Corned beef

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Nefarious

Master of the Pit
Original poster
Oct 10, 2021
1,616
1,309
Seattle WA
I have made corned beef for st patricks day many times but have never used cure #1. I am having foot.surgery on Mar.15 so.I have to get going on this now.

The recipe that I have used calls for 5lbs meat, 2 quarts water, 1 cup salt. I never have used the full cup, I have gone down to 1/2 and 1/4th at.different times.

I was reading this thread Corn beef curing and thought I would give it a.go. A big question is, what do I gain by using cure #1?

we don't eat a lot of salt and every chance I get I try to use less so here is what I came up with. Say I want the product to have 1% salt. Then .75% is from salt and .25% from cure #1. If I have 5lbs meat I have 3781.82 gr from the gallon of water and 2270 gr from water = 6051 gr.

.0075 * 6051 gr = 45gr salt
.0025 * 6051 gr = 15gr cure

is there a problem having 1% salt in corned beef?

And from what I think I read, I can brine this for 10 or 12 days to get the aromatics correct?

Is there anything wrong with this?
 
I have made corned beef for st patricks day many times but have never used cure #1. I am having foot.surgery on Mar.15 so.I have to get going on this now.

The recipe that I have used calls for 5lbs meat, 2 quarts water, 1 cup salt. I never have used the full cup, I have gone down to 1/2 and 1/4th at.different times.

I was reading this thread Corn beef curing and thought I would give it a.go. A big question is, what do I gain by using cure #1?

we don't eat a lot of salt and every chance I get I try to use less so here is what I came up with. Say I want the product to have 1% salt. Then .75% is from salt and .25% from cure #1. If I have 5lbs meat I have 3781.82 gr from the gallon of water and 2270 gr from water = 6051 gr.

.0075 * 6051 gr = 45gr salt
.0025 * 6051 gr = 15gr cure

is there a problem having 1% salt in corned beef?

And from what I think I read, I can brine this for 10 or 12 days to get the aromatics correct?

Is there anything wrong with this?
From a safety stand point, using the low salt you would like to go with, in a dry rub would be much better. Bacteria, all of them good and bad need moisture, water. Some are aerobic or anaerobic bacteria both need moisture, water to survive. So when we apply a dry rub cure. We apply 100% salt in concentration to the surface of the meat. This is a huge safety hurdle. But in a brine, the strongest concentration of salt we can achieve is 26% salt. At this point salt stops dissolving and settles on the bottom of the container as granulated salt. With a low concentration of salt, as you suggest, we leave the door wide open in a brine for bacterial growth. I don’t recommend it. Since you and family are salt sensitive, I suggest converting to dry rub application, not only for safety but also for predictable end results.
 
From a safety stand point, using the low salt you would like to go with, in a dry rub would be much better. Bacteria, all of them good and bad need moisture, water. Some are aerobic or anaerobic bacteria both need moisture, water to survive. So when we apply a dry rub cure. We apply 100% salt in concentration to the surface of the meat. This is a huge safety hurdle. But in a brine, the strongest concentration of salt we can achieve is 26% salt. At this point salt stops dissolving and settles on the bottom of the container as granulated salt. With a low concentration of salt, as you suggest, we leave the door wide open in a brine for bacterial growth. I don’t recommend it. Since you and family are salt sensitive, I suggest converting to dry rub application, not only for safety but also for predictable end results.
What is the lower.limit of salt you would use in the wet brine scenario?

Is there a reference for the dry rub application to calculate the salt used? The examples I looked at either use no cure or use TQ. Some use as little as a teaspoon of salt in an immediate cook rub scenario.

I'm just looking for a starting spot. I'll do the search, i'm not sure I really know what I'm looking for.
 
In a dry cure:
we apply salt, sugar and cure as a percengage to meat weight.
In this way we apply exactly these amounts that will be both safe and be our final salt level.
In a brine, the uptake is pretty much unpredictable in exact amounts, and will vary by meat cut.

I always apply salt, sugar and cure #1 in percentage to meat weight. I never over salt or under salt and I’m always safe.
 
I started making corned beef and pastrami a few years ago and found his recipe /technique / tutorial and it is amazing. The read makes it sound far more involved than it is but the finished product was the best I've ever had of either. It's been a while but if I remember correctly there is a soaking process to desalinate the meat before final seasoning and smoke. A good friend has been using this recipe also and absolutely loves. There was a HUGE amount of time putting this thread together but it's one of the best tutorials I've seen in the forum. Don't know if it'll help but felt compelled to share it.


