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Curing Directions
with Morton’s
Tender Quick 
and Sugar Cure

  Morton Sugar Cure and Tender Quick

morton's sugar cure
Click to order Morton's Sugar Cure,
Tender Quick and more

A product formulated for dry or sweet pickle curing of hams and bacon.

AFTER the meat has been chilled and cut up, lightly rub the pieces with Morton’s Sugar-Cure and place skin side down on a tilted. table to drain for some 6 to 12 hours. Use about 1 lb. for each 100 lbs. of meat. This light application of the sugar-curing salt will draw the first flush of blood from the meat.


After the meat is drained, make a Tender-Quick pumping pickle for pumping the large pieces.


To make the pickle, use water that has previously been boiled and cooled, and mix Tender-Quick with the water, stirring until it dissolves.


For curing meat that is to be kept for varying lengths of time the following ratio of water and Tender-Quick should be used:


  • 2 1/2  lbs. of Tender-Quick to 3 quarts of water for meat that is to be carried over the summer or for meat that is to be kept 8 months to a year before being used.

  • 2 1/2 lbs. of Tender-Quick per gallon of water for meat that is to be kept for only 3 to 6 months.

  • 2 lbs. of Tender-Quick per gallon of water for meat that is to be used within 30 to 60 days.

  • The Amount of Tender-Quick pumping pickle to use is 1 to 1 1/2 oz. of pickle per pound of meat. For ready reference the following scale shows the amounts of Tender-Quick for making a full strength pumping pickle which is to be used for curing meat that is kept 8 to 12 months:


    • 2 1/2 lbs. of Tender-Quick to 3 quarts of water will make 96 oz. of pumping pickle.  

    • 5 lbs. of Tender-Quick to 1 1/2 gallons of water will make 192 oz. of pumping pickle.  

    • 10 lbs. of Tender-Quick to 3 gallons of water will make 384 oz. of pumping pickle.

Pump 1 to 1 1/2 oz. of pickle per pound of meat.


Morton’s meat pump holds 4 oz. of pickle. The needle of the pump is hollow and has a number of holes in it. Submerge the entire needle of the pump in the pickle and pull up on the handle to draw the pump full of pickle. When first drawing up the pickle before starting to pump meat, work the handle back and forth a few times to get the barrel full of pickle without air pockets. For the most sanitary job the pump needle should be dipped in boil­ing water before it is used, and while pumping meat do not touch the needle with the hands or lay it down. When the pump is not in use let it stand needle end down in the jar or crock that contains the pickle.


Pumping Meat

Draw the pump full of pickle and insert the pump needle its full length into the meat and push with a slow even pressure on the pump handle to in­ject the pickle. As the pickle is forced into the meat around the bone gradually draw the pump toward you in order to distribute the pickle as evenly as possible along the bone.


Pumping meat is simple and anyone can do a good job. The aim is to get the pickle distributed as uniformly as possible along the bone area. Each pumpful of pickle is called a stroke, and after the stroke is completed and the needle withdrawn there will be a tenden­cy for a small amount of the pickle to run out of the meat. Pinch the needle hole together with the thumb and forefinger for a few seconds after the needle is withdrawn. While the pickle is being injected the meat around the needle bulges a little, which is all right, but always use a slow even stroke when injecting the pickle.


For hams and shoulders that weigh 10 to 15 lbs. use 3 to 4  pump-fuls of pickle, which will be 12 to 16 oz. For hams and shoulders that weigh 15 to 25 lbs. use 5 to 6 pump­fuls, which would be 20 to 24 oz. Always have the meat pump full of pickle to prevent air pockets.


 For pumping bacon insert the needle in the fat part of the heavy bacon and pump about 1 to 1 1/2 oz. of pickle per pound of meat. The needle can be inserted around the edges and at the ends to distribute the pickle uniformly.


Applying the Sugar-Cure

After the pieces have been pumped, use 7 to 8 lbs. of Morton’s Sugar-Cure for each 100 lbs. of meat.

Apply it in two applications. For the first application use 4 to 5 lbs. for each 100 lbs. of meat. Rub the Cure around the bones, especially well at hock and knee joints, working in as much as the skin covering will hold.  Then rub the cure over all the meat, using a slow circular motion, applying on both flesh and skin sides.  After the cure has been rubbed over the pieces, pack the meat in a convenient place for curing.

Meat can be packed in a box or barrel or on a table. Before the pack is started, sprinkle a little Cure over the bottom of the box and over the pieces as they are packed. The heavi­est pieces should be at the bottom and the lighter ones. on top. Do not pack the meat over three feet deep. Keep the curing box clear of the ground; bore a few holes in the bottom to let the bloody water drain out.


