First Smoked Ham: Tenderquick Brine Disaster

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MilwaukeePork

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Jul 3, 2022
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I wanted to cure and smoke a ham (my first), and only had Tenderquick sitting around. Against better judgement, I decided to use the brine recipe per the package. Here's what I did:

- 2.5 lbs pork shoulder
- 1 cup TQ
- 4 cups water
- Let sit for 7 days. Drain and soak in water 2 hours.
- Smoked a couple hours 250-325 deg F until 190 degrees internal.

Results: Ham looked cured through and through, taste was alright but WAY too salty. By my amateur calculations, I have 656 ppm nitrite (not including nitrate) and 13% salt. WOW.

I suspect the TQ wet brine calls for so much because per the instructions, the meat only needs to be cured for "24 hours". This is not enough time to reach true equilibrium - their recipe is designed to create a high osmotic potential to quickly drive the cure into the meat and reach adequate internal concentrations.

Interestingly enough, the Tenderquick "dry cure" recipe on the calls for 1/2 oz or 1 tbsp per lb of meat, which yields a more appropriate 156 ppm nitrite (not including nitrate) and 3% salt.

Lesson learned, but that's all part of the fun! Gotta make mistakes to make progress. I'm gonna get rid of the TQ and order some #1 cure.

ham.JPG
 
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SmokinAl

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Here is a great tutorial on curing a ham.
Hope this helps!
Al
 

chopsaw

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I'm gonna get rid of the TQ and order some #1 cure.
The wet cure / pumping pickle is extreme . Most of the recipes call for things to be cooked hot and fast .
I have used it in a brine , but at reduced rates and a high temp cook .

Use that ham method posted above . You won't be sorry .

Interestingly enough, the Tenderquick "dry cure" recipe on the calls for 1/2 oz or 1 tbsp per lb of meat,
That's the whole muscle meat ratio .

For ground meat or sausage it's
1 1/2 tsp per pound .
Before you toss it , try doing a small hunk of pork loin dry cured .
 
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SmokinEdge

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I wanted to cure and smoke a ham (my first), and only had Tenderquick sitting around. Against better judgement, I decided to use the brine recipe per the package. Here's what I did:

- 2.5 lbs pork shoulder
- 1 cup TQ
- 4 cups water
- Let sit for 7 days. Drain and soak in water 2 hours.
- Smoked a couple hours 250-325 deg F until 190 degrees internal.

Results: Ham looked cured through and through, taste was alright but WAY too salty. By my amateur calculations, I have 656 ppm nitrite (not including nitrate) and 13% salt. WOW.

I suspect the TQ wet brine calls for so much because per the instructions, the meat only needs to be cured for "24 hours". This is not enough time to reach true equilibrium - their recipe is designed to create a high osmotic potential to quickly drive the cure into the meat and reach adequate internal concentrations.

Interestingly enough, the Tenderquick "dry cure" recipe on the calls for 1/2 oz or 1 tbsp per lb of meat, which yields a more appropriate 156 ppm nitrite (not including nitrate) and 3% salt.

Lesson learned, but that's all part of the fun! Gotta make mistakes to make progress. I'm gonna get rid of the TQ and order some #1 cure.

View attachment 636506
This is the problem with using a random brine with random weight of meat. No where on the TQ package does it state how much meat to go in this 1c cure to 4c water. Is it good for 1# or 10#? Will the results be the same ? Obviously it cannot be. That said, if you mix their recipe and then inject 10% by weight to your meat weight and don’t cover or soak it in the brine you would have roughly 1.7% salt and 65ppm nitrite and nitrate respectively.

I don’t use TQ very much, I prefer to use cure #1 and mix my own salt and sugar all by weight and percentage. I like 1.5% salt, .5- 1% sugar and cure #1 always at .25% I also am not a fan of cover pickle in general, I either dry rub or I inject wet brine imparting the exact amount of cure that I want in the meat. The results are absolutely predictable.

Morton TQ contains .5% sodium nitrite (with equal part of nitrate) the nitrite concentration is very close to the cure salt they use in Europe called Peklosol which contains .6% nitrite (no nitrate) they do this for safety reasons, by the time you apply enough cure to be of dangerous nitrite level the food is too salty to consume. If I were to use TQ for curing I would treat it just like Peklosol and I would apply it just as presented in this chart, this way you control the nitrite ppm and salt percentage to meat weight.
832F08B6-53F4-48F7-8CB4-1A9B5F8765BD.jpeg
 

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