Immersion bacon curing - lab test results

Discussion in 'Food Safety' started by wade, Mar 10, 2015.

  1. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Guys it is important to understand with any technique your result may vary. The USDA guidelines have been around a long time and proven safe. Using Cure #1 at 4oz per Gallon Water has been a standard longer still. Again this is no reflection on Wades test but a single result of 600+ppm using the cure manufacturers recommendation of 4oz/gal does not invalidate a long term standard. This test does prove that  it is your responsibility to learn and have an understanding of how meats are cured before you attempt home production...JJ
    supplysergeant likes this.
  2. Chef, I think that's the most important thing for others to take from these tests. The importance of understanding what you're making and how it's being made.
  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    How does that compute with the maximum ingoing nitrite of 120 Ppm or 156 Ppm rules....
  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Last edited: Mar 12, 2015
  5. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Also don't forget that the manufacturers recommendations do not necessarily have to produce a product for home use that is within the USDA guidelines. The recommended Instacure Cure #1 quantities for home curing appear to go back a long way and this cure mix would not usually be used commercially for producing bacon. Commercially Nitrite is usually bought in its pure form in 25 Kg sacks or larger.

    I suspect (though I don't have proof) that most manufacturers of Cure #1 and #2 simply mix them to the formula and state the recommended usage rates that follow all of the other manufacturers historical recommendations. It would be interesting to see how many have lab tested products that have been made using their mix. I hope some would have but I expect most bulk chemical manufacturers have not.

    OK, it appears that this method of brining produces a higher level of Nitrite than the calculations predict, and that these exceed the USDA guidelines - but do they make the bacon product produced by this curing method unsafe? Probably not if eaten in moderate quantities. I think it is important though that people should be aware that the theoretical Ppm calculations and the final Ppm in the bacon may be very different and that they should not be tempted to use more than the manufacturers recommend.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2015
  6. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I do realise that this was a small number of tests, however the results from each set of samples were sufficiently consistent to indicate that they were a good indication of what was happening. Over the next few months I will be submitting more curing samples for lab testing as part of a commercial product that I am developing. Along with these I will also include some additional tests replicating the methods above. The samples will be much less comprehensive though and will only include the starting brine concentration and the end bacon Ppm. As these results become available I will add them to the thread.
  7. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    LOL----Morton's Tender Quick anyone???

    boykjo likes this.
  8. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Lol Bear - don't you start [​IMG]. My wife is still complaining about me filling up the fridges with the last testing.[​IMG]
  9. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I am also proposing a 4 week whole belly experiment. Just to see if the ppms are still climbing after 14 days?

    When can you start? LOL
  10. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Wade, morning.... After re reading the FSIS handbook, I believe you assumed the 4 oz. / gallon solution was for immersion curing.. I believe it is for a 10% injection only and subsequent immersion of meats is not allowed...

    FSIS page 11...
    There are some recently introduced processes, such as injecting emulsion into the meat or poultry; and there are processes not specifically addressed in the regulations (such as immersion curing of products other than bacon). Nevertheless, the amount of curing solution permitted in these processes is also based on the green weight of the meat or poultry because FSIS believes that all the curing agent used is taken up by the meat or poultry.
    The FSIS manual points to injection curing... where "all the curing agent used is taken up by the meat"....

    Using the 4 0z. per gallon, that would lead to the conclusion of 187 Ppm nitrite in any injected meats injected at a 10% rate....

    That solution is not to be used for immersion curing ... the USDA does not address immersion curing for any meats other than bacon...
  11. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    It is for immersion too:

    From the handbook: page 21-22

    Nitrite in Immersed Products

    In immersion curing, the submerged meat or poultry absorbs the cover pickle solution, slowly,

    over a long period of time. There are two recognized methods for calculating the allowable

    ingoing amount of nitrite in immersion cured products. The method used depends on the

    mechanism of movement of nitrite within the meat and/or poultry/pickle system and into the meat,

    meat byproduct, or poultry tissue itself.


    ! Method One

    The first method assumes that the meat or poultry absorbs not more than the level of

    nitrite in the cover pickle. Hence, the calculation for nitrite is based on the green weight

    of the meat or poultry (as is the case with pumped products), but uses percent pick-up as

    the percent pump. The percent pick-up is the total amount of cover pickle absorbed by

    the meat or poultry. It is used in the calculation for immersion cured products in the same

    way percent pump is used in the (previous) calculation for pumped products.

