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Thread: Morton Tender Quick for Bacon?

  1. #1
    TVWBB Super Fan Steve_A (Tatoosh)'s Avatar
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    I have a small amount of Morton Tender Quick (MTQ) a friend brought over from the States. I have a much larger package of Cure #1 on the way. So I thought I'd try to make my own MTQ here.

    But one thing puzzled me about using the MTQ for bacon. It has both Sodium Nitrite and Sodium Nitrate. Yet when I read about using Cure #2 which also has Sodium Nitrate, the literature always admonishes us NOT to use it for fried foods such as bacon. So why does MTQ get an exemption for making bacon when Cure #2 does not?

    After doing some math, which is not my strong suit, I came up with the following figures for my own MTQ style cure but without any Sodium Nitrate in it so no concern about using it with bacon or any item you might grill at high heat. I plan to use local sea salt and refined sugar along with the Cure #1 (aka Prague Powder #1 or Pink Salt).

    This is based on creating 1 pound or 453.59 grams of MTQ style cure ...

    Ersatz MTQ Standard 79/20/1 Percentage Ratio

    <UL TYPE=SQUARE>

    <LI> Salt 297.0 grams

    <LI> Sugar 90.6 grams

    <LI> PP#1 63.78 grams[/list]

    Ersatz MTQ Sweet Percentage Ratio 69/30/1
    <UL TYPE=SQUARE>

    <LI> Salt 253.0 grams - 2 cups 2 Tbsp Sea Salt

    <LI> Sugar 136.0 grams - 2/3 cup 1 Tbsp

    <LI> PP#1 64.0 grams - 3.4 to 3.5 Tablespoons[/list]

    I added estimated volume measurements since not everyone has a precise gram scale. Adjustments for different types of salt would need to be made since Kosher Salt is a different volume than Sea Salt.

    The initial percentages are based on published figures for Morton Tender Quick, the Sweet Ratio is from a discussion in a different forum about a "better" salt to sugar ratio.
    >>> Banana Ketchup is not BBQ Sauce! Weber 22.5 OTG, SJG, Smokenator 1000, Pizza Kettle, Yellow & Red Thermapens - Mabuhay BBQ! <<<

  2. #2
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    Ersatz MTQ Standard 79/20/1 Percentage Ratio Salt 297.0 grams Sugar 90.6 grams PP#1 63.78 grams
    No. That would be way too much PP#1. It should be 28.35g.

    There is no need to make your own TQ. Better to simply mix your own salt, sugar and curing salt using a recipe that gives the appropriate amounts based on the meat (and its size) in question.
    Kevin

  3. #3
    TVWBB Super Fan Steve_A (Tatoosh)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K Kruger View Post
    No. That would be way too much PP#1. It should be 28.35g.

    There is no need to make your own TQ. Better to simply mix your own salt, sugar and curing salt using a recipe that gives the appropriate amounts based on the meat (and its size) in question.
    Thanks for pointing out the problem with my numbers. I don't really want to make Tender Quick, but a replacement that does not have some of what I see as negative aspects of Tender Quick. I do realize and respect it has been used for decades plus it is handy. The salt, the sugar, the cure, all right there in one convenient package. Plus there are hundreds or more likely thousands of recipes that call for it. I ran across one for a cured/brined pork chop that I love and want to convert to something besides Tender Quick. Hence my substitute or replacement search.

    My initial problem with it was it is primarily salt and sugar, which I can buy here cheap compared to buying in the USA and shipping across the Pacific Ocean. But I have two other problems with Morton Tender Quick:

    Problem #1: It contains Sodium Nitrite (not a problem) and Sodium Nitrate (Big Problem). How many times have we read DO NOT USE CURE #2 FOR BACON? Why? Because it contains Sodium Nitrate. Not to be used except with air dried sausages, hams and such. Yet Morton Tender Quick contains Sodium Nitrate, not in the same quantities, to be sure. But it is there, the very thing we are told NOT to use. Why it is exempt from the "don't use" rule of Sodium Nitrate, I have not seen explained, but I'd love to hear it.

    Problem #2: Morton Tender Quick also contains propylene glycol, something I learned only very recently. There are arguments that rage back and forth over this stuff. FDA says it is safe in small amounts, other folks are not quite so sure. It is used in many things to be sure, but it has been linked to asthma and a few other problems. I'm not saying it is death in a powdered form and it shows up in other cures besides Morton Tender Quick if you scan their ingredients list. I am sure it is there to enhance penetration of the meat by the cure. And I would just as well avoid it if possible due my own personal health issues.

