Make sure you don’t brine meats that have already been brined, such as supermarket stocked pork, which has been treated with sodium phosphate and water to make it juicier.
40-50% of 100% meat
4lbs brine to 10lbs butts
When adding ingredients to brine, the basic rule is to add ingredients that readily dissolve in water (phosphates, salt, sugar) first and then those that disperse (starch, carrageenan).
- Add phosphates to water and dissolve.
- Add sugars, soy proteins and dissolve.
- Add salt and dissolve.
- Add sodium nitrite and dissolve.
- Add cure accelerator (sodium erythorbate) and dissolve.
- Add starch and carrageenan.
- Meat Brine Strength in Degrees Time of Curing
Poultry 21 overnight
Bacon 50 - 65 1½ - 2 days per pound
Spareribs 50 - 55 1 week
Loins 55 - 65 2 weeks
Ham, shoulders 65 - 75 4 days per pound
Fish 80 2 hours
If meat were stitch pumped with pickle first, these times would be shortened in half. Notice that sugar, though often added to brine after it is made, does not participate in the calculation for making a brine of a particular strength. That is due to the following reasons:
• A lot of brines do not call for sugar at all.
• A lot of brines call for different amounts of sugar (more sugar for bacon, less sugar for ham).
• People use different sugars, dextrose, maple syrup or honey.
Based on those findings we can come up with the general formula for 60º SAL brine:
water 1 gal. (8.33lbs.) 3.80 kg
salt 1.32 lbs. 600 g
Cure #1 4.2 oz. 120 g
sugar 1.5 oz. 42 g
If you need stronger or weaker brine change the amount of salt according to the salt tables. The amount of Cure #1 should remain the same.
How Long to Brine
Brine curing is slower than dry curing as you can add only about 26% of salt to water before the solution becomes saturated (100° SAL). Adding more salt will only cause it to settle down on the bottom of the container. On the other hand dry mix consists of 100% salt, although it may contain some sugar and other ingredients in small quantities. For this reason dry salting is the fastest curing method as the more salt in a curing solution, the faster the curing process. The disadvantage of dry curing is that the drawn out moisture is not replaced so the yield of the dry cured products is smaller. Curing time estimates for the traditional wet cure method (brine strength 50–65 degrees) are as follows:
• 11 days per inch of thickness of the meat.
• About 3 ½ to 4 days per pound for 20 lbs. hams and picnics.
• 3 days per pound for smaller cuts.
Those curing times were practiced in the past when preservation was the main concern. In today’s era these times may be shortened by 1 day per pound, i.e. a 15 pound ham will be cured for 45 days. Curing times may be further reduced if brine curing is preceded by stitch pumping.
To shorten the curing time in half, the meat is pumped with 10% pump and then immersed in the same solution. At home a good practice will be to pump meat with 7% pump and then immerse it in the remaining curing solution. At the end of curing the ham should gain about 7% in weight.
Rinsing and Drying
After meat is taken from dry cure or brine, it must be rinsed and washed in cold water. A good idea is to soak meat for 2 hours under running water. Smaller pieces may be soaked for 30 minutes only. If a soaking container is used, water should be changed every 30 minutes. Soaking removes some of the salt which is concentrated in the outside area. After that the ham is hung for 12-24 hours to dry.
Products like country hams must be cold smoked but the majority of products are smoked with hot smoke and then cooked inside of the smokehouse. It is a good idea to hold products at 110-115° F (44 - 46° C) without applying smoke for 30-60 minutes to dry the surface. The vents should be fully opened to allow for moisture removal. Then the vent is readjusted to 1/4 open position and hot smoke is introduced. It should be noted that in today’s era smoke is applied to flavor meat only and it can be stopped at any time as long as we continue to cook the product to the FSIS recommended temperature. Generally hams are hot smoked between 3 and 5 hours. It is a good idea to keep on raising the smoking temperature as the process continues in order to shorten cooking time.
Cooked hams like all other cooked meats and sausages are showered with cold water to bring the temperature down. In the case of a large ham the showering may continue for 30 minutes or longer.
Or smoked until internal temperature of 135-137 then finished in 170 water until internal temperature of 147 for whole cut meat and 160 for ground meat all types, excludes Poultry.