# Pink Salt Percentage for Pastrami

SMF is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

#### PinkSaltPastrami

##### Newbie
Original poster
Hi Everyone,

First time posting, and I was hoping to get a clear answer on the best percentage of pink salt to use when curing for pastrami. I thought I'd post what I've seen as reference and if anyone would be up for it to go through exactly the variation I think I'm seeing and what's ok or not.

- This thread recommends for 10lb(4536g) brisket to use 11.34g of pink salt, cure #1. Which would be 11.34g/4536g = 0.0025% (.25%)

2)
- This recipe from youtube recommends for 1gal of water(3785g) to use 42g of pink salt. Which would be 42g/3785g = 0.011% (1.1%)
If we assume he trims the brisket down to 10lb then it would be 42g/8321g(water plus brisket) = 0.0050% (.50%)

If I did my math correctly(hopefully), recipe number 2 has twice the amount of pink salt as recipe number 1. Watching the video for the second recipe, the pastrami looks great and it doesn't look like it put the people eating it any danger. My questions would be was it ok for the second recipe to use that much pink salt, would it be eventually dangerous overtime, did it change the flavor at all maybe more is better to a certain point? The pastrami did have a very nice pink/red color that's similar looking to pictures of Katz's pastrami in NY but maybe that was the long smoking process.

Variables would be, the first recipe assuming a dry equilibrium cure which I think would require 12-14 days on a 10lb brisket but the second recipe was a wet cure and was injected, only spending 4-5 days in the wet cure also uses a 4% salt and 4% sugar to weight of the water plus brisket which seems a lot higher than what is typically recommended on here. Does more pink salt but less curing time make it ok to use more pink salt or change anything in relation to the safety of using that much pink salt?

When using a dry cure method, the amount of cure is based on the weight of the meat, and that amount is 0.25%.

When using a wet curing brine, the amount of cure is based on the weight of the meat + the weight of the water. You still use 0.25%.

A third method, popular on the SMF is a curing brine called Pop's Brine. It uses 1 gallon of water and a heaping tablespoon of Cure #1 (which I translate to 22 grams). Pop's Brine has a wide range of salt and sugar to choose from based on your personal tastes. I use a version of Pop's Brine for my corning brine (on briskets, chuck, and pork butts) but my recipe has a lot of aromatics and some beer.

Other "corning" recipes similar to the one you posted will use more Cure #1, and generally the reasoning is to shorten the cure time. In reality, I believe the highest amount of Cure #1 per gallon of water is 3.8 ounces, but that is a pretty "hot" corning brine. 2.5 ounces to 3 ounces of Cure #1 per gallon of water is a common ratio.

Use 0.25% cure#1 based on meat weight for dry cure, or the same 0.25% based on meat weight plus the weight of the water for a wet brine.

SmokinEdge
In reality, I believe the highest amount of Cure #1 per gallon of water is 3.8 ounces, but that is a pretty "hot" corning brine.
This is the maximum brine mix posted by USDA, this nets about 1970ppm nitrite and is only recommended as a 10% injection to meat weight. This is not recommended as a cover brine, it’s injection only.

Appreciate the responses, but I was wondering about about the differences that could happen from recipe (1) which uses .25% cure 1 and recipe (2) which uses .50% cure 1...

Appreciate the responses, but I was wondering about about the differences that could happen from recipe (1) which uses .25% cure 1 and recipe (2) which uses .50% cure 1...
Difference is recipe #2 is a cover brine and the meat is dependent on “pickup” from the brine. USDA says not more than 10% so with cover brines the brine itself runs high in nitrites hoping the meat picks up enough of it. Cover only brines are very inefficient. With dry rubs the cure and salt are 100% on the meat, with brines it’s a very low percentage.

Difference is recipe #2 is a cover brine and the meat is dependent on “pickup” from the brine. USDA says not more than 10% so with cover brines the brine itself runs high in nitrites hoping the meat picks up enough of it. Cover only brines are very inefficient. With dry rubs the cure and salt are 100% on the meat, with brines it’s a very low percentage.

Recipe #2 was injected and in the cover brine for 4-5 days, also salt plus sugar were at 4% weight of meat plus water. Would that make it unsafe at some point compared to recipe #1? I guess I'm trying to understand the important distinctions between both methods, because the results in recipe #2 look great but are contrary to what is advised on here.

