Pink salt question

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by smokeymose, Sep 17, 2016.

  1. smokeymose

    smokeymose Master of the Pit

    OK, I'm getting ready to try my hand at Pancetta and got my UMAi kit a couple of days ago. Their recipe calls for 1 tsp of cure per 5#, which I understand is the basic rule of thumb. In Michael Ruhlman's book he calls for 2 tsp for 5#.
    I'm confused, but then again, I'm easily confused....
    What's up with that?
  2. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    For dry cured meats ruled of thumb is 0.25% curing salt (that's how I do it too). 1tsp/5lb is about that much.

    I see a lot of recipes for pancetta that is made with cure#1. That is not really pancetta but a dried out bacon (unsmoked). I beleive you want to use it in dishes.

    Real pancetta is air dried to be consumed as cold cut. It is sometimes cooked (pasta carbonara).

    If you want to air dry you might want to use cure#2.

    Edit: real pancetta is actually made with salt only. But the recipes we exchange here are using curing salts.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2016
  3. smokeymose

    smokeymose Master of the Pit

    I'm sorry, I should have said that both call for cure #2. Just curious why Ruhlman uses twice as much in his recipe. I notice that in other of his mixes in the book he's heavy on the cure.
    The air dried is what I'm doing, but I think I'll stick with the 1 tsp per 5# rule. Maybe a heaping tsp 😉
  4. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Ruhlmans is known for some errors in his recipe (I have his book too). You can take advice from SMF (not from me personally...I just pass along info I learned here) before any book out there. Lot of knowledgeable folks here (myself not included).

    I thought you were referring to cure#1 since your title says pink salt.

    One more thing...I recommend you roll the pancetta. In my opinion dries better than flat.(will take longer). Good luck and post pics.

    P.s. I also recommend a gram scale if you plan to do a lot of cured meats/sausages. Cheap on Amazon.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2016
  5. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    X2 on the gram scale.  For around $20-$25 you can get a really good one that has 1/100th of a gram resolution.  I would also recommend getting the correct size calibration weight for the scale you choose.  You can quick check the calibration every use, and recalibrate when necessary.

    This is the one I bought and I love it.  Photo is me measuring ECA for some snack sticks.  Calibration weight is also in the photo. This model will let you "tare" out the weight of the container so you are only seeing the weight of the product in the container.  And yes, I always weigh my cure instead of using a volume measure.

  6. smokeymose

    smokeymose Master of the Pit

    Thanks for the replies, atomic. I totally agree about relying on folks here over anything in print or internet! I've learned so much here.
    I intend to roll the Pancetta, of course, and will keep pics to post when all is said and done. I'm planning a Capicola as well.
    I've been working on a plan for a small drying chamber using a wine cooler, but after seeing a post recently by Nepas about UMAi drying, I had to try it (I'll still work on a drying chamber).
    I have the scale. Cheap at Meijer, as well. :)

  7. smokeymose

    smokeymose Master of the Pit

    I've already burned through a set of batteries on this one. It does the same things, and yes, the tare weight thing is invaluable!
  8. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    There is a lot of opinion on Cure amounts. At the amounts used most frequently, 1tsp/5Lb, even doubling is still well under toxic level. Best bet is to have a thorough understanding and judge accordingly. It is not uncommon to see Tablespoons as a Typo for teaspoons in online recipes, but if you have the knowledge, you can spot that error right away...JJ
  9. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You will find many "so called experts" don't follow USDA / FDA / FSIS guidelines for commercial meat processors...  I don't know why they ignore the science our government recommends..   I have noticed their "curing times" are also shorter than what I, and many others, have found to give a superior finished product....   Maybe because their audience has a short attention span and have a hard time waiting for full flavor development...

    The USDA mandates 156 Ppm nitrite MAXIMUM ingoing nitrite in sausage, whole muscle meats etc...  bacon has different guidelines for commercial processors.. 

    From what I have read, since the inception of those rules not 1 case of botulism has been reported from properly processed meats...  and there are other benefits from using nitrite in meats..  shelf life, flavor profile etc...  Not exactly sure of other benefits...  It seems there is now some thinking that health benefits include heart health from using nitrate and nitrite...  Someday, the science will prove smoking food adds particulates to the atmosphere which will aid in global cooling....   Hold your breath for that one.....
  10. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I agree Dave. Often the problem is with people using "traditional" recipes where  tradition has not yet converged with commercial best practice. Maybe for some it never will. For some who are simply following fathers and grandfathers recipes they may not even be aware that there are any government guidelines.

    As you pointed out the government guidelines only actually apply to commercial meat processors and there do not appear to be any official limits as to what levels of Nitrite you are / are not permitted to use at home for personal consumption. Maybe if you did use amounts that could be shown to have harmed another person you would be pursued under other general poisoning laws.

    There is no excuse though for  people who are committing their recipes to print and publishing them for others to follow. In my opinion these are effectively commercial ventures and as such should not deviate from commercial guidelines. Here in the UK most of the "celebrity" chefs who do promote curing go the other way - and omit Nitrite altogether for fear of litigation. This can be just as bad, if not worse.

