Confusing dry curing with dry curing.......

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diggingdogfarm

Master of the Pit
Original poster
Jun 23, 2011
4,648
177
Southern Tier of New York State
I start this thread with the hope that it won't degenerate into folks making it personal or taking it personally.

Anyway, lately I see more and more confusion about dry curing (the application of a dry ingredient mixture) and dry curing (a prolonged process of curing meats to a state of relative dryness). I think that the Inspectors Manual has contributed to the confusion.

Applying a dry cure mix and finishing off something such as bacon with a total time of a couple or 3 weeks is not dry curing, it would be better called " dry brining" or something similar because it's really not all that much different that wet brining, true dry curing extends beyond the 2-3 weeks where meat is cold smoked and aged to dry the product to enhance flavor as well as decrease the water activity level to prolong preservation as well as a few other things depending on specific goals.
If you're applying a dry cure and finishing up your bacon within a couple or 3 weeks, you're not dry curing!
I see some folks expecting there to be a big difference between that and regular brining, there's isn't!!! The real difference is seen in actual true dry curing.
Why the reason for concern?
The nitrate/nitrite levels required for true dry curing are higher (often much so) than what's needed for short term dry or wet brining.
In the case of bacon the 200 or 180ppm of nitrite promoted by the Inspectors Manual is intended for dry curing, not for short term "dry brining". You don't need that much nitrite if you're "dry brining".
I hope I made sense of the difference.

~Martin
 
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Martin, I love you to death as we say where I come from  
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but you have the wrong end of the stick. Dry curing is what it says; just that - dry curing be it seven days or thirty days anything after that is aging and maturing. Wet curing is what it states.

The 'big' difference is dry curing extracts the water where as wet curing adds water, the other difference is that dry curing takes longer to do which is why we came up with the wet cure as a quicker (faster) way of curing. Is there any difference (?) to the layman - no but to others yes there is a big difference
 
Martin, I love you to death as we say where I come from   :icon_biggrin: but you have the wrong end of the stick. Dry curing is what it says; just that - dry curing be it seven days or thirty days anything after that is aging and maturing. Wet curing is what it states.

The 'big' difference is dry curing extracts the water where as wet curing adds water, the other difference is that dry curing takes longer to do which is why we came up with the wet cure as a quicker (faster) way of curing. Is there any difference (?) to the layman - no but to others yes there is a big difference

Sorry Robert, but I must disagree, the USDA's definition of " dry cure" as used in the Processing Inspectors Calculations Handbook is different from yours, when using the recommended maximum cure amounts, which is the issue here, it's important to understand the difference.

Using the maximum amounts for a short term "dry cure" is WAY too much nitrite/nitrate.


~Martin
 
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Martin, I am at work right now (producing 300kg bacon) so cannot allot time to this. I will come back to this on the weekend, as for the USDA's definition that's another story
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Robert
 
 "Dry Curing"... The below method and description is a method only a select number of folks on this forum use.... It is a highly technical method requiring attention to detail and controlled atmospheres....  It is not for the novice such as myself and most members here.....

The confusion, that DiggingDogFarm is trying to explain, (I think), is when we rub a belly bacon with cure #1 and salt and spices, and do not submerge it in a solution of salt, cure, and water, some are calling it "dry curing"... That is a misnomer... It is basically a "dry brine" because the meat is sealed in a container or zip bag and allowed to form it's own brine for the few days it sits in the refer at 36-38 degrees and then smoked.....

Martin, I do hope I got this right.... terminology is sometimes skewed and as long as folks understand the correct process, we let terminology slip a little..... If we started bashing folks for terminology, this forum would go the way of other forums that bash their members on a daily basis.... IF I got it wrong, Please PM me and I will make any corrections necessary....   Dave

From the FSIS handbook.....

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

NITRITE USED IN CURED, DRY PRODUCTS

Introduction

The amount of ingoing nitrite used in dry cured products, such as country ham, country style pork

shoulder, prosciutto, etc., is based on the green weight of the meat or poultry in the product

formulation. These products are prepared from a single intact piece of meat or poultry that has

had the curing ingredients directly applied to the surface, and has been dried for a specified period

of time. For large pieces of meat, the curing ingredients must be rubbed on the surface several

times during the curing period. The rubbed meat or poultry cuts are placed on racks or in boxes

and allowed to cure. Nitrite is applied to the surface of the meat or poultry as part of a cure

mixture.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

On this forum we strive to keep our members safe and make an attempt to follow USDA  guidelines doing so....  
 
