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Old 11-14-2011, 12:58 AM   #1
Phrasty
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Question • I need help! Curing (pink salt) question

For some of you curing experts out there I'm hoping I can get an answer on this issue I'm having...

I've been curing my own hams now for the past 3 years and never really had any problems... But this year something strange is happening! AND IT'S DRIVING ME FARKING NUTS!!!

OK as I said I've done quite a few hams in the past.. I think I'm pretty specific about my recipe. My curing recipes are all in weight. I realized I'll be doing a bit of curing so last year Dec. I bought a 5lb batch of Cure #1 from a reliable online store. The cure worked great last year but this week I did a sample ham to give away as samples to get orders and it wasn't pink AT FARKIN ALL!

My question is this... does pink salt have a shelf life? I did bacon last week and the cure worked great... WHY THE HECK did it not work on my sample ham???

I used approx. 40g of pink salt to a gallon of water in addition to the salt (kosher), sugar and spices. I did a 10lb boneless shoulder for the ham, I injected it with the brine and added another 1/2 gallon to the meat in a zip top bag and cured it for 10 days. There was only about 1/2"-3/4" pink ring on the ham... could have been a farkin smoke ring for all I know. I've searched the entire internet & I'm waiting for new info to be posted to look THAT up... Yeah that was a bad joke...

I need help guys... Why is my brine not working??? I'm desperate... I have money & my reputation riding on this cuz I already have orders for the season! I'm farking stressin if you haven't picked up on that yet...

Thanks in advance.
Cheers.
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Old 11-14-2011, 02:14 AM   #2
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I can't figure anything you did wrong. 10 days Brining after injection. Should have been perfect. All I can recommend is get another batch of Cure #1 quick smart and start again. I'm not saying that any cure has a shelf life. I don't think it does but if you get some more, make a fresh brine and make sure you are doing it perfect... it has to work. Then chuck the other cure away, maybe something happened to it... you can never be sure.

Good Luck!

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Old 11-14-2011, 03:43 AM   #3
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It doesn't sound like your brine has enough cure in it. I have read 120g/gallon.
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Old 11-14-2011, 07:28 AM   #4
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I'm not an expert by any means, but I have been studying the process some. I think that I read that the brining temp. can be too low for the process to happen sometimes. Maybe this was the problem. Could be worth investigating.
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Old 11-14-2011, 07:49 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flask View Post
It doesn't sound like your brine has enough cure in it. I have read 120g/gallon.
I think this is it as well. 40 grams seems way light for hams. For Canadian bacon I use 75 per gallon and the finished product is a light pink, I have ham recipes that call for 145, and it finishes off pink, I also have a pastrami that call for 175 per gallon of water. I've used cure #1 that was years old with no problem. Good luck, Bro, keep us posted.
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Old 11-14-2011, 10:07 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Dog BBQ View Post
I'm not an expert by any means, but I have been studying the process some. I think that I read that the brining temp. can be too low for the process to happen sometimes. Maybe this was the problem. Could be worth investigating.

This is a very accurate statement.
The curing process slows down with colder temps.
Below 45 is too cold, above 65 is inviting unwanted visitors
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Old 11-14-2011, 11:28 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokinAussie View Post
I can't figure anything you did wrong. 10 days Brining after injection. Should have been perfect. All I can recommend is get another batch of Cure #1 quick smart and start again. I'm not saying that any cure has a shelf life. I don't think it does but if you get some more, make a fresh brine and make sure you are doing it perfect... it has to work. Then chuck the other cure away, maybe something happened to it... you can never be sure.

Good Luck!

Cheers!

Bill
Thought about that Bill but I know the cure works, I just did a batch of bacon last week... plus I'd be ordering from the states and it'll probably take 2 weeks or so to get here... Gonna do another test and make my decision. Hopefully I won't have to but we'll see. Thanks Brother!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flask View Post
It doesn't sound like your brine has enough cure in it. I have read 120g/gallon.
That's what I thought but I used the same recipe last year and it worked out fine... Michael Ruhlman's book recommends the same 1.5 oz /42g of pink salt per gallon. I think I'm going to mix the brine a bit stronger and see what happens...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Dog BBQ View Post
I'm not an expert by any means, but I have been studying the process some. I think that I read that the brining temp. can be too low for the process to happen sometimes. Maybe this was the problem. Could be worth investigating.
Excellent point! I have the hams curing in a dedicated fridge, so Ill check around a bit and adjust if needed and hopefully that could sort things out. Thanks Brother!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluetang View Post
I think this is it as well. 40 grams seems way light for hams. For Canadian bacon I use 75 per gallon and the finished product is a light pink, I have ham recipes that call for 145, and it finishes off pink, I also have a pastrami that call for 175 per gallon of water. I've used cure #1 that was years old with no problem. Good luck, Bro, keep us posted.
Thanks Blue... thing is I have always cured based on meat weight and pink salt usually has a dosage of 1 tsp to 5lbs of meat in my and in this recipe i almost doubled that. Now the thing I'm not sure about is if that's for dry cure only. Have to wonder that when it's used in a brine it needs to be mixed stronger...

After searching around online there seems to be A LOT of contradictory information online. Some places say as stated 42g/gal and a curing time of 2lbs/day and other places are saying way more than that per gallon. But for sure the majority of recipes I see are saying between 40 - 50g of cure to a gallon.

Never had a problem before but my last sample has raised a whole set of insecurities about this but I'm sure the next sample will come out just fine... well that's what I keep telling myself... I'm hoping the issue I'mis just having the meat too cold.

