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Comparison of Salmon curing methods

brayhaven

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Bray, morning.... Cure #2 is intended for meat that will not be cooked...

I suggested nitrite, and provided the weight in grams in Wade's recipe, because I did not know if they had a substitute for cure #1 in GB, and if they did, I did not know the percentage of nitrite it would have in it....
From what I gather, while reading folks questions and answers, the majority of the world does not expect it citizens to cure their own meats, therefore, there are no commercially available "home packaged" curing products for retail sales.... And, considering how poisonous nitrite is, I suspect it is only available to those who have some sort of business license..
I normally use cure #1... 6.25% nitrite in salt.... or 0.75% nitrite in a mix I get from my meat guy for curing bacon...
Thanks Dave, In a wet brine, how do you figure how much nitrite actually gets into the fish (to affect a deterrent level for bugs)? And how do you store your smoked fish?  With the preservative, can it be vacuum packed & stored at room temp?

I think Cure #1 is the only way we can buy it for food use here, retail. 

In the water treatment business,  I used nitrites for 20 years as oxygen scavengers... and I still get it mixed up with nitrates that I use for fertilizer & gun bluing salts :o)

Greg
 

moose350

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Wade,

This is great information, It is amazing the time some of you guys contribute to this forum. Thanks to all of you who do this,it inspires me to try harder, I just wish I had more time. 
 

atomicsmoke

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while reading folks questions and answers, the majority of the world does not expect it citizens to cure their own meats, therefore, there are no commercially available "home packaged" curing products for retail sales....
Yeah....that's not it. People of the world cured their own meats long before packaged curing products were available. They were just using mother nature to their advantage: curing in winter months or, for those in warm climates, heavy use of salt and drying.
 

wade

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"The addition of Nitrate is used in some areas as Nitrate over a period of time is converted to Nitrite"

Hmm was thinking it was the other way around.. :o)

Greg
 
Hi Brayhaven

Because Dave was so precise in his recipe I used pure food grade Sodium Nitrite with the salmon in order to reproduce it as closely as possible.

The use of mixed Nitrate and Nitrite are more common in the US than they are in Europe. Here we more often use Nitrite alone as the preservative as it is this that inhibits the growth of the Clostridium Botulinum. The addition of Nitrate is used in some areas as Nitrate over a period of time is converted to Nitrite.

Although we can buy Cure#2 over here it is more common to buy the branded cures from the sausage manufacture/supply companies. They are very similar (if not identical) to Cure#2 however by doing this we can guarantee that it conforms to EU regulations - and it also tends to work out less expensive.
Hi Greg

No it is the Nitrite that is the active form when it comes to inhibiting Clostridium Botulinumon. It does this by binding the iron that is required for its metabolism. A side effect of this is the colour enhancement that we see when Nitrite is present.

Nitrate salt is inert and must be first converted to the form Nitrite before it has any antibacterial properties.

In the US I think it is still common to add both Nitrate and Nitrite, however in Europe it is more common commercially just to use Nitrite.
 
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wade

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Wade,

This is great information, It is amazing the time some of you guys contribute to this forum. Thanks to all of you who do this,it inspires me to try harder, I just wish I had more time. 
Thanks Moose
 

daveomak

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Yeah....that's not it. People of the world cured their own meats long before packaged curing products were available. They were just using mother nature to their advantage: curing in winter months or, for those in warm climates, heavy use of salt and drying.

There you go..... Taking one sentence and forming a conclusion.... Another follower of Saul Alinsky makes his voice heard....

Good argument....
 
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daveomak

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Thanks Dave, In a wet brine, how do you figure how much nitrite actually gets into the fish (to affect a deterrent level for bugs)?

With the method described, it is an equilibrium curing method... given enough time, all things come to equilibrium... in the above mentioned method, equilibrium is close enough to insure adequate protection, from what I have read...

And how do you store your smoked fish?  

Vac-pac and freeze for large amounts.... It has to be refrigerated, something like 5 days max, or frozen....

With the preservative, can it be vacuum packed & stored at room temp?

No...

I think Cure #1 is the only way we can buy it for food use here, retail. 

Yes, in the states usually cure #1, Prague Powder etc... many names, all the same concentration.... Wade lives in Great Britain and I am not familiar with availability of products there.... the same with Europe, I don't know what's available there either....

For the benefit of other readers...... Nor do I know what is available in Egypt, Ghana, Surinam, Viet Nan, Laos, Ecuador, Sweden, Latvia, Italy, Iran, Iraq, India, Mongolia, etc........ And I surely don't know about their retail situation nor their commercial situation...
In some of the aforementioned countries, a great percentage of the population is illiterate and couldn't read a label on a curing compound anyway, let alone have a grams scale to accurately dispense said compound for a safe product....


