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What's the difference in the Cures

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Okay, I am new to this and this is probably a typical newbie question but, in simple terms, what are the difference's between the different Curing Salts (Cure #1, Cure #2; are there only two or are there more?) and when do you use each. Reading some of the info out there, this stuff is pretty scary if you get it wrong... There's lots of threads about ensuring you keep them in seperate containers that are easily identifiable so as not to mix them up.

post #2 of 8

Prague Powder #1 vs Prague Powder #2

Posted 1/2/13 • Last updated 1/2/13 • 20,950 views 3 comments

Rick (NEPAS) posted this recently in another thread here. 



CURES - Cures are used in sausage products for color and flavor development as well as retarding the development of bacteria in
the low temperature environment of smoked meats.
Salt and sugar both cure meat by osmosis. In addition to drawing the water from the food, they dehydrate and kill the bacteria that make food spoil. In general, though, use of the word "cure" refers to processing the meat with either sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate.
The primary and most important reason to use cures is to prevent BOTULISM POISONING (Food poisoning). It is very important that any kind of meat or sausage that will be cooked and smoked at low temperature be cured. To trigger botulism poisoning, the requirements are quite simple - lack of oxygen, the presence of moisture, and temperatures in range of 40-140° F. When smoking meats, the heat and smoke eliminates the oxygen. The meats have moisture and are traditionally smoked and cooked in the low ranges of 90 to 185° F. As you can see, these are ideal conditions for food poisoning if you don't use cures. There are two types of commercially used cures.

Prague Powder #1
Also called Insta-Cure and Modern Cure. Cures are used to prevent meats from spoiling when being cooked or smoked at low temperatures (under 200 degrees F). This cure is 1 part sodium nitrite (6.25%) and 16 parts salt (93.75%) and are combined and crystallized to assure even distribution. As the meat temperate rises during processing, the sodium nitrite changes to nitric oxide and starts to ‘gas out’ at about 130 degrees F. After the smoking /cooking process is complete only about 10-20% of the original nitrite remains. As the product is stored and later reheated for consumption, the decline of nitrite continues. 4 ounces of Prague powder #1 is required to cure 100 lbs of meat. A more typical measurement for home use is 1 level tsp per 5 lbs of meat. Mix with cold water, then mix into meat like you would mix seasonings into meat.



Prague Powder #2
Used to dry-cure products. Prague powder #2 is a mixture of 1 part sodium nitrite, .64 parts sodium nitrate and 16 parts salt.

(1 oz. of sodium nitrite with .64 oz. of sodium nitrate to each lb. of salt.)

It is primarily used in dry-curing Use with products that do not require cooking, smoking, or refrigeration. This cure, which is sodium nitrate, acts like a time release, slowly breaking down into sodium nitrite, then into nitric oxide. This allows you to dry cure products that take much longer to cure. A cure with sodium nitrite would dissipate too quickly.
Use 1 oz. of cure for 25 lbs. of meat or 1 level teaspoon of cure for 5 lbs. of meat when mixing with meat.
When using a cure in a brine solution, follow a recipe.







General Table on Cure #1, Cure #2, Morton Tender Quick, Morton Sugar Cure
Here is a better description of US and UK curing salts.

Susan Minor website wrote:
Cure #1
This premix is use in meats and sausages that require a short curing time, and will be smoked, cooked or canned. It is a blend of salt and sodium nitrite, and of course it has the curing properties of sodium nitrite. The salt is added as a carrier and to make it easier to measure. In the United States it is dyed pink, so chefs and the home user will not mistake it for salt or sugar. Though it goes by several different brand and generic names, they all have the same formula of 93.75% salt, and 6.25% sodium nitrite (1 pound of salt plus 1 ounce of sodium nitrite).

Cure #1 can be used as a dry brine (dry cure) or in a wet brine (pickle). It provides the same curing properties of sodium nitrite, and is considered a quick cure, because it starts curing immediately upon contact with the meat. As mentioned earlier, this type of cure is used for curing meats for a short period of time that will be cooked, smoked, or canned. This includes poultry, fish, ham, bacon, luncheon meats, corned beef, pates, sausages and other products too numerous to mention.

NOTE: This is not interchangeable with cure #2, or any of the Morton brand name cures. Also do not mistake this for recipes calling for sodium nitrite, which means pure sodium nitrite.