    < Calculation Formula (using % pick-up)

    lb nitrite × % pick-up × 1,000,000 = ppm

    lb pickle
  12. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you go to page 23, you will see the proper way to calculate for immersion curing... They have 800#'s pickle and 600#'s of meat... and they add 0.25#'s of nitrite which is 4#'s of cure #1..... 4#'s in 1400 #'s = 178 Ppm.....

    Someone forgot to read farther through the FSIS manual.....

    In the pump pickle, 4 oz. cure #1 per gallon.... 95 x 4 oz. = 383 oz. or 24 #'s cure #1 added to 95 gallons in the example Wade used....

    There is a big difference between adding..
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2015
  13. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Someone forgot to read the Note :)

    "Note: Method One is used for hams, shoulders, bellies, etc., because it takes weeks for these

    large items to reach equilibrium. Method Two is primarily used with small items with large

    surface areas such as pigs' ears, tails, snouts, etc."

    method one is the one with % pickup.
  14. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thank you wade for all the time and effort you've put in to this project. I've only had time to browse through every thing here but I'm looking forward to studying your results and getting in on the conversation.
    Again, Many thanks.
  15. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Dave

    One of the purposes of this particular testing was to check the results of two immersion cures that were being supported by members of this forum. The first was the cure in the Prague Powder #1 thread that was being supported by Martin (DiggingDogFarm) for immersion brining (Brine #1), and the second was Pops brine (Brine #2) which is also regularly discussed on here. These are not my brines and I was not recommending or supporting either of them before the tests took place. Both appeared to be at such extremes of the cure concentrations that we just needed to check the validity of each. Martin was questioned at the time about the supporting evidence for the % uptake calculation and he pointed us to the Handbook. From reading it I think that the wording did supported his argument.

    As JJ also mentioned earlier in this thread, the 4 ozs per gallon is a recommended brine by many of the manufacturers/distributors of Cure #1. I think the question you are alluding to is, should this brine only be used for injection/pumping or is it also valid for immersion curing - as was being proposed in the Prague Powder #1 thread?

    I am currently preparing to sell my bacon commercially and so I have to provide the UK authorities with certified lab test results for the curing methods I use. From this test I know that I will not be using the Brine #1 immersion technique. If I was to immersion cure then Pops brine would be more appropriate, however I think that that would actually need the resulting cure PPM to be increased to around the 160-180 Ppm mark to ensure that it remained safe during prolonged smoking.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2015
  16. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It has been proven by Wade, the % pickup method does not work.... unless you want 700 Ppm nitrite in your meats..... AND it is not safe to eat.... nitrite attaches to the red blood cells making it impossible for your blood to carry oxygen.... that causes internal organ failure... like your heart or kidneys being deprived of oxygen... maybe only 10% or 20% but to ignore that fact is STUPID and IRRESPONSIBLE....

    Pops method is an equilibrium brining solution....

    The reason it states "for smaller items" is..... todays manufacturers do not have the time or the space to store thousands of gallons of pickle and meat for 2 weeks in a football field sized refrigerator.... Pops dad had the room and pops described the barrels and time his stuff sat in the cooler...
    It only makes sense that adding 1 tsp. of cure #1 to 5#'s of meat makes 156 ish Ppm nitrite in the meat.... AND adding 1 tsp. of cure #1 to 5 #'s of water make 156 ish Ppm nitrite in water... and adding 2 tsp. of nitrite to 10#'s of meat and water that given enough time all will equal out...
    If you are in a hurry, make a 1500 Ppm solution of nitrite and inject at a rate of 10% green meat weight... or a 3,000 Ppm nitrite solution and inject at a 5% green meat weight....

  17. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yes it was proven to produce high ppm ....that was the whole point of the exercise...duh.

    Einstein might have anticipated this handbook when he defined insanity: doing the same thing and expecting different results.
  18. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Good afternoon Dave, After further consideration of my above answer, I thought it sounded somewhat uncaring and dismissive. I looked into the use of the recommended 4oz per Gallon and wondered if the manufacturer/distributor supported their recommendation here is what I found...JJ

    Taken from SausageMakers site regarding Insta Cure #1...

    Insta Cure™ No. 1, a basic cure used to cure all meats that require cooking, brining, smoking, or canning. This includes poultry, fish, ham, bacon, luncheon meats, corned beef, pates and other products too numerous to mention. Formerly Prague Powder #1. Insta Cure™ #1 contains salt and sodium nitrite (6.25%).