As Dave posted, the high levels of nitrite and nitrate in the Inspector's manual are intended for the "country ham, country style pork
shoulder, prosciutto, etc." with bacon having it's own limits of nitrite when dry cured by the same definition. Obviously, this is not what many folks are
doing when they're curing short term and calling it "dry curing" on this and other forums and if someone is using the the high levels in the manual, they're making a serious error.

In other words, if someone is doing a short term cure for something like pastrami and using a dry cure mix, what some are calling "dry curing," and they use the maximum limit of nitrite 625ppm and nitrate 2187ppm (which isn't even needed in this case) for "dry cured" meats from the manual , they're making a serious mistake. when the well known rule of thumb "1 tsp. per 5 lbs. of meat" or 156ppm is sufficient.

Same with bacon, the 200 and 180ppm limits are for "dry cured" bacon, "1 tsp. per 5 lbs. of meat" or 156ppm is sufficient for what most folks are calling "dry curing".

~Martin
 
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I think the heading that is at the tip of this forum further explains the 3 types of curing; wet and dry curing 30 days or less, and semi-dry and dry curing for more than 30 days to a year or more as in sausages, country hams,  prosciutto  and such:

By Chef Jimmy J: Safety Expert Moderator,

Welcome to the Safety Forum...You can post questions regarding the Safety of anything here and it will be answered to the best of our ability and all are asked to contribute...However, There are a few Guidelines that should be taken into consideration when you post an answer...

Always try to keep USDA recommendation in mind when you answer...

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Basics_for_Handling_Food_Safely/index.asp

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Smoking_Meat_and_Poultry/index.asp

Always take into consideration that the member asking the question is not sure if they are risking the Health of themselves and loved ones and does not know what to do...

Read the post and give Complete and Detailed answers...Random statements that can't be supported by anything other than, " That's the way my Grandmother did it." can be confusing and potentially dangerous...

 Some Guidelines are Standard on SMF...It is important for your Safety, that any Meats that have been Punctured, Probed, Injected or Ground be cooked or smoked at a temperature, typically 225*F or greater, that gets the Internal Temperature of the meat from 40*F to 140*F in 4 Hours or less...Frequently called the 40 to 140 in 4 Rule. (This does not include meats containing Cure #1, Cure #2 and Morton's Tender Quick.)

This is how the rule was established...

A Guideline like 40-140 in 4...aka the Rule (less letters than Guideline) is, Easy to remember, Provides a margin of Error, Has been gleaned from information provided by Multiple sources, including but not limited to, Professional Food service organizations, The American Culinary Federation, The ServSafe program, the USDA and Food Service Professionals with Years of Experience... Is, " 40 to 140*F in 4 " written down in any Government Food Service Law Manual, or Word for Word on any fore mentioned Website or Charter?...NO...But it Has been adopted by This Site and others to protect our members...

Just a bit on Curing Safety...

Curing meat involves the use certain Chemicals among them Salt, Sodium Nitrite and Sodium Nitrate...These are all critical in preventing the growth of several dangerous forms of Bacteria. To that end...

For Safety, we don't support the Smoking of Meat at temperatures lower than 200*F unless a Cure containing Sodium Nitrite Cure #1 or Tender Quick is used...The addition of Cure allows for Smoking anywhere between 40 and 200*F for an extended period of time...The only Exception is Bacon cured with a Brine containing Salt at a 10% or Greater Concentration...To this end, Please don't post recipes that are contrary to this...

 Curing sausages to a dry or semi-dry state, such as pepperoni, salami, sopressata, Spanish chorizo and so on, in many cases, requires the use of a Sodium Nitrate/Nitrite blend, Cure #2, to produce the desired long cured items...Additionally a Temperature and Humidity controlled, Fermentation and Extended Curing must take place to reduce the Moisture content of the meat...This Requires Specialized Equipment that can maintain a Constant Relative Humidity and Temperature that is higher than that of a standard refrigerator...

