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Brining Safety Question?? - Page 2  

post #21 of 36
My understanding is she didn't use any curing salt... but pickling salt which contains no nitrites or nitrates. It's also my understanding to cure meat using nothing but salt without any nitrites or nitrates you must use very large quantitys... 10 percent by weight. That means a 20 pound ham would require app. 2 pounds of salt. Temps, moisture content and humidity must be closely monitored as well as administered properly. In other words it's a very intense process to be done correctly. The odds that this ham was properly cured using pickling salt is very remote in my opinion. In this day and age with the information we have, it would be irresponsible to revert to "the way they use to do it." and risk illness.

I'd have to stick with my original answer with the information given. I wouldn't have eatin it and couldn't say it would be safe to eat.
post #22 of 36
Last thing I'm sayin on this: If all the salt story is true, why do hams go bad when there not cured even in a brine solution? Because there ain't nothin gettin inta the middle a the meat quick enough ta stop it. That's why they've been pumped er injected.

Yall do what ya like, me, I'm usin cure when doin hams. Ain't runin the risk of a lawsuit cause somebody gets sick of a spoiled ham.

Also, if cure wasn't needed, packers an others wouldn't go ta the added expense a usin it. It makes a product safe. I can't think of a cleaner enviroment then a ham line in a packin house.

From a USDA site on hams:
Wet Curing or Brine Cure
Brine curing is the most popular way of producing hams. It is a wet cure whereby fresh meat is injected with a curing solution before cooking. Brining ingredients can include ingredients such as salt, sugar, sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate, sodium erythorbate, sodium phosphate, potassium chloride, water and flavorings. Smoke flavoring (liquid smoke) may also be injected with brine solution. Cooking may occur during this process.

Foodborne Pathogens
These foodborne pathogens (organisms in food that can cause disease) are associated with ham:
  • Trichinella spiralis (trichinae) - Parasites are sometimes present in hogs. All hams must be processed according to USDA guidelines to kill trichinae.
  • Staphylococcus aureus (staph) - Bacteria are destroyed by cooking and processing but can be re-introduced via mishandling. The bacteria can then produce a toxin which is not destroyed by further cooking. Dry curing of hams may or may not destroy S. aureus, but the high salt content on the exterior inhibits these bacteria. When the ham is sliced, the moister interior will permit staphylococcal multiplication. Thus sliced dry-cured hams must be refrigerated.
  • Mold - Can often be found on country cured ham. Most of these are harmless but some molds can produce mycotoxins. Molds grow on hams during the long curing and drying process because the high salt and low temperatures do not inhibit these robust organisms. DO NOT DISCARD the ham. Wash it with hot water and scrub off the mold with a stiff vegetable brush.

I'm done.
post #23 of 36
Trav.... Prosciutto. Jamon Iberico.

These are world famous, salt covered, non-injected, air-dried hams that have been made for hundreds of years in Italy and Spain. A Pata Negra Jamon Iberico sells for over $800 a ham today. These meats would not be a prized delicacy if they were not delicious or if they were dangerous.

Please do not frighten people away.

These hams, as were the original Smithfield hams- are merely dry salted for a couple days then hung to air dry for months. In the open-air hanging' houses. Mold grows on the outside and it is supposed to be there. The hams sweat their fat, and their moisture and they cure.

Absolutely not a single nitrate not nitrite invloved.

You don't need them to cure meat. You need salt.

I respect your opinion, and agree that if that is the way your prefer, then that is your way.

That is not the only way, nor is it the perfect way. Nor the safest way.
post #24 of 36
Seems to me I read somewhere on here recently where TulsaJeff, the forum owner, had directed us to hold to the USDA regulations and not be slinging personal opinions around when it comes to the topic of food safety.

Hmm . . . was that my imagination?? Oh wait . . . here it is.


For those of you who need a reminder.

post #25 of 36
Oh, by the way, these Italian and Spanish hams are available for import purchase in the USA.

The USDA and FDA has deemed them safe for domestic consumption so therefore the methods of curing must be sound, right?

You can buy them here:

And here:


Just thought you'd like to know.
post #26 of 36
i agree with rivet on this. with all due respect to everyone involved in this conversation, it was bad advice to tell her to toss the ham. if she did, i hope she at least cut it in half in order to see what was inside, and then will report back to us.

a cup of salt per gallon at temperatures below 40 degrees will result in something that should be quite safe. i've hung deer in the shed for longer than 21 days and the resulting meat was not only just fine, it was also very tasty.

i haven't seen anyone here yet describe how any food-borne pathogens would have entered the meat. assuming that this was a whole, intact piece of meat, there is no reason to throw it away. at the very least, it should have been prepared, and then she could have tested it by slicing it in half and observing what lay inside (my guess would be a very good ham). this is similar to what is done in smithfield. they insert a testing rod into the ham and if it smells rotten, then it's rotten. if it smells fine, it is fine. anyone here want to say that a smithfield ham should be thrown away before it is confirmed that it needs to be thrown away?

having said all that, i won't jump out and say this is a procedure i would have done on purpose. but, if i would have forgotten to add the cure, i certainly wouldn't have blindly tossed it without at least checking. as rivet said, it may not have been the best way to go about making a ham, but it sure as hell wasn't a deal-breaker.
post #27 of 36
As "catty" as these food safety issues seem to get, I'm glad they happen. What it's doing is forcing the person with the information to produce some sort of facts to back up what they're posting.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I can't believe that I'm trusting a Government website. But in fact the USDA is the absolute best current fact based system that is in place today. Our government loves to spend money, so I'm nearly positive that their recomendations are tried and true.

