# Using Tender Quick In A Wet Curing Brine - Percentage Calculation?

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#### thirdeye

##### Master of the Pit
Original poster
OTBS Member
A fellow barbecuist and curing guy asked me some questions about using TQ in a curing brine. Morton refers to this as a 'pickle brine' and has instructions on how to injection cure hams. The TQ instructions on the bag call for brine mix of 1 cup TQ and 4 cups of water. Online sources for home curing are all over the board when it comes to a TQ curing brine, which is to be expected. I've seen recipes calling for 1/4 cup TQ per gallon of water all the way up to 1 cup TQ per gallon of water, but none discuss a basis of how the amount of TQ is determined.

One recipe uses a percentage calculation based on the weight of the meat, and the weight of one gallon of water similar to a Cure #1 based curing brine calculation. The ratio of TQ is 3% of the meat + water weight. Has anyone ever seen a percent calculation like this for a wet TQ curing brine?

No, but watching. Curious as to what you find out.

Ryan

I've been using tender quick for years and haven't seen any percentage calculation for a brine. There was a booklet called "Home meat curing guide" that Morton's had but is no longer available. There is a PDF file on line but it is not complete. Maybe some one has the booklet here and can elaborate.

Boykjo

Here is one I found for ham ..what is your friend trying to wet brine? Maybe easier to find a receipe or calculation if we knew what was being made.

TQ is 0.5% nitrite......

Cure#1 is 6.25% nitrite.....

To attain the 156 Ppm nitrite the USDA recommends, 6.25% / 0.5% = 12.5 X's the Cure#1 amount is necessary....

So, multiply 1 tsp per 5#'s comes up with 12.5 tsp. per 5#'s pounds or ~4 1/8 TBS per 5#'s..

At 5.5 grams per tsp. , the weight of Cure#1 and TQ, 5.5 x12.5 = ~69 grams TQ per 5#'s..

sawhorseray
I've been using tender quick for years and haven't seen any percentage calculation for a brine. There was a booklet called "Home meat curing guide" that Morton's had but is no longer available. There is a PDF file on line but it is not complete. Maybe some one has the booklet here and can elaborate.
Boykjo
I have that booklet and I believe I have it in .pdf form as well. In the ham section it references the ratio of: 1 cup of TQ mixed with 4 cups of water, and recommends injecting one ounce of that brine per every pound of meat. This is for combination curing, so the procedure lists a couple of options for the dry curing component applied to the surface.

Here is one I found for ham ..what is your friend trying to wet brine? Maybe easier to find a receipe or calculation if we knew what was being made.
I had not seen the injection + covering method on the ham curing page you linked. Thanks for that. I had seen the 'Formula For Success' page which also uses the 3% ratio, but it's a covering brine only like you would use on bacon. Chris and the Dizzy Pig gang were some of the earliest posters on the BGE and the Basso forum, I think before he started the seasoning company. All around good guys!

My friend cures a lot of wild game roasts for pastrami-like products, but has pastramied several other meats as well.

TQ is 0.5% nitrite......

Cure#1 is 6.25% nitrite.....

To attain the 156 Ppm nitrite the USDA recommends, 6.25% / 0.5% = 12.5 X's the Cure#1 amount is necessary....

So, multiply 1 tsp per 5#'s comes up with 12.5 tsp. per 5#'s pounds or ~4 1/8 TBS per 5#'s..

At 5.5 grams per tsp. , the weight of Cure#1 and TQ, 5.5 x12.5 = ~69 grams TQ per 5#'s..

Dave, much appreciated..... especially the line-by-line breakdown of the calculation. This will be helpful when reverse checking amounts in various recipes.

I'm familiar with Cure #1 and it's calculation when using the dry cure method and the wet (meat weight + water weight) calculation. At first look, it seems there will be quite a bit of TQ needed when mixing a wet brine in a gallon of water, which might bring a lot of salt to the party....

One other question (for now anyways) why is the .5% sodium nitrate in TQ not a factor in your calculation comparing TQ and Cure #1?

