Author Topic: Need advice on wet curing temps!  (Read 4507 times)

Offline 4given

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Need advice on wet curing temps!
« on: January 08, 2014, 09:31:31 pm »
What temps are safe for wet brining using cure #1?   I put 5 lbs of chicken hind quarters in a wet brine consisting of 1/2 cup of cure #1, 1 cup of canning salt, 1 1/2 cups of white sugar and 2 gallons water into a 5 gallon food grade bucket Sunday after noon.  It has been really cold so I just set it out in the garage rather than take up space in the fridge. Well it warmed up today to the high 30's outside so I checked the brine temp tonight with my thermopen and got  a temp of 49 - 50 deg F.   Did this get too warm to be safe? Now remember I ham using cure #1 which is supposed to inhibit growth of the bad stuff so how warm can it get?

Thanks!
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Offline Salmonsmoker

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Re: Need advice on wet curing temps!
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2014, 10:24:59 pm »
Wet or dry brining temps. 37F-39F. Standard fridge temp. is 38-39F. Remember that 40F-140F is the danger zone for rapid growth of food bacteria and pathogens. Cure #1 is the "anti-pathogen" that keeps the bacteria at bay while it's in the danger zone for the smoking/cooking process. You can brine at colder temps than 38-39F, but keep in mind that the colder you go the longer the brine time to reach the same salt/spice levels achieved at temps. closer to the upper "safe" temp of 39F.
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Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Need advice on wet curing temps!
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2014, 02:11:40 am »
Salmonsmoker provided some good information. I just want to add the danger zone is the temperatures between 40°F - 140°F; so 40°F and 140°F are considered safe temperatures; brining/curing at 40°F is also a safe temperature.

Though sodium nitrite provides a lot of protection against many food borne bacteria, salmonella is one that is not effected by the presence of sodium nitrite, but salt does slow down the grow of salmonella. It is a close call whether to use the chicken or not. You do have about a 5.5% (21°) brine, which is not strong, but the salt will provide some protection. If it was not in that range for too long, for more then 2 hours you should be alright, but just note; the two hours in the danger zone is cumulative. For example, if it takes 30 minutes for you to get the chicken home from the market and it reaches 41°F or higher, that 30 minutes is part of that two hours it spent in the danger zone.

You don't need 2 gallons of brine for 5 pounds of meat. I mean it is not going to hurt anything, but you could have used as little as 1 quart to brine that amount, if that amount is enough to fully cover the meat. It will save you on supplies; also if you used a smaller amount of brine; you would have used a smaller brining container, and probably could have stored it in your refrigerator. For small amounts of meat I brine in a one or two gallon bags. For something like 5 pounds of meat, I find the Rubbermaid 8 quart containers work very well could easily hold 5 pounds of chicken parts, I have even cured a  14 pound ham in an 8 quart container. You can find them at Sam's Club, BJ's or restaurant supply stores.

I'm currently rewriting my ham curing recipe. In the new write up I will have a chart to show how much brine you actually will need to brine up to a certain amount of meat. Right now I have a ham curing, and after I smoke it I will be posting the revised instructions on the Recipe Site. I hope to have this done either Monday or Tuesday.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 02:14:53 am by Habanero Smoker »


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Offline 4given

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Re: Need advice on wet curing temps!
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2014, 09:13:21 am »
I would like to add that the chicken had been in the brine for 3 days before the temp got above 40. That being said, it sounds like I need to throw it out.  :'( Better safe than sorry.

Thanks for the advice guys!

So I wonder, what did they do in the old days before refrigeration? I assume the curing of meat with nitrates and nitrites began long ago as a way to preserve meat safely. How did they achieve such a narrow range of temps at 37F - 40F?
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Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Need advice on wet curing temps!
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2014, 01:03:49 pm »
Three days is a long time to brine chicken parts.

They could not depend on a controlled environment. They use a lot more salt which retards bacterial growth, in combination with potassium nitrates. Their main objective was to preserve the meat. Today's home brining is more about flavor.

