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Cure #1 and Cold/Cool Smoking

chef jimmyj

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A Crash Course on why we use Cure #1 to Cold and Cool Smoke Meat...

In general, any meat you wish to smoke below 225 to 180°F requires the addition of Cure #1 to your mix of 1 to 3% Salt and any other spices or sweeteners you like.
This low temp smoking is typically divided, for simple, easy to remember numbers, into COLD SMOKE, 40° to 100°F.
And COOL SMOKE, 100° to 180°F.
Which temp range you use depends on what you are making. Meat items that are Cured, Smoked and left Raw to be cooked later, ex. Belly Bacon, is Cold smoked at the Ambient temp. Depending on your area, Spring and Fall are good times to Cold Smoke as the temps are 50 to 70°F, which is optimal, though 20°F one way or another is fine as well. Again, this meat is Raw and needs to be Cooked.
In contrast COOL SMOKE, adds smoke flavor and color, along with Cooking the meat to the point that it is Ready to Eat, no further cooking required. Well, unless you want to heat it. Ex. Kielbasa, Hot Dogs, Canadian Bacon, Buck Board (shoulder) Bacon and Ham. These all use a similar recipe to Belly Bacon of Cure #1, Salt, Flavoring and Sweetener. The Smoking temp, lets go with Kielbasa. Start at 130°F for an hour, no smoke, to dry the casing. Next bump the temp 10°F each hour to no higher than 170°F and smoke until the Internal Temp is 150 to 155°F and Fully Cooked. The other meats listed, also need to be smoked to an IT in the 150's.

A little bit on what Cure #1, Salt and Sugar do to make Cold/Cool Smoking Safe...
Clostridium Botulinum is a very common Bacteria that, as it reproduces, gives off one of the most Deadly Toxins known and causes BOTULISM. CB is found in Dirt, Plants the grow in dirt and in Animal Feces. CB comes in two forms. Active Bacteria, that makes Toxin, and Dormant Spores. Spores form when conditions are going bad for the active Bacteria. Getting too Hot, too Cold, too Dry or Food running out. The Spores are resistant to temps as high as 250°F and they can't be killed by Freezing. Think Spores as a Cocoon, protecting the Bacteria inside. When conditions return to favorable, above 40°F, there is Food and Water...AND...There is a Very Low or No Oxygen Environment, the Spores reactivate and become Live Bacteria. They begin multiplying and making TOXIN!

So...Where do we find Favorable conditions to activate Spores? YEP...COLD OR COOL SMOKING MEAT and SAUSAGE! We add Cure #1 with it's 6.25% Sodium Nitrite, Not because it Kills Spores, but because it Disables their ability to Activate in our Smoker. In addition Cure #1, inhibits multiplication of Live CB, Salmonella, E-Coli and Listeria, all common harmful Bacteria that can be found on meat. Cure #1 also, gives Red Meat, that Pink Color, when cooked, helps keep Fat from going Rancid and when combined with Smoke, produces the Hammy/Bacon Flavor associated with Cured Smoked Meats and Sausage.

Both Salt and Sugar are added for Flavor but they also are Hygroscopic, they BIND Water so it is unavailable for rapid Bacteria Growth. Salt can kill some Bacteria by Dehydrating them.

When Cure #1 is added to Meat at a rate of 0.25% of the meats weight. It gives the desired protection to COLD Smoked meat, ( 40 to 100°F), like Belly Bacon, for about 30 days. For this reason you can SAFELY COLD Smoke Bacon for Hours, Days or with 8 hours in Smoke, followed by at least and 8 Hour Refer Rest, you can Cold Smoke for a couple of Weeks, with Complete SAFETY.
Using Cure #1 to Cure Meat and Sausage that will be COOL Smoked, offers the Same Protection from the Bacteria Nitrite inhibits while the Meats Internal Temp, is below 130 to 140°F. Beyond 140°F, no Living harmful Bacteria will grow and most are Killed...BUT...Not the CB Spores! Hence the reason, Bacon, Ham, Smoked Sausage, ect. That is COOL Smoked and Ready to Eat, or COLD Smoked and still Raw, MUST BE REFRIGERATED.
I hope this somewhat lengthy explanation gives you an understanding of Why We Cure Meat. And the confidence to give it a shot. Post the Recipe you wish to use and how you plan to Smoke it and we will Review your plan for a flavorful and Safe result...JJ
 

Bearcarver

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Great Info Jimmy!!
But then we have another one, that I use, and I've always called it "Warm Smoking".
I cure it, and Smoke it with Smoker Temp between 100° & 130° for about 11 hours, or until my AMNPS is completely burned out.
I get Great color & Flavor this way, but it still needs to be cooked before eating, because it never gets to 145°, nor do I try to get it there.
I don't know what most of them end up at, because I never really cared, but I know I measured one, and it was at 119° IT.

Bear
 

HowlingDog

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Thank you for taking the time to post this great information!!! It really explains not only how cure #1 protects us, but how long it can last during the cool/cold smoking process.

If I may, I do have a question about smoking temps a bit higher than the cool/cold smokes. If you maintain cooking temps of about 170-180 ish consistently, as I tend to, can you still smoke for extended periods, such as 6 - 8+ hours and maintain the same safety that the cure #1 provides at the lower temps (ambient to 140)?
 

Fueling Around

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I hope the hesitant read this post.
Great information.
...
In addition Cure #1, inhibits multiplication of Live CB, Salmonella and Listeria, all common harmful Bacteria that can be found on meat.
...
JJ
You covered most of the common food poisoning bacteria.
What about E. Coli that occurs in not only meat, but also improperly handled fresh vegetables?
 

chef jimmyj

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If I may, I do have a question about smoking temps a bit higher than the cool/cold smokes. If you maintain cooking temps of about 170-180 ish consistently, as I tend to, can you still smoke for extended periods, such as 6 - 8+ hours and maintain the same safety that the cure #1 provides at the lower temps (ambient to 140)?
WHILE YOU MAY DO AS YOU WISH, SMF MANAGEMENT SUGGESTS YOU FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES...
THE USDA FACT SHEET ON SMOKING UNCURED MEAT, RECOMMENDS SMOKING BETWEEN 225°F AND 300°F...


I hope the hesitant read this post.
Great information.
You covered most of the common food poisoning bacteria.
What about E. Coli that occurs in not only meat, but also improperly handled fresh vegetables?
Yeah, I forgot about E. Coli and edited my post to add it. Thanks for jogging my memory...JJ
 

HowlingDog

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Thank You chef jimmyj and I have to apologize as I failed to include important information: when smoking at 170-180, I ALWAYS do use cure #1. I was curious if smoking at those temps AND using cure #1, can you do extended smoking times, 7 - 8 hours, just like at cool smoking?

I am SOOOO sorry I left out that info as I really appreciate everyone's help and I do not want to give the wrong impression to others that are starting out, like me.

Safety First: Use Cure #1 !!!!!
 

SmokinAl

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Thanks JJ!
Good info!
Al
 

chef jimmyj

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Thank You chef jimmyj and I have to apologize as I failed to include important information: when smoking at 170-180, I ALWAYS do use cure #1. I was curious if smoking at those temps AND using cure #1, can you do extended smoking times, 7 - 8 hours, just like at cool smoking?

I am SOOOO sorry I left out that info as I really appreciate everyone's help and I do not want to give the wrong impression to others that are starting out, like me.

Safety First: Use Cure #1 !!!!!
Yes...You can smoke at 170-180 to speed things along. The only issue, Pork Fat in Sausages can melt and separate at these higher temp, aka Fat Out. For solid meats, Bacon, Ham, etc, there is no issue...JJ
 

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