Thank you Dave.
So with that we see that per volume, TQ has roughly 1/12th the amount of nitrite as does same volume of cure #1.
If one tsp. Cure #1 will impart 156ppm nitrite to 5# meat, then one tsp. TQ will impart 12.48ppm nitrite to 5# meat.
156/12.5= 12.48

daveomak
Tender quick is 0.5% nitrite and 0.5 % nitrate. During the curing process wont the nitrite turn into nitrate and become 1%. From previous discussions tender quick and cure # 1 cannot be substituted for each other.

Boykjo

I'm sure everyone's thought of this . Why not contact Mortons for more info on the product

Thank you Dave.
So with that we see that per volume, TQ has roughly 1/12th the amount of nitrite as does same volume of cure #1.
If one tsp. Cure #1 will impart 156ppm nitrite to 5# meat, then one tsp. TQ will impart 12.48ppm nitrite to 5# meat.
156/12.5= 12.48

Okay, one teaspoon is the connection is was missing. You guys think much faster than I do.

And to go one step further, 1 teaspoon of Cure #1 (or 12.48 teaspoons of TQ) will impart 156 ppm into a brine whose total weight is 5# (meat + water).

I'm sure everyone's thought of this . Why not contact Mortons for more info on the product

If you want to have a real adventure, call Morton Salt. I've talked to them several times and they don't stray very far off a standard line of questions. When pressed they love to suggest something along the lines of "... always use a tested and approved recipe/technique". But they hate to answer Cure #1 questions, and competitor questions like Hi Mountain's Buckboard or Belly Bacon cure for example.

If you want to have a real adventure, call Morton Salt. I've talked to them several times and they don't stray very far off a standard line of questions. When pressed they love to suggest something along the lines of "... always use a tested and approved recipe/technique". But they hate to answer Cure #1 questions, and competitor questions like Hi Mountain's Buckboard or Belly Bacon cure for example.
I was just figuring if they had a receipe book at one time they might still have the receipe. I emailed them . If I get a reply I will post it

Tender quick is 0.5% nitrite and 0.5 % nitrate. During the curing process wont the nitrite turn into nitrate and become 1%. From previous discussions tender quick and cure # 1 cannot be substituted for each other.

Boykjo
No, not at refrigeration temperature. Nitrate needs to be broken down or converted to nitrite before it can cure, this is done by interacting with bacteria in the meat. Below 40*F these bacteria are dormant. Also, there is no way to know if the bacteria is present in enough quantity to complete the break down. Nitrate is basically worthless at refrigerator temperatures. It may even potentially be a bad thing, since most of the nitrate would still be present in the meat when curing was complete. Only thing you could hope for then would be dissipation when cooked, but you wouldn’t know without a lab test.

Okay, one teaspoon is the connection is was missing. You guys think much faster than I do.

And to go one step further, 1 teaspoon of Cure #1 (or 12.48 teaspoons of TQ) will impart 156 ppm into a brine whose total weight is 5# (meat + water).
Correct.
Also as a side note, per Dave’s math, it would take roughly 69g of TQ to 5# meat to impart the 156ppm, since TQ is almost all salt, this we be very close to 3% salt as well.

The OP never mentioned refrigeration.

Boykjo

I was just figuring if they had a receipe book at one time they might still have the receipe. I emailed them . If I get a reply I will post it
I have the Curing Guide which contains recipes that were developed by the experts at Morton. I think it came out around 2005 judging from some of the dates in the footnotes. And for the longest time the same recipes were on their website. The natural progression was for home curing folks to post similar or their version of those recipes on sausage sites, hunting sites etc. but there is no justification when the TQ amount is doubled for example. But back to Morton... they pulled some recipes which were heavy on the TQ, and have done a reversal on using TQ for curing belly bacon.

Correct.
Also as a side note, per Dave’s math, it would take roughly 69g of TQ to 5# meat to impart the 156ppm, since TQ is almost all salt, this we be very close to 3% salt as well.

The salt % of TQ I've read most often is 79%. And yes, the salt % was one of the red flags my buddy and I noticed. The questions were: Did a certain recipe need enough TQ (for safety) to make the salt ratio come in at 3% ? Or, did it take 3% TQ to get the salt in the recipe correct for taste.... and did the user accepted the amount of cure by default?

It's these kind of conversations that reinforce the fact that Cure #1 is a good choice. That is until.... someone errs on the Cure #1 calculation and uses way too little, or way too much.

