# Pop’s Brine Broken Down for Information.

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#### SmokinEdge

##### Legendary Pitmaster
Original poster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Many folks here run Pop’s brine and have wild good success. There are a lot of discussions about nitrite concentrations and how we agree that 156ppm nitrite are the standard prescription. With brines things swerve off the track a bit because we have to calculate uptake in the meat. Sadly there is no good way to calculate that and it’s more of a guess. FSIS suggests that a 10% uptake is maximum. You can also inject for a more known quantitative measure, but let’s look a little deeper into what is actually in Pop’s brine to get a better understanding of what we are potentially applying to our meat.

Pop’s Brine.

1 gallon of water.
1 cup of salt (pickling or granulated salt no iodide)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 heaping Tbs of cure #1

That is the original brine mix and is all I’m dealing with here. There are other formulas and I can and will address those if asked to.

Your mileage may vary on my weights but they will be in the park.

solve for nitrite in the brine: with 1 heaping Tbs of cure #1 and 1 Gallon of water with 1 cup of pickling canning salt.

1 gallon of water weighs 8.33 pounds or 3781.82 grams

1 heaped Tbs of cure #1 weighs 26g on my scale

1 cup of pickling salt weighs 288g on my scale.

SOLVE for NITRITE:

26 x .0625= 1.62 x 1000000= 1625000 / 3781.82= 429.6 ppm nitrite in the brine.

SOLVE for SALT PERCENTAGE:

1 cup = 288g
288g + 26g (cure #1) = 314g
314+3781.82=4095.82 total weight.
314/4095.82 = .076 x 100% = 7.66% salt.

So with Pop’s brine we are working with 429 ppm nitrite and 7.66% salt.

Sugar matters no for curing.

So in cure the FSIS / USDA says that 10% uptake is maximum.

If we apply that 10% maximum we will get about 43 ppm nitrite and about .76% salt from Pop’s brine.

Maybe it works fine but just giving you a base line of where it is. Clearly no way close to 156 ppm. It is on the absolute minimum scale, does it work, yes it does, but this gives you a scale of what works with cure and salt. This is absolutely the minimum I would suggest. Curing happens over a range not just one set value. Use this information to your benefit.

Great breakdown.
I don't use Pop's universal cure as many call it too salty for their taste. That leads me to believe salt (sodium) intake is much higher than the 10%

I personally like that you used the original formula as it was the standard for a very successful purveyor for several decades.

Everything else (and I mean this with NO disrespect whatsoever, Pop's and his pops walked so we could all run) is just a short term 'hey guys, this also worked to effectively cure the meat'

Great breakdown.
I don't use Pop's universal cure as many call it too salty for their taste. That leads me to believe salt (sodium) intake is much higher than the 10%
Salt does as does cure. It’s just a guess as to how much without labs. It really is a guess but the FSIS does give us guidelines.

Great breakdown.
I don't use Pop's universal cure as many call it too salty for their taste. That leads me to believe salt (sodium) intake is much higher than the 10%
Over time, Pop's made slight changes to the recipe. An early change was giving a range for the salt. Then along came an option for using Splenda. One thing that some folks overlooked was the fact that sea salt or pickling salt was called out which SmokinEdge mentioned above. Using volumetric measuring there is a huge difference in saltiness between a cup of canning salt, and a cup of Kosher salt.

From my curing notes - a cut & pate from Pop's in a forum post:

POP’S BRINE:
For every 1 gallon of water, add:
1/3 - 1 cup sea salt (depending if you're on a lo-salt diet)
1 cup granulated sugar or Splenda
1 cup brown sugar or Splenda brown sugar mix
1 heaping tablespoon of Cure #1 (20 grans)

Stir thoroughly until clear amber color, pour over meat, inject if necessary to cure from inside-out as well as outside-in

Curing times vary with meat, but generally overnight to 2-3 days for chickens and turkeys, 8-10 days buckboard bacon, 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 from inside out as well as outside in. Be sure to inject around any bones.

jaxgatorz
Good info. I recall Pops saying it was their intent to be on the low side and if memory serves me correctly the Fassett family worked with USDA or other agency to dial it in legally. I like me some salt but that full strength was way too salty for me. The Low Salt (and mild cure) version is FANTASTIC on poultry where you want a light effect.

daspyknows
Nice info thanks

Warren

Pop's Cure was my introduction to great tasting bacon and ham. Once I got the salt amount dialed in for my tastes (I used a bit more than 1/3 cup for bacon, and about 3/4 c for ham) everything was easy-peasy. I dry brine now, as it takes much less room in the fridge, but I still highly recommend Pop's foolproof method for beginners.

Good info. I recall Pops saying it was their intent to be on the low side and if memory serves me correctly the Fassett family worked with USDA or other agency to dial it in legally. I like me some salt but that full strength was way too salty for me. The Low Salt (and mild cure) version is FANTASTIC on poultry where you want a light effect.
I think it was the State of New York inspectors that confirmed all the numbers and safety practices were acceptable.

I routinely make batches of chicken breasts with the lower salt version I make. I do inject, then cover with the curing brine for 48 (or longer if needed) hours, then smoke for about 2-1/2 hours and finish in my sous vide at 147° for 90 minutes. the SV makes for a uniform doneness from end to end.

