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Using a brine to cure meat ???? - Page 2

post #21 of 27
Originally Posted by Pops6927 View Post

According to the 1 lb. bag of DQ Cure #1, you use 24 lbs. of curing salt to 100 gallons of water for a curing pickle.  This would be the maximum amount you'd use.


Reduce that by 100 to 1 gallon, it would be .24 of a lb. to 1 gallon of water, or approx. 4 ounces of cure #!.


I use approx. 1 tablespoon to 1 gallon of water.  A level tablespoon is .8 of an ounce.  A rounded tablespoon is approx. 1 ounce, or ¼ the maximum allowed.  And, I find this sufficient to pickle any pork or beef or poultry I need to do.  I will allow more time for it to cure, just from my dad's instruction on how long to let it cure; 2-3 days for poultry, 7 - 10 days for half-butts (buckboard) or bellies, 2 weeks for picnics once pumped, 3-4 weeks for whole hams once pumped.  I've never tried it with less times, simply because the cost of the product is too valuable on my limited income and unlimited (so it seems, lol!) medical bills.  But, it produces a nicely cured product without the need to soak or freshen it to get rid of unnecessary salt (and I've limited the amount of salt I add also).


As for the amount of brine, your proportion of curing salt to water is the important ratio, and just use whatever amount of brine necessary to cover the product.  You can pickle 1 ham in 1 gallon of water/curing salt or 100 gallons of water/curing salt, it doesn't matter, as long as it's proportioned correctly per gallon.  Of course, you add more ingredients in salts and sugars, etc. to enhance the bouquet of flavors in your pickle.


Again, my dad's theory was that a mild curing brine for a longer period of time made the product more tender and flavorful instead of a shorter time, more concentrated cure.  He sold hundreds of thousands of product over 45 years in business, and his customers readily agreed!


I was thinking how much meat would you use for this cure?


I'm new to this, and I'm pretty interested in this brine. I wanted to figure out the percentage of nitrites in this cure.


I came up with ~300ppm.



instacure*percentage nitrite*1M / (weight water + weight salt + weight sugar) = wet brine nitrite ppm

0.05lb*6.25%*1000000 / (8.3453lb +1.5lb) = 317.4ppm


Does this mean that the meat does not reach the same ppm nitrite concentration as the cure?


Reading through the USDA says it takes weeks for the meat in the brine to reach equilibrium (i.e. reach the same concentration  nitrite as the brine). Does anyone have a feel for how quickly meat takes up the cure?


If you add the weight of the meat into the formula it changes the ppm (and thus equilibrium point).


If I use this amount of cure for 5lbs of meat, and cured until it reach equilibrium (meat has same concentration of everything as brine), then we would end up at:



instacure*percentage nitrite*1M / (weight water + weight salt + weight sugar + weight meat) = brine & meat nitrite ppm

0.05lb*6.25%*1000000 / (8.3453lb +1.5lb + 5lb) = 210ppm


So I'm guessing most of the time we don't reach equilibrium... But how long should I cure then?


Also, from the above the wet cure to meat ratio is important (lots of cure + tiny amount of meat = more nitrites in meat vs lots of meat + tiny amount of cure = not much nitrites in meat).


Is my logic right here or am I missing something critical?

post #22 of 27

That's to much math for me. 

post #23 of 27

All I can say is I have used Pops cure a number of times. If your unsure how long to brine a particular piece of meat just PM him & he will help you out.

post #24 of 27
Thread Starter 


Originally Posted by DaveOmak View Post

Pops6927, I am so glad you answered this post. From everything I have read here, you are the go-to-guy and your post reinforces those thoughts.


I wrote to Customer Service  <>  


 "I purchased instacure #1 and I want to make a liquid brine." (shortened form of question) This is their reply,  "For making a brine with the Instacure, you would use 3 oz. to every gallon of water.  It doesn't matter what size the meat is as long as the meat is completely covered by the brine."


For those of you who are like me and question everything, the folks on this site know everything and can be trusted.


