Using a brine to cure meat ????

Discussion in 'Food Safety' started by daveomak, Mar 7, 2011.

  1. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Some of the brining recipes are confusing to me. If I had a better understanding of the process I would feel less like an idiot.

    My hypothetical situation. I have a 5# hunk of meat and I want to make 2 pints = 2# of water brine/cure.

    Understanding equilibrium and why it works, my thought is to make the brine/cure based on 7# of product. 5# meat + 2# water.

    That being said could I inject part of the brine in the meat and use the rest of the brine on the outside. Put in cooler for required days etc.

    If my thinking is incorrect, where did I go wrong?
  2. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    I haven't brined cured anything yet, and haven't studied it.

    There are a lot of guys who can help you on this.

    Pops is big on brine curing, if you want to PM him.

  3. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    In my experiences with brine/curing with Tender Quick, the weight of the meat isn't as important as the volume of water used to submerge the meat. The concentration of cure in the water is where your measurements should be focused on. If bagging the meat for the brine/cure, I've actually used very close to your amounts listed, and have had nothing short of excellent results. If using a container, then you obviously need more brine/cure solution, but I've done it both ways. For the sake of being able to using less spices and cure, I prefer bagging, although the risk of leakage from handling is always on my mind.

    Without digging up a bag of TQ, and if memory serves me correctly, the recommended amount of TQ is 1 to 4 ratio, or 20% by volume. I think the bag reads 1 cup TQ to 4 cups water. I haven't injected my brine/cure solutions (yet), but opt for a longer cure with external absorption only. It's a textural thing for me I guess...the injection site can cause some tearing of the meat fibers from the fluid entering into the meat if injected too quickly, and can be noticed when slicing or eating...a slightly mushy area when chewing and/or visibly separated muscle fibers. Just a preference thing for me.

    A few reasons I can think of for injection of brine cure (other than pumping pickle for ham) would be for relatively large cuts of meat which would not cure in reasonably safe time periods (which is why pumping pickle is used for hams), or if you just wanted a quicker cure and there's nothing wrong with doing it for that reason, either, as that's a personal choice.

    I'm just the opposite of Bearcarver...I know he's used injected cures with a dry cure applied externally. I brine/cure everything I've home-cured thus far.

    Anyway, my take...hope it helps you out. Good luck on the upcoming cure projects!

    Last edited: Mar 7, 2011
  4. dutch

    dutch Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Way back when the family operated two large smokehouses, we would do a combination of pumping the cure into large cuts of meats (hams, shoulder,  bacon and loins) then they soaked in the pickle for 3-7 days depending on the cut.  Anything else that was cured was just placed into the pickle to soak for 24 hours to several days and then in to the smokehouse with a combination of apple and cherry wood.
  5. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    I'm with Eric on this one and you need to worry about the amount of water in your brine for how much cure to use. Just make sure that you mix your cure into the water and then inject some of the cure into the meat. Then you can soak the meat in the brine for the needed days.
  6. cowgirl

    cowgirl Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Good post Eric. :)

    I both dry cure and brine cure meats... thicker hunks of meats I pump.

    Dutch.. brings back good memories of my childhood too. :)
  7. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    According to the 1 lb. bag of DQ Cure #1, you use 24 lbs. of curing salt to 100 gallons of water for a curing pickle.  This would be the maximum amount you'd use.

    Reduce that by 100 to 1 gallon, it would be .24 of a lb. to 1 gallon of water, or approx. 4 ounces of cure #!.

    I use approx. 1 tablespoon to 1 gallon of water.  A level tablespoon is .8 of an ounce.  A rounded tablespoon is approx. 1 ounce, or ¼ the maximum allowed.  And, I find this sufficient to pickle any pork or beef or poultry I need to do.  I will allow more time for it to cure, just from my dad's instruction on how long to let it cure; 2-3 days for poultry, 7 - 10 days for half-butts (buckboard) or bellies, 2 weeks for picnics once pumped, 3-4 weeks for whole hams once pumped.  I've never tried it with less times, simply because the cost of the product is too valuable on my limited income and unlimited (so it seems, lol!) medical bills.  But, it produces a nicely cured product without the need to soak or freshen it to get rid of unnecessary salt (and I've limited the amount of salt I add also).