Cross your fingers for me guys. Really need this to work out! Thanks for the help. If anyone has anything else to add to this PLEASE do so!

Cheers
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Old 11-14-2011, 11:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SirPorkaLot View Post
This is a very accurate statement.
The curing process slows down with colder temps.
Below 45 is too cold, above 65 is inviting unwanted visitors
All due respect brother... I'm not calling you out on this, but I kinda feel obligated to say something cuz I believe it could lead to health concerns:

Basic meat safety states anything over 40˚F is unsafe to store meat. I'd think you're asking for a world of trouble "curing" (essentially raw meat that isn't fully cured yet) at temps of 50˚ to 65˚ for sure. And personally I DO NOT recommend anyone on this site to cure at the temps you stated. I believe you'd end up with a "sour" ham.

Cheers.
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Old 11-14-2011, 11:48 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phrasty View Post
All due respect brother... I'm not calling you out on this, but I kinda feel obligated to say something cuz I believe it could lead to health concerns:

Basic meat safety states anything over 40˚F is unsafe to store meat. I'd think you're asking for a world of trouble "curing" (essentially raw meat that isn't fully cured yet) at temps of 50˚ to 65˚ for sure. And personally I DO NOT recommend anyone on this site to cure at the temps you stated. I believe you'd end up with a "sour" ham.

Cheers.
Agree food safety does in fact state to keep food under 40F, and I mistyped the 45 in my post, it should have been 40......BUT, we are talking curing here right?

I have cured duck for duck proscuitto at 58 degrees for 7 days (air drying), and ate it without cooking it.

I have cured pork belly for 12 weeks at 58 F (air drying again) for Pancetta without issues.

I stick by what I said.
Curing works best at COOL temperatures, not cold temperatures.

Curing below 40F will in fact slow down the curing process.
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Old 11-14-2011, 12:02 PM   #10
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Kinda getting a bit off topic here but I'll continue our little convo and again I am only saying this for your safety, I'm not trying to be confrontational... But if i'm not mistaken even when you are "air drying" meat it is first cured under refrigerated conditions under 40˚first. That's why when hams are done naturally outdoors the curing process is always started during the cold months of winter and left to air dry thru the cool spring then into the warmer months when the meat is fully cured and are being left to just dry out.

SO please be careful brother when you are curing your meats. Partially cured meat can spoil just as easily as fresh meat if not kept under the ideal conditions. Just looking out man.

Cheers
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Old 11-14-2011, 12:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phrasty View Post
All due respect brother... I'm not calling you out on this, but I kinda feel obligated to say something cuz I believe it could lead to health concerns:

Basic meat safety states anything over 40˚F is unsafe to store meat. I'd think you're asking for a world of trouble "curing" (essentially raw meat that isn't fully cured yet) at temps of 50˚ to 65˚ for sure. And personally I DO NOT recommend anyone on this site to cure at the temps you stated. I believe you'd end up with a "sour" ham.

Cheers.
I messed up twice apparently.
I missed the part where you are wet curing your ham (i dry cure most of my pork)

When you are wet curing, do try to keep the temps close as possible to the 40F mark and not much lower.

It is dry curing that you really are looking for 55F - 65F & 60-65% humidity.
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Old 11-14-2011, 12:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phrasty View Post
Kinda getting a bit off topic here but I'll continue our little convo and again I am only saying this for your safety, I'm not trying to be confrontational... But if i'm not mistaken even when you are "air drying" meat it is first cured under refrigerated conditions under 40˚first. That's why when hams are done naturally outdoors the curing process is always started during the cold months of winter and left to air dry thru the cool spring then into the warmer months when the meat is fully cured and are being left to just dry out.

SO please be careful brother when you are curing your meats. Partially cured meat can spoil just as easily as fresh meat if not kept under the ideal conditions. Just looking out man.

Cheers
It's all good, no offense taken.
Food safety is always important.

traditional curing chambers are built underground or in caves to take advantage of the cool temps and low humidity (similar conditions as in southeast US winter).

I have never had any issues with my dry cured meats curing in the 55-65F range, if I do die one day because of it, I will remember your on my deathbed.
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Old 11-14-2011, 12:12 PM   #13
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For the duck prosciutto (dry cured and uncooked) Take a look here: http://sirporkalot.com/2011/01/year-...ck-prosciutto/
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Old 11-14-2011, 10:07 PM   #14
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I've done ham hocks and (more recently) tasso using Ruhlman's brine recipe. They haven't come out of the brine bright pink (after 3 days, per recipe), but smoking/cooking makes them uniformly pink. I wouldn't worry if you haven't smoked it yet. Also, my pink salt had been sitting for over 2 years when I did the last batch.

Both of those recipes are 8-10lb of meat in 1 gal of brine. The only thing your OP had me wondering was whether you used the full gallon to cure. I guess I've had it in my head that you needed enough brine to make sure that you didn't dilute too far as the salt/sugar/cure distributes through the meat (and the water comes out).

That said, the potentially oddball thing that could've happened would be if the pink salt somehow wasn't well mixed.

Hope that helps.
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Old 11-15-2011, 12:19 AM   #15
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I think then temp may have been too low. I tried to corn a brisket, I didn't have room in the refrigerator so I had the packer on a large vaccusuck bag of brine solution submerged in an ice water bath in an ice chest for 3 weeks. after smoking for pastrami and slicing the center was not pink. I had a brisket in pastrami. I now realize the temp was too cold.
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