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to cure or not to cure? - Page 2

post #21 of 38
Thread Starter 
The subject always comes up, I guess, because there is so much conflicting information out there. After doing all the research and with the help from folks here, I'm going to be making my first batch of jerky in another week or so WITH CURE. There is no way I would make it without after all I've read, but to each his own I guess.

Little Chief, thanks for the recipe!!! I really appreciate it and looks like you got some good jerky out of it. And, Desertlites thanks for the info on how much cure you use. DDave, thanks for posting that thread...it's very informative.

I didn't mean to start a huge debate, but I was really confused by all the conflicting info out there. Anyway, nothing wrong with a healthy debate I guess.
post #22 of 38
Sorry, Meatball. My comment about why does it always come up was not directed at you. That is one of the main reasons that SMF exists in my humble opinion is to help new people get reliable information. I would never want to discourage anyone from asking questions and I'm sorry if my post suggested this. Lord knows I did enough question asking when I first joined.

What frustrates me is that as soon as someone asks "do I need to cure jerky?" you get several people answering yes and recommending generally accepted safe practices followed by some anecdotal evidence from other people who don't think it is necessary. To me recommending practices that aren't generally considered safe is a disservice to the new members who are looking for guidance.

You are absolutely correct. There's nothing wrong with a healthy debate. Hopefully the healthy debates will also include healthy advice. biggrin.gif

Have fun with your jerky. The homemade stuff is best in my opinion. And be sure to post pics of your jerky smoke.

post #23 of 38
I think you covered it all. I actually didn't think of it as a debate because there is no doubt you are taking a risk of illness by not curing meat if it is going to be in the danger zone. Just a proven fact. If your taking the jerky to 160 before you dehydrate the curing issue is mooooot. Whether you choose to cure is your own choice.

How much garlic you put in your rub is a preference..... curing meat that is going to be in the danger zone be it jerky, bacon, etc. to decrease/eleminate the chance of illness is a fact.

Now down to the good stuff..... lets see the jerky.
post #24 of 38
I guess I should have added in my first post "You don't need a cure in a dehydrator if you use safe meat handling practices" I thought that went unsaid. All I was offering my opinion (and how I prepare) and trying to help everyone (myself included) see the different practices and understand them as well make an educated decision.
In my humble opinion this Forum instills and propogates the exchange of creative ideas, opinions, practices on different meat preparation. After doing my research I agreed that using cures definitely takes an error factor out of it. But that a lot of people do not use cures myself included.

I will strike all my comments and I will discontinue my careless, useless opinions / drivel on this forum.
post #25 of 38
Cure is important to use when drying jerky. Probably not as important when cooking jerky. Most people make jerky in an oven or dehydrator or smoker at temperatures over 160 degrees. I think there is very little danger as the little strips of meat are void of any moisture in a very short time. Lack of moisture inhibits the spoilage.

On the other hand, smoke your strips at temperatures that will not cook the meat (say 100 to 120 degrees), then dry the meat at temperatures less than 100 degrees until all moisture is gone. It will take several days to finish. You will have a much better product and you had better have used cure.
post #26 of 38
It is important when cooking or smoking anything that is in the danger zone... between 40 and 140 degrees for more than 4 hours, to be cured. If you are cooking a butt or chuckie or brisket and the temp on the smoker goes down and your meat is in the smoker for over 4 hours after reaching 40 degrees and not reaching 140 degrees.... you are growing bacteria and creating toxins.
Think of it this way. When you make buckboard bacon or cold smoke belly meat.... would you eat it without frying it up? When I make CB if I don't take it up to 155-160 I always cook it before eating. This is also important when holding hot foods for extended times. Temp should be above 140. Temps between 40 degrees and 140 degrees is the perfect environment for bacteria to multipy whether it is moist... dry... whatever. Moisture is a factor but it isn't the key factor here. Temperature is. Bacteria can double in number in as little as 20 minutes in the danger zone.

Quote from USDA Food Service and Inspection page:

Pathogenic bacteria cause illness. They grow rapidly in the "Danger Zone" – the temperatures between 40 and 140 °F – and do not generally affect the taste, smell, or appearance of food. Food that is left too long at unsafe temperatures could be dangerous to eat, but smell and look just fine. E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, and Salmonella are examples of pathogenic bacteria.

I was amazed at how long I have been cooking before I learned this rule of thumb. Knowing it could keep someone or yourself from getting very sick. Sorry if I've offended anyone by spreading this info. Not my intention at all. I think it is important to try and pass on correct information especially where getting sick is the price of not knowing.
post #27 of 38
Meatball, you can call your local Publix and they will "special order" you TQ. They will get in a case and probably keep it in the back so you will have a lifetime supply at your disposal...That is if your current hook up doesn't continue to work out. Or if you need some this fall, I will be spending one weekend every month in G'ville watching our newborn while my wife is in class, I can bring you some from the supply from the back room at my Publix.
post #28 of 38
Thread Starter 
Cool, thanks for the info & the offer Phreak and congrats on the newborn!! You got some great photography on your blog, I just checked it out. I enjoy taking pics of a lot of the insects, especially the colorful spiders, in this neck of the woods.
post #29 of 38
The newborns not here yet, due in August. I've hiked around Paynes prairie with the camera before, there no shortage of great spiders and insects in your neck of the woods. Maybe when our little one gets big enough to lug around in a backpack we can meet up and go for a photo hike. But in the meantime seriously if you need some TQ just let me know.
post #30 of 38
It's a simple answer to a simple topic that people insist on making complicated.

1) All smoked jerky is ALWAYS cured - By the nitrous oxide in the smoke (smoe ring=cured meat). So adding cure salt to a jerky that's going to be smoked is pointless, completely redundant. Fact.
About 3 hours smoke of 1/4 inch jerky will cure it through and through JUST WITH THE SMOKE.