I think this is all instructive and informative. We all know Pop’s brine works. His father could not have made a living with it if not.

As far as nitrite concentration goes, the USDA sets upper limits but I’ve seen no minimum standard. Marianski states that about 50 ppm are minimum to have any real curing effect. I think Pop’s brine hovers right there to slightly higher. I think it is about the minimum in terms of strength. Also I have not played with the low salt version but I do know that salt is the driving force behind curing. The less salt the less osmosis and less diffusion of nitrite into the meat. Still some here use it and are happy with the results. I’m a 156 ppm kinda guy, but this just goes to show that 156 isn’t strictly necessary. I do like the results of my style so I’m sticking with it but it is interesting that lower amounts work as well. I’ve always said that there is a range to curing it’s not a hard and fast number.

...
As far as nitrite concentration goes, the USDA sets upper limits but I’ve seen no minimum standard. Marianski states that about 50 ppm are minimum to have any real curing effect. I think Pop’s brine hovers right there to slightly higher. I think it is about the minimum in terms of strength. Also I have not played with the low salt version but I do know that salt is the driving force behind curing. The less salt the less osmosis and less diffusion of nitrite into the meat.
...
I recall a post from Pops that stated to use the "pickle" for 30 days on larger cuts of meat such as a ham. I don't remember if it included injection. He stated the longer dwell time in the pickle made for overall better cured meat.

I routinely make batches of chicken breasts with the lower salt version I make
Its been way to long since I have made cured grilled chicken! Going to have to fix that.

JC in GB
I think this is all instructive and informative. We all know Pop’s brine works. His father could not have made a living with it if not.

As far as nitrite concentration goes, the USDA sets upper limits but I’ve seen no minimum standard. Marianski states that about 50 ppm are minimum to have any real curing effect. I think Pop’s brine hovers right there to slightly higher. I think it is about the minimum in terms of strength. Also I have not played with the low salt version but I do know that salt is the driving force behind curing. The less salt the less osmosis and less diffusion of nitrite into the meat. Still some here use it and are happy with the results. I’m a 156 ppm kinda guy, but this just goes to show that 156 isn’t strictly necessary. I do like the results of my style so I’m sticking with it but it is interesting that lower amounts work as well. I’ve always said that there is a range to curing it’s not a hard and fast number.

Can you explain your method of wet brining to get the 156ppm

Very nice breakdown. I also agree with the poster who mentioned that different kinds of salt weigh differently when using volumetric measurements.

I prefer doing all dry measurements in metric units.

JC

Can you explain your method of wet brining to get the 156ppm
Injecting a known strength of brine directly in the meat is the only way to know for sure with a wet cure. I don’t use cover brines because the uptake is variable and unknown. For smaller thinner cuts like bacon or ham steaks I dry brine (rub) my cure mix. For larger pieces like hams or butts I mix up 10% of meat weight in liquid such as water or vegetable broth, to that I add 1.5% salt .75% sugar and .25% cure #1 all to meat weight. Dissolve that in the liquid and inject it into the meat. Injecting in a grid about every inch and especially along and around any bone. Inject all of the liquid then bag it and into the refrigerator for 12-14 days.

Injecting a known strength of brine directly in the meat is the only way to know for sure with a wet cure. I don’t use cover brines because the uptake is variable and unknown. For smaller thinner cuts like bacon or ham steaks I dry brine (rub) my cure mix. For larger pieces like hams or butts I mix up 10% of meat weight in liquid such as water or vegetable broth, to that I add 1.5% salt .75% sugar and .25% cure #1 all to meat weight. Dissolve that in the liquid and inject it into the meat. Injecting in a grid about every inch and especially along and around any bone. Inject all of the liquid then bag it and into the refrigerator for 12-14 days.
thank you! I would like to do boneless pork but as buckboard bacon and pork lion Canadian bacon i will use that injection method thanks for the clarification!! Your OP answered my questions on wet brine and how to know the exact cure PPM (or uptake techincal term i wasnt sure what it was called).

SmokinEdge
Pop’s brine works just fine if you follow his instructions. This is a week brine made that way intentionally which then requires a long brine time. I’m talking a solid 2 weeks to 3. For whole muscle. But the brine definitely works you just have to be patient with the process.

I once cured a picnic ham with this brine. Injected and all, pulled it at around 8-9 days for a Superbowl Sunday, I smoked it and had it in the food rotation , it was perfect beautiful red when sliced and served but on the second plate round at half time the picnic was grey meat, still tasted good but lost the color. Another week at least was needed in cure for the ham. I have much better ways to cure meat and use those methods but Pop’s works if you are patient just don’t rush or push the process.

slavikborisov
Hi everyone. I am a newbie to curing meat. My dumb question is concerning Pop's brine: Can you substitute pink Himalayan salt for the Kosher salt? Thanks in advance.

Hi everyone. I am a newbie to curing meat. My dumb question is concerning Pop's brine: Can you substitute pink Himalayan salt for the Kosher salt? Thanks in advance.
My taste buds think that Himalayan rock salt is milder in 'saltiness' when compared to Morton Kosher salt. But maybe all the minerals in Himalayan have that effect.

As for substituting, I don't recall how the recipe is written, but if is by weights for the items,
then substitute the same weight.
If one is saltier that the other, I couldn't say, never tried to compare.

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