Monday, June 25, 2012

What temperature do I need to dehydrate my jerky at to be safe? Do I need cure?

Matt from Albany, MO said:

Hello Brad, I have been making whole meat venison jerky in my dehydrator for years now. I have my own recipe and love it. Lately though, I have been concerned about food safety. I do not get the temp of the jerky above 160 degrees while dehydrating as recommended by the USDA, and I do not use a cure. Can I just add a cure and continue to make my jerky this way and be safe? If so, what cure do you recommend and how do you use it properly?


You are on the right track! Simply add a product called pink cure salt. This contains a very low concentration of Sodium Nitrate. It's predominantly salt with a pink tint so you can tell its cure salt.

It only takes 1/4 lb for 100lbs of meat so you will only need a teaspoon for a small batch of product. This way, it won't effect the flavor of your recipe. It doesn't take much, but no worries if you add a little too much - it's a very low concentration. If you add Quick Cure salt it will take 3 times as much and this will change the flavor of the product you love so much.

Your temperature is fine, USDA defines final temperature as 158F for instant kill of pathogens. If your dehydrator goes to 160F you will be fine. Keep in mind: final reduction of pathogens can also be reached by time and temperature. If you're holding the product at 160F surface temperature for over 2 hours, you have achieved your goal.