Sadly I've not seen sqwib sqwib in a long time though. He is a wealth of knowledge.

Robert
 
I have made corned beef for st patricks day many times but have never used cure #1. I am having foot.surgery on Mar.15 so.I have to get going on this now.

The recipe that I have used calls for 5lbs meat, 2 quarts water, 1 cup salt. I never have used the full cup, I have gone down to 1/2 and 1/4th at.different times.

I'll share another perspective. There are dry cures, and brine (wet) cures.... both use salt and some type of cure, and the end result will be "cured" meats. With these methods, you could cure a slab or bacon, or a brisket flat, a turkey breast etc.

There is also a corning brine, which can rely on a large amount of salt (corns of salt were originally used), plus some aromatics like pickling spice -OR- a corning brine can use a reasonable or lower amount of salt, plus the addition of Cure #1, and the same aromatics. The former is often referred to as "gray corned beef" because the latter has Cure #1 and will get a pink to red color.

To me, when I think of corned beef (and pastrami if I smoke it)... it's the aromatics that produce the flavor I like, and the cure gives the color I like. So I make a corning brine loaded with aromatics like pickling spices, mustard seeds, bay leaves, beer, etc.
 
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I started making corned beef and pastrami a few years ago and found his recipe /technique / tutorial and it is amazing. The read makes it sound far more involved than it is but the finished product was the best I've ever had of either. It's been a while but if I remember correctly there is a soaking process to desalinate the meat before final seasoning and smoke. A good friend has been using this recipe also and absolutely loves. There was a HUGE amount of time putting this thread together but it's one of the best tutorials I've seen in the forum. Don't know if it'll help but felt compelled to share it.


Sadly I've not seen sqwib sqwib in a long time though. He is a wealth of knowledge.

Robert
Thanks for the link. I have never cured anything in my life, except for the corned beef with salt. I just need to understand a little more and this was an excellent tutorial. I might just do it starting today to get my feet wet.

I have had people tell me about extracting the salt in a water bath. I guess that will have to be done. Thanks again.
 
I'll share another perspective. There are dry cures, and brine (wet) cures.... both use salt and some type of cure, and the end result will be "cured" meats. With these methods, you could cure a slab or bacon, or a brisket flat, a turkey breast etc.

There is also a corning brine, which can rely on a large amount of salt (corns of salt were originally used), plus some aromatics like pickling spice -OR- a corning brine can use a reasonable or lower amount of salt, plus the addition of Cure #1, and the same aromatics. The former is often referred to as "gray corned beef" because the latter has Cure #1 and will get a pink to red color.

To me, when I think of corned beef (and pastrami if I smoke it)... it's the aromatics that produce the flavor I like, and the cure gives the color I like. So I make a corning brine loaded with aromatics like pickling spices, mustard seeds, bay leaves, beer, etc.

Thanks for this, i guess the technique i have always used, though dangerous because I used too little salt, was the corning brine. Is there a formulation for how much salt and how much cure #1 to use?

More to learn, I appreciate your perspective.
 
Thanks for the link. I have never cured anything in my life, except for the corned beef with salt. I just need to understand a little more and this was an excellent tutorial. I might just do it starting today to get my feet wet.

I have had people tell me about extracting the salt in a water bath. I guess that will have to be done. Thanks again.

More than welcome and hopefully it'll lend some usable info for you. Like you, I had never cured meats before and admittedly it can be intimidating. At the end of the day though, it's a very simple process as long as protocols are followed for safe curing. The reason I shared that link is because it's not a "shot in the dark" but a tried and true procedure that you can trust.

Insofar as desalination, you'll need to change the water several times. As the salt is extracted from the meat it will reach an equilibrium with the water that is the same amount of salt that's left in the meat. At that point there will be no more salt extracted without changing the water, thus eliminating the equilibrium and more salt will come out of the meat into the new water. Hope that made sense :emoji_laughing:

Robert
 
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SmokinEdge SmokinEdge tx smoker tx smoker thirdeye thirdeye tallbm tallbm
I hate this site, seriously. I just made my first batch of sausage last week and it came out really well, and was going to go to the next step and make sausage links with cure #1 with a new sausage stuffer.