Greg
 

brayhaven

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OK Dave. I was wondering if there was a standard level of inhibition. In water treatment we knew exactly how much of an element or compound in parts per million was required to kill or inhibit bio growth.
I see you use a SWAG :).
I really wonder, given the storage method (vacuum pack & freezing) whether nitrite is needed at all? We know it's not good for us. But better than botulism :). However most here don't use any nitrite in smoked fish and seem to do OK.
Greg
 

daveomak

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OK Dave. I was wondering if there was a standard level of inhibition. In water treatment we knew exactly how much of an element or compound in parts per million was required to kill or inhibit bio growth.

If I remember correctly, the FDA says 50 Ppm after processing, for a residual, is adequate...

I see you use a SWAG :).
I really wonder, given the storage method (vacuum pack & freezing) whether nitrite is needed at all? We know it's not good for us. But better than botulism :). However most here don't use any nitrite in smoked fish and seem to do OK.
Greg
Nitrite should be used in all smoked meats... the lack of oxygen and medium temps is a perfect breeding ground for botulism.... There are 7 or 8 different strains of botulism.... fish products have 2 or 3 of them... root vegetables have a few strains also... I don't try to remember all of that stuff... It's all bad, real bad....

Vac-packing presents another situation.... If you vac-pac something, then it gets left out on the kitchen counter, perfect incubator for botulism... no oxygen and mid level temps.... Sooooo...... keep it in the refer or freezer and you are good to go....
 

wade

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Nitrite should be used in all smoked meats... the lack of oxygen and medium temps is a perfect breeding ground for botulism.... There are 7 or 8 different strains of botulism.... fish products have 2 or 3 of them... root vegetables have a few strains also... I don't try to remember all of that stuff... It's all bad, real bad....

Vac-packing presents another situation.... If you vac-pac something, then it gets left out on the kitchen counter, perfect incubator for botulism... no oxygen and mid level temps.... Sooooo...... keep it in the refer or freezer and you are good to go....
Hi Greg

In many respects vac packing and home canning are quite similar in concept - Both provide an air tight and bacteria barrier around the food. If you were to ensure that the fish was completely sterile inside the vac pack then yes technically there should be no reason why it could not be kept at room temperature. The challenge would be to get the fish sterile in the first place and then to ensure that it stayed sterile. The only practical way at home to ensure sterility would be to heat it under pressure in a pressure canner or retort - but that is also likely to change the taste and texture of the salmon inside. Also not all vac pac bags are the same quality. I have had a batch before that was poor quality and actually lost its vacuum over time - even though the double heat seal still looked perfect. If there is a risk of air getting in then you cannot be totally sure about bacteria too. I have also tested a number of general vac pac and sous vide bags in my pressure canner to try just this, however none of the ones I could get hold of here here in the UK were able to reliably withstand the sterilization process. You can buy special pouches that are designed for use in retorts but the price and quantities I would have had to pay for them made them impractical for testing.

As Dave says - If you want to keep them for more than 4 or 5 days then vac pack and freeze.
 
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brayhaven

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Thanks wade. I would be skeptical of the ability to permeate nitrite into meats like brisket or butts. Or even ribs. I use cure 1 in my jerky because it often sits in my hunting pack for a day or 2 vacuumed. But have never used it in anything else. I agree that some bags are poor quality. I use the foodsaver bags which seem to hold vacuum better than the cheap ones.
I'd be interested to see a poll of those who use chemical preservatives (aside from salt) in their smoked meats. Therre are some other things used commercially that might also help preserve like citric acid. It would also be interesting to know of any cases of botulism or other biological related poisoning from smoked meats.
Greg
 

daveomak

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Thanks wade. I would be skeptical of the ability to permeate nitrite into meats like brisket or butts. Or even ribs. I use cure 1 in my jerky because it often sits in my hunting pack for a day or 2 vacuumed. But have never used it in anything else. I agree that some bags are poor quality. I use the foodsaver bags which seem to hold vacuum better than the cheap ones.
I'd be interested to see a poll of those who use chemical preservatives (aside from salt) in their smoked meats. Therre are some other things used commercially that might also help preserve like citric acid. It would also be interesting to know of any cases of botulism or other biological related poisoning from smoked meats.
Greg

Holding a vacuum, while the meat is at "room temperature" is the last thing you want to do.... Botulism only grows in the absence of oxygen.. A vac-bag that leaks is you friend...

Deaths attributed to botulism are few and far between, thanks to the FDA and the wide use of nitrites in smoked meats...

