making deer jerky do you have to have tenderquick

Discussion in 'Making Jerky' started by gargra03, Feb 3, 2010.

  1. gargra03

    gargra03 Fire Starter

    I am planning on making some deer jerky tonight with a few roast I have . I am prob going to use the oven , I have never used tender quick before and wondering if I must use it ?

  2. que-ball

    que-ball Smoking Fanatic

    Because of drying the meat in the danger zone of 40-140*, you do need to use a cure to prevent bacteria growth. Tenderquick serves that purpose, but you could use Instacure#1 instead. If making up your own recipe from scratch, tenderquick is readily available next to the table salt in your grocery store. You would probably have to order the Instacure#1 (also called Prague Powder #1 or pink cure salt) from a mailorder supply company. If you make your jerky from a commercial seasoning mix, that mix will have a separate packet of cure.
  3. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have never used any kind of cure on my jerky but I always make mine in my food dehydrator.
  4. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have never used it my jerky before but I have used it and it's not bad and I would do it again but you don't have to.
  5. moltenone

    moltenone Smoking Fanatic

    i've never used a cure on jerky.

  6. blzafour

    blzafour Smoke Blower

    What do you do if you use a commercial marinade? Do you have to add TQ to the marinade?

  7. uncle_lar

    uncle_lar Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    most commercial products already contain the cure in them
    I have never used the commercial products and have always
    added cure#1 ( pink salt) to my Jerky not doing so risks the chance of
    bacteria because of the time period of being in the temp. danger zone of 40-140 I dry my jerky for 10 hrs @ 145*
    allot of people , me included have gotten away with it but since I have gained the knowledge, I would not even consider chancing it
  8. jonboat

    jonboat Smoke Blower

    I use an alternative method to kill bacteria. When the jerky is pretty much at the dryness you want, remove it from the dehydrator, place on a cookie sheet, and place in a pre-heated oven set at 175 for 30 minutes. This will "zap" anything that tried to get a foothold during the 8-10 hours in the dehydrator.
  9. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I suppose you also have to take into consideration how thick your cuts are and how hot you are going to run your dehydrator or smoker if that may be. I cut mine really thin and I don't have a temp setting on my dehydrator so when I put my slices on there I am done in about 4-5 hours depending on how many trays I am doing. But if you have a more expensive dehydrator you will have a temp setting and you could turn it down which would cause your meat to take longer then you would have to worry about it being in the danger zone for too long as the other guys have been mentioning.
  10. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    gary - that right there should give you your answer, along with this historical fact:


    cure is not an absolute necessity, especially when you are making well-dried jerky. the best way to store it is in a jar of some kind with holes in the lid. if you plan to seal it, be sure to keep it frozen, then when you thaw it, put it in a jar of smoe kind with holes in the lid.

    however, if you plan to make a rather moist jerky (closer to those "kipper" snacks) or if you don't plan to keep it in a jar with holes in the lid, a cure is a good idea.

    the cure will change the flavor somewhat, but in my mind that is not a bad thing. i'm not sure about the pink, instacures and prague powder-type cures, but if you use tenderquick, cut your salt back a lot or consider eliminating it altogether.
  11. tlzimmerman

    tlzimmerman Meat Mopper

    I will throw in my .02.

    It depends on how you smoke and make the jerky, a dried salted piece of jerky will keep without the use of cure because for botulism or food poisoning to occur you need temps between 40-140, time, moisture, and an oxygenless environment. That being said the thin nature of jerky that lends itself to having oxygen at all times, plus the fact that you are drying it and also adding salt and removing the moisture is why it keeps so well, its what people did to keep meat far far before nitrite cures were ever invented.

    To add another layer on that, you can dry and make jerky in dehydrators and smokers at temps around 155-160, because the jerky is so thin, you will leave the danger zone of 40-140 well within the 4 hour time window, and the rest of the time held above 140 until it dries assures no baddies can take hold in the meat. So yes, being conscious of getting it dry and the temps you are running safe jerky can absolutely be made without the use of cures. As said above however, if you are looking to make a stick with moisture in it like a slim jim or something, a cure is a must to make it keep.

    That said, I use cure in all my jerky's since trying it about a year and a half ago, because I find it changes the texture and flavor of the meat more to my liking. The jerky I have made to this point has always been ground and extruded through my jerky cannon, and there has always been a very fine line between "done" and "too dry" to where it would crumble apart when you bit into it. The cure extends that window, and gives me a nice chewy texture. It also allows me to leave more moisture in the product if thats texture I want without the fear of spoiling. I also feel better about leaving a good portion of the salt out of the recipes I use for a healthier stick, and I make some special low sodium versions (only about 1.5 tsp for 6 pounds of meat plus the cure) for my uncle who is on a low sodium diet.

    Sorry about the novel, but I have made jerky for years without the use of cure, and now with the use of cure, so I thought I finally had some experience to give back to the community.
  12. tasunkawitko

    tasunkawitko Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    a lot of wisdom in your post, tlz - thanks for posting it `
  13. I agree with uncle lar. I to didn't use tender quick, but I made small batchesat first. But I will not make jerky without it now. Large or small batches don't mater. Tender Quick is cheap to by and it keeps the nastys away. Please keep your food,family and freinds safe.
  14. jamminjimi

    jamminjimi Meat Mopper

    I agree with TLZ nicely put.
  15. pike

    pike Meat Mopper

    don't really need tender quick or a cure with wild game, i do use a cure with all my jerky tho but what makes wild game a good choice in this case is the lack of fat in the meat, (deer is 98% fat free) less fat lower chance of spoilage.
    the recommendations are to use a temp of 155 or higher for the first 30 min to kind of cook the outer layer.
  16. showlandy

    showlandy Newbie

    I am just curious.. is Tenderquick a brand name? Like season all?


  17. I am another that doesnt use cure. I use an american harvest dehydrator. I maranate it in the fridge overnight then plop it on the dehydrator and let her rip. for the record I have never seen a recipe or heard of any one useing a cure on jerkey untill i joined SMF, and I have been making 2 to 4 batches a month for about 20 years now (jerkey dont last long around my house [​IMG])

    I am curious though, what kind of flavor does TQ add to the jerkey? and does it make it more tender also?

  18. rstr hunter

    rstr hunter Smoking Fanatic

    I have done both ways and after using a teriyaki recipe I found on here last Oct-Nov that used Insta-cure and smoking this done with hickory, probably won't do it any other way in the future. That was awesome. I agree that you probably could get away without a tenderquick or cure and have no problems, however for the price of these, why risk it? I do think both the insta-cure and the smoke added emensly to the flavor as well. Good Luck.
  19. bob1961

    bob1961 Smoking Fanatic

    i have been makin deer jerky in my electric oven hanging on toothpicks from the oven rack for years, untill i tried it the way i seen on good eats with alton using a box fan with pleated paper filters and no heat at all like dehyd'ers use....i get cool air dried jerky instead of cooked/dry jerky from the oven, it even tasted better too..........bob


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