Any other sources of information (THAT I AM AWARE OF) are from books, websites, recipie sites, grandma's notes, etc. All of these sources are not necessarily tried and true methods. Anyone can write a book, create a website, start a forum, etc. What may work "most of the time" may kill you "some of the time".

When in doubt throw it out.

On Edit: Just to be clear, I was commenting on the food safety issue as a whole and not on llamalady's particular queston.
post #28 of 36
I've got to put my last 2 cents in on this thread. It has gotten way off course. I don't think anyone can argue that meats can be salt cured without the use of nitrates and or nitrites. It's done all over the world. If my ear got ripped off while weedeatin I could probably get Red to sew it back on but.... I think I'll head to the doctors office. Point is, there is a method to salt curing and if done correctly it can be safe. No arguement, but there is more to it than setting a ham in a brine for 21 days.... and the odds of that ham being safe to eat without any concern for illness in my opinion would be very low. To say meats can be cured using salt with the correct method is very true. That method is considered an art form in many countries and takes years to learn and master. That is a far cry from a ham sitting in a salt brine for 21 days.

My mindset here on the forum is to pass on information to the side of safety. Information that can be substantiated and useable to beginners as well as those that have been smoking for awhile. Something you might be able to eat without a problem may make someone older or younger sick. Thats why there are guidelines. To keep everyone healthy. Those thresholds of safety are what I try to pass on in the forum. What someone else chooses to do is their option..... and I'd probably eat a Prosciutto that Jamon Iberico cured..... but not that ham.
post #29 of 36
pig - i don't think the conversation is off track at all. going off track would be things like saying, "do you like smoked turkey ham or genuine brown-sugar ham on your sandwich?" or "does red even exist?" this is not off track, this is a useful, informative debate where folks are exchanging opinions, facts and ideas in the hopes of learning a few things.

rivet makes a valid point that the govt sanctions the sale of salt-cured hams in america - this is the smae govt that puts out the ussda guidelines. are you going to drop your two cents and leave without confronting that fact? or any other common-sense fact that has been presented?

obviously, the difference is that the usda guidelines are fine for certain situations and that salt-cured hams are one situation where they don't apply. if you cut your ear off, would you have the dr (or red) sew it back on under your armpit on the logic that as long as it is somewhere on your body it's all good?? or would you sew it back on where it belongs? the usda guidelines are right on the same track - use them where they belong, rather than just applying them to every situation and telling yourself that it's all good since meat is somewhere in the conversation.
post #30 of 36
Folks, she said she put 1 cup of salt (sodium chloride is assumed) per gallon of water.

That is nearly twice the salinity of seawater.

Seawater contains on the average, about 1.1 oz of sodium chloride per quart.

That's 4.4 oz of salt per gallon. She put in 1 cup, that's 8 oz, per gallon.

Not sure there is an argument against salt curing properties of her brine held at 39 degrees in her refrigerator as she said.
post #31 of 36
Obviously in my opinion... it got redirected from the original question.

I didn't dispute that fact. Why would I need to confront it? I think I actually agreed with Rivet on that.... and I have to say that you stating the ham SHOULD be ok to eat is exactly what I'm getting at here. If I can't say it IS ok to eat... I'm not going to suggest that it is. SHOULD be isn't good enough for me.

This is too ridiculous to even try and respond to.
post #32 of 36
Let me remind you that Tulsa Jeff has said we will follow USDA guidelines with our advice. We happen to have a member here who is an expert in that area and he addressed this way back at the beginning he asked a couple questions and advised to throw it out. Now if all you self professed experts can show us where the USDA approves this method then produce it if you can't then quit disputing it. If you have reasonable questions I'm sure Bbally would be happy to answer them when he gets a chance
post #33 of 36
Ok.... gonna throw a real twist in here. I'm reading this again from the beginning and I would have to clarify whether this was a fresh ham (non cured) or a ham that had previously been cured.

I was under the impression the brining was being used as a curing method.

My comments and suggestions have been based on the idea this was a fresh ham being prepared to smoke. If it started out being a previously cured ham... I'm not sure what the point in brining would be but..... I don't think it would be unsafe to eat.
post #34 of 36
I tried that back in Post #24.biggrin.gif Maybe they will listen to you since your a mod and all. PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif



post #35 of 36
piney - the fact that the USDA allows imported hams made by the same method to be sold in this country should tell you something right there. besides, no one here is saying NOT to go with USDA; however, MANY here are saying to apply those guidelines correctly and in context.
post #36 of 36
I think this thread is on a dead -end street. Let's move on folks.
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