Morton's Tender Quick says to cure for hours, but the curing recipe I am using says to cure my ham for 4 days. I am wondering does Morton's Tender Quick cure so fast that it only needs hours? Or can I cure with it as long as 4 days? or is that only for insta-cure and pink salt?

I am way confused. I can only find Morton's and I really just want to get started curing.

  • as far as i know tender quick is a premixed cure and includes salt already whereas instacure is something that you add in small proportions to whatever cure mix you would be using. I would look into the percentage of nitrites/nitrates in the tender quick and then compare that to what the recipe calls for and make your determinations/adjustments that way.
    – Brendan
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 18:03

2 Answers 2


Morton's Tender Quick is a fast cure salt meant to be mixed in with ground meats or used for curing thinner cuts (or fish). Hams must be brined for days in order for the salt solution to penetrate deeply through the flesh and prevent spoilage. It is important to follow good curing protocol and use the amount of salt as requested in the recipe.

Sodium nitrate, or pink salt #2, is not essential from a food safety perspective for whole muscle curing but is for dry-curing various salumi.


If you're in the United States, you can buy curing salts from Butcher and Packer (www.butcher-packer.com). What kind of cure are you trying to do (what end result are you looking for)? If your recipe says to cure for 4 days, I don't think you want to do so for just hours.

I'd suggest that you find a book with good cure recipes (such as Salumi, by Ruhlman and Polcyn, or Charcuterie by Ruhlman and Polcyn, for example), and avoid the Morton mix.

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