Cure #2
This cure is a blend of salt and sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate. The salt is added as a carrier and to make it easier to measure. In the United States it is dyed pink, so chefs and the home user will not mistake it for salt or sugar. It goes by several different brand and generic names, but they all have the same formula of 89.75% salt, and 6.25% sodium nitrite, and 4% sodium nitrate (1 pound of salt, plus 1 ounce of sodium nitrite, plus .64 ounce of sodium nitrate).

Cure #2 has the same curing and food preservative properties as sodium nitrite, and the extended curing time of sodium nitrate. It is specifically formulated to be used for making uncooked dry cured products that require several weeks to several months to cure. Dry curing meat or sausage properly cannot be done with Cure #1 which contains sodium nitrite only; it dissipates too quickly.

Cure #2 can be compared to the time release capsules used in medicines – the sodium nitrites start working immediately, while the sodium nitrates slowly reduce over time into sodium nitrites. Thus allowing for the much longer curing times required to dry cure, which can take up to 6 months. Generally used in such sausages as pepperoni, hard salami, geonoa salami, prosciutto hams, dried farmers sausage, capicola and others that do not require cooking, smoking, or refrigeration.

NOTE: This is not interchangeable with cure #1, or by any of the Morton brand name cures. Nor is it interchangeable with sodium nitrate or saltpeter which is measured differently and has different curing times. Also do not mistake this for recipes calling for sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite, which means pure sodium nitrate or pure sodium nitrite.
Morton Tender Quick and Morton Sugar Cure

NOTE: Morton Tender Quick is not a meat tenderizer, or should either be used as a seasoning. These two premixes are essentially the same, and can be used interchangeably. Both are considered fast cures. The difference between the two is that the Sugar Cure has added dextrose and a packet of spice mix. They both contain a combination of high grade salt, sugar, plus both sodium nitrate (.5%) and sodium nitrite (.5%).

Like cure #1, these premix cures have been developed as a cure for meat, poultry, game, fish and sausage that require short curing times, and will be fully cooked. They are NOT interchangeable with cure #1; they measure differently. Unlike cure #1, you don't use any additional salt when making sausage.

Morton Sugar Cure Smoke Flavored
Also know as Morton Sugar Cure Smoke Flavored. This cure premix is not recommended for sausage, but it is listed so that the user does not mistake or confuse this with Morton Sugar Cure (plain). This is a slow cure, and the cure reaction takes longer with Morton Smoke Flavored Sugar Cure than with cure #2 or Morton Sugar Cure (plain) or Morton Tender Quick. This premix is formulated especially for dry curing large cuts of meat like hams, or bacon, that need to be cured over a long period of time.

It contains salt, sugar, sodium nitrate (1%), propylene glycol, caramel color, natural hickory smoke flavor, a blend of natural spices and dextrose (corn sugar) - it does not contain sodium nitrite. The smoke flavor and spices comes in a separate package and can be added if the flavor is desired. This cure doesn't’t have to be mixed with additional salt; and it should not be used for a wet brine (pickle) solution.

NOTE: This is not interchangeable with cure #1, or cure #2, or saltpeter or Morton Tender Quick or Sugar Cure (plain).
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Wow, that'll take a little bit of digesting. Thanks.

post #4 of 8

SS, morning...  I just noticed you are from the UK....   Cures in GB are different, or can be, from the US, in that the amounts of nitrite and nitrate mixed in salt are, or can be different...   Cure addition to meats is based on the amount of nitrite /nitrate...  Usually, 120 to 200 Ppm nitrite and a lesser amount of nitrate are added to meats...   All based on what is being done with the meat... 

Follow reputable recipes from trusted sources....  Gov't publications are your best source... 

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the update. I think I have seen there are some differences so I need to be a bit careful there. I work with a few US colleagues who travel back and forth and occassionally can get me bits but maybe I am best to source UK in this instance.


Thanks again and sure I will be calling on more assistance before too long.

post #6 of 8

We have a UK group  on here.....  click on the link below and join them....   You are ALWAYS welcome here too...   They started that group for questions specific to the UK.......

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

DaveO, thanks, signed up to the UK group when i saw it for this reason but keeping an eye out on your side of the pond for any tips or ideas.

post #8 of 8

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