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Microbes. Know your enemy...better

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Ok, I have been reading around, and basically, I keep hearing "four hour rule", and "should I cure?", but nobody actually says anywhere (or anywhere that I have found yet) Why. Now I only know how to explain this in a non-scientific way, because it is what we are taught in the abattoirs, so please don't think that I am being condescending by this, it is in my own words 

Types of microbes (nasties)

Although there are beneficial bacteria, I'm not going to say anything about them, because, seriously, this isn't the "making yoghurt" forum, but I do have to draw attention to the fact that, some microbes hurt you some don't...and some are actually good for you, but here, we are only dealing with the nasties.

Basically, there are 2 types of nasties that can make you sick food poisoners,  and food spoilers The main difference between the two is that one of them, is in itself poisonous, and the other, excretes the poison into the food...not really much of a difference, food poisoning is food poisoning, no matter which way you get  it...whether by eating a dead poisonous bug, or eating poisonous bug poop.


Life of a microbe.

Microbes are life. They are little animals, that need moisture, food, warmth...and time. Now, when smoking/curing meat, our weapons against these little varmints are moisture and warmth. Curing, causes the microbe to "dry out", they die, everybody happy. Just a piece of trivia...There has not been a single case of food poisoning when a salt/nitrate cure has been used (properly). The other thing to prevent microbes growing, is using temperature. Microbes thrive at temperatures between 5 and 60 degrees C (41-140f)...below that temperature they go dormant, and don't breed (but don't die either...hence the danger of thawing/freezing/thawing food), above that, they start to die, but between 140f and 176f they may be dying slower than they are breeding i/e they may have time to multiply before they cook to death. Now an internal temperature of 165f is recommended in USA...but, personally, I know that my knife needs to be dipped for 2 seconds in 180f for it to be sterilised...and that's a knife, with no pores or variations in its' surface depth. I also know that tinned food is sterile (i/e microbe free), and it has been exposed to at least 248f...for about an hour. Another piece of trivia, is that meat, from healthy animals, is sterile (no microbes), until it is cut.


So, YES, if you are not curing get an internal temperature of AT LEAST 165 degrees fahrenheit.

and YES, use a salt/nitrate cure if you don't intend on getting this temperature...lol, one last piece of trivia...Nitrate isn't a very effective cure, NITRITE is, but to get nitrite, the nitrate has to react with some protein from the microbes.


Good luck...hope this helps.



post #2 of 7

Or you can simply purchase a nitrite cure like Cure1.   Nitrite cures are short term cures.  Nitrite is converted to Nitrous Oxide (the curative process) in a relatively short period of time leaving very little Nitrite in the meat.  The conversion of Nitrite is temperature, water, and oxygen dependent.


Nitrates are used for long term curing because they are gradually broken down into nitrites by biological action.  The nitrates themselves do not have a curative action.  It is the gradual release of the active agent Nitrite and their subsequent conversion to NO that cures over a long period.  


Nitrites are converted to nitrosamines when exposed to high heat, aka frying or high temperature searing.  We use nitrites to cure products exposed to high heat because we know after the "cure" time the amounts of nitrites available in the product is very low, so very few nitrosamines are produced.  We do not recommend nitrates in high temp preparation because the amount of Nitrite remaining in the final product is unknown.


Hope this was helpful


Welcome to SMF



post #3 of 7

Al i think he was talking about the microbes over all that's why he mentioned cutlery safety

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by michael ark View Post

Al i think he was talking about the microbes over all that's why he mentioned cutlery safety

Yes, and no :) 

I am doing my first cure now, on some bacon. I have found that this forum has answers to every question that I can come up with...It is just finding them, and knowing which questions to ask. I was misinformed about the nature of cures, and I believed that nitrates were predominately in DQ cure...and I was wrong. It is sodium nitrite. Generally, though, because I am almost completely new to smoking/curing/preserving etc, I have found that everybody here appears to have a very good knowledge and understanding of what they are doing and why they are doing it. It is going to take me a while to get the hang of all the jargon :) It is also going to take me a long time to understand not only the Hows, but the whys, as well. To this end, because I am a complete newbie, I don't mind being corrected...so long as the next complete newbie gets the right answer in the end. I also think that SMF could benefit from some sticky newbie threads i/e Basic How and why to brine recipe, Wet and dry Curing for Dummies, Easiest smoking meat etc. I am at an advantage to other newbies, in that my new smoker is a Christmas present, so I have plenty of time to research/browse the forum (i/e I'm curing bacon atm, I also have plans to do some cheese, at the same time as the bacon, as it is cold smoking, and a turkey in a couple of weeks, and hams in a month or two)...but other people, just starting to get into meat preservation methods, may not have the patience, to read through everyones experiences/threads...So, to that end, that is what I am going to try to do. Learn as much as I can, and try to show people (in particular, people with no experience in smoking meat) just how great and easy a pastime smoking meat is, if done properly and safely. 

If I am out of line trying to contribute this, please let me know...I don't want to annoy anyone, and it is far easier for me just to read the threads, and ask questions about my own projects,rather than create new posts


post #5 of 7



Don't be ridiculous.  You made some great comments and I found your post an interesting read.   But like many new members you still have a bit to learn.  That's why we are here, to help out. 


You have an interest in learning how this stuff works,  we like that.   Most people that visit the forum just want to know how to do something,  they find a recipe, copy it to a word file on their computer and follow the directions.  That is perfectly fine, I have no problem at all with people not being as interested in the science as you and I are.


Glad to have you aboard and keep asking questions.  I knew very little about  this stuff when I first joined the forum, I had some knowledgeable members send me in the right direction, I learned and now hope to do the same for you.

post #6 of 7

Dreegle my favorite word you used was, " Properly"! Proper handling and refrigeration goes along way to keep the Nasties in check...We have many types of people coming here from kids getting there first Smoker to Retired Chefs and Competition Q'ers...All are welcome and encouraged to participate...We have guidelines like 40-140*F in 4 hours, because I offers a margin of safety to total Rookie Smoker's and reminds the Veteran Smoker's to be Safe...We have similar reasons for preaching to Always use Cure if you plan to smoke anything at temps below 200*F...Your posts are welcome and feel free to ask questions about anything...JJ

post #7 of 7

I find it refreshing that you are willing to learn. So many guys come with a little knowledge and think they know it all. Those are the guys we end up having to send away. Thanks for already having made a contribution to this forum

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