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questions on curing a brisket for pastrami

I've made pastrami before using Ruhlman's and Amazing Ribs recipes and they have been great. The thing is I had the exact size brisket the recipe called for each time. This time I have one quite a bit bigger. I'm assuming I just scale the curing salt/salt/water ratio up until the meat is basically 100% surrounded? Is there any specific ratio preferred? Recipes vary wildly around the net, Ruhlman's salt content is double that of Amazing Ribs (I don't remember this one being any saltier tasting in the end though). I guess I'm getting confused because Amazing Ribs has a calculator in which if you up the weight of meat and leave everything else the same the recommended amount of curing salt increases. Also is it possible to over cure? I may let this one go 2 weeks over the recommended 5-7 days as I had a big uncured spot once before.

Comments

  • jtcBoyntonjtcBoynton Posts: 2,260
    Always remember that curing time depends on thickness, not weight.  You probably had a thicker piece of meat for the weight than the recipe called for.
    Southeast Florida - LBGE
    In cooking, often we implement steps for which we have no explanations other than ‘that’s what everybody else does’ or ‘that’s what I have been told.’  Dare to think for yourself.
     
  • BGEChicagoBGEChicago Posts: 197
    Chicago, IL BGE XL BGE Mini Webber Charcoal
  • jtcBoyntonjtcBoynton Posts: 2,260
    Carefully read and understand the info linked by @BGEChicago.  For safety reasons you need to follow proper procedures from a trusted source.  Anonymous internet sources are not what I trust with the health of my family.  Going freeform and experimenting are not wise moves for curing.




    Southeast Florida - LBGE
    In cooking, often we implement steps for which we have no explanations other than ‘that’s what everybody else does’ or ‘that’s what I have been told.’  Dare to think for yourself.
     
  • RedSkipRedSkip Posts: 1,369
    @Poster I made a calculator a week or so back.  It takes into account the solution brine and meat weight in grams to give the proper ppm of Prague Powder #1, which is 93.75 % NaCl and 6.25% Sodium Nitrate (sorry don’t remember the chemical formula).  It’s used for a wet brine.

    if you are using Prague Powder #2, you’ll need a totally different calculator.  PP#2 is used for dry curing, i.e. sausage.

    Large BGE - McDonald, PA
  • RedSkipRedSkip Posts: 1,369
    Link to the post is below, inside the post I attached the calculator.

    https://eggheadforum.com/discussion/1216505/pastrami-wet-brine-recipe-w-pp-1
    Large BGE - McDonald, PA
  • RedSkipRedSkip Posts: 1,369
    edited December 5
    @poster You can definitely over cure, but only if you put too much curing salt in from the beginning (or add more later).  If you add time, 14 days vs. 7 for example, the max it can cure is due to the concentration of brine achieving equalibrium with the meat.  

    Too much salt = over cure.
    Too much time = just delaying your cook.  

    Once equalibrium is achieved you won’t be curing the meat any further.

    The FDA limits the amount of sodium nitrate to 200 ppm for brisket and less for other meats.  
    Large BGE - McDonald, PA
  • BGEChicagoBGEChicago Posts: 197
    Carefully read and understand the info linked by @BGEChicago.  For safety reasons you need to follow proper procedures from a trusted source.  Anonymous internet sources are not what I trust with the health of my family.  Going freeform and experimenting are not wise moves for curing.




    I would trust Meatheal Goldwin... But I do agree..
    Chicago, IL BGE XL BGE Mini Webber Charcoal
  • jtcBoyntonjtcBoynton Posts: 2,260
    I don't consider Meathead an anonymous source.  I also put him on my list of trusted sources.
    Southeast Florida - LBGE
    In cooking, often we implement steps for which we have no explanations other than ‘that’s what everybody else does’ or ‘that’s what I have been told.’  Dare to think for yourself.
     
  • posterposter Posts: 575

    Thanks guys, the part that was confusing me was I assumed the brine concentration would always be the same no matter the weight of the meat and you would just have more brine for larger cuts to make sure they were submersed and more time to allow it to fully penetrate. That still might be the case, but maybe more curing salt with just a weight change and everything else the same is added to speed the time up?

    What about the regular salt? keep that percentage the same?

