Cure uptake with immersion brining

Discussion in 'Curing' started by wade, Jan 19, 2015.

  1. Depends on the belly. Weighing is the way to go.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2015
  2. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Ok so are we agreeing that using this method we do not actually know how much residual Nitrite is in the meat at the end of the cure and that we do not know of any credible sources that have actually tested it?

    The original Prague Powder #1 thread was only dealing with Nitrite but I agree that I have not specifically stated only Nitrite in this thread. Even if we do consider Nitrate as well it still does not alter the permissible Nitrite limits.

    It just concerns me that with this method there are a lot of potential unknowns.
  3. I use 156ppm for almost everything...and I don't think twice about it. :biggrin:
  4. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That's what you aim for, but with the full strength brine are you sure that is what you get?
  5. I don't immersion brine cure anymore and even if I did, I have no reason to worry, I don't fear nitrite the way some folks do.
    If one is scared of immersion curing, then maybe the use of a cure accelerator will put one's mind at ease, maybe!!!!
    Or, use a different method of curing.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2015
  6. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I agree. In my opinion it shouldn't be recommended for home use especially after seeing it in many places presented without the advice on weight pickup monitoring. People might assume 10% is what the meat will pick up regardless of length of time in brine. The handbook says briskets are allowed 20% so I imagine much higher pick up is possible.
  7. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member


    Is nitrate (not nitrite) commonly used in UK (and EU)? My impression was it's rarely used due to unpredictability of the nitrate-nitrite conversion.
  8. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yes. Both Nitrate and Nitrite are permitted in commercial cured meats in Europe, including bacon. I only use Nitrite in bacon though. We have too many traditional regional preserved meat products in all corners of the European Union who have been using Nitrate since before the beginning of time that I think the EU would have a problem if they tried to ban its use. A lot of the local independent producers in the UK are now proudly stating that theirs is Nitrate free, however I don't think that many end customers really understand the difference between Nitrite and Nitrate. The dilemma is whether to put it on the ingredients list as "Nitrite" or "E250" as both are looked upon with lack of understanding and suspicion!
  9. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The Es are clearly the scare over the pond. People bend over backwards to avoid them even when they are harmless or even beneficial (E-101 vitamin B2).
  10. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Wow, sounds like a bunch of mad scientists debating the Theory Of Everything!  [​IMG]

    First off, all pork products are previously frozen and thawed in the US; frozen for 30 days minimum to kill trich.  This is why the government was able to issue newer temp guidelines on cooking raw pork; any commercially-raised pork has that.  Home-raised pork, not previously frozen, needs to follow the older temp regs or freeze for 30 days or more, and most certainly wild pork, laden with pathogens, the same.  

    I know my dad had his cured and smoked meats sampled and tested by NYS every month for over 40 years, and his curing was deemed safe.  He immersed his bacons and anything under 2" thick, and pumped anything more than 2" thick, then immersed.  HIS curing time was 21 to 45 days, ave. 30 days, for everything.  He had an entire filing cabinet, and boxes downstairs, of reports from the State Lab in Albany that analyzed his cured meat products.  Inspectors had told me that they broke down the product and could tell exactly how long it had been cured, smoked, cooked, final temp reached, chemical analysis of ingredients, and so on and so on. 

    I did my own testing trying to re-create his curing methods for over a year, running many batches, until I got the lowest effective curing amount over a 1 - 30 day curing process that did the job.  I remember reading some of my dad's notes from the 40's, his attempts and failures.  He'd cure in earthen crocks in the store cellar, and use different combinations of ingredients.  One common problem was getting the cure around the bone until he discovered how to inject the brine into the meat.  Another was stippling; whereas the meat would have cured and uncured dots all through it; he was using salt peter.  Upgrading to sodium nitrite solved that problem.

    Dad's argument to the Gov't was that he could use less cure for a longer time and achieve the same results but with a more tender, less chemical, taste.  The Gov't concurred that, in highly competitive markets, that you could cure essentially in 2 or 3 days using the maximum cure allowed; but using ¼ the cure could still be done effectively over a longer period of time, so that is what I went on, and that is what my "Pop's Brine" is based on.  It is safe, does the job, tenderizes the meat, and you don't have to worry about exceeding the limits of maximum cure.  

    As far as 10% pump goes, that is what is normally injected into a piece of pork before it leaks out; basically all it can hold.  You increase the weight by 10%.  That is not the important part.  It is the curing properties of the brine determines the outcome of the product.  My brine is safe enough it can be injected as much as you want and it will work but not over-cure the product, making it toxic and inedible.  