 There are Classic forms of Curing with just Salt, Prosciutto and Coppa come to mind, but they require a very specific set of Temperature and Salting Rules be followed and are not in any way a Beginner's undertaking...

There are some Hot subjects that come up in Safety from time to time while Friendly debate is acceptable...Rude Arguing is not any kind of Fun and Threads may be Locked from time to time to allow a cooling off period...

Please be nice to one another... Disparaging Comments about another members Post, Education, Abilities or Intent...Is just not right and will have to be deleted with a Warning sent...Further infractions will be grounds for Suspension and/or Banning from the SMF...We all lose in this situation...

As new Questions arise or new Techniques are approved I will post additional information here...Enjoy and stay Safe...JJ
 
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Dang Martin I think you might have opened Pandora's Box, but I''ll follow along. I know what you're saying but I dry cure my bacon for 10 days and never thought to call it dry brining.
Dry curing right or wrong is what i call it.
looking forward to where this discussion goes.
 
Martin..thank you for taking this seriously...Im about to buy belly on tuesday. pink salt and bacon hook just arrived via mail order...this will be my first attempt and I was and still am planning to dry-brine or dry-age it in lieu of wet brine...I want it to be done with the safest levels of the "bad-things" as possible...As would any person in their right mind...

Riley
 
 The USDA is pretty clear on their definition on what is Dry Cured Bacon and has little relationship to the months it takes to Dry Cure Country Hams or Prosciutto. So as Martin has stated the large amounts of Nitrite, 625ppm used for Dry Cured Hams should not be confused with the relatively small amount used in Bacon. By USDA definition Dry Cured Bacon is rubbed with a Dry mix containing Nitrite and it recommends the amount of cure not exceed 200ppm. There is no mention of hanging longer than 2 weeks as compared to the much larger Dry Cured Hams. I agree with Martin that these definitions can be confusing and 200ppm is the MAX amount of PURE NITRITE. Cure #1 is what is readily accessible and the commonly recommended and used 1tsp (0.2oz) per 5Lbs (4oz per 100lbs) of meat to be Dry Rubbed or 3.84Oz per Gallon (24lbs per 100Gal) Brine pumped or Immersed (See package directions below) is designed to provide the Safe amount of Nitrite at 120ppm.  Curing of any kind is Serious Business and if you wish to do your own curing take the time to educate yourself on the possible risks there are with using the wrong formulation and always follow the Cure manufacturers directions...JJ 

 

 http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Factsheets/Bacon_and_Food_Safety/index.asp#11

What are the methods of curing bacon?
There are two primary methods of curing bacon: pumping and dry curing. Although less frequently used, FSIS still receives label applications for immersion-cured bacon.

"Pumped" bacon has curing ingredients that are injected directly into the meat to speed up the curing process and add bulk. This type of mass-produced bacon is held for curing for 6 to 24 hours before being heated. If not properly drained, pumped bacon can exude white liquid during frying.

"Dry-cured" bacon has a premeasured amount of cure mixture applied or rubbed onto the bacon belly surfaces, completely covering them. Additional cure may be rubbed in over a number of days, but the amount of added sodium nitrite cannot exceed 200 parts per million (ppm). After the curing phase, the bacon may be left to hang for up to 2 weeks in order for the moisture to be drawn out. Less time is needed if it is going to be smoked. Because of the lengthy processing time and labor required, dry-cured bacon is more expensive than the more mass-produced, pumped bacon.

"Immersion-cured" bacon is placed in a brine solution containing salt, nitrite, and flavoring material or in a container with salt, nitrite, and flavoring material for 2 to 3 days. Sugar, honey, or maple syrup may be added to the brine. The meat must then be left to hang until it is cured.

 

How much nitrite can be used in curing bacon?
The USDA is responsible for monitoring the proper use of nitrite by meat processors. While sodium nitrite cannot exceed 200 ppm going into dry-cured bacon, sodium nitrite cannot exceed 120 ppm for both pumped and immersion-cured bacon.
 

Additionally from the USDA Inspectors Hand Book...

