Seasoning & Additives 104 - Sure Cure
Seasoning and Additives 104 - Sure Cure
Attend this entry level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!
A Quick History
Man has been curing meat for thousands of years. After slaughtering animals leftover meat would be packed in salt for longterm storage and the combination of salt and nitrites present in the salt-cured the meat. As scientific ability advanced it was noted that nitrites and nitrates were useful in setting a nice pinkish color into cured meats and saltpeter became a common ingredient in meat processing. Today we use a more refined version, Sodium Nitrite that is safer to work with.
What Is Sure Cure
If you have used other brands than Excalibur in the past you have probably used a cure called either Prague Powder #1, Instacure or Modern Cure. All of these are basically the same thing, sure cure is just Excalibur’s name for it. It is in this little orange bag that is sent along with any meat snack that is designed to be cured and none of these products would be safe to eat if we hadn’t used it. Sure Cure will appear pink because food coloring has been added to it to prevent any mix-ups with other seasoning or cures. The main ingredient in Sure Cure is salt, not the curing agent which is Nitrites. Large volumes of salt are added during production to make measuring the correct amount of nitrites easier.
Why Use Sure Cure
There are a few reasons you want to add Sure Cure to a smoked meat product. The main reason is that it retards the growth of Botulism spores in your meat. Botulism is a potentially fatal toxin and is one of the main causes of food poisoning in the US. The environment you create when you smoke a restructured meat product like a snack stick or summer sausage is perfect for the growth of botulism spores. It is moist and hot but not hot enough to kill the Spores which can withstand temperatures of above 200 degrees. No one wants to cook their meat to that temperature, you would most likely end up with a dried out and burned product.
Sure cure is also effective in preserving the smoke and spice flavor in a cured product and it fights off rancidity and a warmed over flavor. Have you ever made a London broil, put the leftovers in the fridge and then reheated it? You notice a significant difference in the taste right? That is the warmed-over flavor we are referring to.
Excalibur packages the sure cure into the cases with any seasoning that is designed to be smoked. For 25 lb batches they include the 1 oz package and for 100 lb packages, they include a 4 oz package. You can also purchase sure cure in 5 lb bags or 50 lb boxes.
In future, more advanced classes we will go over some of the stigmas that surround Nitrites and Nitrates.
I do it all the time. Still remember my mom saying it’s not a good idea. I’m sure if you are buying a nice steak and intend it eat it as a grilled T-bone you might notice some flesh cell break down (texture change). If you are going to use it in sausage you will not notice any difference. Made brats last night. Once frozen pork and elk. Refroze the brats. I do it time and time again.
Here is a link to a website that has a handy Excel spreadsheet. It is, as it says a free non-commercial site.
As for Waltons dropping the ball, I vote they are doing a great job.
I think for all of us there are general guidelines, but unless you have a temperature and humidity controlled environment, both for the preparation, cooking (if you cook them) smoking, hanging etc, the results are bound to vary from batch to batch.
Personally, I am searching how to get my home made smoked and dry cured pepperoni to the exact texture and firmness of Margarita pepperoni from the store.
Through trial and error I have the flavor where I want it, but not the texture or firmness. I know time, temperature and humidity are all crucial, but the best I can do is in the basement and then subject to the environment that is there.
I figure as long as I am not killing anyone or making anyone sick I am making progress. Thanks Waltons for all of the great information so far.
Having said that, it would be nice to have your chart in an Excel spreadsheet.
Thanks Jonathon! One question tho! You eluded to 178 being high for a temp! Don’t you guys recommend setting the temp at 175 during the final stage to completion to internal temp? Three degrees shouldn’t make that much difference should it??
Sounds reasonable. Thanks for your input. Pulling the meat at 152 will make a big difference I bet! Thanks again.
@Kinger Thanks for the information. Your process, other than going to 178, is on in my mind. The only thing I do differently is an ice bath for 20 minutes. Showering for 10 minutes, if you are running a cycle and a fan in your smoker can work, but I still think an ice bath would bring it down faster and more. Last time I did thick summer sausage it was down to 110 in 20 minutes, I also tried showering it at 2 minutes on 2 minutes off for 20 minutes and it was only down to 136 (ish) but i did not have a fan running on them.
One more thing you might want to try, if you are stalled towards the end you can finish them up by putting them in a vacuum bag (I have done then hot, right from the smoker, some condensation in the bag but it still gets a good vac) and get some water going at around 165, it should get up to temp in under an hour depending on the thickness.