I have that booklet and I believe I have it in .pdf form as well. In the ham section it references the ratio of: 1 cup of TQ mixed with 4 cups of water, and recommends injecting one ounce of that brine per every pound of meat. This is for combination curing, so the procedure lists a couple of options for the dry curing component applied to the surface.

I had not seen the injection + covering method on the ham curing page you linked. Thanks for that. I had seen the 'Formula For Success' page which also uses the 3% ratio, but it's a covering brine only like you would use on bacon. Chris and the Dizzy Pig gang were some of the earliest posters on the BGE and the Basso forum, I think before he started the seasoning company. All around good guys!

My friend cures a lot of wild game roasts for pastrami-like products, but has pastramied several other meats as well.

Dave, much appreciated..... especially the line-by-line breakdown of the calculation. This will be helpful when reverse checking amounts in various recipes.

I'm familiar with Cure #1 and it's calculation when using the dry cure method and the wet (meat weight + water weight) calculation. At first look, it seems there will be quite a bit of TQ needed when mixing a wet brine in a gallon of water, which might bring a lot of salt to the party....

One other question (for now anyways) why is the .5% sodium nitrate in TQ not a factor in your calculation comparing TQ and Cure #1?

Cure#1 has no nitrate and therefor any comparison would make no sense to me...
Nitrate also has NO effect on botulism bacteria... It needs the nitrate conversion to have any effect...

I'm sure everyone's thought of this . Why not contact Mortons for more info on the product

Morton's wants NO part of this discussion....

Correct.
Also as a side note, per Dave’s math, it would take roughly 69g of TQ to 5# meat to impart the 156ppm, since TQ is almost all salt, this we be very close to 3% salt as well.

3% being the magic minimum amount of salt to hang meat and cure it to keep all the bacteria "dead"... Morton's knew what it was doing, way back, when refrigeration was not available to most folks so they could safely preserve their meat...

The page you linked to contained a link to 'Formula to Success' which had a sample calculation for the TQ brine mentioning 3%. A snip is below.

TQ is 0.5% nitrite......

Cure#1 is 6.25% nitrite.....

To attain the 156 Ppm nitrite the USDA recommends, 6.25% / 0.5% = 12.5 X's the Cure#1 amount is necessary....

So, multiply 1 tsp per 5#'s comes up with 12.5 tsp. per 5#'s pounds or ~4 1/8 TBS per 5#'s..

At 5.5 grams per tsp. , the weight of Cure#1 and TQ, 5.5 x12.5 = ~69 grams TQ per 5#'s..

Thank you Dave.
So with that we see that per volume, TQ has roughly 1/12th the amount of nitrite as does same volume of cure #1.
If one tsp. Cure #1 will impart 156ppm nitrite to 5# meat, then one tsp. TQ will impart 12.48ppm nitrite to 5# meat.
156/12.5= 12.48
I ran the numbers using the Dizzy Pig calculation example against Dave's calculations which concluded that the amount of TQ in a wet curing brine is equal to ~12X the amount of Cure #1 when all weights remain the same. In this case 16# total weight, which is 7.26 kilograms total weight.

The key metrics are:
18.15 grams of Cure #1 would be needed using the standard 0.25%.
12 X 18.15 grams is 217.8 grams, the amount of TQ needed per Dave's calcs**
217.8 grams is 7.68 ounces
The Dizzy Pig calculation shows 7.68 ounces of TQ.
** EDIT - Dave's calculation came up with 12.5 X the amount of Cure #1, (not 12 as shown above) this makes the amount 226.9 grams of TQ. This is only 5% higher than the Dizzy Pig recipe.

I noticed a typo: '16 oz' should be '16 lb' in lines 5, 6 and 7. but here is a snip from the curing page.

Thanks everyone, not only did this discussion solve a puzzle I could not.... it reinforced the fact that sometimes, accurate things are posted online. to Reg and Mike at Dizzy Pig. Will this make me switch from using Cure #1 to TQ in a wet curing brine.... probably not. But it shows that science is the process that takes us from confusion to understanding whether a process is reliable or not.

3% being the magic minimum amount of salt to hang meat and cure it to keep all the bacteria "dead"... Morton's knew what it was doing, way back, when refrigeration was not available to most folks so they could safely preserve their meat...

Makes perfect sense, but I'm glad we have refrigeration.

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