Please take no offense that I asked the source also.

Now I know my math on the amount of cure to wet brine meat was "fuzzy". Everyday you learn something don't count toward your days on earth.

Keep on learning. I am. Dave 



Senator, Evening. This topic has spawned some lively discussions.

I have done a considerable amount of reading on this subject and listened to some knowledgable peoples writings on this forum.

I suggest you read the following articles (below) and all the little side articles until you have an understanding as to the "why" you are doing stuff. It is enlighening to say the least.


Pops has recipes that are "approved" by the meat inspectors that serviced his food processing facility. They did studies after the meat was cured, smoked, linked or what ever. They analysed the meats to insure the proper amount of cure (nitrites) was present after processing to perform its function as to quality for human consumption and what ever else it does. Personally, I would use any of pops recipes. I have read and understand food curing etc. All his recip[es are well within the accepted curing meat guidelines I have found.  

The point is, unless you are willing to obtain the accredited certification that accompanies a deviation from recommended methods (ie: wedlinydomowe,USDA, etc) stick to approved methods from the manufacturers. If you follow someone elses recipe, ask or at least investigate their "food handlers" accredidation. For your own safety.


WOW, that was a mouthfull....... Sorry for the rant....... I feel it is important, to be aware, where food safety is concerned.


Curing and smoking meat is fun and rewarding. There are some serious dangers that can be associated with food processing. Please become informed, we want you on this forum for awhile. You friend in smoking meats................Dave





Edited by DaveOmak - 8/7/11 at 10:45pm
post #25 of 27

I also received this PM:



Would you be able to post the brine times for different cuts of meat & poultry using your brine/cure. I think it would be very helpful for all the folks including myself who use your recipe."


I have to refer to the reference I have trusted since childhood, that of my late father, Carl E. Fassett.  I have no direct idea of the depth of his knowledge into the scientific facts of brining meat.  I do know that he was well-schooled and learned by his meat inspectors and contacts he developed with Cornell University personnel who he communicated with on a consistent basis over the years on the art and science of wet brining. 

He had a hand-drawn chart in his ingredient book on brining times.  Although I cannot remember all of it precisely, I do remember the primary times correctly enough to be able to recite them accurately.  I know he got some of them at least from his contacts and inspectors.


hams, pumped - 3 - 6 wk

bellies 2 - 5 wk

picnics, pumped - 2 - 4 wk

bostons, pumped - 2 - 4 wk

half bostons - 2 - 4 wk

hocks, jowls, parts - 2 - 4 wk

chickens - 4 - 7 dy

turkeys - 1 - 2 wk

corned beef - 7 - 14 dy


There were several other entries for lesser pickled meats (ducks, goose, lamb, beef plate, brisket, etc.) that were seasonal or occasional, but they followed approximately the same timelines.

Sometimes the times would have to be 'stretched' in the case of custom curing for farmers simply because of the volume they did they couldn't process the product fast enough or balance it with the retail production, but in general stayed within those guidelines.  For example, bellies he wanted in the brine for at least 21 days if at all possible; however, he could pull them at 14 days and they would be sufficiently cured.  Now, I don't know if it had anything to do with 'equilibrium' but it seems like it would be a logical explanation that would be the case.


Now, in my own experience with the curing process I am finding that those times can be shortened a bit and still have a sufficiently cured product; whether it is reaching equilibrium or not I could not tell you.  However, for tried and trusted times for my own reference I refer to the above based on working for him for many years.

post #26 of 27

Thanks Pops!

post #27 of 27

thanks Pops and Daveomak.


I have 2x1.1lbs pieces of pork bellies curing in 1/2 gallon of pops brine above. They are skin / rind on.


The bellie pieces have been in 6 days so far, I'm still not confident on how long to leave them in.


I read through


but that brine is significantly saltier than pops recipe, so the timings there should be ignored.


From your post Pops I think they need another 7 days, so I won't be smoking until next weekend!





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