Are you a fan of beef jerky? Do you want to learn how to make it at home?
If so, then you need to know about curing salt. Curing salt is a special type of salt that is used for curing meat, including beef jerky. It helps to preserve the meat, enhance its flavor, and retain its color.
But how do you use curing salt for beef jerky? In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about curing salt and how to use it to make delicious beef jerky at home.
From the different types of curing salt to the proper usage and storage, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s dive in and discover the secrets of making perfect beef jerky with curing salt!
How To Use Curing Salt For Beef Jerky?
To use curing salt for beef jerky, you first need to understand the different types of curing salt available. There are two main types: Cure No. 1 and Cure No. 2.
Cure No. 1 is used for meats that require cooking, brining, smoking, or canning. This includes poultry, fish, ham, bacon, luncheon meats, corned beef, pates, and other products. It is made up of 93.75 percent table salt and 6.25 percent sodium nitrite. It is used at a rate of 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds of ground meat.
Cure No. 2 is formulated for dry-cured products such as pepperoni, hard salami, prosciutto hams, dried sausages, and other products that do not require cooking, smoking, or refrigeration. One level teaspoon (a mix of 1 ounce sodium nitrite (6.25 percent), 0.64 ounces sodium nitrate (4 percent) to 1 pound of salt) is used per 5 pounds of meat.
Once you have chosen the appropriate curing salt for your beef jerky recipe, it’s time to start the curing process. Mix the contents of one Jerky Seasoning and Cure packet with 5 pounds of lean ground meat and 1/2 cup of cold water. Mix until sticky and the color is uniform throughout without any streaks.
If you are using a jerky gun, fill it with the ground mixture and shoot strips 1/4″ apart onto a wire rack or dehydrator tray. If you are using a rolling pin method, place a small portion of seasoned meat between two sheets of wax paper and roll it until it’s about 1/4″ thick. Remove the top piece of wax paper and cut the meat into strips using a knife or pizza cutter. Gently lay the pieces on wire racks or dehydrator trays.
It’s important to note that when using ground meat for jerky making, letting the meat marinate with the cure and seasoning mix overnight may change the texture of the meat. Due to the acidity of some seasoning ingredients, they may stiffen the meat, making it difficult to load into your jerky gun.
What Is Curing Salt?
Curing salt is a type of salt used for preserving food, particularly meat products. It is a mixture of table salt (sodium chloride) and sodium nitrite, with around 94% salt and 6% sodium nitrite. The purpose of curing salt is to prevent or slow down spoilage caused by bacteria or fungus, especially Clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism. Curing salts are generally used in making sausages and curing bacon, ham, corned beef, pastrami, and other similar products.
There are two main types of curing salt: Cure No. 1 and Cure No. 2. Cure No. 1 contains 6.25% sodium nitrite and 93.75% salt, and is used for meats that require cooking, brining, smoking, or canning. Cure No. 2 is formulated for dry-cured products such as pepperoni, hard salami, prosciutto hams, dried sausages, and other products that do not require cooking, smoking, or refrigeration. It contains a mix of sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate.
Curing salt is also known as pink curing salt or Prague powder. It is important to note that pink salt or curing salt should not be confused with Himalayan pink salt, which is a halite with trace elements that give it a pink color. In its raw form, pink salt is toxic to humans and should not be used like regular salt. However, the curing salt in cured meats is not toxic or harmful. During the curing process, the nitrites in curing salt are transformed into nitric oxide process, a compound that is not harmful.
Types Of Curing Salt
When it comes to using curing salt for beef jerky, it’s important to choose the right type of curing salt. There are various types of curing salts available in the market, but two of the most commonly used ones are Prague Powder No. 1 and Prague Powder No. 2.
Prague Powder No. 1, also known as Cure No. 1, is a mixture of 93.75% table salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite. This curing salt is primarily used for meats that require cooking, brining, smoking, or canning, such as ham, bacon, corned beef, and other products. It is also used for making sausages and other cured meats that will be cooked before consumption.
