What type of salt to use during curing meat?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by klyde, May 17, 2016.

  1. klyde

    klyde Newbie


    Just starting out with my adventures in charcuterie.  Haven't made my first batch yet but I think I got the basic down fairly well. Like, get a digital scale and weigh everything.  Like, use a 3% ratio of salt to meat and a 0.25% ratio of cure to meat.  My fuzziness lies in some of the finer details of the different spices and herbs.  And right now it's the type of salt to use and more specifically the type and size of the salt crystal to use.  Large grain, medium grain, small grain, sea salt regular or Kosher, flaked or granular???

    Any help, hints or insight would be GREATLY appreciated!!!

    Last edited: May 18, 2016
  2. krex1010

    krex1010 Smoke Blower

    I'm not an expert but in my curing projects I've always used Morton coarse kosher salt.....it doesn't really matter the grain so much as the weight, a cup of salt of different brands/grain size can differ a lot in weight. I probably wouldn't use anything coarser than the mortons though and definitely avoid table/iodized salt....what's your first project going to be?
  3. klyde

    klyde Newbie

    Thanks for answering,

    Italian Bresaola and South African Biltong (whole muscle, not strips).  Really excited about this.  Michael Ruhlman's book is arriving today and will read first. 

    Got a mini-fridge, to use as curing chamber, with an external thermostat (with probe) that controls power to fridge so I can override temp range of internal thermostat.  The only bummer is having to wait almost two months to see if I did it right.  LOL !!!

    p.s.  Others feel free to chime in too.  Always good to get several opinions!
  4. The digital scale is a must have and i would have some type of humidistat in the mini fridge so you can keep track of humidity level. I used a fridge to cure bresaola in the past and the hardest part was jumidity control
  5. klyde

    klyde Newbie

    Yep, got that covered with a digital thermometer & hygrometer unit with 3 ft. wired probe so I can monitor what's going on without opening the door.  I'll get a mister if I have to.  My thoughts are to use a dish of water with a rag coming out of it to raise humidity and tray of salt or baking soda to lower humidity.

    What are you thoughts about my salt question?

  6. Here is a link to the recipe i use. Turns out great. http://honest-food.net/2012/06/06/bresaola-recipe/. I leave out the maple. If you are putting a pan of water in the mini fridge be sure to mix salt with the water so you dont get anything growing in the water
  7. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Give this a read it will get you going on the right path for properly using cure salts:


    A good digital scale is a must. Make sure that it reads down to the tenth a, or better hundredths of a gram.

    Be careful with Ruhlmans book. There are known errors on the amounts of cure in some recipes.
  8. klyde

    klyde Newbie

    Last edited: May 18, 2016
  9. klyde

    klyde Newbie

    LOL, good idea... Hadn't thought about that.

    Thxs for the link.
    Last edited: May 18, 2016
  10. klyde

    klyde Newbie

     Yes, the scale reads to the tenth of a gram.  I will be adjusting my recipes to use a percentage of the weight of the meat.  Regular salt = 3%   Cure#2 = 0.25%.

    The book is the new updated edition, but thanks for the heads up.  Not an issue for I will go as stated above, maybe 0.3% cure#2.

    The main topic of this post is mainly having to do with what kind of regular salt to use.

    Thanks for the link!
    Last edited: May 18, 2016
  11. dls1

    dls1 Smoking Fanatic


    At the end of the day, all "salt" is "salt", aka sodium chloride. That said, there is no such thing as "regular" salt due to different processing methods and what anti-caking additives, if any, are added.

    Unless specified otherwise, most recipes, when calling for salt, are referring to Kosher salt, of which the two primary brands are Morton's and the lesser known, and harder to find, brand, Diamond Crystal. Diamond Crystal is the Kosher salt is used in most professional kitchens and is the salt of choice used by most cookbook authors. Unfortunately, the brand itself is seldom mentioned as the main difference between the two, when measuring by volume, can be dramatic.

    As others have pointed out in this thread, and as Ruhlman states in the first edition of the book, "It's best to weigh salt rather than to measure by volume because salts differ in weight by volume. I use Morton's Kosher Salt; a cup weighs almost 8 ounces. Brian uses Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt; a cup of this salt weighs 4.8 ounces. That's a big difference".

    He also states "If you do not have a scale to weigh your salt, we recommend using Morton's Kosher Salt for these recipes." That puzzles me because when I asked him a number of years ago about the known errors and inconsistencies with the cure amounts called for he shrugged me off by responding, "All of the recipes shown in the book are Brian's, but we'll look into that when we do a revised edition".

    So, for a short answer, use Kosher salt and trust your scale. If you're using a recipe that calls only for salt by volume, assume it's Kosher, and specifically, Diamond Crystal. If you can't find Diamond Crystal, use Morton's and adjust accordingly.
  12. klyde

    klyde Newbie

    Thank you very much for the detailed and concise answer.  My original concern was that if the granular or flake were too large it could shield the meat from the cure#2 and I had heard that the large flakes retarded moisture from leaving the meat during the cure.  After thinking about it some more I guess it doesn't matter since I will be vac-sealing the bag during the cure period.

    Thanks for the help!

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