Originally Posted by Hometruckin
My Sausage guy also told me "Don't add sugar in the brine" He claimed that the the sugar causes carcinogens which when heated and can lead to cancer. I kinda felt like telling him that if that were the case I should be loaded with tumors by now. I think that that maybe more related to higher temperatures than what we smoke at. IMHO Any thoughts? My whole purpose for making these brines, rubs, and charcuteries myself is to control what GMO's or un-natural chemicals are added by large processors to my diet. FUN is also a major motivator! Thanks again for you knowledgeable input!
I have not heard about the sugar/cancer relationship in brines. Sugars are used in brines and cures to knock the edge off the harshness of the salt. When you add sugar to a brine (pickle) it is called a sweet pickle. Actually, Tenderquick has a small amount of sugar in it....
I think temperature, amounts of sugar, or short brine times are a consideration with sugar. Sugar does act as food for bacteria, which can be of a concern... So if you are brining a ham for 3 or 4 weeks, you don't want much sugar in your brine (most claim 3 to 5 percent is the maximum). If you are brining that ham in a 44° fridge, bacteria growth will be sped up. On the other hand, if you are brining some chicken thighs for 5 hours in a fridge colder than 40°, add all the sugar you want. The dry cure base I use for fish is 1 cup salt to 2 cups of sugar, but it only cures for 4 to 12 hours depending on thickness.
I use white cane or beet sugar in my brines, and sometimes honey if I'm going to be injecting and immersing (like for a turkey breast). Dry cured products like hard salami often call for dextrose because it is less sweet and it doesn't break down as fast over time. In addition to honey, I'm also playing with agave nectar in my short time chicken or pork brines.
If you hear more about the cancer issue, pass it on.