On the other hand, Prague Powder No. 2, also known as Cure No. 2, is a mixture of 1 ounce sodium nitrite (6.25%), 0.64 ounces sodium nitrate (4%), and 1 pound of salt. This type of curing salt is formulated for dry-cured products like beef jerky, pepperoni, hard salami, prosciutto hams, and dried sausages that do not require cooking or smoking.
It’s important to note that Cure No. 2 should not be used in place of Cure No. 1 as it contains sodium nitrate which can be toxic if used in excess or not used properly. It’s essential to follow the recommended guidelines and recipes from trusted sources when using curing salts.
Why Use Curing Salt For Beef Jerky?
Using curing salt for beef jerky is not mandatory, but it has several benefits that make it a worthwhile addition to your recipe. Curing salt helps to reduce the growth of harmful bacteria on the meat, ensuring a safer curing process. It also enhances the flavor and color of the jerky, and extends its shelf life.
Without curing salt, beef jerky typically lasts only about a week. However, with the addition of curing salt, it can last up to 2-3 weeks. This means you can make larger batches of jerky without worrying about it going bad too quickly.
Curing salt is also essential for making certain types of jerky, such as semi-dried sausages like kransky and chorizo. It’s important to use the correct type of curing salt for your recipe, as different types are formulated for different methods of curing.
Tips For Proper Usage And Storage Of Curing Salt
Proper usage and storage of curing salt is essential to ensure that your beef jerky is safe to eat and has the desired taste and texture. Here are some tips to follow:
1. Choose the right type of curing salt: As mentioned above, Cure No. 1 and Cure No. 2 are the two main types of curing salt available. Make sure you choose the appropriate type for your recipe.
2. Follow the recommended amount: Using too much or too little curing salt can affect the flavor and safety of your beef jerky. Follow the recommended amount specified in your recipe.
3. Store curing salt properly: Pure salt without additives such as sea salt, Pink Himalayan salt, and canning salt will last virtually forever if stored correctly in a cool, dry location. However, some salts such as iodized salt have a short shelf life due to additives. Salt is hygroscopic, which means it attracts water from the environment and stores it. Protect salt by storing it in an airtight container to prevent moisture from affecting its quality.
4. Never store curing salt in metal containers: Salt will corrode metal containers, causing rust and chemicals in your salt.
5. Overhaul meats when curing: If you are curing multiple meats at one time, divide them into batches, and re-salt them every three days or so. This process is known as “overhauling.”
6. Use vacuum sealer for equilibrium curing: If you’re worried about wasting too much salt, you can try the modern technique of equilibrium curing. First, weigh the meat and apply 3% of that weight’s worth of salt onto the meat, covering evenly and thoroughly, then use a vacuum sealer to seal everything up and let it sit in the refrigerator for about 5 days.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your beef jerky is safe to eat and has the desired taste and texture.
Recipe For Homemade Beef Jerky Using Curing Salt
If you want to make homemade beef jerky using curing salt, there are a few key steps to follow. First, select your curing salt based on whether your beef jerky recipe requires cooking, smoking, or refrigeration. Once you have the appropriate curing salt, it’s time to start the curing process.
To make beef jerky using curing salt, you’ll need to mix the curing salt with your desired seasonings and marinade ingredients. For example, you can combine brown sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, meat tenderizer, black pepper, red pepper flakes, onion powder, and garlic powder in a medium bowl. Mix until all ingredients are well combined.
Next, place your beef or venison strips in the bottom of a large bowl and pour your marinade mixture over the meat. Make sure that all of the meat is evenly coated with the marinade. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
After marinating your meat, it’s time to start the dehydration process. You can use a dehydrator or an oven set to a low temperature (around 150-170°F) to dry out your meat. If you’re using a dehydrator, arrange the meat strips on the trays and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time. If you’re using an oven, place the meat strips on a wire rack and place it on a baking sheet. Bake for 4-6 hours or until the jerky is dry and chewy.
Finally, store your homemade beef jerky in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. If you used curing salt in your recipe, your jerky will be shelf-stable and safe to eat at room temperature for several weeks. If you skipped the curing salt, store your jerky in the refrigerator to maintain freshness. Uncured jerky will last several weeks in the fridge.