Recipe #2 was injected and in the cover brine for 4-5 days, also salt plus sugar were at 4% weight of meat plus water. Would that make it unsafe at some point compared to recipe #1? I guess I'm trying to understand the important distinctions between both methods, because the results in recipe #2 look great but are contrary to what is advised on here.
Not contrary necessarily. It is generally accepted that 10% is the maximum you at home can pump with a syringe into a piece of meat, it’s actually much closer to 7% on a good day. This means that 4% salt becomes .4% salt same with sugar pumped into the meat. The nitrite has to be figured differently because our cure #1 only contains 6.25% nitrite and 93.75% salt so it’s a different math equation. Now from then on with a brine if you pump then cover is a guess as to how much more salt and nitrite will uptake in the meat once injected and covered with the same brine. This is why, exactly, I don’t care for that particular process. I would rather know what’s in the meat and not guess. Dry rubs are great or pumping with a known concentration of brine at 10% with no further cover is what I recommend.

Bear with me, it’s a lot of information and will all come out with patience.

I appreciate the information!

I guess my question is, I thought a cover brine where the water is factored with the weight of the meat would be considered what people refer to on here as the equalization method? But you seem to implying that the only true equalization method is either dry rubbing or pumping with no cover? I thought eventually after a certain period of days, the cover brine would equalize as long you factored in the weight of the water?

To make it easy, let's say I have a dry rub with .50% Cure#1, would that be dangerous compared to a dry rub with .25% Cure#1?

To make it easy, let's say I have a dry rub with .50% Cure#1, would that be dangerous compared to a dry rub with .25% Cure#1?
Yes, this is dangerous to go .5% cure 1 on a dry rub. The parts per million of nitrite are to high, but in a brine it’s not. I will explain why in a moment.

A dry rub of 0.25% cure establishes a 156 ppm cure which is the limit for home curing to follow USDA (FSIS). Yes dry curing beyond that level is getting into the danger zone.
You are blending dry , wet, and injection levels and need to stop
Getting into injections and cover brine is more than beginner level.
Best to follow the guidelines here and either dry cure or wet cure only for your first attempt.
Those that have posted are experienced at curing meat.
If you are starting with a full packer brisket, I would remove the point and trim the flat down to a relative uniform size as in thickness.

A dry rub of 0.25% cure establishes a 156 ppm cure which is the limit for home curing to follow USDA (FSIS). Yes dry curing beyond that level is getting into the danger zone.
You are blending dry , wet, and injection levels and need to stop
Getting into injections and cover brine is more than beginner level.
Best to follow the guidelines here and either dry cure or wet cure only for your first attempt.
Those that have posted are experienced at curing meat.
If you are starting with a full packer brisket, I would remove the point and trim the flat down to a relative uniform size as in thickness.
Appreciate the advice. I'm just asking questions, not doing anything yet for now.

Yes, this is dangerous to go .5% cure 1 on a dry rub. The parts per million of nitrite are to high, but in a brine it’s not. I will explain why in a moment.
In a dry rub the salt and cure #1 are applied to the meat at a 100% level. Meaning if I apply 1.5% salt and .25% cure #1 to meat weight, that dry application is 100% to the meat. If I build a brine with 6% salt and 450ppm nitrite and then put meat into that brine the best we can assume is a 10% uptake of salt and nitrite into the meat.

The dry rub will impart 156ppm nitrite and 1.5% salt directly to the meat. This is a known value. The brine will maybe net us .6% salt and 45ppm nitrite. See the difference? Brine is all dependent on uptake. Dry rub is direct application. Keep asking questions, it’s how we learn. No wrong questions.

Thanks! This leads me back to my previous question, I thought a cover brine where the water is factored with the weight of the meat would be considered what people refer to on here as the equalization method? But you seem to implying that the only true equalization method is either dry rubbing or pumping with no cover? I thought eventually after a certain period of days, the cover brine would equalize as long you factored in the weight of the water?

For Example, I thought the following two methods more or less had the same "equalization" outcome after a certain amount of days

Dry Rub/Dry Brine(Weight of Meat only): 2% Salt // 1% Sugar // .25% Cure#1 --- 12-14 days

Cover Brine(Weight of Meat plus Water): 2% Salt // 1% Sugar // .25% Cure#1 --- 12-14 days

I thought a cover brine where the water is factored with the weight of the meat would be considered what people refer to on here as the equalization method?
Terminology can be subjective. In the simplest of terms the term "equalization brining" (of either a curing brine or a flavor brine) means a brine that can deliver a given salt percentage regardless of the process. In other words, a process that can dissolve and diffuse the desired amount of salt into whatever protein, while making it near-impossible to over brine. Of course, accurately measuring the amount of Cure #1 in a curing brine is a consideration for food safety.

