Brining Meat vs. Injecting Meat (Which is Better?) - Cured Whole Muscle Meat 102
Brining Meat vs. Injecting Meat (Which is Better?)
What Is Brining Meat (Pickling Meat)?
Brining and Pickling are terms that are often used interchangeably. Both terms refer to the practice of soaking a whole muscle cut of meat in a solution that contains salt, spices, and a cure or curing agent. These methods rely on osmosis to get the solution to penetrate the cellular structure of the meat.
What is Injecting?
Injecting is the act of taking a water-soluble solution (one that will fully dissolve in water) and injecting that directly into a food item that you plan on cooking. There are many different types of injectors used in meat processing, from small syringe-like injectors to large-scale commercial equipment. You can inject cures, marinades, or additives directly into your meat.
What are the Benefits of Brining Meat?
Brining is the traditional or old-world way of curing meat. Some will argue that it imparts a superior flavor and that the cure is more evenly distributed throughout the meat. You can also use particles that are too large to flow through an injector when brining, the particles still will not go into the meat, but some of the flavors will.
What are the Benefits of Injecting Meat?
By injecting your solution directly into the meat, you are greatly speeding up the process. A normal cure will penetrate at a rate of about 1 inch per day, so while you might be waiting 5-7 days for a ham to be ready when brining, you are ready to smoke or cook just hours after injecting.
Multi-Needle Injectors - These are machines that will inject a solution, sometimes a cure, through many needles deep into the muscle. These can be large commercials machines like the Promarks MSK-195 Brine Injector or a simple attachment to a Stainless Steel Injector Unit
Vacuum Tumbling - A large-scale commercial operation will often inject a solution with a Multi-Needle Injector and then vacuum tumble it for a short period of time and then go directly to the smokehouse. This takes the cure time for a large ham from 5-7 days down to a few short hours.