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Fine Points of Curing Brine

  1. One of the most common questions i get asked is "My curing brine is {ropy, smelly, thick, foamy, spoiled, etc. etc.}"

    What causes this?  Is it the formula?  The stirring?  The lack of stirring?

    Actually, it is one or more combinations of little things.

    First - thickening.  This is a normal consequence of curing meats, regardless of beef, pork, poultry, lamb, etc.  You are soaking meat in a chemical solution of water and ingredients.  Not only are you putting ingredients into the meat, you are also extracting juices from the meat.  It is a two-way process.  There are big names to describe it, but that explanation is more than sufficient just the way it is to understand it.  In exchange, the brine will get thicker, more red, etc. based on the juices the meat contains.  This is normal.

    Preparation.   I quote from my Article of Recipes Pop's Curing Brines - Regular and Lo-Salt:

    Regular Curing Brine:

    1 gallon of clean water

    1 cup plain, regular non-iodized table salt

    1 cup sugar or sucrolose

    1 cup brown sugar or sucrolose equiv.

    1 tablespoon of Cure#1

    Lo-Salt Curing Brine:

    1 gallon of clean water

    ½ cup plain, regular non-iodized rable salt

    ½ cup sugar or sucrolose 

    ½ cup brown sugar or sucrolose equiv.

    1 tablespoon of Cure #1

    mix in food-safe container, stir until clear.

    Add meat.  Do not add different species of meats, but you can add pieces of the same species.

    Refrigerate 1 to 21 days, depending on thickness of meat. 

    Up to 2 inches, 1-10 days.

    2 - 4 inches, 5 - 15 days, may require injecting to cure from the inside-out as well as from the outside-in.

    4 inches and larger.  15 - 21 days, requires injecting.

    Injecting - use a Morton's injection 4 oz. manual injection pump with the Broadcast needle.

    or equivalent.

    Brine can become frothy (ropy).  It has both salt and sugar in it.  It also is inputting curing ingredients into the meat and oozing out blood and plasma.  Just dump the brine and make up fresh and continue curing should that happen.  Make sure you keep it at 38° - 40°.  

    Weigh down meat into curing brine with half-filled ziploc bags of water on top.

    No further mixing or stirring required, let it cure until done.  Meats will come out of the brine with a distinct grayish look.  This is normal.

    Please see all the highlighted, bold words and phrases.

    You need to use clean, cold water.

    You need to use a food-safe container.  How can you tell?  Any food safe container in the USA will have this symbol:  

    Stir Until Clear.

    Refrigerate your curing brine.

    Make sure you keep it at 38° - 40° F.

    Weigh down meat into curing brine with half-filled ziploc bags of water on top.

    No further mixing or stirring required,

    You DO NOT NEED to heat your brine, cook your brine, stir your brine, rotate your bucket, or anything else.  Like Ron Propeil said, "Set It!  And Forget It!"©  Just keep it at proper temp. and let the curing agent in the brine do it's magic  The outside should be gray, there may be red spots where the meats touch (hurts nothing at all), and sufficient time will make sure it is cured sufficiently (over 2" thick, use an injector).

    Following these steps correctly will insure you have fewer problems and greater enjoyment from your curing and brining experiences!

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  1. Buckeyes55
    Thanks for sharing!
  2. Timothy (Tibor) Bosnyak
    Man, I truly thank you for sharing this one! I can see the "old man" my Dad would have loved this one for sure!
  3. bdskelly
    Good extended clarification on an already popular and very successful curing brine suppled from you George! Ever counted the posts that say "I used Pops Curing Brine"? Must be well over 1000 by now.