View Full Version : Curing Salt (TQ) for Jerky

Van G
02-09-2008, 05:49 AM
Going to make my first run of Beef Jerky.

Most recipes (if not all) call for some sort of curing salt like Tender Quick which contain potassium nitrate or another nitrate.

Am I wrong in thinking these are bad for you if eating Jerky regularly as a snack?

David Lohrentz
02-09-2008, 06:30 AM

It totally depends on how much cured products you eat (and whether you use the appropriate amounts of curing salts for your home cured products). If you tend to eat a lot of commercial bacon, ham, etc., that figures into the equation. If you plan to make five pounds of jerky and consume that by yourself in a week, that would be a lot.

If you are worried about it, curing salt isn't necessary to make jerky, but you need to use food safe procedures for making and storing the jerky. If you leave out the curing salt, then make sure you to keep the cooker above 140 degrees. You should also cool quickly when it is done, and store in the frig. when it is completely cool.

I always move it to my food dryer after about 90 minutes in the smoke. My food dryer maintains 140 on the highest setting. Any more than 90 minutes and it gets to be too much smoke.

Van G
02-09-2008, 11:13 AM
Thanks David. I don't eat a lot of processed foods specifically for the nitrates reason. That and they aren't as good!

I will eat a fair amount of jerky, but not 5 lbs in a week.

Is the curing salt to tenderize the meat (like MSG) or required for the actual safe 'cure' of the meat?

Paul K
02-11-2008, 05:58 AM

I've never used a curing salt the many times I've made jerky. I've used both an electric dehydrator and the WSM. Curing salt is used to prevent botulism and assist in preserving the meat. The few things I've always done is choose a very lean cut of meat and trim as much visible fat. I generally marinade it prior to drying and there is salt (kosher, soy sauce, etc.) in the marinade. Just make sure your meat is thoroughly dried and if in doubt, store in the fridge after drying. As David points out, the 140 mark is important although I doubt my old electric dehydrator gets that warm whereas with the WSM, there's no problem keeping it at temp (use very few lit coals). I may have been lucky all of these years http://tvwbb.infopop.cc/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif.

K Kruger
02-11-2008, 06:56 AM
Salt is the primary bacteria inhibitor in jerky and other cured meats. Curing salt inhibits C. botulinum but it also prolongs shelf life. C. bot outgrowth needs an anaerobic condition, moisture, and the proper temp range. Though smoking jerky isn't a long process, it is safer not to 'cold smoke' if making jerky without curing salt; use a higher smoker temp as David and Paul suggest.