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I'm struggling to figure out cure amounts. Can I just use 1/4 tsp per pound of jerky?

Discussion in 'Making Jerky' started by mdbannister, Dec 24, 2017.

  1. mdbannister

    mdbannister Fire Starter

    Just like the title says. I've read probably 10 threads on using cure, and the data quickly gets really technical. I'm just trying to find an easy rule of thumb to add cure to jerky. Is 1/4 tsp per lb safe/adequate? It's slightly more than the 1 tsp per 5 lb. rule.
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yes... for now.... then you need to purchase a digital scale... 0-100 grams... about $15.... then you can weigh your spices also....

  3. Rings Я Us

    Rings Я Us Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I'm making jerky right now.
    I have 2 bags with just over 2.5 lbs each.
    I used a heaping 1/2 teaspoon for each batch. About 1/4 tsp per pound.. Yep. 1.25 tsp for 5 lbs.
    mdbannister likes this.
  4. PerazziMx14

    PerazziMx14 Smoking Fanatic

    Please remove
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2018
  5. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Depends on the cure, the method the cure is being used, and yes - you need a good set of digital scales with 1/100th of a gram resolution for cure and accurate spice measurement.

    1) Ratios are different for different cures (ie, cure #1 vs TenderQuick or Cure #2)
    2) How is the cure being used makes a difference in the ratio also (ie, is it a dry rub cure, wet brine, or are you mixing it with ground meat for jerky - it also matters with the volume of liquid used in a wet brine)
    3) Cure needs to be accurately weighed. For example, 1 pound of ground meat will will require 1.13grams of cure #1 for snack sticks. If you have a gram scale that weighs with 1/100th of a gram accuracy, that is no problem. But if you are using another scale such as the 35lb and 55lb postal scales, they only have an accuracy of .5 ounce at some ranges. That is a 14 gram range. So if you only need 1.13 grams of cure and your scales might be 14 grams off, how does that work (it doesn't).

    These are the two scales I have. The smaller one weighs up to 500 grams with 1/100th of a gram resolution. Also make sure to get a calibration weight that matches your gram scale. I check mine both before and after weighing my spices. If the 100 gram calibration weight was reading right at the start and end of the session, I'm confident the spices & cure measured is also spot on. The other scale is for meat and bulk weights. Both scales will tare or zero out the weight of a container on them. Available on amazon and reasonably priced.

    And yes, that is over 27 pound of meat on the UltraShip 55 scale.


    daveomak likes this.
  6. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Without cure#1, you are flirting with botulism when the meat is in a smoker... Nitrite is insurance that the botulism is killed... 1 tsp per 5#'s of stuff... or 1.13 grams per pound....
  7. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm also going to throw this out as well as it eventually comes up in cure discussions......

    You will get more nitrates from eating leafy vegetables than you ever will from sausage, and other "cured" meats such as bacon, jerky, ham etc.... Nitrates & nitrites are a natural compound and actually part of every diet that pretty much everyone on the planet consumes.

    On average, about 93% of nitrites we get from food come from vegetables. It may shock you to learn that one serving of arugula, two servings of butter lettuce, and four servings of celery or beets all have more nitrite than 467 hot dogs. And your own saliva has more nitrites than all of them! So before you eliminate cured meats from your diet or listen to someone freaking out about nitrites, you might want to address your celery intake. And try not to swallow so frequently.

    All humor aside, there’s no reason to fear nitrites in your food, or saliva. Recent studies suggests that nitrites are beneficial for immune and cardiovascular function; they are being studied as a potential treatment for hypertension, heart attacks, sickle cell and circulatory disorders. Even if nitrites were harmful, cured meats are not a significant source, as the USDA only allows 120 parts per million in hot dogs and bacon. Also, during the curing process, most of the nitrite forms nitric oxide, which binds to iron and gives hot dogs and bacon their characteristic pink color. Afterwards, the amount of nitrite left is only about 10 parts per million.

    And if you think you can avoid nitrates and nitrites by eating so-called “nitrite- and nitrate-free” hot dogs and bacon, don’t be fooled. These products use “natural” sources of the same chemical like celery and beet juice and sea salt, and are no more free from nitrates and nitrites than standard cured meats. In fact, they may even contain more nitrates and nitrites when cured using “natural” preservatives. Nitrites and nitrates are just that, be the in the blended with salt form we see with common cures or from "natural" plant based extracts.

