They need to get this more consistent - either that, or list the options; but hopefully you can tell by looking at it that this is a nice cut of steak:

IMG_3918.jpgIMG_3919.JPG

Cheers,
Ron Swanson

 

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12 hours ago, Poivrot Farci said:

I don’t know exactly when the superstitious avoidance of nitrates became fashionable, but it probably has to do with faulty causation/correlation of cancer rates among those who eat cured meats.

The 1970s. Ralph Nader.

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On 2/9/2018 at 7:54 AM, porcupine said:

The 1970s. Ralph Nader.

Did you know this off the top of your head?! If so, that's remarkable.

(Julien, thanks - you went way above the call of duty. You must be one of the smartest people I've ever met. BTW, am I completely off-base with being critical about chemically manfactured MSG? (Executive Summary: I don't think it's bad for you; just that it can be used as a shortcut, similar to Morton's Table Salt or Old El Paso Salsa, but the long-form version is in that link.) If so, I'll refrain from any future comments, and retract my old ones.)

Related Aside: Do you believe umami, discovered in 1908, is really a "fifth flavor?" When there are two conflicting schools of thought, I tend to be biased against the commercial one, but I remain open-minded. When I was growing up, we called it "aftertaste"; in wine, "finish"; and it can be reproduced simply by attempting to exhale with your nose pinched shut and your mouth closed, or even via eructation an hour later. <--- Ha ha, drove you to Google. Seriously, if it was a fifth flavor (or however you want to term it), wouldn't it be "different" rather than merely a lingering effect, or a "deepening" of whatever flavors you're currently experiencing?

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8 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Did you know this off the top of your head?! If so, that's remarkable.

I did.

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On 2/8/2018 at 7:02 PM, Poivrot Farci said:

Executive Summary: Nitrates prevent botulism and keep the meat nice and rosy. Nitrates are in saliva, beets and spinach. There are more nitrates in 2oz of celery than in 2oz of bacon. 

Julien,

Don Roden, owner of Organic Butcher, and I have exchanged some emails. With his permissison, I'm cutting-and-pasting this response to my initial letter (which basically just directed him to your posts):

---

Hi Don,

Thank you for the email regarding our bacon.  I hate it that I miss stuff like this.  Need to do a better job keeping my eye on your site.  We do sell a local bacon that comes to us labeled as uncured.  It contains celery powder instead of sodium nitrate which certainly doesn’t mean it’s nitrate free because of the naturally occurring nitrates that occur.  I am going to make sure that this bacon is not being sold as nitrate free.  We usually promote our Paleo Bacon for those looking for nitrate free.  It is salt cured then smoked, no sugar.  Technically not bacon I guess.  I think this whole topic is very blog worthy for us so that our customers can be better informed.  
 
Thanks!
Don Roden
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On 2/8/2018 at 7:02 PM, Poivrot Farci said:

“No nitrates” is nothing more than a marketing ploy, like the “no growth hormones” on chicken labels.

Your post was really eye opening for me and now I can't not notice all the "no added nitrates" labels on the bacon options in stores. In fact I would say options without that label are in the distinct minority and it's not uncommon to have the entire shelf of bacon options be in the added celery powder category.  I was even surprised to see a brand like d'Artagnan adopt this ploy.  

But one thing I don't get - if adding celery powder has the same effect as adding curing salts, why do the labels say "not preserved"? Is it just more marketing schtick?

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2 hours ago, Rhone1998 said:

But one thing I don't get - if adding celery powder has the same effect as adding curing salts, why do the labels say "not preserved"? Is it just more marketing schtick?

The USDA does not deem celery juice powder and other vegetable derived sources of nitrates to be reliable curing agents and by law can not be called "cured".  Marketing dept takes advantage of that and calls it "uncured" because that sounds so much healthier.

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Maybe we should move these last couple of posts off of this thread? Organic Butcher is doing right by people - I was in there a couple days after the email exchange, and the sign had been changed.

Oh, is this my job? 🤔

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3 hours ago, Poivrot Farci said:

The USDA does not deem celery juice powder and other vegetable derived sources of nitrates to be reliable curing agents and by law can not be called "cured".  Marketing dept takes advantage of that and calls it "uncured" because that sounds so much healthier.

Right, but what I find interesting is they go beyond saying "uncured" to having a second label that explicitly says it's "not preserved" and to keep it refrigerated below 40 degrees at all times.  Maybe there's some reg that they have to say these things but I wonder if it's marketing ... that they're emphasizing the (false) impression that there's no nitrates by pushing the idea you have to be more careful handling this product that you would have if it had contained curing salt.

D'artagnan Bacon

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28 minutes ago, Rhone1998 said:

Right, but what I find interesting is they go beyond saying "uncured" to having a second label that explicitly says it's "not preserved" and to keep it refrigerated below 40 degrees at all times.  Maybe there's some reg that they have to say these things but I wonder if it's marketing ... that they're emphasizing the (false) impression that there's no nitrates by pushing the idea you have to be more careful handling this product that you would have if it had contained curing salt.

D'artagnan Bacon

There are different degrees of "cured".  Shelf stable uncooked dry-cured/fermented meats (salumi, proscuitto, pancetta, etc...) are cured with the addition of nitrate (colloquially #2 cure; time activated) whereas non shelf-stable fully cooked meats (bacon, cooked sausages, pates) are cured with nitrite (#1 cure, temperature activated).  They are both cured in that nitrates extend the shelf life, but the dry-cured do not need to be refrigerated, have lower water content and much higher salt concentration. 

The D'Artagnan label reads: "NO NITRATES OR NITRITES ADDED  except for naturally occurring celery powder".  Bullshit #1

While D'Artagnan maintains that their bacon has no preservatives, salt is most definitely a preservative (salt cod/pork). Bullshit #2.  So is sugar (jams, jellies). Bullshit #3.

Please move this 2nd page to it's own thread. 

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