    As for the amount of brine, your proportion of curing salt to water is the important ratio, and just use whatever amount of brine necessary to cover the product.  You can pickle 1 ham in 1 gallon of water/curing salt or 100 gallons of water/curing salt, it doesn't matter, as long as it's proportioned correctly per gallon.  Of course, you add more ingredients in salts and sugars, etc. to enhance the bouquet of flavors in your pickle.

    Again, my dad's theory was that a mild curing brine for a longer period of time made the product more tender and flavorful instead of a shorter time, more concentrated cure.  He sold hundreds of thousands of product over 45 years in business, and his customers readily agreed!
  8. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks Pops!

    This is an excellent post!

    I just put it on the front page of my "How To" Notes!!!!

  9. biggeorge50

    biggeorge50 Fire Starter

    I can verify that Pops' dad's hams and bacons were as good as they got.  The store was called Fassett's and the hams and bacon were cob smoked.  If my father couldn't get ham and bacon from Fassett's, we went without.  The first store-bought ham I had was a huge disappointment - not even the same animal. 
  10. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Pops6927, I am so glad you answered this post. From everything I have read here, you are the go-to-guy and your post reinforces those thoughts. Great answer. Like Bear, that post is going in my files. Thanks.

    I wrote to Customer Service  <[email protected]>  

     "I purchased instacure #1 and I want to make a liquid brine." (shortened form of question) This is their reply,  "For making a brine with the Instacure, you would use 3 oz. to every gallon of water.  It doesn't matter what size the meat is as long as the meat is completely covered by the brine."

    For those of you who are like me and question everything, the folks on this site know everything and can be trusted.

    Please take no offense that I asked the source also.

    Now I know my math on the amount of cure to wet brine meat was "fuzzy". Everyday you learn something don't count toward your days on earth.

    Keep on learning. I am. Dave 
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
  11. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member


    Thank you for this thread, the depth of knowledge here is phenomenal, I read so much other 'stuff' that isn't tried and tested and it leaves me wondering and confused.

    Thank you Pops, your response is copied and filed in my bringing folder, and to have one of your dad's customer validate his process, ...fantastic!

    And Dave I was taught pretty much the same thing as a young carpenter's apprentice, an old journeyman said, "Everyday that you don't learn something new is a wasted day," I have followed his advice even if it's just a new word to add to  my vocabulary.  I'm 62 years old and I have to keep reminding myself of that, people are shocked when I tell them my age, they assume that I'm in my late 40's early 50's, I attribute part of that to me following his sage advice, it keeps me thinking like I'm young.

  12. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Gene, We are in the same camp. I am 62 also. It must be a generational thing to keep learning. This forum may add years just from the learning aspect not to mention the great food.

  13. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Sure is a lot of 62 year old guys around here !!!!

    It's good there are younger guys like Pops around to help us!!!   [​IMG]

    62 year old Bear
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
  14. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I hate to throw a wrench into the mix, but a piece of meat in an immersion brine is not the same as using a pumped and immersed recipe.

    Take some time and read a few pages from the USDA's Inspectors' Calulations hand book.  

    It will explain how to calculate what you want and be safe. Good luck and enjoy it
  15. chefrob

    chefrob Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    thx for the wrench Dan.........i would have thought you could have used the same.
  16. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Dan, Thanks, I need all the wrenches in my tool box I can get.
    Bear,  I knew we were twins. [​IMG][​IMG]   [​IMG]  [​IMG]    Mom always liked you best.  [​IMG]
  17. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That was a nice, light, easy read, thank you for sharing it!  lol! [​IMG]   Definitely a reference to go by.  We used a 10% pump on all the hams and shoulders, immersion only on bellies.  But, that's only another good reason to use less than the maximum amount of ppm pickle.

    BTW, turning 60 on 03/22 this year, lol!
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2011
  18. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thank you so much for the compliment!  They were truly unique and delicious!
  19. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Dang!  I always thought Pops was an old guy.  Now I see that he and the rest of you are just young'ns!

    Good luck and good smoking!
  20. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    LOL----Kinda like the biggest guy on the football team---You remember him---The guy they called "Tiny".


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