• Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.
SMF is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Legendary Pitmaster
Original poster
Nov 18, 2006
Hi All -

I take very careful notes on most everything I do and after reviewing my notes of the past few weeks and conducting a “taste test†of sorts I have come to the conclusion that:

All things being equal (i.e. weight, thickness, time, relative fat content and ingredients)

The meats absorb salt through a brine solution in the following order:

Fastest – Poultry – minimum 1 hour maximum 4 hours
Median – Pork - minimum 8 hours maximum a few weeks
Slowest - Beef- minimum 8 hours maximum several weeks

Sorry the experiment didn't include wild game meats but due to the textures, grain and relative fat content of wild gane I would conclude the following:

Fastest – Fowl – minimum 1 hour maximum 4 hours
Median -Rabbit and squirrel - minimum 8 hours maximum a few weeks
Slow - Venison - minimum 8 hours maximum several weeks
Very Slow – Bear minimum 8 hours maximum several weeks

Do any of our resident experts agree or disagree with these conclusions?

Some of you may be wondering … “Why do I care?†Well this will give you an idea of timelines required for brining your meat for that all important weekend smokeout!

Hope this helps!

PS This is based on MY personnal idea of what's salty enough. No doubt most of you will think it not salty enough.
I brine poultry over night. When osmosis (that's what happens when you brine) is complete, the salt in the bird and the salt in the water should be equal. If it's too salty then you should cut back the salt. I use 1 cup of kosher salt to 1 gallon of liquid. Today I cut back to 3/4 cups because I brined in Sprite and there is a lot of sodium in soda.
I never brine pork or beef. I do cure them though. I hope no one brines any meat for several weeks. Without nitrate and nitrite it will go bad.
I do brine wild game. I think it cuts the gamey flavor and my wife doesn't do gamey. But I don't brine anything longer than 24 hours.
I also brine fish.
Nice write up Debi, it looks like you put some thought and time into it.

When I used to help cure and smoke hams and bacon for the family business, we never let the meat stay in the brine more that 4 or 5 days.
For my taste I say a week is more than enough. Maybe I should add that water changes are necessary ?
Gunslinger -

I used 1/3 cup of kosher salt per gallon of water for the experiment. Perhaps I should elaberate a bit on the experiment.

The minimum is the minimum time it takes for the salt be absorbed by the meat.

The maximum time is when there is no perceived difference in saltiness.

I should mention that the brine water should be changed every 3 to 5 days depending on the recipe.

Sometimes you have to brine pork or beef to get the tastes your looking for. For example Canadian Bacon (pork) and Pastrami (beef).

Wild game almost has to be brined in my book (except venison). I agree with the wife. Although I know alot of folks that don't care one way or the other.

Good point about the nitrates. The brine recipe I used has Prague powder #1 in it. I should not presume all of them do. I used the pastrami brine in the experiment.

Hope that clears everything up.
Good morning Debi. I assumed you were speaking of roasts and big cuts of meat. I sometimes forget about things like Canadian bacon and Pastrami, as I have never made them. But they are cured? Right? Maybe it's a simple matter of me differentiating between curing and brining. I don't consider them the same except for the osmosis process and more often than not you'll inject too when you cure.
My personal preference for poultry is plenty of salt. I think it tenderizes better and keeps the bird more moist through a long smoke. I have cut back on the salt, due to doctors orders and it seemed like the birds were not near as tender or moist. So I've gone back to a more normal brine ratio and a longer soak.
You seem to like to inform people of things before they screw up. That's pretty cool. I think there are not enough helpful people in this day. 25 years ago, you could always depend on "old timers" to help you. They were always willing to share their experience and knowledge. Now, people think talking is worth money. That's why I like this forum so much, people share. Well, except for real competition advice. But I understand.
I have been to your web site and as a life long percussionist, I thought it was very cool.
I have also built my own drums. Years ago I built a full double kick drum 9 piece trap kit. Everything except the kick drums were turned out of solid oak. I have always preferred to play a marching snare, so that's what I built and used in my kits. I wish I had the pics right here. It was absolutely gorgeous. I'll have to get my Misses to find the pics. They were before her time, so they got stashed with all the other pics of pre-wife, if you know what I mean. Anyway, when I sold that set, I got more out of it than some people get out of their classic cars. I don't know about now, but at one time custom solid oak shells were in very high demand.
The only thing I couldn't seem to figure out is how to spin a cymbal by hand, so that's something I had to buy. I have always wanted to build my own chimes though.
Well, there I went and got off the subject on your thread. Sorry.
Gunslinger -

If you like pastrami it's amazingly easy to make! The Canadian bacon to me is just small slices of ham. I think for the cost of making it ham is cheaper. They are cured I guess - in a brine, and injected. I didn't inject for the experiment.

Being new to the process I was surprised at the difference in time it takes for salt absortion in different meats. I don't normally use much salt (except on potatoes) so it was something that got me wondering.

I love chicken (and smoked) even turkey (which is not normally one of my favorites), but I think so far I like the pulled pork best. Gives me something really great to bring to work for lunch (and drives everyone crazy when I heat it up). LOL

Yeah I do have that kind of mother instinct that works overtime. Sometimes at work it gets me into trouble - I can be too helpful sometimes but I was raised that way.

If I can save someone the frustration of an initial failure they may prove to be excelent smokers. I have seen so many people give up on things after 1 or 2 false starts.

Hobbies are good for the soul, when done well they inject big a positive in a world of negitivity. You should see all the people I get direct emails from dalily about brewing, drum building, gravestone art and geneology! Everyone gets nervous until they begin to see the light so to speak. My job is to help get them there. I was raised by those "ole timers."

I hate to waste money! If I can show you something for free and guide you through it every step of the way you'll learn it and maybe pass it on (hoefullyalso for free). If you have to buy a book to learn it - it will probably just collect dust.

I played guitar for about 30 years off and on. When my son"left the nest" it was Mama's turn to play! I bought an inexpensive drum set for my great-nephew and loved it! I had to get one. I has become my primary instrument ever since. There's nothing like drums after a bad day at work!

One of the things I love about the internet is the open sharing and helpfulness that can still be found. Kind of like the "old days." Thank you for the compliment on my website. Sounds like you were at the Music site (I have 3 websites). I have alot more work to do on that site but I need to subscribe to a bigger server - I've run out of room for all my free tutors! LOL

I would love to see your hand made kit. Sound glorious! They are so much warmer than production kits.

I can't help you build a cymbal. My understanding is that they are first press punched , then spun on a lathe. Just getting the materials would be difficult at best. Working metal is one area I have not had the opportunity to get into. Sad thing is my Dad was a sheet metal fabricator and I haven't even begun to learn his trade. It just to expensive!

I made double kick drums using marching snares it was awsome! Sold them for enough to build a whole kit! Oak shells are still very expensive but then what isn't today? I think that's one reason people are going back to learning how to DIY.

I just like to learn new "old things." I started brewing beer because my grandmaother did it (during Prohibition of course) and rumor had it she brewed the best beer and wine in town. Never got to meet her though - she passed on very young and I was born very late.

Happy Smoking! is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Latest posts

Hot Threads