I have to reduce my sodium intake. I love kosher dill pickles. I'd like to make my own with less or no sodium. So in researching, I see references to using saltpeter in place of salt sometimes. It is described as a preservative. But it doesn't look like it can completely replace salt. Is there a way I can pickle and brine without using sodium? Will the taste be close to kosher dill pickles? It would be fine if I have to eat it within a few weeks.

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    Most pickles, by definition, are just salted vegetables. Removing salt kind of misses most of the point of pickling and no way will you get even close in flavor. You might as well explore some other processing method, e.g. drying, fermenting and preserving, or just season it well and eat it fresh. You can consider substituting sodium salt with potassium salt, which, at least tastes salty. But please do it correctly and scientifically and follow FDA guidelines. Eating too much sodium is bad, but too much potassium is just as bad, so is eating no sodium at all. Dec 7, 2019 at 23:15
  • Saltpeter is a nitrite - its also not healthy in quantity, actually less so than salt Dec 8, 2019 at 3:21
  • Saltpeter is a nitrate (potassium nitrate). It is more (acutely) toxic than table salt, although its LD50 is very large (2000-5000 mg/kg). Nitrite is significantly more toxic (acute toxicity). Sodium nitrite's LD50 is about 70 mg/kg. Since both are used for preserving/curing meats, it has often happened that confusing the two has led to poisoning. Dec 9, 2019 at 13:55
  • Chronic toxicity is another story - both nitrate and nitrite are strongly linked to formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines in the stomach. This can be partially reduced by addition of Vitamin C and other substances to cured meats. Dec 9, 2019 at 14:03
  • Why nitrate? Can't we use potassium chloride ? Dec 9, 2019 at 17:37

1 Answer 1


Thanks for your reply. I think I may have found the answer here. Apparently you can sous vide pickles to pasteurize them, and then leave them packed in vinegar so no bacteria can grow. As I read this, salt is just a flavoring agent here. https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/make-crisp-flavor-packed-pickles-on-the-quick

Now, is there a way to make corned beef or pastrami without salt?

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    Welcome to Seasoned Advice. Can you extend your answer a little bit? Please open a new question for the new question. Keeps he place nice and tidy.
    – Johannes_B
    Dec 8, 2019 at 4:31
  • Thanks for replying. I asked about brine in the original post, so I bought up corned beef and pastrami to develop the brine question. I don't understand what you mean by extend the answer. Dec 8, 2019 at 18:47
  • 2
    This is not a forum, but a Q/A-site. Specific answers to specific questions.
    – Johannes_B
    Dec 9, 2019 at 4:35

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