    I get my information from Butcher Packer on brine strength:

    Per gallon maximum equates to 3.84 oz. per gallon of water.  One ounce is approximately a heaping tablespoon by my scale, a level tablespoon is .88 oz.  So, 1 tablespoon per gallon of water is a fair measurement that will not toxify the meat or even come close.  I have zero chemical analyses to back this up; it is common sense and proven that it will cure the meat effectively and no, don't have the ppm or anything else.  It is safe, it works, that's all I need to know.

    I do add additional ingredients; i.e. plain salt and sugars or sugar substitutes, but this is in addition to the cure concentration, not in conjunction with it and not affecting the concentration levels.  I first put in the curing salt, then add the water by gallon measurement, then add the additional ingredients.  These are to your taste preference.

    In other words, it is not rocket science, it is curing meat safely and effectively and has a safety factor of not going to the maximum, to have patience and curing for a longer period of time with a milder brine.  Although debating fervently on this subject is entertaining and bordering on the subjective measure of patience (or, rather, impatience),  it proves nothing whatsoever and again I discourage doing it, just raises temperatures in body heat and mouth-frothing.   Let's all relax and enjoy curing and smoking meats by whatever methods used, discourage fervent debates, and most importantly helping others to understand not to exceed maximum levels for their own safety and well-being.  This, as members, is all our obligations to our newer guests and members.
  11. inkjunkie

    inkjunkie Master of the Pit

    After reading, more like attempting to, this I am half tempted to bail on my upcoming bacon attempt.
  12. Well spoken Pops! I have read every word of this thread. I am by no means well versed in the subject, nor scientifically backed, but as an intelligent bystander, trying to quantify an exact formula with a natural product is gonna end in frustration and headaches caused by the ingestion of too many grain based, fermented/distilled beverages! Consider some of the variables... Temperature, meat density (fat percentage, muscle density, meat thickness) ambient air density/pressure, times, elevation, hell even moon phase and position (it affects the ocean, why not a bucket of brine?? All will have an effect on the process' out come.

    I agree there is a difference between government guidelines from different countries. Understanding where/how they came up with their numbers, and if those levels are indeed safe, is a worthy quest for sure. Do you trust everything your government says? Me? Not so much. I would however put more weight into results from independent labs, using proper testing methods, and yielding results and recommendations medically safe. The maximum/minimum range of acceptable levels are as they are to account for variables, the way I read into it, to be able to say "I have 143 ppm nitrites in my bacon, because I used "X" weight of "Y" ingredients in my "Z" weight of meat is a hopeful result. It aint gonna happen!! I don't over think it! I am confident, that in a given piece of meat, samples taken along its length or thickness, from the fat, or the lean meat portions, will not have the same ppm. It will likely be in a range of plus or minus, but will never be exactly the same throughout. Too many variables.

    What I am concerned with, and I expect others are, is if 200 ppm is deemed safe by lets say the US government regulatory body, but another governments values say "xxx" ppm is acceptable. I what to know what the long term effects of operating on the high side of either of those numbers could be. I'm sure the test results are there somewhere. And the process used to obtain those values. But I have a feeling that the results will show that a lot of samples were tested using the same inputs and processes, ending in a resultant range of plus or minus results that fall within the "deemed acceptable" levels, and then the published results are just an average range of the results if the methods and quantities laid out are followed.

    I am enjoying the read none the less, and am curious as to where it leads. :)

    EDITED: Didin't want a statement intended as a variable, assumed to be factual.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2015
  13. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks Pops......    I looked for that for 2 hours the other day......     I've got it copied now.......

  14. susieqz

    susieqz Smoking Fanatic

    yow! you guys are all master chemists. i'm not sure i understand what i'm reading but i'm doing it in the hope some of this skill rubs off.
  15. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks Pops. That is a good explanation of your cure. One of my concerns from the original thread was the suggested usage of cure that was 1715 Ppm Nitrite to end up with a residual Nitrite Ppm of 171.5 and to do this you left the meat in the cure until the meat had increased in weight by 10% - however I see that reference to the weight increase now seems to have been removed from the thread.

    Just for my own piece of mind I have contacted my local food testing laboratory and am about to do some comparative cures and have them lab tested for residual Nitrite Ppm. Pops - as you mentioned that you had not had any chemical analysis done on your current method, would you mind if I also included it as one of the cures? 

    I will publish the methodology on here for comment before I start  and then publish the lab results at the end. From what has been said I am fully expecting the 10% uptake rule to be confirmed, however this would help to further confirm it.
  16. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Tip of the head gear to you Wade for being inquisitive and be ready to offer time and personal expense for the benefit of others. Saw the "smoked salmon" study. Looking forward to this.
  17. Looking for ward to the results!

  18. What government?

  19. What was removed and in exactly what post?
  20. No government in particular, and 500 could have been another number. It was to be taken as a variable, not a specific. I can adjust my post if you like.

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