I think I read somewhere, the phosphoric acid has lots of detrimental health effects... BUT, because I'm senile, that storage file is gone....
Finally... for some time I have espoused not using cola in a curing brine... FACTS follow... - Page 3
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My understanding is that high fructose corn syrup is a refined byproduct of some food process, and thus cheap as heck. It is reported to have a cumulative negative effect on the metabolism, nad diabetes has become epdemic. That's easy enough to research.
My choice for my meat, both me and what I eat, is to avoid soda pop. I can make my own nitric oxide on occasion, but that isa topic for a different forum. hahah
Hi Dave. You and I have had a number of discussions where we have shared, compared and discussed resources and so I think this comment is somewhat unfair - although I probably do not read as extensively as yourself. I am expecting to retire next year and so will hopefully have more time then too. Having worked in analytical environments all of my working life (some of which have been in pharmaceutical research), although I do not class myself as an expert in any particular area when it comes to cure/brine chemistry, I am able to objectively look at claims and evidence that support them and gauge how much confidence we can have in conclusions reached. If the confidence factor appears to be low then the claims need to be challenged. Often when challenged more evidence then emerges that supports the claim and helps increase the confidence.
In order to try to support/verify your initial statement that we should "Never add acidic ingredients to a curing brine...." I have been re-reading some old papers that I had previously downloaded and came across a reference book that I had forgotten - Modern Food Microbiology. If you do not have it I think that it will also be of interest to you.
Looking at the general post that you initially cited from Chefsteps, reviewing the chemistry of Nitrite and the results of my initial curing salts chemistry, I think that your conclusion regarding acid is completely valid when it comes to adding acid directly to curing salts, however It does not appear to be valid when it comes to adding it to a curing brine. In fact the opposite appears to be true.
You highlighted a very important factor which I think is easily missed and that is the order in which things are added in a brine. As Nitrite is readily broken down in highly acidic conditions then if you add any acidic ingredients to the curing salts before adding the main bulk of water then there is a very strong chance that the initial solution could be highly acidic and the Nitrite broken down before it can become active in the brine.
Regarding the action of the Nitrite as an antimicrobial, although the exact mechanism is not completely understood at the molecular level it is generally accepted that it is the nitrous acid that is formed when Nitrite is in solution that is the active antibacterial ingredient. On page 312 of the book, in the "Summary Nitrite Effects" it says "Nitrite has a pK of 3.29 and, consequently, exists as undissociated nitrous acid at low pH values. The maximum undissociated state and consequent greatest antibacterial activity of nitrous acid are between pH 4.5 and 5.5.". This suggests that adding some acid to a brine is actually desirable to bring the pH to within this range.
It goes on to say that in ham (not Brine I know) that "With respect to its <<Nitrite>> depletion or disappearance in ham... , Nordin found the rate to be proportional to its concentration and to be exponentially related to both temperature and pH. The depletion rate doubled for every 12.2◦C increase in temperature or a 0.86 pH unit decrease". This suggests that for every ~1 unit of pH more acidic the cure gets the rate of Nitrite depletion is more than doubled. The most desirable pH for the brine would therefore be the point where there is maximum antibacterial effect but where the depletion of Nitrite is at a rate where it is sufficiently available to do what is required. It needs to be remembered though that we tend to brine for periods of days/weeks and so it is may more beneficial to err towards the higher 5.5 pH (less acid) to give a longer period of time for the Nitrite to be active.
I have not heard back from Ellen yet but she says in the post that you cited "You'll need to make sure the pH is 4.8 or above. If the Coca Cola is the only thing in the brine, it will be too acidic." This is consistent with the "optimum" pH range above. Maybe she has evidence that when you go below this pH the rate of Nitrite breakdown starts to have a more significant effect than the antimicrobial effect of the Nitrite itself. Also she does not say "do not add Coke" - just that neat Coke would be too acid. My bucket experiment shows that you could theoretically have up to 25% coke in the brine and still be within the "optimum" effective antimicrobial pH range.
As an aside Dave, a while ago we were discussing the rate at which Nitrite was lost with temperature. This book mentions "The Perigo Factor" which indicates that the initial amount of Nitrite before cooking is more important than the final residual amount. I think there is still quite a lot of academic "discussion" about this but you may like to look it up if you haven't already.