  • BGEChicagoBGEChicago Posts: 197
    I don't consider Meathead an anonymous source.  I also put him on my list of trusted sources.
    I would beg to differ, not sure you followed the link but the salt and cure calculator is based off recommended salt and cure ratio citing the USDA as "THE" authoritative standard. An excerpt:

     It is widely believed that USDA has set the limit of 200 ppm for cured meats, but this is a myth. USDA has established regulatory limits for the addition of sodium nitrite at 120 ppm (0.012%) in wet cured bacon, 200 ppm (0.02%) for dry cured bacon, 156 ppm (0.0156%) for products such as frankfurters or cured sausages, 200 ppm (0.02%) in wet cured or injected products such as ham or pastrami, and up to 625 ppm (0.0625%) of sodium nitrite in dry-cured meat products such as country hams. These are initial levels at the end of the cure. Dry cured meats may sit for months at room temperature exposed to fresh microbes in the air and oxygen. Plus they are often consumed raw, like prosciutto, as opposed to cooked for bacon. Because nitrites decrease during curing, the residual levels, after a few days or weeks, are often 10x lower.
    USDA also requires 550 ppm (0.055%) of sodium ascorbate or sodium erythorbate to be added in commercial bacon production. This increases nitric oxide formation and, as we explain in our article on the smoke ring, NO is what gives cured meats their pink color when it combines with the protein myoglobin. It also greatly reduces or prevents the formation of nitrosamines. Our recipes do not require these extra additives, so it is considered safe, even desirable, to use the 200 ppm as a maximum target. Prof. Blonder, has written about the subject of nitrite toxicity in detail here. I have written about nitrites and nitrates and the cancer scare of the 1970s here.

    People often ask if they can cure meats without nitrites and just increase the salt. Salt inhibits bot's growth, but won't kill it. Neither will vinegar. You should not attempt to cure meat at home without a curing salt.

    There are some "natural" or "no nitrite" cured meats on the market, but if you look closely at the label, they often have some sort of extract of celery in them because it contains nitrate which can convert to nitrite. There are recipes for "curing" that don't use nitrites, so technically they are not really cures, and they cannot kill bot so they must never be submerged in wet cures. I consider them risky.

    That's why you must resist the temptation to improvise in a few key areas. But if you stick to my recipes, you can make absolutely mindblowing pastrami, bacon, and more. I'll discuss below where you can improvise.

    Chicago, IL BGE XL BGE Mini Webber Charcoal
  • jtcBoyntonjtcBoynton Posts: 2,260
    I am confused.  What to you differ with?  Do you consider "Meathead" Goldwyn (Craig Goldwyn) to be anonymous?  Do you not trust his information? If you do not, could you help me understand why not?
    Southeast Florida - LBGE
    In cooking, often we implement steps for which we have no explanations other than ‘that’s what everybody else does’ or ‘that’s what I have been told.’  Dare to think for yourself.
     
  • Wish I'd read this before I bought the Bradley Cold Smoking attachment and A Maze N smoking tray.
    Tampa Bay, Florida
  • RedSkipRedSkip Posts: 1,369
    edited December 6
    @EggbertGreenII Just buy some Prague Powder.
    Large BGE - McDonald, PA
  • RedSkip Thanks for the encouragement. I have the Prague Powder already bookmarked on Amazon. I want to try cold smoking some bacon.
    Tampa Bay, Florida
  • MattBTIMattBTI Posts: 364
    DQ #1 is what I've been buying on amazon
    Pratt, KS
  • st¡kest¡ke Posts: 217
    Carefully read and understand the info linked by @BGEChicago.  For safety reasons you need to follow proper procedures from a trusted source.  Anonymous internet sources are not what I trust with the health of my family.  Going freeform and experimenting are not wise moves for curing.




    Surprisingly, safety here is almost a non-issue.  Mainly, because we're curing for flavor and texture, not in order to actually store this food for a long time.

    If you used half the recipe amount called for by weight, you'd simply end up with a piece of meat that was partially cured, and partially uncured.  No issue whatsoever, safety-wise.  But it would not be good as pastrami.

    It is only when you are dry-curing and/or aging at ambient temperatures (i.e. w/o a refrigerator) that you really must make sure you are truly curing the meat.


  • RedSkipRedSkip Posts: 1,369
    @EggbertGreenII ; Good deal, I bought the 1lb container from Hoosier Hill.  Plenty of cure to last several years.  My last cure i only used 32 grams (maybe a tablespoon).  You'll want a food scale to measure the curing salt too.
    Large BGE - McDonald, PA
  • BGEChicagoBGEChicago Posts: 197
    I am confused.  What to you differ with?  Do you consider "Meathead" Goldwyn (Craig Goldwyn) to be anonymous?  Do you not trust his information? If you do not, could you help me understand why not?
    I read red you post... I misread it the first time, please accept my sincere apology my good man!
    Chicago, IL BGE XL BGE Mini Webber Charcoal
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