Would you trust this corned beef? ****UPDATED with Q-VUE

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Meat Mopper
Original poster
May 12, 2008
Alamosa, CO
In February I prepped an awesome brisket with Morton's tender quick and spices but soon after my life went to hell.  Since then I haven't fired up my barrel and even stopped lurking here.  It has been a terrible time, but that isn't the reason for my post.  I wanted to know if I should dump the brisket or smoke it as planned.  Here is the particulars:

Prepped as I always have in the past so I know the ratios of TQ are correct

Kept in the refrigerator constantly under 38 degrees

For the first week I turned it twice a day but since I have only turned it once a week

The brisket was sealed in 3 separate vacuum bags that are still 100% sealed

Bags are not showing any bloating or trapped air

Meat looks nice and pink with no mold, spots (except for seasonings), or fungus

I would imagine that it may be really salty which I can try to alleviate by soaking in water for a day, but would the meat be okay for consumption?  I know hams are cured for months on end, but I haven't seen or heard of anyone curing beef for that long. 

I am hoping that my life is now going to contain less stress and pain so I can fire up the barrel.  Would you believe anyone can go more than 7 months without smoked meats? :)

Thanks in advance for any replies!

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Like alelover said   do the smell test  I am willing to bet you the brisket is fine,  between the cure  (sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate), the salt and the fact that the meat was sealed from outside infection by the vacuum pack.  Botulism produces gas that will make the packaging loose, but you said the packaging was still tight.  The cures slow down considerably at 36 degrees so they will last longer.

Now the only problem I see is that the way your luck is apparently running if you can get ill, you probably will
Well could you let us know if there is any form of hospitalization involved.

No there is no trapped or excess air.  No microbes reproducing.  Sealed tight like the day I prepped it.  I don't think there will be a problem being that other cuts of meat are aged/cured for this long or longer without any ill effects.  I was just hoping that someone would have either prior knowledge or experience with this.  I have cured a brisket, corn beef, for a month and the only problem I had in the past was being too salty.  A soak in fresh water with sliced potatoes have solved that problem in the past.  Cool trick I learned from Ronp a while back. 

Anyway if anyone else has a good idea let me know, but I think I will open the packs and do a smell test.  If everything looks okay I am gonna smoke em and enjoy em.  Maybe I could post some Q-view.  Been a long time but I think I could figure it out again!

personally I would toss it and just get something fresh.....for a few bucks is it really worth the risk?   Either way I hope your life is back on track, welcome back brother........
No, no fry test yet.  Haven't opened the packages yet.  I will do a fry test before I do anything.  I will keep everyone informed.  I am itch'in for some ribs and pulled pork.
I would open one up and hack a chunk off cook it any way you like and that will give you all you need to know, smell out of bag, color of meat internally, smell as cooked and amount of salt taste, it isn't going to get any saltier in 7 months than it would in 1, it isn't like you kept adding cure or salt to it so you started with x amount of salt and you still have x amount involved in the process.

Try it out and leave us see your results.

Glad to hear things are getting back to normal for ya, and here is to it staying that way for a long time to come.
I don't know if they hit beef, but there are bacteria that do fine without air. It always feels wrong and wasteful to toss something, but you're about to invest more time, materials and health into the result. And when something bad does happen food-wise, the memory can linger.

Well I got the time to work on it.  Semester is over and  besides chores around the house I have time to smoke what I want.  I pulled the three vac-u-pacs and opened them.  All three smelled really strong, not bad just like pickling spices.  Here is a pic....


I saw no problems, a fair amount of break down in the tissue.  I think if I pulled really hard I could have ripped them down the middle.  When I rinsed them I had a tough time removing the spices from the meat, they had sunk pretty far in and had to be picked out.  In the above pick if you look closely you can see the little indentations from the various seeds and spices.

I sliced off a chunk of all three and the color was amazing!!  Nice shade of rosy pink/red.  I felt real hopeful, so I fried them up.....


After letting them cool a little it was time for the taste test.  Wayyyy too much salt!!!!  I figured I would have to soak them for a couple days in water, don't like a lot of salt and TQ has quite a bit.

I soaked them for a couple days in water, changing it twice a day.  I once again I sliced off a hunk from each and fried them up.  This time the salt content was just right, but to tell you the truth I didn't like the flavor.  It was like all spices, no meat.  I sat and mulled it over and decided to pitch them.  I felt it wasn't worth it to set up the smoker and tend it if I wasn't going to like the end result.  It really sucked putting that whole packer, trimmed of course, in the dumpster.  Oh well, I have a couple smokes planned for later this week that I should be able to post.

Learned a lot from this experience though. 

1.  Long curing times or okay as long as the proper amount of cure, sealing, and temperatures are observed.

2.  There should be a limit on curing time for texture reasons even though I still do not know that answer

3.  The amount of spices added to the cure should be reasonable for the time it will take to cure.

4.  No pathogens, didn't consume but a few ounces but nothing game me the feeling that I was in trouble.

5.  Really need to learn to us insti cure so I can vary the salt content

I usually spice things up a lot when doing a pastrami cause with a 7 day cure I want to make sure that they transfer to the meat.  I think this is why they were so strong, the transfer was greater than I assumed (if that makes sense).  I am still wanting some good pastrami so maybe after Christmas I will do another.

In the mean time, Merry Christmas to all and thanks for looking!!
Ok I am late on this but I would toss em.  I can not say that they would be bad but it just makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up and I learned along time ago to heed that feeling.
Great story and lesson...There are no Bio Hazards with the long cure using TQ, but I can imagine the spices can get overpowering sitting that long...JJ
Ok I am late on this but I would toss em.  I can not say that they would be bad but it just makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up and I learned along time ago to heed that feeling.
Yep, they are gone......  I did shed a tear as I dumped them...........
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