Achieving 3% Brine, equalibrium method, immersed brisket, corned beef

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webmanoffesto

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Jan 3, 2018
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I want to cure meat, such as a brisket, for corned beef. I want to achieve a NaCl solution using equalibrium brining (meat fully immersed in the brine).

I would like to assume the meat is 70% water and include that in the water calculation. But maybe I'll stop doing that.
A 10 pound brisket = 4536 grams
It is 70% water, that means there are 3,175 g of water in there.
And I will immerse that in 1 gallon (3785 mL) of distilled water.
I add 950 mL of a 25% saline solution (that is 237.50 grams salt and 712.50 mL water)
Water = 3,175 + 3875 + 712.5
Salt = 237.5 grams
237.50 / (3,175 + 3875 + 712.5) = .03; That is the 3% solution I'm looking for.

I use a refractometer for assessing the salt content of the brine.

I like to use cold distilled water and I add to that a cold-distilled-water brine which is about 25% salinity. That way I'm using salt which is already in solution.

As you can see in my log below my last project took quite a while to achieve 3% salinity. I started at about 4%, then it went up to 6% and 7% so I diluted it, but that brought it down to 0.2% (still doesn't make sense), then 7%, later finally 3.25%.

I use a spreadsheet for calculating how much salt to add, and later how much water to add to a too-salty solution to bring down the salinity.
You can see a version of that here:
Maybe you'd be willing to look at that and see if there are errors there.

It's not a disaster when I put the meat in the brine and add spices, only later to realize I need to dump 1/2 the brine and add distilled water. But that means I dumped spices also. So I would need to know how much spice to add back (hard to calculate). I'd like to get the meat, water, and salt to an equalibrium of about 3% and then add the spices. Would that work?

A Log from my last brine.
Date Time % NaCl Brine Comment
7/8/21 13:30 4.00% Corned Beef Curing. Just after mixing, I used HighConc NaCl. Before equalibrium.
7/9/12 14:20 4.80% Why did salinity rise? Did the HCS distribute more?
7/11/21 23:30 6.00% Why so high? Following the results of my spreadsheet, I poured off 3L brine and will add 3L cold water, and spices.
7/13/21 9:40 0.20% Why so low now? I added 234g salt and 19g Cure #1, basically a restart.
7/13/21 15:15 7.00% Salt needs equalibrium with meat.
7/14/21 9:00 7.00% Why hasn't the saltiness gone down goes toward equalibrium?
7/15/21 17:30 7.00% Still at 7%, I'll need to dilute it. Try replacing 1L brine with 1L distilled.
7/16/21 12:30 7.00% Still 7%. I swapped out 1L brine for 1L distilled + 1 teaspoon spice mix.
7/18/21 11:30 5.00% Better. Swapped out 200 mL brine for 200 mL distilled.
7/19/21 23:00 4.00% Better. Swapped out 100 mL brine for 100 mL distilled. Added 1 teaspoon pickling spice mix. And moved to new 8L Kimchi container.
7/20/21 9:00 5.00% Why did salinity rise? Because I moved it to a new container, stirred up salinity? Swapped 250mL brine for distilled.
7/20/21 23:00 4.50% Improving. So then I swapped 500ml brine for distilled.
7/21/21 13:36 4.00% Improving. Again swapped 500ml brine for distilled.
7/24/21 10:00 3.25% Finally done.
 

smokerjim

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i not a chemistry major so i'm not much help here, i usually just use pop's brine, i'm sure someone will be around to help you though. good luck in your quest.
 

chef jimmyj

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Been a lot of years since College Chemistry but, around here, the Weight of the Meat + the Weight of the Water needed to Cover X % Salt Desired = Grams of Salt Needed. At 3% you are no where near a Saturated Solution, so dissolving in the Salt should be no issue. The weight of the spices is insignificant.
This takes the all the meats components, Protein, Fat, Water, Etc into account.
Do you find this simple method would give you an unsatisfactory result?...JJ
 

PolishDeli

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Oct 9, 2018
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-The refractive index of water is going change if a chunk of meat sits in it, since myoglobin and stuff gets dissolved in.

-You're never going to reach equilibrium, in any system, if you keep changing the boundary conditions.

-Just to clarify:
You had meat sitting in a weak salt solution (not cure#1) for 15 days?
Is that a good idea?
 

SmokinEdge

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In equilibrium brining, include the meat weight plus the water weight to get the salt %. You cannot make up a brine containing 3% salt based on brine weight and expect the meat to become equilibrium with the brine at 3% the meat will absorb some and reduce the salt content in the equilibrium.

If you want a 3% salt equilibrium brine with a 10# brisket, here is what I would do.

brisket 10#= 4540.0g
1 gallon water(8.33#)= 3781.82g
Added together = 8321.82g
Cure #1 (0.25%) 8321.82 x 0.0025= 20.80g
Salt (3.0%) 8321.82 x 0.030= 249.65g
Because cure #1 is 93.75% salt we will subtract the cure 1 number from the salt: 249.65 - 20.80= 228.85g salt

So to my 1 gallon of water I would dissolve 228.85g of pure salt and 20.80g of cure #1 to give me a 3% salt Equilibrium with a 10# brisket. I also would apply about 1.5% sugar just to balance some of the salt, your taste may vary.

Just to be clear, 3% salt is very salty on the pallet.
 

webmanoffesto

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Jan 3, 2018
22
6
So to my 1 gallon of water I would dissolve 228.85g of pure salt and 20.80g of cure #1 to give me a 3% salt Equilibrium with a 10# brisket. I also would apply about 1.5% sugar just to balance some of the salt, your taste may vary.
Thank you. That's very helpful.

I did the calculations that way.
I like my less complicated spreadsheet which is easier to check.

But throwing out the whole "meat is 70% water" thing and just using the weight of the meat in grams means that the "salt to add" calculation changes from
0.03*1,530.00=45.9 to
0.03*2,150.03=64.5
So I don't think that tells me what the problem was.

I think an important question is how do I check the percent salt of the brine during the curing process. PolishDeli raised what seems to be a good point.
-The refractive index of water is going change if a chunk of meat sits in it, since myoglobin and stuff gets dissolved in.
Do I need to go back to my old floating salometer? I didn't like that very much. (Maybe I'll take brine samples from my current batch and check it with both my refractometer and my old-style floating-salometer and see how they compare.)
I was hoping to get accurate "in process" salinity readings. So that, for example, on day 2 the salinity is too high because it hasn't achieved equalization; but after a week of equalizing my refractometer will read 3% because it has reached equalization.

I find that even for simpler tasks, like making sauerkraut, it's important to check the salinity mid-process to check progress.
 
Last edited:

Fueling Around

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Why didn't you post BEFORE starting the process?

You're way over thinking and under thinking the process.

Corned beef requires more than just a salt cure such as sauerkraut.
Pink salt with sodium nitrite needs to be in the brine.

Make a brine and LEAVE IT. It will adjust itself until you get the salt level you want.
As pointed out by SmokinEdge SmokinEdge many people desire the <2% salt in meat.

...
I usually just use pop's brine, i'm sure someone will be around to help you though. good luck in your quest.
Here's the link to Pop's Wet Cure It is a very versatile brine/cure to use.
 
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