Jerky - Whats the deal with Cure?

Discussion in 'Making Jerky' started by philfog, May 6, 2014.

  1. philfog

    philfog Newbie


    so i want to make Jerky in my smoker.

    I did a first test run this weekend and it didn't come out great. I had made an overnight marinade of soy sauce, cider vinegar, salt, garlic, franks red hot, pepper etc and then put it in the smoker at around 150. after about 2/3 hours like that i added some other things to the smoker and brought the temp up to a bit over 200. i'm pretty sure this was my mistake.

    the Jerky came out much more crunchy then i would have liked.

    seems like if you are going to smoke jerky you are only smoking jerky and you need to keep them temp down????

    ok so my real question is, what is the deal with Cure? after my little experiment i did alot more reading then i did before. and there seems to be some USDA rules about Jerky. I'm generally not a fan of using nitrates for anything, so i'd like to avoid that and keep things more natural - that said i dont want to get myself or anyone else sick. would love a primer of cures in general and some thoughts on if you have to use it in Jerky or not.

    also any general tips about making jerky would be great!!

    thanks y'all!
  2. hap12

    hap12 Fire Starter

    I used to make jerky in a dehydrator. Haven't made it in my smoker yet. I believe the cure is supposed to kill any bacteria in the meat. Inside a smoker at low temps bacteria will breed like crazy and the temps aren't high enough to kill them off. Also I think it supposed to take care of parasites as well. That being said, when I was younger and less cautious I did make quite a bit of jerky without cure and never got sick from it. But it like playing Russian roulette, eventually your going to lose.

    If you look into the history of curing meats and making jerky its scary. Peolle used to hang the meat from tree branches to dry it out!!!
  3. The only time that cure is essential is when you're smoking at low works to prevent botulinum toxin.

    The USDA recommends that jerky be heat treated to control pathogens.....

    "The risk of foodborne illness from home-dried jerky can be decreased by allowing the internal temperature of the meat to reach 160°F, but in such a way as to prevent case hardening."
  4. phrett

    phrett Smoke Blower

    I've found that using lean beef cut 1/8" thick or so, and marinaded with a salt or soy sauce (also salt) based marinade is sufficient protection from pathogens when the meat is cooked at 155-175° for a minimum of 4 hours. If any pork is used in the process or in formed jerky, then I would consider a cure unless processed faster at a higher temp, but then the drying time is shortened an things get mor cooked than dried.

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