Jerky without using cure?

Discussion in 'Making Jerky' started by richard geist, Jun 18, 2016.

  1. richard geist

    richard geist Newbie

    I have been making beef and deer jerky in my MES40 by running the temp at 185-190 for 2 1/2 - 5 hours without using cure. Haven't had any problems, but was curious what others think about not using cure at higher temperatures.
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    185 is borderline for killing botulism...  The spores need 250 ish to be killed...  Once you have problems, it's too late.... botulism is the deadliest pathogen know to man...
  3. crazymoon

    crazymoon Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    RG,Please use cure as Dave said ,better safe than sorry.
  4. joel11230

    joel11230 Smoke Blower

    Always use cure for summer sausage & jerky. Just too risky not to.
  5. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    is there some particular reason you don't want to use cure?  As far as I can tell it does not alter the flavor profile and it's dirt cheap. Even fermented sausage uses cure #2.  I'm not aware of any advantage to not using cure, so if you have heard something, it will be interesting to discuss it.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2016
  6. richard geist

    richard geist Newbie

    I just assumed the consuming nitrates was a bad thing. I suppose I could start at 250 for an hour and then turn it down to 180ish. Does the cure cook out during the smoking process?
  7. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    There are no nitrates in cure #1....  You basically add from 120 to 200 Ppm nitrite to meat you are curing to eliminate the risk of botulism...   The nitrite dissipates at temps over 130 deg. F...   tests have shown the nitrite level in packaged processed meats for human consumption, at the retailer can be as low as 10 Ppm....   

    Nitrite Dissipation from heat.....


    Prague Powder #1

    Also called Insta-Cure and Modern Cure. Cures are used to prevent meats from spoiling when being cooked or smoked at low temperatures (under 200 degrees F). This cure is 1 part sodium nitrite (6.25%) and 16 parts salt (93.75%) and are combined and crystallized to assure even distribution. As the meat temperate rises during processing, the sodium nitrite changes to nitric oxide and starts to ‘gas out’ at about 130 degrees F. After the smoking /cooking process is complete only about 10-20% of the original nitrite remains. As the product is stored and later reheated for consumption, the decline of nitrite continues. 4 ounces of Prague powder #1 is required to cure 100 lbs of meat. A more typical measurement for home use is 1 level tsp per 5 lbs of meat. Mix with cold water, then mix into meat like you would mix seasonings into meat.

    Prague Powder #2

    Used to dry-cure products. Prague powder #2 is a mixture of 1 part sodium nitrite, .64 parts sodium nitrate and 16 parts salt. (1 oz. of sodium nitrite with .64 oz. of sodium nitrate to each lb. of salt.) It is primarily used in dry-curing Use with products that do not require cooking, smoking, or refrigeration. This cure, which is sodium nitrate, acts like a time release, slowly breaking down into sodium nitrite, then into nitric oxide. This allows you to dry cure products that take much longer to cure. A cure with sodium nitrite would dissipate too quickly. Use 1 oz. of cure for 25 lbs. of meat or 1 level teaspoon of cure for 5 lbs. of meat when mixing with meat. When using a cure in a brine solution, follow a recipe.

    On the other hand, nitrates in vegetables is REALLY HIGH.....  and heart healthy ...  google it....   there is a WHOLE NEW THEORY on how good nitrates are for you....  from blood doping with nitrates for athletic performance to reducing the risk of heart attack...

    Now, 10-20 Ppm nitrite in a finished meat product is a lot less than you get from vegetables, after the nitrate is converted to nitrite.... 

    Believe me when I say, "Dying from botulism poisoning only takes a day or three...  Dying from vegetables residue could take 100 years.."
    damascusmaker likes this.
  8. richard geist

    richard geist Newbie

    Thanks for this information. Don't really want to get sick, so I guess I need to start using the cure.
  9. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You can get cure #1 from many suppliers....  Amazon, Butcher and Packer, Walton's, The Sausage Maker, Spokane Spice (Michlitch)...  where sausage casings, spices etc. are also available..

