Understanding brine ratios

Discussion in 'Curing' started by cueinco, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. cueinco

    cueinco Smoke Blower

    I'm brand new to this whole topic and have been trying to educate myself. I've read multiple threads about Pop's brine. My plan is to use that as a base to make corned beef. The only change will be the addition of the spices for corned beef (e.g. allspice).  After all St Paddy's day is almost upon us. 

    Where my question is originating, is that I'm also reading "Home production of Quality Meats and Sausages" by the Marianski's. In the section on Immersed, Pumped and Massaged Products, they are recommending 6 TBSP (4.2 oz, 120g) of Cure #1 per gallon of water for a brine for corned beef. I understand that this would give you the MAXIMUM limit of 200 ppm of nitrite. They then go on to say that while there is a maximum specified limit, there is no specified minimum limit. They state "It has been accepted that a minimum of 40-50 ppm of nitrite is needed for any meaningful curing." 

    Am I correct in my belief that using Pop's brine recipe with 1 TBSP of Cure #1 per gallon of water, I'd have 33.33 ppm of nitrite in the brine? I'm not doubting that Pop's brine is great, based on all the testimonials on this site. What I'm trying to understand is why one source says 40 ppm and another says 33 ppm? 

    I know Pop's recipe is based on years of experience. Is it just an issue of different experiences? Is it that 33.33 is close enough to 40? Given the possibilities for negative consequences with too much cure, I'm happy to err on the low side. I just would like to understand the "why"?  

    Thanks for you thoughts. 
  2. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

                                  max cure #1 per gallon water

    Per tablespoon, there is about .88 oz. in a level tablespoon of curing salt.

    3.84 ÷ .88 = 4.36 tablespoons of Cure #1 (to be safe, round down to 4 tablespoons).

    Hope this helps This was also posted by Pops
  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Pops recipe......


    1 Tbs. cure #1 is ~ 0.6 oz = 28.38 x 0.6 = 17 grams cure #1.... x 0.0625 = 1.06 grams nitrite in 1 gal. or 8.35 #'s x 454 = 3800 grams water......

    1.06 grams nitrite in 3800 grams water = 279 Ppm Nitrite....... That is what Pops brine is, give or take.... If I haven't had a brain [email protected]%t....

    If you can cram 8#'s of meat into the 1 gal. brine, over time it will be 140 ish Ppm nitrite....... 16 #'s of meat will be 95 ish Ppm nitrite.... all of the above are fine.....
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
  4. cueinco

    cueinco Smoke Blower

    Thanks for the reply. If I take the Marianski's recommended 4.2 oz and divide it by Pop's .88oz/tablespoon, I get 4.77 tablespoons. So, it would seem that the difference in the max calculation is the size of one's tablespoon. That helps. 

    What I really wanted to know though, "what's the minimum effective amount of cure?". If my math is correct, then it would seem that Pop's brine is really 41.9 ppm per gallon of water (200 ppm at 4.2 oz would be 41.9 ppm if only .88 oz was used). That would jibe with the Marianski's statement to stay between 40-50 ppm to be effective.

    Maybe it's a misprint in the book. They say to achieve 200 ppm per gallon use  "4.2oz, or 120grams, or 20 teaspoons, or 6 tablespoons" of Cure #1. I wonder what weight they were assuming per tablespoon. 

    Thanks for the education. 
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Marianski's recipes have flaws in them..... He may hire folks to do his proof reading that don't understand curing or English even.... Heck, I don't know but there are flaws in books, the web and on blogs..... You can't trust any of them.... you need to get educated in curing....

    This is a good place to start.....
  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    By the way....... Throw out all your measuring cups and spoons....... Purchase an electronic scale that weighs 0-500 grams and a calibration weight to go with it.....

    Then you can safely start curing.....
    vortreker likes this.
  7. I'm just wanting to see if I'm on the right track with my calculation. I come up with 41 ppm for Pop's brine. Is this correct?
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Re read post #3 ..... Your math is in error..... Pops brine is 279 Ppm nitrite when mixed as directed...... I put the correct math in that post so you might be able to follow it.....
  9. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you make a brine with 40 Ppm nitrite in it..... then you add meat...... the meat will be SIGNIFICANTLY less than 40 Ppm.....
  10. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Ppm is a comparison of weights......

    1 pound of salt added to 1,000,000 pounds of water is ..... 1 Part per million salt in water....

    1 gram of nitrite added to 1,000,000 grams of water is........ 1 Part per million nitrite water....

    if you added a 1,000,000 gram hunk of meat to that same water, the concentration of nitrite would be 1/2 Ppm nitrite in the water AND in the hunk of meat after equilibrium took place...
  11. Please forgive my lack of understanding but in post #3 what does the 28.38 represent?
  12. chewmeister

    chewmeister Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    1 ounce in gram weight.
  13. Thank you so much. I'm really wanting to learn and understand.
  14. chewmeister

    chewmeister Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    So am I. A little confused as to how according to the Marianski book 120gm/gal of cure is equal to 200ppm, while 17gm/gal in Pop's brine is equal to 279ppm. 
  15. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Haven't heard of the magic "pump rate"? Aparently the meat knows when you use the strong brine (Marianski's) and takes only 10% of liquid (including the nitrite that comes with it). In pops brine the meat behaves intuitively and reaches equilibrium.

    Sarcasm aside...Wade is running an experiment to clarify this confusion for all of us.
  16. There really does seem to be a lot of ambiguity.
  17. chewmeister

    chewmeister Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Good to hear.
  18. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It's not ambiguous when you apply the mathematics to it.......
  19. You are probably correct. I'm just not understanding the math, not my strongest suit.
  20. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Marianski's book is in ERROR.....

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