    It’s important to understand that neither nitrate nor nitrite accumulate in body. Ingested nitrate from food is converted into nitrite when it contacts our saliva, and of the nitrate we eat, 25% is converted into salivary nitrite, 20% converted into nitrite, and the rest is excreted in the urine within 5 hours of ingestion. Any nitrate that is absorbed has a very short half-life, disappearing from our blood in under five minutes. Some nitrite in our stomach reacts with gastric contents, forming nitric oxide which may have many beneficial effects.

    In general, the bulk of the science suggests that nitrates and nitrites are not problematic and may even be beneficial to health. Critical reviews of the original evidence suggesting that nitrates/nitrites are carcinogenic reveals that in the absence of co-administration of a carcinogenic nitrosamine precursor, there is no evidence for carcinogenesis. Newly published prospective studies show no association between estimated intake of nitrite and nitrite in the diet and stomach cancer. Nitric oxide, formed by nitrite, has been shown to have vasodilator properties and may modulate platelet function in the human body, improving blood pressure and reducing heart attack risk. Nitrates may also help boost the immune system and protect against pathogenic bacteria

    So what do we take from this? There’s no reason to fear nitrates and nitrites in food. No reason to buy nitrate-free, uncured bacon. No reason to strictly avoid cured meats, particularly those from high quality sources (which is one reason most of us make our own - we know the source and content of the final product). In fact, because of concerns about trichinosis from pork, it makes a lot more sense in my opinion to buy cured bacon and other pork products.

    Climbing down off the soapbox now.....
  8. mdbannister

    mdbannister Fire Starter

    Thanks everyone. I'm using cure #1 prague powder. I actually have a food scale that is accurate to hundredths (perhaps more but I don't remember). However, if measuring 1/4 tsp per pound will do it, I'm confused about why the need to be more precise. I've read several of these threads, and it seems that some get super technical at some points...so much that it gets confusing (at least to me). I'm glad to listen, and I want to learn, so if there's a reason I should be more precise than 1/4 tsp per pound, please share.

    Oh, and my plan is to marinate the jerky for 3 days.
  9. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    mdbannister likes this.
  10. mdbannister

    mdbannister Fire Starter

    Thanks. What percentage of cure should I be aiming for?
  11. WaterinHoleBrew

    WaterinHoleBrew Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member

    The calculator Al is referring to is already set for cure #1 at 6.25%, just input the grams of meat your using & the cure, salt & sugar will be calculated!
  12. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Use your cure #1 at a rate of 0.25% of the meat weight. I think thats what you'r asking
    mdbannister likes this.
  13. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    AND to calculate that, it's 0.0025 X meat weight..
    mdbannister likes this.
  14. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    And that's as long as your cure #1 contains 6.25% nitrite. ;)
    mdbannister likes this.
  15. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    ^^^^^^ yeah that.....
    danmcg likes this.
  16. mdbannister

    mdbannister Fire Starter

    Thanks! I think this is the percentage I was unsure about. It's in the calculator link above, but wasn't sure what that was about.
  17. SonnyE

    SonnyE Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    This makes me curious....
    The pre-packaged stuff has 'Cure' and Seasonings.
    There is a lot more cure than ~1/4 of a teaspoon.
    Is the pre-packaged cure already ratioed down? And if it is, what is the fluff in the package?
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017
  18. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I guess that would depend on what pre-packaged product you're looking at, But the fluff would probably be the seasonings.
  19. SonnyE

    SonnyE Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well right now, just the Presto jerky seasoning that came with my dehydrator.
    But other seasonings I've seen have two packets, cure and seasoning.
    The Presto specifically sez to not mix the cure and seasonings before adding them to the meat.
    But it is definitely more than a quarter teaspoon. Looked like really coarse salt that was a bit yellow.
    And no, I wasn't about to taste the stuff. :p I don't want to be cured.
    This packaged stuff is all new to me. I'm more of a salt and pepper guy... or was anyway.
  20. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Most of the pre-packaged seasonings that report to have cure will have the cure in a separate pack when you receive it. Reason is settling of the mix in the bag can cause the overall mix to be uneven. With cure that could be a big problem and separate packaging avoids it totally.. Every seasoning I've bought that had cure came with it in a smaller pack (except for salt/sugar based cures which is another animal). Most is pink colored except for some I received from AC Legg that was a light yellow (it was cure#1 that came with their #116 stick mix).

    Also if you have the 1/100th gram scale, us the weight rather than the teaspoon measure as it is much more accurate. Accuracy ensures both safety with cure, and repeat-ability with other spices in a mix. If it comes out great and you used weights, it's easy to do again.