salmon brine HELP!

Discussion in 'Fish' started by smokindeer, Dec 31, 2015.

  1. smokindeer

    smokindeer Fire Starter

    ok guys I need some help.

    First attempt at smoking salmon and after searching these forums and some youtube videos I decided on a dry cure of 4 cups brown sugar (dark brown) and 1 cup kosher salt (diamond crystal fine).

    I rinsed and patted the fillets dry then put in a tupperware type container. 

    I layered the mixture on te bottom of the container and placed fish in layers covering each piece/layer with the cure mixture.

    Each piece was COMPLETELY COVERED and the container was sealed and refrigerated overnight.

    I expected the mixture to turn to liquid and the fillets to be firm and cured.

    Instead the mixture turned to a thick gu VERY LITTLE LIQUID. see photo.

    What went wrong?  Not enough salt? Dark Brown sugar to thick?  Temp of fridge too cold?

    I currently have the fillets in a simple wet brine trying to save the batch.

  2. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'm not sure anything was wrong with what you had. If the fridge was too cold that can happen, but it doesn't mean it wasn't good. I usually end up with more of a thick slurry than liquid after a 8 hour smoke. I would've rinsed and set up to air dry and then smoked.
  3. smokindeer

    smokindeer Fire Starter

    Thanks. Just a little concerned that the top layer of fish was not covered but anything when I pulled them out of the fridge.
  4. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    My first thoughts are that, per the size of the container, you didn't have enough fish.  If you can't find a smaller container, I would consider using a large ziplok bag with the air purged.   I look at it as a ratio of fish vs dry brine.   Is that two pieces of fish or is there another piece underneath?   When I do salmon, I will typically stir the batch 2-3 times over the brine time,  making sure the fish stays covered.

    So next time with a small batch, less brine, smaller container such as a ziplok.  Every 2-3 hours, flip the bag.  If you are using a container carefully lift the pieces allowing the brine to  seep down between the pieces.

    I really don't think you need to have that fish in a wet brine, especially if dry brined over night.  But that's just me.

  5. smokindeer

    smokindeer Fire Starter


    I think you're right on wit the fact that there was too much brine mix and not enough fish.  Each container had two layers of fish. 2 pieces on bottom and 2 on top. 

    The fish only has so much liquid to 'give up'.

    Thanks for the info. We'll see how the pelicle forms and the overall smoke comes out!

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