As I said, I'm having foot surgery in about 2 weeks and now I have to abandon the sausage learning process and take on this new challenge of making corned beef that won't potentially kill my family. So, the sausage has to now go back burner, at least I have time to read my new sausage book before I start making it.

Now I have 3 techniques for making corned beef to understand so I can pick one and get started today.

Thank you all for your generosity, I appreciate it.
 
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The tricky part for you N Nefarious is getting the salt where you like it (low) but still producing a safe product. The process of curing is powered by salt. The process relies on the diffusion of salt into the meat which keeps it safe microbiologically. The nitrite in cure #1 neutralizes dangerous bacteria like botulism. In addition nitrite fixes the red/pink color in the meat that is associated with cured meat and imparts a “hammy” flavor that most of us love. The maximum amount allowed by the USDA of nitrite in whole muscle meat is 200 parts per million, there is no minimum value but around 50ppm are needed to provide any meaningful nitrite impact. When cure #1 is applied at 0.25% to weight we are imparting 156ppm nitrite that’s a nice safe place on the scale.

If you like to read, I suggest you pick up Stanley Marianski’s book “Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages “ This book is straight forward and very detailed in layman’s terms about how and why we cure meats and how to do it safely. I really can’t recommend this book highly enough.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0982426739/ref=dbs_a_w_dp_0982426739&tag=smokingmeatforums-20
 
The tricky part for you N Nefarious is getting the salt where you like it (low) but still producing a safe product. The process of curing is powered by salt. The process relies on the diffusion of salt into the meat which keeps it safe microbiologically. The nitrite in cure #1 neutralizes dangerous bacteria like botulism. In addition nitrite fixes the red/pink color in the meat that is associated with cured meat and imparts a “hammy” flavor that most of us love. The maximum amount allowed by the USDA of nitrite in whole muscle meat is 200 parts per million, there is no minimum value but around 50ppm are needed to provide any meaningful nitrite impact. When cure #1 is applied at 0.25% to weight we are imparting 156ppm nitrite that’s a nice safe place on the scale.

If you like to read, I suggest you pick up Stanley Marianski’s book “Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages “ This book is straight forward and very detailed in layman’s terms about how and why we cure meats and how to do it safely. I really can’t recommend this book highly enough.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0982426739/ref=dbs_a_w_dp_0982426739&tag=smokingmeatforums-20
I just got the book yesterday. I appreciate the information.
 
Thanks for this, i guess the technique i have always used, though dangerous because I used too little salt, was the corning brine. Is there a formulation for how much salt and how much cure #1 to use?

More to learn, I appreciate your perspective.
Sure. There two formulations.

A). Equilibrium Method - You weigh your meat. Then weigh the amount of water needed to cover the meat. Using the TOTAL weight of meat and water calculate:
1. Amount of salt: 1.5% to 3% is a good range. (I like 1.5%)
2. Amount of Cure #1: 0.25% - This % does not change.
3. Amount of sugar: 1% to 3% is a good range - Sugar is optional, it's only purpose is to mellow the salt. (I use 1% sugar)

Aromatics are added for flavoring

.B) Pop's Brine - This is a universal curing/corning brine that does not require weighing the meat and water. It's based on a tried and true method which was approved for use by the state of New York a number of years ago. It involves injecting 10% of the meat's weight, then covering the meat with the remaining brine.

Pop's Brine Original Version
(see below for my preferences of salt and sugar)
1 gallon of water
1/3 - 1 cup sea salt (depending if you're on a lo-salt diet)
1/3 - 1 cup granulated sugar or Splenda®
1/3 - 1 cup brown sugar or Splenda® brown sugar mix
1 heaping tablespoon of Cure #1 (which comes out to 20 grams)
Any other seasonings or aromatics you like

Stir thoroughly until clear amber color, pour over meat, inject if necessary to cure from inside-out as well as outside-in. This curing brine can be used in a non-reactive container or a 2.5 gallon zipper bag in a small bucket or dishpan. The meat must be fully covered.


Curing times vary with meat, but generally overnight to 2-3 days for chickens and turkeys, 8-10 days buckboard bacon (pork butt), 10-14 days belly bacon, pork shoulder, whole butts, 3-4 weeks whole hams, 10-20 days corned beef (fresh beef roasts, briskets, rolled rib roasts, etc.) If whole muscle is more than 2" thick, then inject so it can cure i/o as well as o/i, and/or in and around bone structures, etc.

