Brine Cured Meat - Immersion brine

Curing meat in brine, or immersion curing, seems to be out of favour at the moment. Dry Curing's "de rigueur". Poor old immersion cured meat; it gets the blame for the white residue that comes out of bacon when frying it - incorrectly so, in my opinion. It's phosphate, added by money-grabbing commercial producers who want to sell you water at the price of bacon, that causes the white gunge, not immersion curing. In fact, well-made immersion cured bacon can be virtually indistinguishable from it's dry cured country cousin!

So why don't I immersion cure more? The answer is simple: what appears to be the easiest way of way of curing meat is actually the most complex. With a dry cure if one piece of meat is twice the size of another, we just put twice as much cure on it. In the same situation with an injection brined piece we just inject twice as much. So logically, with brine cured meat we double the strength of the brine? Or, maybe cure the meat for twice as long? Wrong! Whilst some cures may work like that, you either need a specially formulated cure, or to be very lucky! You see, the meat doesn't absorb the brine at a steady rate during the time it's curing. It's like a thirsty child - gulping their drink quickly to start with, and then tailing off gradually until fully sated.

To many, this is not an issue. The, "I won't use cures" camp, and the, "My granddad did it this way, so will I" camp, aren't going to be at all concerned by this. For those of us in the, "We use cures as they are the only proven way to guarantee safety, but we don't want to use a gram too much" camp, it presents an issue. It's meant that until recently each piece of meat has needed a specific cure calculated for it . Or, a number of pieces of meat have had to have a cure tailor-made for them. Also, whilst it uses brines that are low in sodium nitrites (the chemical that colours the meat and makes it safe), it needs fairly long curing times. Because of this it's best for smaller pieces of meat between 1kg and 3kg. This is because 10 days per kg curing gives the least margin for error whilst keeping curing times within reason.

Larger pieces of meat can be cured at less time per kg but I'll not give details. If you need to ask me how to do it - the cures, the curing times etc. - then you aren't experienced enough to do it!

When would I use an immersion cure? Well stick around and you'll find out! I have a Black Ham curing at the moment. If I'd injected it, it would be a funny black colour throughout, not very appetising! Whereas, I can hardly dry cure it as it uses strong dark porter/stout beer along with liquid molasses for it's colour. I'll post more about it soon.

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There are four comments


Hey Phil, Did you have any luck with the Black Ham. I sounds interesting.

DanMcG, (Email ) - 13-11-’10 10:48

There’s a mammoth 2 part post to follow.


Phil, (Email ) (URL) - 13-11-’10 16:31

Looking forward to it Phil. Sorry if I seemed to be rushing you, when I saw the post date of 9 11 10 I thought it meant Sept. 11.
that’s the way we in the states read it.

DanMcG, (Email ) - 15-11-’10 00:12

Oh, you crazy Americans. Whatever will you come up with next? Different size gallons? Oh no, you’ve already done that!

It’ll be soon Dan, I promise, but you’ll regret it – it’s very boring!

Phil, (Email ) (URL) - 15-11-’10 14:15

I'm somewhat incapacitated at present so replies may take some time. Please post urgent enquiries at the forum.

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