to cure or not to cure?

Discussion in 'Making Jerky' started by meatball, Jun 5, 2009.

  1. meatball

    meatball Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I have been stocking up on good jerky beef when I spot it cheap in the store. Anyway, I'm about ready to try it for the first time and none of the local stores (I have called and visited several) seem to carry Tenderquick (the nearest store, according to the Mortons website, is about an hour away from me). Plus, all the online sources I've found charge more for shipping than for the actual product.

    Anyway, I have seen several recipes online that don't use a cure anyway. I'm not expecting the jerky to sit on my shelf for weeks, I would imagine it would be eaten up in a few days and I would have no problem storing it in the fridge. Should I skip the cure?
  2. mulepackin

    mulepackin Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    There are a great many threads on this very topic here on the forum. A search will yield more than you can read in an hour. Both camps being represented. Given your situation, I would skip it. I do generally use it when I make jerky however.
  3. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Meatball..... the reason for using cure isn't to preserve the jerky for eating later.... it's to safely smoke the jerky for a long period of time while in the danger zone for bacteria and toxins. Remember that meat should not be left between 40-140 for more than 4 hours. Like mulepackin said..... there is a lot of info on this subject. On this site and on the internet. I don't make jerky without using cure.
  4. meatball

    meatball Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Yeah, I've been reading the past posts and other info on the 'net, even watching how-to's on youtube, but it seems to have only confused me more. Guess people fall into both camps on it. I just want it to be safe, especially since my kids will want to eat it.
  5. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That's my opinion. Better safe than sorry. I fall into the "a little wacko" in the clean and safe department. I made a few batches of jerky with a dehydrator years ago and didn't use a cure. Didn't understand the basis for it when I started smokin meats. From what I've learned on the forum and on my own on the internet..... I choose the cure. The jerky kits come with the cure. It's a great place to start. I use 3 different cures... the sugar cure when I want sweet... the salt cure when I want salty... and the LEM or pink salt when I want to get away from both. Let us know how it turns out.
  6. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I always use it, for the safety factor and it does change the flavor of the meat.
    Do you have a Gander Mountain or Bass Pro near you? they have jerky kits which come with a bag of cure.
    Good Luck
  7. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Bass Pro also carries the LEM (pink salt) so you can use your own marinade.
  8. lcruzen

    lcruzen Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I would never recommend making jerky without cure.
  9. meatball

    meatball Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Just called a cold storage place near my house (why didn't I think about them before?) Anyway, nice guy, said he would sell me some, so that solves it. I would like to get the kit and we have a Gander Mountain about 45 mins. away. May be worth the trip, but I'll try the local guy first, I think. Thanks for the opinions guys.
  10. littlechief

    littlechief Fire Starter

    I recently made my first batch of jerky. Knowing that my little chief will probably never go above 160 I decided to use a cure. I checked my grocery stores and was unable to find Tenderquick. I called my local Butcher, he sold me what he called real curing salt and said to only use 1tsp per 5lbs of meat and just add it to your brine. I believe it was something like $3. for 1/4lb of curing salt. Jerky turned out great and nobody got sick.
  11. meatball

    meatball Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I might PM you about your brine, if that's OK. I got mine from the cold storage place I mentioned and it sounds like it's just like the salt you were sold. The guy sold me a 1 lb. bag for $1!!! Can you believe it? Said that would cover it for him, so I thanked him immensely and told him I'd bring him some jerky. Haven't made it yet, but probably will next week.
  12. littlechief

    littlechief Fire Starter

    Wow, $1. per lb. what a deal! I'll try to remember to post my brine recipe when I get home. If I forget feel free to PM me. [​IMG]
  13. I have been making jerky for several years using my dehydrator. And whenever I run out of cure I have found that Wal-Mart usually carries it in their sporting goods section along with different flavors. You may want to try that.
  14. jjrokkett

    jjrokkett Meat Mopper

  15. littlechief

    littlechief Fire Starter

    Here ya go...

    For 5-lbs of beef, trimmed:

    Marinate in:

    1 C Soy Sauce

    1/3 C Worcestershire

    1/3 C. Steak Sauce (A-1, L&P, Tabasco) I used Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce

    2 tsp Kosher or Plain Salt

    1.5 tsp Garlic Powder

    1 tsp Onion Powder

    1 tsp Black Pepper, freshly ground

    1/2 C. Brown Sugar

    1/8 C. Honey

    1 tsp Curing Salt

    Marinate for 24-36 hours in fridge.
    I let it dry for a hour on the racks before going into the smoker and sprinkle someMcCormic's Grillmate Montreal Steak Seasoning on both sides.
    Smoke with apple wood (or what ever you like) at about 160 for 5-6 hours. Time will vary depending on thickness of meat and how dry you like your jerky. I use about 1/4 inch slices and like it slightly moist in the middle.
    Made some pretty sweet jerky with just a little spice. If you like things hotter use a spicy sauce instead of the Sweet Baby Rays.
    Hope this helps..Good Luck!!
  16. littlechief

    littlechief Fire Starter

    I believe you are 100% correct![​IMG]
  17. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    A cure is recommended whether you are smoking jerky or dehydrating jerky. As a matter of fact... instructions in the jerky kits that contain the seasoning and the cure instruct to take the jerky to 160 degrees before dehydrating it. I'm sure a lot of it is covering their own liability... but cure should be used when smoking or dehydrating meat. The USDA requirments for jerky include boiling the jerky after it is cured to 160 degrees and then dehydrating or smoking it. I think we are talkin a lot of overkill here but cure should be used regardless of your method of drying the jerky.
  18. desertlites

    desertlites Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    sausage 1 level tsp. prague 1 per 5 lbs meat-jerkey 1 level tsp per 3 lbs meat-I ALWAYS use cure when I do jerkey.
  19. jjrokkett

    jjrokkett Meat Mopper

  20. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    This thread should provide some useful informatioin.

    If there are then they also most likely recommend essentially "cooking" the meat to 160° to make it safe.

    There you go. If cure is not used there must be some other method used to get the meat through the danger zone safely.

    How is boiling the marinade going to "add numerous places for bacteria to inject themselves"?

    But they cover the bases by recommeding boiling the marinade and essentially cooking the meat.

    Honestly I don't know why this debate constantly comes up. I think we have a responsibility on this board when it comes to food safety to give advice that is backed by an authoritative source (USDA or some other organization) and verifiably safe. Not just considered safe by one person because "they have always done it that way and they're still kickin' etc" or based on their "reasoning" or dissection of the safe recommendations. I am not an expert therefore I look to sources that are and verify them before I would pass them on to someone else. If you don't want to cure your jerky -- don't. But it is irresponsible to advse other people that cure is not necessary without also spelling out all of the other conditions that would make it unnecessary like safe meat handling, having the meat reach an internal temp of 160° and passing through the danger zone in less than 4 hours. Lots of folks come here with very little background in curing/smoking meats and may not know of all of the intricacies involved. One person's careless comment or opinion could spell disaster for another member if some important detail is left out.


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