Brining Safety Question??

Discussion in 'Food Safety' started by llamalady, Feb 7, 2010.

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  1. llamalady

    llamalady Newbie

    Just found this site and have a question for you pros.
    I've brined a ham for 21 days. The brine didn't have any nitrites or nitrates in it.
    I took the meat out today. It smells and looks good. I'd like to smoke it.
    My question is...
    Is it safe to eat with not having had the chemicals in the brine?


  2. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Oh my goodness! Throw it out, you're gonna get sick! You might even poison people!


    Just kidding. You'll be fine. Smoke away and treat your friends and neighbors.
  3. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sorry.... I wouldn't eat it.
  4. bbally

    bbally Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    It should be tossed out.

    What was your salt concentration of the brine?
  5. llamalady

    llamalady Newbie

    The brine had 1 cup pickling salt to 1 gallon of water plus 1 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup maple syrup and 6 star anise.

  6. bbally

    bbally Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    what was the refrigeration like? What temp? How long at that temp?
  7. llamalady

    llamalady Newbie

    The temperature is 4C or 39.2F
    The ham was in the brine for 21 days.
  8. bbally

    bbally Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    toss it sorry
  9. travcoman45

    travcoman45 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Much as I'd hate ta waste it, I wouldn't chance it niether. I've had food posinin before an never care ta repeat that! The cure is there to help prevent the spoilin a the meat while ya brine (cure) it.
  10. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The nitrite retards bacterial development, and the ham should have been pumped prior to brining.. if you cut it in half, you will probably find it spoiled in the middle as it takes too long for the solution to get to the center of the ham. I would not trust it, unless you 1st cut it in half and examine it and make sure it is wholesome; do a fry test and if you're ok 12 hours later (put in fridge to dry), then hang it and smoke it. My dad tried to cure hams without nitrite and also without pumping and had spoiled meat around the bones and in the center fat and outlying muscles; he had polaroids documenting his tests.
  11. llamalady

    llamalady Newbie

    Thanks for your thoughts on this. I will toss it.

  12. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Whew, it's a good thing you didn't listen to that FIRST guy that responded. I don't think your friends and neighbors would have been very happy. [​IMG]

    Fortunately for us here at SMF there are members who actually know what they are talking about when it comes to food safety and will take the time to correct the ones who don't seem to take it very seriously. [​IMG]

  13. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm not sure the advice given to this lady was sound. From a bit of reading, as long as everything was clean, she kept the temp between 36-39º, again sanitary, the worst she would have to deal with is over salted meat.

    If her meat was 10 lbs according to multiple sources proper brining would take 2 days per lb.

    Further, you don't have to use specialized salts, or saltpeter, however there are preferred salts that inhibit bacteria and other things, or aid in the process. She did did use curing salt with the necessary nitrates, but I'm not up on the ratio of salt/water/sugar so you will have to dissect that.
  14. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    "Bone sour" is very common without injecting along the bones and major joints at the outset of curing.

    And do not attempt a "cure" without nitrates. Not at your level anyway. Hell...not even at mine.
  15. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Without the proper meters and equipment its more than the novice should attempt in my opinion. Its far easier to just use a cure and be much safer
  16. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Pineywoods, your always sound in your recommendations, so no dispute..

    However I came across several either blogs or sites that described wet curing ham at home with no special equipment and simple brines. Though most pulled meat after 5-10 days. Again the key word here is sanitary.

    What peaked my interest in this thread, is some reading in the past about pioneers and meats. Wet cure brining was common, and the equipment was primitive without any real refrigeration. Thus if they could do it, what would be necessary for simplistic wet cure in the kitchen.
  17. travcoman45

    travcoman45 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Fer safety's sake, anythin that's gonna brine fer much over 2 days should have the appropriate amount a cure added to help prevent the spread of bacteria.

    Any modern day long term brinnin will have the proper amount a cure added to it. These meats will also be injecteed er pumped as the industry calls it to get that cure inta the meat much faster which also slows the curin time.

    I've got lots a old recipes an granddad worked in the packin house's back in the 20's an 30's an yes things were done differently then. But, they used ta let sides a beef hang outdoors back then to an that is no longer an accepted procedure.

    Much better to error on the side a safety then ta get sick. Modern day ham curin is much different then it was 50 er more years ago. Back then they didn't know any different. Taday we do. The bacteria can be already present on the meat, one a the reasons we don't use a probe until the meat is at 140° so as not to push it inta the meat.

    Just my two coppers on it.
  18. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    The salts used way back then were different than the salts we use today many contained high amounts of nitrates and or nitrites. There were some bad things in the salt back then too but it was very different salt. They used to do many things back then that have been improved upon food safety being one of them. I don't understand why in this day and age someone would use risky or possibly dangerous procedures it doesn't make sense. I'm also sure people got sick back then from food not being handled properly but of course we don't read much about that
  19. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Trav, any brine with 1 cup salt per gallon is not going to grow any bacteria dangerous to food safety. Period. (And don't anyone one come out with some scientific proof otherwise. This is a reasonable kitchen in a reasonable environment, not a test lab).

    She said she had it in her fridge at 39F. That's below the inviolate "danger zone".

    DeltaDude has also hit on the indisputable logic that folks did it for hudreds if not thousands of year before refrigeration and we are not extinct.

    Not sanitary? Agreed. Not smart? Agreed. Overly salty? Agreed?

    Sickening or deadly or dangerous? No.
  20. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    So scientific proof has no place in a food safety discussion??

    I wouldn't call it indisputable logic. The fact that we are not extinct means that it was safe?? That's quite a stretch. What was the average life expectancy back then 40 maybe 50?? And Piney has already pointed out that the salt used back then was way different.

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