2) dehydrator jerky does not need to be cured either. But you can if you want to.
The drying process, marinade, salt in the rub/marinade will take care of the preservation side. If you vacpack uncured dehydratr jerky it'll keep perfectly happily for months, maybe even years.

That's pretty much it folks.
Anything else is over-egging the pudding :-)
post #31 of 38
Here we go again . . .icon_rolleyes.gif

All right, CA. Let's assume you are right on Point #1 which I don't believe for a second that you are. And even if you were about the nitrous oxide part , you would be putting people who use electirc smokers at risk since electric smokers rarely without some help produce a significant smoke ring..

But aside from that, if dehydration takes care of the preservation side, what keeps bacteria from growing during the meat's extended time between 40° and 140° -- assuming it ever gets to 140°?

post #32 of 38

Question from newbie

Take it easy, I just got on this forum to learn. I have been making jerky for years in my little chief. I make my own brine with salt, soy sauce, etc, but never used "curing salt". We have never had any issues and I have kept it stored in the pantry for months. Isn't regular SALT enough to "cure" the meat or does the actual "curing salt" do something additional.

I don't think the indians had any special curing salt did they?

Thanks for your help.
post #33 of 38
Here is a good link, you may like what it says or not.


I know someone here that does hers drying in the sun out doors, no thank you.
post #34 of 38
I don't think they kept records on who died from food poisoning (E.coli, botulism, etc.) or hospitals to treat them either.

The thing that gets me is why would a person not want to use a cure when making jerky. The cost of curing salts shouldn't be the problem for no higher than they are.

If it is a Macho thing I image a good case of food poisoning would change your thinking on that also.

Today we read about food poisonings almost every day somewhere.

Last week here in the KC Metro area a patron got sick at a popular Mexican Restaurant and an ambulance was called.

When they arrived expecting 1 patient they found that they now had 22 patients that needed to be transported to the hospital.

It was later learned that 2 weeks before this same restaurant had to have 5 customers taken to the hospital.

They are now closed while investigators try to determine what made them sick...

The members here on SMF try to pass along safe information to those who are new at the art of smoking meat.

I realize that not everyone does everything the same, however just because you have done something which the health dept. or the USDA recommends You Should Not Do and have gotten away with it does not mean that it is safe.

Food safety should be the 1st priority when giving someone advice on how to cook something.

Granted back in the 1800s and even the early 1900s food was prepared differently than it is today. Today we are constantly upgrading the standards for food handling and preparation.

I seriously doubt that anyone could give you any accurate data on how many early pioneers or Indians died or got sick from tainted food.

We should all be thankful that we have the ability to track and contain food born illnesses.

We live in a Sue Crazy world today and when a customer can sue McDonalds and win a Big Bucks Settlement because the coffee was too hot, just think what they could win if your food poisoned them...

Just some food for thought, I have read several posts on here people wanting to know how much they should charge for this or that.

My position on that subject is unless you are Licensed as a restaurant or caterer,or some other type food preparer don't do it...
post #35 of 38
Yes the curing salt does to something additional because it contains nitrates.

Well, actually they probably did. Nitrate was present originally as a natural impurity in the salts used in curing but, unknown to the users, was a key ingredient in the curing process.

But this debate has probably run its course. I think Ron and Paul have summed it up nicely as did Rich in his linked articles.

Bottom line: if you don't want to cure your jerky, don't. You did not mention at what temperature you dry it at and at what final temperature (if any) you dry it to? To say that you don't cure jerky and you've never had any problems does not tell the whole story. There may be other parts of your process that is making the jerky safe.

I think we can all agree that for the safest possible product, it is a good idea to use cure. And since there are a lot of new folks that come here looking for information and have never made jerky, people tend to make recommendations that err on the side of safety. Sure you can tweak the recipe or process as you get more advanced, but for the new folks, it's probably best to follow the USDA guidelines.

post #36 of 38
Thanks for the feedback, both this post and the one just above. I probably had it in the 160+ range and for about 10 hrs. That may have done the trick.

To answer the question of why NOT to use curing salt: I don't like preservatives in my food. By using pure SALT I thought I was being safe as most bacteria would be killed by the saline solution. Maybe I was wrong but this was my assumption. I brine my meat for at least 24-36 hrs in a pretty salty solution and then dry/cook it. It's hard to tell what temp the Little Chief stays overnight but with it completely closed I can usually get it up to at least 160.

I am not saying to Cure is wrong or visa-versa, I am just trying to understand and to eliminate preservatives in my food.
post #37 of 38
Understandable. Lots of folks don't like the added sodium that goes along with the TenderQuick curing salt. Many use Instacure (or Prague powder I think it's called) because it takes a whole lot less of it to do the job. If you're tryng to stay away from preservatives, I don't know if it addresses that or not.

Here is a good thread that is worth a read about brining vs. curing etc.


Since the jerky is so thin and your Little Chief hits 160° you may be getting the meat through the "danger zone" (40° to 140°) in an acceptable amount of time so it is essentially cooked. Lots of little details involved, that's for sure.biggrin.gif

post #38 of 38

DDave, I agree with you about this subject being beaten to death on here.  I recently got into a brief "discussion" on a thread because I was sick of reading posts referencing other posts as credible information.  Needless to say I was the bad guy on that one because I could not find one bit of information on the FDA's web site about this 40-140 rule relating specifically to the slow cooking of meat and pointed this out.  I ended up e-mailing the FDA's little food safety help people to ask them for some proven information we could use on here to settle some of these issues and am still awaiting a response.  I may not have communicated my thoughts very effective on that particular post but like you said; you read so many threads that go off topic on this you just find yourself thinking, "Really, we're doing this again?"

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