The "civilized" world has come a long way.... When folks were preserving meats with salt, some salts had nitrates and nitrites already in them from mother nature... the salt that was "neglected", and used to preserve meats by the local meat guy in the smoked meats business, well, a lot of his customers died from botulism... The lucky meat guy, whose salt had nitrates and nitrites already in it, his business survived...
Then along came some "scientist", and through chemistry, noted the difference in the salts..
That's a story that can be verified... and the folks that keep harping on, you don't need nitrites to smoke and cure meats, salt will do, will soon become a statistic... There are a select few folks that have the knowledge, equipment and proper atmosphere to cure meats successfully without nitrite/nitrate...
Rumor has it, there are some folks in Toronto Canada, that are gifted in that respect....
 

atomicsmoke

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It would also be interesting to know of any cases of botulism or other biological related poisoning from smoked meats.
Greg
Greg,
Please start a new thread on this topic. Wade deserves not to have his thread hijacked after all the work and expense he altruistically put in.

As you can see the mudslinging has already started.
 

wade

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Thanks wade. I would be skeptical of the ability to permeate nitrite into meats like brisket or butts. Or even ribs. I use cure 1 in my jerky because it often sits in my hunting pack for a day or 2 vacuumed. But have never used it in anything else. I agree that some bags are poor quality. I use the foodsaver bags which seem to hold vacuum better than the cheap ones.
I'd be interested to see a poll of those who use chemical preservatives (aside from salt) in their smoked meats. Therre are some other things used commercially that might also help preserve like citric acid. It would also be interesting to know of any cases of botulism or other biological related poisoning from smoked meats.
Hi Greg

The Nitrite certainly does permeate into solid meat masses though it can take time. If you use a dry brine to cure a side of back bacon and you remove it from the cure too early, when you cut it in half you can see the distinct pink region that shows how far the Nitrite has penetrated. For larger masses of meat the cure is often injected to speed up the diffusion process. For ribs with relatively little meat this probably would not take too long - though I have not personally tried it.

The pouches I found that gave me the most problems were only 50 micron. I now only buy 70 or 90 micron and to date these have all been good.

You asked about the other chemical preservatives people use. Different methods and/or chemicals are employed to best suit what you are trying to produce and how long and under what conditions you are going to store them. The methods are not either/or but depending on what you are trying to achieve you may need a combination of several. The explanation below is not intended to be a text book in microbiological control but just an indicate some of the considerations when selecting a food preservation method.

Different methods are employed to control different bacterial strains. These usually include heat treatment, high salinity, dehydration, acidification and chemical control and of course good hygiene in the food preparation is also very important.

Heat treatment, through cooking, kills most bacteria, although some are particularly resistant to heat. For instance bringing the internal temperature of food up to 165 F (74 C) will kill most bacteria though things like botulinum spores need to reach temperatures above 212 F (100 C) to be killed - hence the reason why we cannot just use boiling water and need to use the higher temperatures that can only be produced in something like a pressure canner.

Bacteria also need free moisture to thrive and so by removing this through salt or sugar dehydration, air drying or freezing, the bacteria will not be able to multiply.

Many of the harmful bacteria also prefer a neutral environment and do not thrive in acidic conditions. This is where products made from naturally acidic foods (like tomatoes) tend to be less liable to infection - and preserves that are high in vinegar/citric acid (like chutneys) and also good. You can also use non toxic, acid producing bacteria (e.g. some lactobacillus) in things like cultured salami or yoghurt where, as they multiply, they create an acidic environment which then inhibits the growth of other more harmful bacteria.

For some of the food products it is not possible to use some of the more extreme of the methods above so in order to be able to control certain highly resistant bacteria/spores we can also use additional chemical control e.g. Nitrite.

For many things we produce we will often use a combination of methods - for instance in the production of cultured salami the preserving is done through the combination of dehydration, acidification and also chemical control.
 
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wade

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Greg,
Please start a new thread on this topic. Wade deserves not to have his thread hijacked after all the work and expense he altruistically put in.

As you can see the mudslinging has already started.
Thanks Atomic. I was already responding to Greg before you posted. I think this topic is deserving of a thread of its own as it is very important that people understand what is actually happening when they are curing/preserving.
 

brayhaven

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Hmmm atomic. No idea what you're talking about. I'm trying to get information on curing methods. That's what I thought this thread was all about. Could be a topic that deserves a thread, but it certainly is pertinent to this one as well. Mudslinging???
Greg
 
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brayhaven

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Wade, OK, I tried a couple that looked like they might work.  Dave's wet and #7: 4:1 dry 2 hours, on frozen pink salmon.  Both resulted in much better end result than I had gotten before.  But I think the dry 4:1 is more consistent, and the salt level can be easily adjusted by soaking for varying times based on filet thickness (5-30 min), skin on or off, frozen or fresh (I find frozen is more permeable) etc.  The sugar or sweetness that some of your tasters found objectionable isn't a problem. We like it.  Wife loves squaw candy :o).  I appreciate all the work you put into this project.  It was a huge help for me.  Also got me doing research on preservatives which I had not done.  Still tweaking on smoke times, chip type, heat levels etc. for my equipment & taste.  But we're on track now.

Thanks again Wade!

Greg
 

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Wade , excellent work and thanks for your time in this project ,much appreciated.
 

wade

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T y CrazyMoon
 

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