Back to your initial post. Would you be comfortable revising your statement to "Never add acidic ingredients directly onto the curing salts" and recommending that the curing salts be the last thing that gets added to the brine? It would probably also be useful to identify the effects of acidic ingredients on the pH of a brine and give guideline recommendations based upon the probable effect on the final pH of the brine.
- 708 Posts. Joined 7/2013
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WOW GUYS! Good argument going.
Maybe you guys (2 of my friends here) are bored, and just need a good argument for entertainment?
Mostly only 2-3 people contributing to content. Probably because we are bored too. <grin> (Me? Well I'm just here.)
I'll wait for the smoke to clear, and see final results. But it don't matter to me much as I don't cook with coke. I make my flavors on my own.
I like knowing exactly what is in my food. Sometime it takes a few trials and testing, to get a flavor, but it's ALWAYS better than any prepared stuff from stores.
45 years ago I made jerky once, using coke. It was good, but I've never done it since. It just didn't seem right to me.
Have fun Wade and Dave (edited - not Bear), but forgive and forget at the end. It's just not worth the stress.
Edited by fpmich - 8/17/16 at 9:21pm
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The thread will probably start heading downhill.....(smilin) you guys crack me up
As requested I contacted ChefSteps regarding Ellen's reply to the post that you referenced and got a response. I have subsequently asked for more clarification but this has not yet been forthcoming.
Yes, Ellen does still work at ChefSteps and she is their Customer Experience Director - e.g. marketing manager. The information in her response back to me was from one of her colleagues and was mostly general information about how Nitrite works as a cure.
She confirmed that not adding acid directly to curing salts is only a general rule and not a warning of danger. Regarding Nitric Oxide exposure she quoted the OSHA recommendation of less than 25 ppm (30 mg/m3) exposure in general industry. This appears to be a sustained exposure limit though rather than a one-off exposure. You may possibly (?) see transient levels higher than this if you add acid directly to pure curing salts and breathe in directly over the top however you are highly unlikely to get levels even approaching this coming from a fully diluted brine.
She did make a general comment though that a reason to avoid acids is that an acidic solution with free amines is more likely to form the carcinogenic nitrosamines - but this appeared to be just a general comment, was not specifically in relation to a curing brines and there was no supporting explanation or references.
I asked specifically if she had any views regarding adding acidic ingredients to a curing brine and she did not express any. Also she did not provide any further information regarding the minimum pH level she previously quoted in her post of 4.8.
Sorry to the rest of you out there...
Oh well, I did finally get another response back from Ellen but it was just to say that they were very busy at the moment and that their "margin to reply further is nonexistent at this point". She then suggested that I post the questions on their forum to see if their other community members may be able to add further insight/information.
Edited by Wade - 10/3/16 at 2:05am
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Wade... So what's the point of this exercise ??? Are you trying to prove adding a cola product to nitrite is not safe..... Or are you trying to prove the Chef's Steps article is incorrect ??
Hi Dave - You said you were interested in the feedback from ChefSteps and so I am just updating you. It has taken a while for them to respond again and so I just forwarded their latest (uninformative) update to keep you in the loop. I doubt if there will be any further information from them supporting their original community forum post now.
I think that we have already shown that the original statement "Never add acidic ingredients to your curing brine" is not actually supported by the ChefSteps article however it did raise the very important issue of not adding acid ingredients directly onto the curing salts - as it will likely cause the Nitrite to break down. The implied warning regarding the poisonous nature of Nitric Oxide though was really rather over the top when it comes to the concentrations usually found in domestic meat curing.
One thing this discussion did get me to do though was to buy a new pH meter. Even though there is not much evidence to support the pH 4.8 that they referred to, the other reading that I did when researching this suggest that keeping the pH at around 5.5 may actually be a better idea. I am not suggesting that we should all strive for a pH of 5.5 but there were suggestions in the literature that this gave a good balance between effective bacterial control and Nitrite breakdown.
Hi Dave. I have come across another reference regarding not using Coke together with cure in a brine that you may be interested in. It is in the Brining section of Stella Culinary.
It is fairly nonspecific though as it is in a section that refers to substituting 100% of the water for Coke. It also does not elaborate on what the "potentially lethal" compound is. Still it is another reference.