So for me,... "equilibrium" can occur in a dry cure, wet cure, an injectable cure or a combination cure. I do agree with SmokinEdge that the dry cure and injectable cure methods are the most predictable. I've slowed my use of wet flavor brining (or wet cure brining) in favor of combination brining/curing.

The subject we have not visited about is gradient brining. This is when you build a hotter brine, say 5% to 10%. And sometimes they have a higher amount of Cure #1. Equilibrium goes out the window as your brine time is the deciding factor. If you find that 3-hours of brine time is perfect for a chicken, 4-hours would likely be too salty. Gradient brines are often so strong, your meat needs time to rest after rinsing so salts and water can even out, or equalize within the meat.

SmokinEdge
When using a dry cure method, the amount of cure is based on the weight of the meat, and that amount is 0.25%.

When using a wet curing brine, the amount of cure is based on the weight of the meat + the weight of the water. You still use 0.25%.

A third method, popular on the SMF is a curing brine called Pop's Brine. It uses 1 gallon of water and a heaping tablespoon of Cure #1 (which I translate to 22 grams). Pop's Brine has a wide range of salt and sugar to choose from based on your personal tastes. I use a version of Pop's Brine for my corning brine (on briskets, chuck, and pork butts) but my recipe has a lot of aromatics and some beer.

Other "corning" recipes similar to the one you posted will use more Cure #1, and generally the reasoning is to shorten the cure time. In reality, I believe the highest amount of Cure #1 per gallon of water is 3.8 ounces, but that is a pretty "hot" corning brine. 2.5 ounces to 3 ounces of Cure #1 per gallon of water is a common ratio.
can't go wrong with Pops brine. Only way I do my pastrami and always comes out perfect. No need to over engineer things for success.

HT

Sure is an interesting topic...

For Example, I thought the following two methods more or less had the same "equalization" outcome after a certain amount of days

Dry Rub/Dry Brine(Weight of Meat only): 2% Salt // 1% Sugar // .25% Cure#1 --- 12-14 days

Cover Brine(Weight of Meat plus Water): 2% Salt // 1% Sugar // .25% Cure#1 --- 12-14 days
They do not and cannot.

With the dry rub the salt and cure #1 stand alone and are 100% of themselves. When applied to a meat piece they act directly to the meat through diffusion (it all goes into the meat) and we know how much salt and cure is in the meat piece at 14 days.

With a cover only brine, the salt and cure #1 are mixed with water and are not stand alone but are now a percentage of the water weight. The salt and cure, in solution, that is touching the meat surface only are able to diffuse into the meat, not the salt and cure that are suspended away from the meat surface in the rest of the brine. This salt cannot effect the meat until it is able to physically touch the meat surface. So now we have to guess what the actual uptake into the meat will be and how long it will take, which will be much longer than dry rubbed. There is no scale no equations to calculate this uptake. USDA says no more than 10% of the meat weight in brine, Stanley Marianski says in reality the water uptake is closer to 4%. That’s a pretty wide margin, but it still does not address how much salt and nitrite will diffuse into the meat. Could be 4%, could be 10%, I’ve read lab results that suggest upwards of 18% salt and nitrite Uptake. It’s all over the map, does it work, yes, are some happy with that process, yes, but none of us know what or how much of the brine ingredients diffused into the meat. Was it enough? Maybe so, but how much was it exactly? With out lab tests none of us can know. I hardly call that “equilibrium “ more like a lucky guess. There are so many things that can and do influence the uptake of brine to meat. Fat layers and thickness of fat, sodium moves very slow through fat, skin in the case of pork again sodium moves even slower through skin, moisture content of the meat, freshness of the meat, muscle fiber make up, weather the meat has been frozen or not, the variables go on but they all make a difference. Lab results show that a clean and trimmed loin muscle will uptake more salt and nitrite than a belly piece. So it’s variable and not equilibrium with a cover only brine.

This is why I much prefer dry rubs or brine injection. In this way I can inject or rub on exactly the salt and nitrite that I want in a finished product. In this way I can obtain true equilibrium that is 100% repeatable and I know pretty much exactly what’s in my meat, and that beats a guess any day.

While I am currently dry curing a pork belly, and I have done so many times before sans the Digging Dog calculator, with great results, going forward I am just going to stick to the wet cure methods and calculations on that other website. It is extremely well researched and comprehensive.

Like the dry cure numbers you have been here given are not based on science and well proven out

SmokingMeatForums.com is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Replies
14
Views
700
Replies
14
Views
2K
Replies
23
Views
2K
Replies
4
Views
2K
Replies
25
Views
2K
Replies
8
Views
2K
Replies
37
Views
2K
Replies
9
Views
789