What is Sure Cure (Salt for Curing Meat) - Seasoning and Additives 104
What is Sure Cure? (Salt for Curing Meat)
What is Sure Cure?
Put simply, Sure Cure is a mix of salt and nitrites that is used to cure meat for products like snack sticks and summer sausage before they are smoked, ensuring that it is safe for consumption. People have been curing meat for thousands of years. Meat would be packed in salt, and the combination of salt and nitrites 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.
If you have used brands other than Excalibur, you have probably used a cure called 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 prevent any mix-ups with other seasonings 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, as 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 a 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.