In mild weather cover the box with a cloth to prevent flies from getting at the meat. In. very cold weather the meat should be covered to keep it from freezing.  Meat that is allowed to freeze, either before or after it is put in cure will never make as nice a finished product as if it had not been frozen.  When meat freezes the moisture in the small cells and fibers ex­pands and bursts the meat tissues, which lowers the quality of the finished product. If your meat does freeze, remember that while it is frozen it will not take the cure, therefore, no curing action can take place so long as the meat remains frozen. The curing action vir­tually stops when the inside temperature of the meat gets below 34°.


The ideal meat curing temperature is between 38° and 40° and the nearer this temperature the meat can be kept while it is in cure, the nicer the finished prod­uct will be.  If, due to unusual circumstances, meat freezes while it is being chilled, it should be thawed out to about 38° and put in cure. Meat that was frozen when chilling, or frozen while in the cure should be given extra care and attention, and should be used up as soon a practicable after coming out of the cure.


Second Application of Sugar-Cure

After the meat has been curing 4 or 5 days, Break the pack and give a second application of Sugar-Cure, using about 3 lbs. for 100 lbs. of meat. Then repack the meat in a different position for continuing the cure.


If a real mild cure is desired, do not give the second application to bacon or small pieces. Also, if the meat is to be used shortly after it comes from the cure, the total amount of Sugar-Cure used per 100 lbs. of meat can be reduced in proportion. Where meat is to be kept from one curing season to the next, it is necessary to give it a heavier cure—about 7 to 8 lbs. of Cure for 100 lbs. of meat. For a mild cure 5 to 6 lbs. is sufficient.


For hams and shoulders to have the best flavor they should season out after the cure for some 30 to 60 days before being used, and even longer is preferable. Bacon should season out 10 to 15 days before being used.


The amount of Cure to use for 100 lbs. of meat will vary with different sections of the country and with individual preferences. It does not take as much salt to cure meat in high, dry altitudes as it does in more humid sections. These points must be adjusted, depending on individual preferences, climatic conditions and length of time meat is to be kept.


Fresh meat is a perishable product and to turn live hogs into quality hams and bacon calls for proper care and attention in doing all parts of the job. There are a number of factors that enter into butchering and curing that have a definite part in turning out quality meat. It is very important not to get the hogs excited or overheated when butchering. If a thorough bleed and a good chill are not ob­tained, souring can easily start before the meat is put in cure. Regardless of the kind of curing Salt used, it is necessary to do a good job of butchering, bleeding, and chilling.


Overhauling the Meat

While the meat is in cure, the pack should be broken and the meat overhauled once for smaller pieces and twice for heavier ones. These overhauling periods should be some seven to ten days apart and the Cure should be rubbed on any bare spots.


Length of Time in Cure

Meat should remain in cure about 2 days per pound for hams and shoulders and about 1 1/2 days per pound for smaller pieces. For example, a 10 lb. ham should cure 20 days; a 20 lb. ham 40 days; a 10 lb. side of bacon 15 days. Different size pieces should cure in proportion to their weight. Weather condi­tions help control the length of time meat should cure for best results. It requires longer for meat to take the Cure in real cold weather than in milder weather. Much home cured meat has become over salty by being left in the cure entirely too long. On the other hand, meat that is taken out of the cure too soon when the weather remains cold may be only partially cured, because meat will not take the Cure when the temperature of the meat goes much below 34°.


Wash Meat When Taken from Cure

After meat comes from cure, wash it in lukewarm water. Let smaller pieces soak 30 to 40 minutes and larger ones about an hour. Use a stiff bristle brush to scrub off collected grease and Salt. Then hang the meat and let it drain until dry. Do not wrap meat until it is thoroughly dry. In damp weather it is advisable to hang the meat in a warm room or build a small fire to get it dry. This will help prevent mold after the meat is wrapped.


Wrapping and Sacking Meat

If meat is left exposed to the air, slow oxidation of the fat takes place, which causes rancidness, a darkened color, and strong flavor. Proper wrapping prevents most of this trouble and is also one of the best methods of keep­ing out skippers and other insects. Place a piece of muslin or cheesecloth (cornmeal or flour sacks) on the table and wrap each piece separately. Then wrap in layers of heavy paper and place in strong paper bags. Tie bag tops so insects cannot enter, and hang away. When hung, the pieces should be separated enough not to touch and should be away from walls to keep insects, mice, or rats from reach­ing the meat. Meat should be hung in a dark, cool, well-ventilated place.


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