 


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Offline 4given

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Re: Need advice on wet curing temps!
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2014, 01:51:01 pm »
Three days is a long time to brine chicken parts.

They could not depend on a controlled environment. They use a lot more salt which retards bacterial growth, in combination with potassium nitrates. Their main objective was to preserve the meat. Today's home brining is more about flavor.

This was an experiment. The  whole turkey I cured and smoked,  I really liked the way the hindquarters came out. They had the texture and taste of ham.  I brined the turkey in the same type of brine for 6 days , so I thought if I did a batch of chicken legs the same way maybe they would turn out similar.  Guess I was barking up the wrong tree? :-\
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Offline 4given

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Re: Need advice on wet curing temps!
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2014, 01:52:17 pm »
Three days is a long time to brine chicken parts.

They could not depend on a controlled environment. They use a lot more salt which retards bacterial growth, in combination with potassium nitrates. Their main objective was to preserve the meat. Today's home brining is more about flavor.

This was an experiment. The  whole turkey I cured and smoked,  I really liked the way the hindquarters came out. They had the texture and taste of ham.  I brined the turkey in the same type of brine for 6 days , so I thought if I did a batch of chicken legs the same way maybe they would turn out similar.  Guess I was barking up the wrong tree? :-\ I probably should have looked for a recipe before forging out on my own on this one.
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Offline Saber 4

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Re: Need advice on wet curing temps!
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2014, 05:54:03 pm »
I've had good success with smokehouse rob's turkey brine recipe with cure #1 added and using Habs 1 hour per pound for poultry.

Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Need advice on wet curing temps!
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2014, 01:49:15 am »
Poultry parts brine much faster then a whole carcass. A few hours is generally enough time, but overnight should be more then enough. With poultry parts that are stacked on top of each other, I generally will frequently reposition the meat and stir the brine.


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Offline 4given

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Re: Need advice on wet curing temps!
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2014, 07:02:06 am »
Poultry parts brine much faster then a whole carcass. A few hours is generally enough time, but overnight should be more then enough. With poultry parts that are stacked on top of each other, I generally will frequently reposition the meat and stir the brine.

Would that be long enough to get that "Ham like" flavor?
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Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Need advice on wet curing temps!
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2014, 01:08:56 pm »
I doubt if you will get any additional flavor after an overnight brine. Generally with your type of brine, chicken parts will generally brine in 3-5 hours.

Looking at your recipe, the best way to get more "ham-like" flavor is the increase the cure #1. A 1/2 cup of cure #1 is 4.9 ounces, so you have less than 2.5 ounces of cure #1 per gallon. An amount of 3.2 ounces will give you more ham-like flavor.

An amount of 1/4 cup + 4 teaspoons approximately come to 3.2 ounces of cure #1.

EDITED: The measurement of the cure in the last line was incorrect. It has now been corrected.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2014, 02:28:34 am by Habanero Smoker »


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Offline BoxcarBetts

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Re: Need advice on wet curing temps!
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2014, 10:13:07 pm »
Do you recommend the brine for flavour profiles/textures, or is it also necessary for preventing bacteria growth during smoking? If you cold smoked for a couple of hours in the danger zone, would you not just kill all the bacteria during grilling or roasting afterwards?
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Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Need advice on wet curing temps!
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2014, 02:10:51 am »
Do you recommend the brine for flavour profiles/textures, or is it also necessary for preventing bacteria growth during smoking? If you cold smoked for a couple of hours in the danger zone, would you not just kill all the bacteria during grilling or roasting afterwards?

It could be both, or one or the other. Pertaining to this thread, 4given wanted to add cure #1 for flavor, and was going to cook the chicken in the 225°F range.

If you are using a brine containing sodium nitrite it does provide protection against many food borne bacteria, but more specifically against clostridium botulinum, and salt also provides some protection; but that doesn't mean one should disregard basic food safety. Whether the food is fresh or cured, you never want to cook and eat tainted food.


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