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Bag cure bacon - cure time?

DougE

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Ok. I’ll try to be as honest as I can. If I miss anything, let me know.

Curing meat effectively actually has a range to it. It’s not a set value, but does have minimum and maximum values. As long as you are within those parameters your meat will be cured. This is not voodo science, but actually very scientific but with a range.

To effectively cure meat, we need 50 parts per million of nitrite. this is accomplished with Cure #1 or Prague powder #1, all same. This cure salt contains 6.25% nitrite and 93.75% pure salt. It’s a standard here in the U.S. from here it’s all math to get to ppm, I can go over that if you wish, but for now we will deal with known values that give us known results.

Pop’s brine is a long story. This was actually his father’s recipe. He owned a butcher shop and cured meat. His philosophy was to brine meat longer with less salt and less nitrite than standard protocol. This would in theory produce a finished product that was more tender, more palatable ( less salt) that could be cooked immediately, not soaked in water prior to cooking, but rather purchase brought home and prepared for supper the same day. (1940’s) The local state USDA disagrees and demands brine testing every month. Of which he passes every test. He was tested this way for something like 20 years. The state kept a close eye, but Pop’s method was in fact safe And effective. This is basically a recipe of 1 gallon water, 1 cup salt and 2 cups sugar. One white and one brown, with 1 heaping Tablespoon of cure #1 (about 1 oz.)

USDA says we need 3.84oz of cure #1 to a gallon of water. So Pop’s is only about 1/4 the cure the USDA recommended. That was the problem for the government. (But was the point for Pop’s dad)

Pop’s brine though works, and works well and is safe. Many folks use it with wild success. I’ve used it and can attest to this fact.

When using pop’s brine, the process takes a bit more time. It’s the salt and nitrite concentration that dictates curing time. The stronger the shorter time, weaker is longer time.
Thanks for explaining. I think I get it now.
 

SmokinEdge

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Now equilibrium cure is not far off from Pop’s. Here instead of volume measurements to make brine that we place random amount of meat weight into, we now measure everything In grams.

Meat weight, water weight, some even go so far as to include the weight of the salt, sugar and anything else included.

So we come up with a total weight of meat and water, and to that apply by percentage to weight our salt, sugar and cure #1. All weights included. Everything thing in the pool will, in time come to equilibrium, or balance, given enough time.

So if we have a 10# ham. We cover with 1 gallon water (8.33 lbs) we add those two weights to give 18#. Now we solve for salt, sugar and cure #1. Each having a different value Based on our preference.

Example:
Meat 10#
water 1 gallon (8.33#)
solve for ingredients.

18# times 454 (grams in a pound) =8172 grams total weight.
Salt at 2.0%
8172x 0.02=163.44 grams salt.

Sugar at 2.0%
8172x0.02=163.44 grams sugar.

Cure #1 at 0.25%
8172x0.0025= 20.43 grams

So we see here that cure#1 in the same gallon of water with the same pounds of meat is different but very close.

Pop’s
about 27.0 grams (because that’s about all you can heap on a tablespoon)

Equalibrium cure #1 same meat and water is 20.43 grams cure #1 ( about 7.0 grams less cure #1.
also about half the salt and sugar.

Again this is about 1/4 the recommended nitrite by USDA. They both work though and are safe.

Ask more questions if you have them, but don’t make things complicated. It all works. I don’t use either of these methods because uptake in meat from a brine is random. I want to apply a known amount of everything to my meats, and I do so through injection or dry rub. YMMV.
 

exromenyer

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Yeah, that's sounds great.
And thanks for all the help! It's much appreciated.
Good Morning Guys,
Have you put a recipe together you are willing to share? I've got some old ones, some old data, and I've used that Diggity Dog Calculator posted here and it's really accurate. I'm just looking for some basic %'s based on 5 lb slabs (of course I'll weigh for exact weight) as I'm getting 20 lbs of pork belly this week and want to put something together. I've typically done Cure #1 obviously, brown sugar, kosher salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder..... Just looking for a little more simple as it relates to weights of each (tsp, tbsp etc)

Thank you in advance,
Tony
 

Cody_Mack

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Thanks for the details SmokinEdge SmokinEdge ! It seems with equilibrium brine you have a little tighter control over salt content, and also sugar accordingly. I do also understand the "uptake in meat from a brine is random".