    Hopefully by making members of the forum aware that these commercial guidelines exist and what they mean ( and you do a great job of that) we can all help them to make more objective assessments of recipes that they find and want to use.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2016
  11. smokeymose

    smokeymose Master of the Pit

    I don't take anything I read as Gospel, either with recipes or news. I look at several, compare, and make an educated guess.
    I have also had a belly full of government guidelines....
  12. Hope my question is not seen as hijacking this thread. When putting the 1 Tsp of cure per 5 lbs of meat into water to wet cure how much water can be used and still maintain the needed concentration? Is there a generally accepted rule of thumb? I have read many posts here and there is much concern to have the cure amount correct but I did not find where the water amount per cure amount was cited. 
  13. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    SF, afternoon....    Cure #1 is added at a rate of 1 tsp. per 5#'s of stuff...  or 1.1 grams per #....   That includes water etc...   Sooo, if you have 5#'s of meat, 2#'s of water 2 oz. of salt, 1 oz. of sugar.......  That's close to 7.5#'s of stuff so add 1.5 tsp. of cure #1.....    Ppm is based on weight units...  It's much easier to convert weights to grams...   using a 0-100 grams range electronic scale is a really good way to get measurements accurate....  even helps when adding spices etc. for reproducibility.....

    The time for stuff to sit in a curing solution is 7 days per inch thickness...   over 2" thick, it's best to also inject to get a uniform distribution...   
  14. uzikaduzi

    uzikaduzi Meat Mopper

    1tsp could be considered over board on 5pds of belly... but before I continue, I do not personally go by this thought, but nitrites and nitrates do not cure fat. That's why things like lardo or salt pork don't contain cure #1 or #2 so 1 tsp per 5 pds of pork belly is still higher than necessary to protect against botulism.

    Now if someone was to go below the 1tsp per 5 pds for bacon my question and reason for not reducing is "what percentage of fat is contained in that belly?" You won't know so reducing becomes risky and the 156ppm limit is set to be well below toxicity yet still effective. So you are not in danger at using 1 tsp per 5 pds in fatty cuts like belly but you can be in danger if you go too low.

    My gut feeling towards many "good" recipes that call for over 1 tsp per 5 pds of meat is kind of a salt box style method which is fine for NaCl but risky for nitrates and nitrites... you rub on and some certainly falls off from things like a hanging ham or prosciutto. In one of those UMAI bags that's not a concern.

    The best advice is to follow trusted recipes exactly and/or FDA recommendations and I highly doubt Ruhlman suggests using UMAI bags
  15. smokeymose

    smokeymose Master of the Pit

    No hijack at all, SF! Starting a thread is like starting a conversation. A good one meanders a bit.
    When you say wet cure, are you talking about brining? For that I use a full to heaping tablespoon of #1 to a gallon of water, with a cup of kosher salt and a cup each of white and brown sugar. Do a search for "Pop's Brine". May sound like overkill, but not all of it actually contacts the meat. It's a little bit wasteful, but simple. I let 4 to 5 lbs of belly for bacon soak for a full 2 weeks and it cures all the way through. Just be sure it's all completely submerged! Like Dave said, if it's more than 1 1/2 inches you should inject also ( I do that with brisket flat for Pastrami).
    Dry curing is a whole different thing. Cure and meat weights are very important!
  16. Thanks for the more detailed explanations. Dave's comment about adding the weigh of the water plus the other stuff to the meat makes complete sense. That is what I was missing as I knew the water would dilute the concentration. I have not seen that stated--sure I missed it. I have my gram scale and now confident I can do it safely. Many thanks to you three for the great responses!!!
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
  17. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    SF, morning....  FWIW, USDA / FDA recommends, for commercial processors, when brining, injecting, massaging bacon in a wet brine, 120 Ppm is the max allowable nitrite for that curing system...   When using a "dry brine" rub style cure for bacon, 200 Ppm is the max allowable nitrite for that curing method.....  It is also suggested, somewhere in the regs., that 120 Ppm nitrite be "considered" the lowest amount of nitrite to use when curing meats.... 

    Then we have the nitrite dissipation.. 

    Prague Powder #1

    Also called Insta-Cure and Modern Cure. Cures are used to prevent meats from spoiling when being cooked or smoked at low temperatures (under 200 degrees F). This cure is 1 part sodium nitrite (6.25%) and 16 parts salt (93.75%) and are combined and crystallized to assure even distribution. As the meat temperate rises during processing, the sodium nitrite changes to nitric oxide and starts to ‘gas out’ at about 130 degrees F. After the smoking /cooking process is complete only about 10-20% of the original nitrite remains. As the product is stored and later reheated for consumption, the decline of nitrite continues. 4 ounces of Prague powder #1 is required to cure 100 lbs of meat. A more typical measurement for home use is 1 level tsp per 5 lbs of meat. Mix with cold water, then mix into meat like you would mix seasonings into meat.

    The last sentence may seem a bit confusing...  My understanding is....  they are mixing comminuted meats..  add a bit of water to further the homogenous mix of all the ingredients does not dilute the nitrite ...   because....  the water evaporates and the correct amount of nitrite is left behind to cure the product....   That is the same premise I use when I inject cure stuff like hams, loins, etc.. 

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