    Use 1 level teaspoon per 5 lbs. ground meat. 5 lbs. of Insta Cure™ will process approximately 2,400 lbs. of meat.

    For a Basic Bacon/Ham Brine (without additional ingredients for flavor):
    1 gallon water
    4 oz (1/2 cup) InstaCure#1
    1 lb 5 oz (1 3/4 cup) Salt
    1.5 oz (2 1/4 Tbsp) Sugar

    Click Here  to see the formula used for Nitrite Level (based on USDA formula) per gallon, using InstaCure#1 [PDF File]. 

    BreakDown of Nitrite PPM per Gallon Brine (brine includes Water, Cure, Salt, Sugar)

     The following is for a BASIC BRINE for Pork and Beef Muscle Brining (Ham, Bacon, Brisket…etc) not Poultry.

     The current USDA Minimum is 125ppm and Maximum is 200ppm Nitrite for Brined/Pickled Meats that are spraypumped WITH 10% brine of their initial weight [aka ‘green weight’]).

     Currently our recommendation of 3 oz Cure#1 per gallon of Water yields 140ppm nitrite o 4 oz yields 188ppm... 3 & 4 oz ARE CORRECT and SAFE AMOUNTS! *USDA Processing Inspectors' Calculations Handbook, page 7: Nitrite x 10% pump x 1,000,000 / weight of brine = ppm

    First you need to find out how much Sodium Nitrite is in a specific amount of Cure. Let's say that we want to use 3oz of InstaCure#1. You have to find what 3 oz is in LBS, this is done by dividing 3 by 16 (because there are 16 ozs in a pound), this comes to 0.1875 lbs.

    Cure #1 has 6.25% Sodium Nitrite. So, to find out how much Nitrite is in that 0.1875 lbs of Cure, multiply 0.1875 by that percentage as a decimal… 0.1875 x 0.0625 = 0.01171 lbs Sodium Nitrite in 3 oz Cure.

    The ‘weight of brine’ is simply how heavy the water/brine is… One gallon of water weighs approximately 8.33 lbs.

    Now to find the Parts Per Million (ppm), here is the formula: multiply nitrites by % pump by 1,000,000 and DIVIDE it by the weight of your brine.

    Here is the ppm formula for 3 oz Cure#1: Nitrite x 10% pump x 1,000,000 / weight of brine = parts per million 0.01171 x 0.10 x 1,000,000 / 8.33 = ppm 0.001171 x 1,000,000 / 8.33 = ppm 1171 / 8.33 = ppm 140 ppm nitrite in 1 gallon of water when using 3 oz of Cure#1.

    Here is the ppm formula for 4 oz Cure#1: Nitrite in 4 oz Cure #1 = (4/16) x 0.0625 = 0.015625 Nitrite x 10% pump x 1,000,000 / weight of brine = parts per million 0.015625 x 0.10 x 1,000,000 / 8.33 = ppm 0.0015625 x 1,000,000 / 8.33 = ppm 1562.5 / 8.33 = ppm 188 ppm nitrite in 1 gallon of water when using 4 oz of Cure#1.

    Minimum allowed by USDA is 125ppm for any useful curing action and maximum being 200ppm, remember that for a proper brine you will also need to have the correct amount of salt/sugar in the solution. A pork ham, will need to soak in a brine that is also about 60 degrees salinity so the base formula for your brine, so that it is at this level with the correct nitrite ppm will be:

    1 gallon water

    4 oz (1/2 cup) Cure #1

    1 lb 5 oz (1 ¾ cup) Salt

    1.5 oz (2 ¼ Tbsp) Sugar

    This is a proportionate formula to the amount of water / nitrite, if you need half the amount of brine then cut all ingredients in half... if need twice the amount, multiple by 2. While salt, sugar and other ingredient amounts may be adjusted, proper curing time and amount Cure#1 must be followed.
  19. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I agree.... but that's in a 10% pumped.... For a 10% pumped it works perfect...
  20. pops6927

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

    As did my Dad's and was proven, through scientific testing and thorough critical examination for 40+ years, to be sufficient to cure all pork products effectively and to smoke at 225° 10 hours for partially cooked hams and fully cooked bacons, and an additional 26 hours for fully cooked hams.  Additional items until internal temp was 146°, proven safe and effective, with samples taken by the State every 30 day for 40 years, from 1946 until my dad's death in 1986.   The NYS inspection was replaced by USDA Inspection in the early 1970's.

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