Rick
 

thirdeye

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...Then I get to realizing that I have also read about a wet cure where your quantity formula is based “per gallon of water”, and you are golden as long as that gallon that you brewed up will cover your product. And therefore the formulas do not factor the weight of the meat at all. Is this also correct?

Rick
That's how I understand Pop's brine to work. No need to weigh water and meat. Just mix the brine up, and long as it covers the meat, you're golden. That said, I am also confused as to how this method works the same as taking the weight of meat and water, and calculating from there to get your salt/sugar/cure#1 amounts.
Enhanced meat is tricky, but workable.
As to the difference in equilibrium brine and something like “Pop’s brine” don’t get caught up in it all. Pick one or the other. They both work fine.
Since we've discussed the commercial style 'degree' style of wet curing, then the equilibrium method of making a curing brine.... I was waiting for this discussion to move to Pop's Brine.

I refer to curing brines like Pop's Brine as a 'universal' curing brine and here's why. It's generally accepted in curing circles that 1 tablespoon to 3.5 tablespoons is an acceptable range of Cure #1 to mix into 1 gallon of water. And when you think about it, you can only get so much meat into 1 gallon of curing brine. (You can use more Cure #1, but the parts per million of sodium nitrite will get close to the upper recommended amounts.) I like to recommend Pop's Brine for it's simplicity, and the fact it works with low amounts of Cure #1.

As SmokinEdge SmokinEdge demonstrated with the calculation examples, small differences are to be expected from method to method. But instead of asking "why are there differences?" consider the term 'proven and demonstrated' methods. All three of the wet curing methods (degree, equilibrium, and Pop's Brine) can be proven with calculations, and have been demonstrated as workable for many years. In other words they all get the job done.
 

gmc2003

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I've skimmed thru the pages here, and noticed that the OP stated he used 1 tsp. per 5/lbs. I remember reading(I think daveomak daveomak ) that not all measuring spoons are equal, and you should measure your cure instead of relying on the spoon. When using cure #1 you want to use the correct amount. Not slightly over or under. Eliminating the guess work.

Chris
 

thirdeye

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I've skimmed thru the pages here, and noticed that the OP stated he used 1 tsp. per 5/lbs. I remember reading(I think daveomak daveomak ) that not all measuring spoons are equal, and you should measure your cure instead of relying on the spoon. When using cure #1 you want to use the correct amount. Not slightly over or under. Eliminating the guess work.

Chris
Absolutely correct, volumetric measuring tools are notorious for inaccuracy. Weighing is the best option for the Cure #1
 

SmokinEdge

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I've typically done Cure #1 obviously, brown sugar, kosher salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder..... Just looking for a little more simple as it relates to weights of each (tsp, tbsp etc)
My dry rub for bacon is
1.5% sea salt
0.25% cure #1
Since cure #1 is 93.75% pure salt and 6.25% nitrite, my total salt combined is all of 1.75%
sugar at 0.75%
I don’t like salty bacon nor do I care for sweet bacon. The 1.75% salt and 0.75% sugar balance nicely for my taste and most everyone that’s had it.

Flavor ingredients like granulated garlic or pepper have nothing to do with the cure and are preference in application. I eyeball these things until they look right.
 

SmokinEdge

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I've skimmed thru the pages here, and noticed that the OP stated he used 1 tsp. per 5/lbs. I remember reading(I think daveomak daveomak ) that not all measuring spoons are equal, and you should measure your cure instead of relying on the spoon. When using cure #1 you want to use the correct amount. Not slightly over or under. Eliminating the guess work.

Chris
While I agree that cure #1 is best weighed. It is widely accepted that 1 level teaspoon to 5# meat is safe. Marianski mentions this many times. This value gives us, about, 156ppm. This is a workable and safe value of nitrite. However, the upper limit on nitrite per the USDA, is 200ppm. Marianski also states that about 50 ppm is the minimum value for nitrite to have any meaningful curing effect. There is room to work within these parameters.

Cure #1 needs to not exceed 200ppm and not go below 50ppm.

Pop’s brine is a good example. It’s all measured in Tablespoons and cups to a gallon of water. No weights, and this is acceptable. No matter 1# meat or 10# meat, and if you need more pickle to cover more meat, just mix up some more and pour over. That’s pretty cavalier, and not exact at all, but acceptable by all. Don’t get caught up in the science, rather use it. There was an actual lab test done on Pop’s brine and analysis of uptake of nitrite in belly vs. loin. I can post that if you like. It was done here on these forums. The results may surprise you how low the nitrite actually is, but was cured perfectly.
 

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