Nitrates (NO3) are chemical compounds created during photosynthesis. When nitrates combine with certain bacteria they break down into nitrites. Sodium nitrate was first found in mines, and for centuries people used this salt-like material to preserve meat.
In the early 1900’s, scientists discovered how to make sodium nitrite synthetically. Since this factory process was easily standardized, synthetic nitrite became popular. Today, these industrial chemicals are also used in products like fertilizer, pyrotechnics and rocket propellant, and can contain heavy metals, arsenic and lead.
But not to worry! Applegate products never contain synthetic sodium nitrite. We cure meat using nitrates found in nature – in celery, specifically. When mixed with a culture starter, the natural nitrates in celery juice turn to nitrites and achieve the desirable results (better flavor and appearance) without the factory side effects.