    Cure #1 is used in most meats packaged for the home  consumer...   read the label and nitrite will be the last ingredient on the list..  

    There are many books and websites that have "recipes" for curing food...  MANY have typographical errors when it comes to curing...  Even the so called experts recipes have errors... The average amount of cure #1 used in meat products is ~156 Ppm nitrite... 1.1 grams of cure #1 per pound...   1# of cure #1 will cure ~400 #'s of meat...

    Please take the time to post any recipe you find, on this forum so our members can check it for accuracy...  If you like, you may Private Message me on this forum and I will be glad to see you through the initial step to safe home curing of meats...   We do prefer the open forum for those discussions because there are MANY folks trying to learn about this stuff...    seems home curing of meats is very popular now...

    Anyhow, have a great day.....   Glad you stopped in to further your knowledge...

  10. richard geist

    richard geist Newbie

    How long would the 250 temp be required to kill the spores?
  11. richard geist

    richard geist Newbie

    I had been told by others that the nitrates were bad, but another post on this forum lead me to a web page that said otherwise.
  12. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Richard....  Do you eat ham...  hot dogs....  bratwurst....  bacon....   pastrami from the deli...   salami....  beef jerky... pepperoni...   all have nitrite...  but no nitrate...   nitrate is not put in ready to eat packaged meats for consumers...   nitrate comes from vegetables....

    Home made bacon has 1000 times less nitrates than most vegetables..... soooo....  don't eat vegetables once or twice a week and you can have all the bacon you want.....

    The Nitrate and Nitrite Myth: Another Reason Not To Fear Bacon

    on October 5, 2012 by Chris Kresser 962 comments


    [​IMG]Beyond just being loaded with “artery-clogging saturated fat” and sodium, bacon has been long considered unhealthy due to the use of nitrates and nitrites in the curing process. Many conventional doctors, and well-meaning friends and relatives, will say you’re basically asking for a heart attack  or cancer  by eating the food many Paleo enthusiasts lovingly refer to as “meat candy”.

    The belief that nitrates and nitrates cause serious health problems has been entrenched in popular consciousness and media. Watch this video clip to see Steven Colbert explain how the coming bacon shortage will prolong our lives thanks to reduced nitrates in our diets.

    In fact, the study that originally connected nitrates with cancer risk and caused the scare in the first place has since been discredited after being subjected to a peer review. There have been major reviews of the scientific literature that found no link between nitrates or nitrites and human cancers, or even evidence to suggest that they may be carcinogenic. Further, recent research suggests that nitrates and nitrites may not only be harmless, they may be beneficial, especially for immunity and heart health. Confused yet? Let’s explore this issue further.
    It may surprise you to learn that the vast majority of nitrate/nitrite exposure comes not from food, but from endogenous sources within the body. (1) In fact, nitrites are produced by your own body in greater amounts than can be obtained from food, and salivary nitrite accounts for 70-90% of our total nitrite exposure. In other words, your spit contains far more nitrites than anything you could ever eat.

    When it comes to food, vegetables are the primary source of nitrites. 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. (2) And your own saliva has more nitrites than all of them! So before you eliminate cured meats from your diet, 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 evidence 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.

    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. (3) Any nitrate that is absorbed has a very short half-life, disappearing from our blood in under five minutes. (4) Some nitrite in our stomach reacts with gastric contents, forming nitric oxide which may have many beneficial effects. (56) You can listen to my podcast “Does Red Meat Increase Your Risk of Death?” for more information on this topic.

    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. (7) Newly published prospective studies show no association between estimated intake of nitrite and nitrite in the diet and stomach cancer. (8) 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. (91011) Nitrates may also help boost the immune system and protect against pathogenic bacteria (121314)

    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 (though it may make sense to limit consumption of them for other reasons). 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. I do.

Share This Page