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Pop's Brine Concerned with Cure Only

  1. First off, all pork products are previously frozen and thawed in the US; frozen for 30 days minimum to kill trich.  This is why the government was able to issue newer temp guidelines on cooking raw pork; any commercially-raised pork has that.  Home-raised pork, not previously frozen, needs to follow the older temp regs or freeze for 30 days or more, and most certainly wild pork, laden with pathogens, the same.  

    I know my dad had his cured and smoked meats sampled and tested by NYS every month for over 40 years, and his curing was deemed safe.  He immersed his bacons and anything under 2" thick, and pumped anything more than 2" thick, then immersed.  HIS curing time was 21 to 45 days, ave. 30 days, for everything.  He had an entire filing cabinet, and boxes downstairs, of reports from the State Lab in Albany that analyzed his cured meat products.  Inspectors had told me that they broke down the product and could tell exactly how long it had been cured, smoked, cooked, final temp reached, chemical analysis of ingredients, and so on and so on. 

    I did my own testing trying to re-create his curing methods for over a year, running many batches, until I got the lowest effective curing amount over a 1 - 30 day curing process that did the job.  I remember reading some of my dad's notes from the 40's, his attempts and failures.  He'd cure in earthen crocks in the store cellar, and use different combinations of ingredients.  One common problem was getting the cure around the bone until he discovered how to inject the brine into the meat.  Another was stippling; whereas the meat would have cured and uncured dots all through it; he was using salt peter.  Upgrading to sodium nitrite solved that problem.

    Dad's argument to the Gov't was that he could use less cure for a longer time and achieve the same results but with a more tender, less chemical, taste.  The Gov't concurred that, in highly competitive markets, that you could cure essentially in 2 or 3 days using the maximum cure allowed; but using ¼ the cure could still be done effectively over a longer period of time, so that is what I went on, and that is what my "Pop's Brine" is based on.  It is safe, does the job, tenderizes the meat, and you don't have to worry about exceeding the limits of maximum cure.  

    As far as 10% pump goes, that is what is normally injected into a piece of pork before it leaks out; basically all it can hold.  You increase the weight by 10%.  That is not the important part.  It is the curing properties of the brine determines the outcome of the product.  My brine is safe enough it can be injected as much as you want and it will work but not over-cure the product, making it toxic and inedible.  

    I get my information from Butcher Packer on brine strength:


    Per gallon maximum equates to 3.84 oz. per gallon of water.  One ounce is approximately a heaping tablespoon by my scale, a level tablespoon is .88 oz.  So, 1 tablespoon per gallon of water is a fair measurement that will not toxify the meat or even come close.  I have zero chemical analyses to back this up; it is common sense and proven that it will cure the meat effectively and no, don't have the ppm or anything else.  It is safe, it works, that's all I need to know.

    I do add additional ingredients; i.e. plain salt and sugars or sugar substitutes, but this is in addition to the cure concentration, not in conjunction with it and not affecting the concentration levels.  I first put in the curing salt, then add the water by gallon measurement, then add the additional ingredients.  These are to your taste preference.

    In other words, it is not rocket science, it is curing meat safely and effectively and has a safety factor of not going to the maximum, to have patience and curing for a longer period of time with a milder brine.  Although debating fervently on this subject is entertaining and bordering on the subjective measure of patience (or, rather, impatience),  it proves nothing whatsoever and again I discourage doing it, just raises temperatures in body heat and mouth-frothing.   Let's all relax and enjoy curing and smoking meats by whatever methods used, discourage fervent debates, and most importantly helping others to understand not to exceed maximum levels for their own safety and well-being.  This, as members, is all our obligations to our newer guests and members.

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  1. ppoida
    This article is very interesting and important. Brineing your meat with the correct ration of salt will ensure food safety for you and your family. Please take the time to read and understand this topic, I have a information about this on my website
    http://propanesmokerreviews.com in the smoking techniques sections
    Cheers
  2. krik
    Is your cure intended strictly for brining or is it also used as a sausage ingredient?  Attempting to make a mettwurst uncooked sausage with clean domestic pork (40%) and venison(60%).  With your cure, can this sausage, hang cured for the appropriate time/temp (?) and at the designated strength, and then cold smoked(temps not exceeding 90 degrees), be safely eaten without cooking.  Alternately, what about submerging fresh sausages in your brine for a designated time prior to cold smoking to insure safety of the uncooked sausage for consumption?
  3. hoity toit
    I just used your brine to make venison backstrap pastrami. Used your basic brine, added crushed bay leaves, pickling spices, and some garlic powder. Comes out perfect every time.
  4. wes w
    I have smoked several hundred lbs. of bacon with your cure.   Its simple and it has never failed me.   I'd like to personally thank you for your willingness to share what your Father perfected over the years.   Thank you sir!
  5. hoity toit
    no complaints here....