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FSISDirectives/7620-3.pdf

Ingredient Limits

< Pumped and/or Massaged Bacon (rind-off): An amount of 120 ppm sodium

nitrite (or 148 ppm potassium nitrite), ingoing, is required in pumped and/or massaged bacon,

except that 100 ppm sodium nitrite (or 123 ppm potassium nitrite) is permitted with an

appropriate partial quality control program, and except that 40 - 80 ppm sodium nitrite (or 49 -

99 ppm potassium nitrite) is permitted if sugar and a lactic acid starter culture are used. 550 ppm

sodium ascorbate or sodium erythorbate (isoascorbate), ingoing, is required in pumped and

massaged bacon, in addition to any prescribed amount of nitrite.

< Immersion Cured Bacon (rind-off): A maximum of 120 ppm of nitrite or

equivalent of potassium nitrite (148 ppm) can be used in immersion cured bacon. Note: the

calculation method for nitrite in immersion cured bacon is the same as that for nitrite in other

immersion cured products. Refer to pages 21-24.

< Dry Cured Bacon (rind-off): A maximum of 200 ppm of nitrite or equivalent of

potassium nitrite (246 ppm) can be used in dry cured bacon. Note: the calculation method for

nitrite in dry cured bacon is the same as that for nitrite in other dry cured products. Refer to

pages 24-27.

< Pumped, Massaged, Immersion Cured, or Dry Cured Bacon (rind-on): The

maximum limit for ingoing nitrite and sodium ascorbate or sodium erythorbate must be adjusted if

bacon is prepared from pork bellies with attached skin (rind-on). A pork belly's weight is

comprised of approximately 10 percent skin. Since the skin retains practically no cure solution or

cure agent, the maximum ingoing nitrite and sodium ascorbate or erythorbate limits must be

reduced by 10 percent. For example, the maximum ingoing limit for nitrite and sodium ascorbate

or erythorbate for pumped pork bellies with attached skin would be 108 ppm [120 ppm ! 12 ppm

(120 × .10)] and 495 ppm [550 ppm ! 55 ppm (550 × .10)], respectively

Cure #1 directions...

6886bead_ScannedImage.jpg
 
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Just to clarify, dry cured bacon does have a direct relationship with country ham, prosciutto, etc. in the reduction of water activity to a certain level, bacon is relatively low in moisture, even more so after proper curing, so drying doesn't take long compared to many other dry cured meats.
Thicker slabs may take longer than the above mentioned 2 weeks, obviously. Temperature and humidity also has an effect on the overall hang time, of course.


~Martin
 
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" has little relationship to the months it takes to Dry Cure Country Hams or Prosciutto " In terms of moisture reduction yes it is all the same...JJ
 
Good thread. Nomenclature is extremely important as it a preventative measure. One reason is regional names for cuts etc. Six of one and half dozen of another is exactly the same but as DDogg points out misnomers can be dangerous. As usual, some experts have added to the message and this co-operative thrust is what makes this site a must for smokers. YMMV
 
The handbook is fairly clear about what is meant by "Dry Cured" and far as the 200 ppm nitrite limit in bacon goes, it's obvious that it's not a short term cure like most folks do.

Page 28:

INGREDIENT LIMITS

Dry Cured Bacon (rind-off): A maximum of 200 ppm of nitrite or equivalent of
potassium nitrite (246 ppm) can be used in dry cured bacon. Note: the calculation method for
nitrite in dry cured bacon is the same as that for nitrite in other dry cured products
. Refer to
pages 24-27.


Page 24:

NITRITE USED IN DRY CURED PRODUCTS

The amount of ingoing nitrite used in dry cured products, such as country ham, country style pork
shoulder, prosciutto, etc., is based on the green weight of the meat or poultry in the product
formulation. These products are prepared from a single intact piece of meat or poultry that has
had the curing ingredients directly applied to the surface, and has been dried for a specified period
of time.
For large pieces of meat, the curing ingredients must be rubbed on the surface several
times during the curing period. The rubbed meat or poultry cuts are placed on racks or in boxes
and allowed to cure. Nitrite is applied to the surface of the meat or poultry as part of a cure
mixture.


~Martin
 
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