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Calculating bacon cure time using Morton® Tender Quick® or Sugar Cure® (Plain or Smoke Flavored)

Discussion in 'Curing' started by mr t 59874, Oct 28, 2013.

  1. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    With all the different dry cured bacon recipes, I was beginning to question myself whether or not the one I have been using  was the one recommended by Morton® or had I misunderstood and been doing it wrong for a good many years.   After contacting Morton® the following was confirmed and I felt reassured.

    Morton® recommends dry curing pork belly.  The rate of cure is 7 days per inch thickness using one application of Tender Quick® or Sugar Cure® (Plain or Smoke Flavored) over the entire belly of  1/2 oz. or 1 TBS per pound of meat.

     At 7 days per inch, it takes the cure 7 days to penetrate 1/2 inch from both sides to reach the center.  This calculates to be 1/14 of an inch per side per day to reach 100% saturation.

    A 2 inch pork belly would then take 14 days minimum to cure to the center, which is 1 inch.
    Morton® then recommends a two day equalization period resulting in a minimum of 16 day's cure time  for a two inch thick pork belly.

    Hope this helps those who questioned the recommended cure times using Morton® products.

    To receive the Morton® Home Curing Guide.PDF or ask questions,  Google Morton Salt/contact-us.


    Updated to include the following threads:  Bacon curing time using Tender Quick  ,  Fry Testing Bacon - Not Needed - Explained
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2015
  2. pc farmer

    pc farmer Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Very interesting.
  3. disco

    disco Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I am glad to see this post. There are so many different instructions on the web and this forum. I have used as little as 10 days for 2 inches based on recipes and they turned out ok but I do think I will extend my curing times based on this post and other manufacturers' guides. For example, Bradley Cures use the same calculation.

  4. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I go by my own calculating that I learned on this forum.

    Mortons tends to change things around with each book they print.

    Plus when you call them it depends on which person you talk to, as to what your answer will be.

    I've already called them on one day & got one answer. Then there was some questions about what they told me, so I called a few days later & got a different answer from another person.

    I never had a piece of meat not completely cured to center, and I don't change my methods, like Mortons does.

    I use 1/2 ounce (1 TBS) per pound, but I do one day per 1/2" of total thickness, and then add a minimum of 2 days for safety. Then I usually add 2 more days. So going by my way, I would cure a 2" Belly for --------4 + 2 + 2 = 8 days.

    Nothing wrong with going 14, instead of 8 days, but you better do a test fry, because it's gonna be salty from the extra time in cure.

    My 2 cents.

  5. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I use different math, but I do it pretty much like Bear.

    I use two days per inch of total thickness and add a couple of days.  A couple days more if my fridge is running cold.

    The same math is 1/4 inch per day BUT that is 1/4 inch from each side?

    Gets confusing doesn't it?

    I never exceed 2 to three inches of total thickness.  That will get you into other methods.

    A little over cure for safety won't hurt. 

    Under cure is a recipe for major problems.

    Really simpler to use a curing brine, but without a dedicated fridge, the dry cure comes in handy in the space saving arena.

    Good luck and good smoking.
  6. pc farmer

    pc farmer Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
  7. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Great Point about the Fridge, Merv.

    If someone isn't sure about their fridge, that 7 days per inch might be a good idea, because if the fridge is sometimes too low, a few of those days might not be curing.

    Anything I cure that's over 3", I'll cut in half, because I don't care to inject.

    BTW: Good to see you!!!

  8. Great timing on this, guys, I have a pork belly coming in on Friday that I'm going to dry cure.  One thing I've been wondering about on the salt / fry test. Do you think that a soak in water to remove excess saltiness affects the flavor at all?
  9. webowabo

    webowabo Master of the Pit

    Great info. I like to see different methods from you guys. I Still wanna do some bacon! ;(
  10. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    It doesn't affect any flavor on mine, but I only put TQ and Brown Sugar on when curing. Then after rinsing & drying I sprinkle CBP, Garlic Powder, and Onion Powder on it before forming the Pellicle. I originally added other seasonings to my curing & got no flavor from them. I even tried adding real Maple Syrup to my curing & found it to be a waste of good Maple Syrup. They say Dry Maple Flavorings work, but I never tried it.

    However it will remove some salty flavor.

    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
  11. joopster

    joopster Smoking Fanatic

    How do you wrap? Cling wrap and foil for curing or do I need to put it in a bag?  I bought MTQ at the store.
  12. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I use the Zip Locks with the sliding zipper. Mrs Bear folds the open end of the bag over like a Pants Cuff. Then when I'm ready, she holds the bag open & I slide the meat in (No smart remarks here---Married 46 years). Then she keeps it open while I throw any cure & sugar that fell off into the bag too, because the cure belongs with that piece.

    Folding the open end of the bag over like a Pants Cuff keeps cure & salt from getting in the zipper causing the seal to fail.

    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
  13. joopster

    joopster Smoking Fanatic

    I guess I will wait to cure my bacon until we get some ziploc bags.
  14. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    You can use the Zip-locks that you just pinch shut, but I trust the ones with the sliding gizmo more.

    BTW: I don't usually mention it, but I always lay the bags flat so the whole down side lays in the juices until flipped to the other side each day.

  15. pc farmer

    pc farmer Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    If I may add to this,

    I use the zip type zip lok and always make sure the zip lok part of the bag stays up in the air in case of leaks.
  16. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    The guy's have covered for me well.  I use two gallon zip bags and lay them flat on a rack so the fluid can access the bottom.  Lay them with the zip up like cf suggested and turn and message daily like Bear suggested.

    Enjoy your bacon.

  17. joopster

    joopster Smoking Fanatic

    I will get some tomorrow and start the cure process. 
  18. wade

    wade Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Bear. This may be a bit of a naive question but why are you using Tender Quick for bacon as it contains equal amounts of both Nitrite and Nitrate? My understanding was that in the USA Nitrate is not permitted in the curing of bacon.
  19. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    You can also vac pac if you have a vacuum packer.

    Not the best method but you can wrap with cling wrap. If you do make sure you have a good wrap on it and several layers. Place the wrapped belly in something in case it leaks.

    I have a friend that places his in a flat glass container with a lid. He flips daily and massages the belly. Something that should be done no matter what you cure in.
  20. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    That rule is for Commercial Bacon, cured differently than we do.

    Like many thousands of others, I've been using it for a long time. If TQ was harmful the USDA would have made them take it off the market a long time ago, or at least put a warning label on it for "Not using it for curing Bacon".

    A couple years ago I got tired of hearing that worry about TQ, so I Messaged the USDA on their site about it, and their reply was "Just keep using your TQ for your home curing of Bacon---No problem".