    So I am back to finding some sort of replacement for MTQ when it appears in a recipe I really want to try. So while searching I found a post in another forum by Habenero Smoker that directly talks about a "Basic Dry Cure" (BDC) that can be used for smaller cuts of meat (under four or five pounds) to replace MTQ. Bingo, I was happy.

    Here is Hab's Basic Dry Cure:

    1 pound/450 grams salt (pickling salt preferred)
    8 ounces/225 grams granulated sugar
    2.4 ounces/68grams pink salt (InstaCure #1, or DQ Powder, or Prague Powder #1, or Cure #1)

    Mix thoroughly until all the components, particularly the pink salt, is evenly mixed. He used a stand mixer with the paddle attachment mixing twice for 2 minute sessions. He recommends 1 tablespoon of BDC per pound (up to four pounds) and curing by weight over that amount. He got the cure recipe from Charcuterie by Ruhlman.

    His original post on the Basic Dry Cure/Morton Tender Quick Sub can be found at http://www.susanminor.org/forums/pri...1&pp=10&page=1

    I made up a batch of the BDC last night and used it on 7 pounds of pork belly. Since my smoker is a Weber Kettle (22.5), I cut the belly up into three roughly 1 kilo sizes and gave it the rub, adding some maple syrup and cracked black pepper for flavor. One day before they are ready to smoke, I will try using the BDC as a wet cure for some thick cut pork chops. After those brine and cure for 24 hours, I will smoke both the bacon and chops at the same time. I will pull the chops off after a couple of hours of smoking and vac pack them for a sous vide finish at 140F, but I will take the bacon up to 150F since many of the folks that enjoy it are in the "over 65" at risk population and meat production in the Philippines doesn't follow quite the same safety rules as the USA.
    >>> Banana Ketchup is not BBQ Sauce! Weber 22.5 OTG, SJG, Smokenator 1000, Pizza Kettle, Yellow & Red Thermapens - Mabuhay BBQ! <<<

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    TVWBB Pro Bob Hunter's Avatar
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    I use the the same recipe to make my own MTQ substiture. Works great and I haven't detected any flavor differences. However I only use it as a direct replacement where it is an ingredient within a recipe. I don't use to cure bacon, I make my own cure for that.
    "The joy is in the making and then in the giving.. Okay, okay so it's in the Eating"

  5. #5
    TVWBB Super Fan Steve_A (Tatoosh)'s Avatar
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    Bob H, thanks for sharing. I haven't used MTQ for bacon, but I did use it for a cured smoked pork chop I found a recipe and really loved the results.

    I did make the Basic Dry Cure found in Charcuterie (posted by Habanero Smoker in a different forum) and did 7 pounds of belly with it. I am hoping that will suffice to cure the pork belly over 6 days or so. It does have some maple syrup added as a flavoring. May I ask what your bacon cure recipe is?
    >>> Banana Ketchup is not BBQ Sauce! Weber 22.5 OTG, SJG, Smokenator 1000, Pizza Kettle, Yellow & Red Thermapens - Mabuhay BBQ! <<<

  6. #6
    TVWBB Fan MartinF DiggingDogFarm's Avatar
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    Here's my MTQ alternative:

    All-Purpose Cure Mix

    17.5 oz canning/pickling salt

    5.5 oz granulated sugar

    2 oz cure #1

    This can be used at the same rate as Morton's Tender Quick, 1 tablespoon (14 grams) of mix per pound of whole cuts.
    It's essential to use pickling salt so that the salt, sugar and cure particle size are all nearly the same.
    The above mix provides 156ppm and 2.4% salt compared to MTQ' 3%
    Mix well before using.

    ~Martin

  7. #7
    TVWBB Super Fan Steve_A (Tatoosh)'s Avatar
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    Thanks, MartinFDiggingDogFarm, I wish I had access to pickling salt here, but sea salt is it in the "no iodine" department where I live in the Philippines. But I will make some of your recipe up for doing the cured & smoked pork chops. Those are done in a brine so the salt size shouldn't make quite so much difference.

    Good to hear that other folks have done this before!
    >>> Banana Ketchup is not BBQ Sauce! Weber 22.5 OTG, SJG, Smokenator 1000, Pizza Kettle, Yellow & Red Thermapens - Mabuhay BBQ! <<<

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