~thirdeye's~ Corning Brine adapted from Pop's Brine
112 ounces of water
16 ounces of beer
22g Cure #1 (note: this is added after the brine has cooled back down)
80g canning salt (Kosher is okay too)
30g white sugar
These are the aromatics I add to the brine:
3 tablespoons pickling spice
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
6 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Old Bay
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon crushed ginger
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cloves


Step 1 - Combine all ingredients EXCEPT Cure #1 into a stock pot. Slowly bring up to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. Do not let this mixture come to a boil. Allow to cool on the stovetop, then refrigerate overnight.
Step 2 – Add the Cure #1 to the chilled brine and mix very well. Measure an amount of brine equal to 10% of the meat weight (for example: 2000g of meat needs 200g of brine for injecting). Inject the brine into the meat. Then add the meat into the chilled covering brine, and cure for 13 to 15 days, agitating the liquid daily.
Step 3 - Remove meat from brine.... rinse well and soak about an hour or so in cold water. Now you have corned beef. It can be cooked using any traditional method you like.
 
SmokinEdge SmokinEdge tx smoker tx smoker thirdeye thirdeye tallbm tallbm
I hate this site, seriously. I just made my first batch of sausage last week and it came out really well, and was going to go to the next step and make sausage links with cure #1 with a new sausage stuffer.

As I said, I'm having foot surgery in about 2 weeks and now I have to abandon the sausage learning process and take on this new challenge of making corned beef that won't potentially kill my family. So, the sausage has to now go back burner, at least I have time to read my new sausage book before I start making it.

Now I have 3 techniques for making corned beef to understand so I can pick one and get started today.

Thank you all for your generosity, I appreciate it.
Sorry to hear about the sausage on the back burner and I've been out of pocket all weekend so just now seeing this.

Some more info to consider when Dry Curing meat.
Salt and Cure #1 will travel about 1/4 inch per day into the meat. So a flat cut like pork belly or brisket flat for corned beef will get 1/4 inch from all direction so you can get like 1/2 a day total top and bottom.

This is important to know because if the meat is too thick then the salt and cure will not have a chance to penetrate properly and/or in enough time to cure the meat before it goes bad.
This is when you should really consider a Wet Cure.

Why does a Wet Cure work better in this case? For one magical (not so magic) reason.
You mix up your liquid cure and drop the meat into it. THEN, you take a meat syringe and inject the liquid cure into the meat all over like 2 inches apart or so.

When you do this you are curing from the outside of the meat as well as from the inside where you injected all that liquid. You can DRASTICALLY speed up the curing time of the meat!!!

When I did my 1st ever brisket pastrami I did a wet cure. Pastrami is the same as corned beef but pastrami is smoked instead of steamed.
I did a a big brisket so I wanted to ensure it got cured well and also my curing bucket was so much better suited for curing this giant brisket versus laying the meat out and fooling with it. The wet cure was basically set and forget vs a dry cure that would need babysitting/flipping, a different tub, and more worrying about whether or not the cure had penetrated.

Long story short, use the best technique for the job.

Finally, I didnt notice an answer to your question about using cure#1 for corned beef so here goes.
The main reason to use cure #1 on corned beef is to get that exact flavor and pink/reddish color we see with corned beef and pastrami.
TenderQuick has sodium nitrite already mixed in it (basically cure#1) along with both salt and sugar. That is why it gets used sometimes but cannot be used as a direct 1 to 1 replacement since it is a blend of salt, sugar, and sodium nitrite.

I use cure on turkey all the time to get that create smoked turkey flavor which is AMAZING, like the state fair or Disney World smoked turkey drums.
The turkey is never cooked the same way as though no cure#1 was used. The key is the flavor you get.
Same goes for pork belly. If you use cure#1 you get bacon flavor, texture, color. If you don't you get pork chop type flavor and white colored pork meat like a smoked pork butt.

I hope all this info helps and I think you will pick the right tool/process for this corned beef job. Once you get this curing business sorted out you will see it is super easy.
Honestly, prepping and trimming the meat properly will be more hard work than the curing process. Especially once you have your cure process figured out.

Let me know if this marathon post makes any sense :D
 
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