Author Topic: Brines 101: The differences between Gradient and Equilibrium Brines  (Read 48092 times)

DivotMaker

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Re: Brines 101: The differences between Gradient and Equilibrium Brines
« Reply #30 on: April 29, 2015, 08:16:40 PM »
KD, you have officially exceeded my knowledge level on ham curing. :-[   I'm confident Martin will shed some light on this for you.  I hope to learn something, too!
Tony from NW Arkansas
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DiggingDogFarm

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Re: Brines 101: The differences between Gradient and Equilibrium Brines
« Reply #31 on: April 29, 2015, 08:43:30 PM »
There's some confusion of methods here, there's no percent pump or pick-up in an equilibrium brine.
Meat and water weight don't need to be equal.
It's good to keep the water weight at 25-30% of the meat weight so the brine is of adequate concentration to inhibit spoilage.

Having said that, I prefer to combination cure a whole ham. Dry cure on the outside and a very concentrated brine injected near the bone.

HTH
~Martin

DivotMaker

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Re: Brines 101: The differences between Gradient and Equilibrium Brines
« Reply #32 on: April 29, 2015, 09:23:01 PM »
Thanks Martin!  I knew you'd shed a little light on this. 

One question - you say meat and water weight don't need to be equal.  Is that for the combination method you are talking about, or for an equilibrium brine?  If it's for the EQ brine, you have me confused!  From all of the research I've done, the whole point of an EQ brine is to have the meat and brine weight the same, so they act as one unit; is this not the case?  Teach me, "Oh Wise One in the ways of The Brine!"
Tony from NW Arkansas
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DiggingDogFarm

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Re: Brines 101: The differences between Gradient and Equilibrium Brines
« Reply #33 on: April 29, 2015, 09:28:59 PM »
You need the sum of the meat and water weight, but the meat and water weight don't need to be the same.
In other words, meat and water need not weigh 500 grams each, total 1000 grams. 750 grams of meat and 250 grams of water is fine.

HTH
~Martin

DivotMaker

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Re: Brines 101: The differences between Gradient and Equilibrium Brines
« Reply #34 on: April 29, 2015, 09:54:19 PM »
So, Martin, as long as the concentration of salt/sugar/cure are correct, you can use a stronger (less water) brine, and get the same results?  Very interesting, indeed!
Tony from NW Arkansas
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DiggingDogFarm

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Re: Brines 101: The differences between Gradient and Equilibrium Brines
« Reply #35 on: April 29, 2015, 10:10:24 PM »
Yes.
~Martin

DivotMaker

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Re: Brines 101: The differences between Gradient and Equilibrium Brines
« Reply #36 on: April 29, 2015, 11:13:03 PM »
Yes.

You may sometimes be a man of few words, but you speak volumes!  Thanks, Martin! :)
Tony from NW Arkansas
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cogGrease

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Re: Brines 101: The differences between Gradient and Equilibrium Brines
« Reply #37 on: December 11, 2015, 07:53:17 PM »
Great discussion, and thanks everyone. I learned a ton, cheers!
Bill in OHIO
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DivotMaker

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Re: Brines 101: The differences between Gradient and Equilibrium Brines
« Reply #38 on: December 11, 2015, 07:59:06 PM »
Thanks Bill!  Studying this opened up a whole new world of brining for me.  Especially for things like jerky, where you want very predictable results, the equilibrium brine absolutely rocks!
Tony from NW Arkansas
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cogGrease

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Re: Brines 101: The differences between Gradient and Equilibrium Brines
« Reply #39 on: December 11, 2015, 11:16:57 PM »
Absolutely,  happy weekend my friend.
Bill in OHIO
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DivotMaker

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Re: Brines 101: The differences between Gradient and Equilibrium Brines
« Reply #40 on: December 11, 2015, 11:30:00 PM »
Same to you, Bill!  Happy smoking! 8)
Tony from NW Arkansas
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SmokedGouda

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Re: Brines 101: The differences between Gradient and Equilibrium Brines
« Reply #41 on: January 19, 2017, 12:05:39 PM »
You need the sum of the meat and water weight, but the meat and water weight don't need to be the same.
In other words, meat and water need not weigh 500 grams each, total 1000 grams. 750 grams of meat and 250 grams of water is fine.

I know this post is quite old, but there is a ton of helpful stuff here and I didn't want to create a new post for a very related topic...

I am getting prepared to take my first stab at jerky and am reading as many posts as I can. (I'll be making a jerky post at some point in the near future, but will mainly follow Tony's Part 2 post http://smokinitforums.com/index.php?topic=1561.0)
I want to give the EQ brine a try and will use the spreadsheet that Plan2Build shared (http://smokinitforums.com/index.php?topic=4626.0) to determine the amount of salt/sugar to use.

After all the reading I've done, the above comment about water weight and meat weight confused me the most. Since most of what I read led me to believe that they need to be equal (just like Tony said). Since this post was well over a year ago, I'm hoping someone (Tony) has learned even more and can shed some more light on this part of the brining process.

I also just realized while making my batch of bacon that my food scale maxes out at 5lbs, so I had to use our regular, human, scale for that haha. I will probably do the same for the jerky since I'll want at least 5lbs of finished product. But if I don't have to weigh the water it'll make that a bit easier.

I am planning on using EQ brines going forward instead of the gradient brines, since I love the idea of repeatable/consistent results! Please correct me if I'm wrong, but there are no issues with removing the curing salt for brining brisket or pork butt, I would just have to "zero out" the mg/kg nitrate field to make sure the brine amounts are correct??

Lastly, what's the SHORTEST amount of time that I should be leaving something in the EQ brine?

Thanks for the help!
« Last Edit: January 19, 2017, 12:07:21 PM by SmokedGouda »
Phil from NJ
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DiggingDogFarm

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Re: Brines 101: The differences between Gradient and Equilibrium Brines
« Reply #42 on: January 19, 2017, 02:36:59 PM »
After all the reading I've done, the above comment about water weight and meat weight confused me the most. Since most of what I read led me to believe that they need to be equal (just like Tony said).

No, they definitely don't need to be equal.
Using an amount of water that's less than equal to the amount of meat is actually best.... less ingredients are used and the brine is more concentrated so curing is faster and there's less of a chance of the brine possibly going bad during long term cures.

I also just realized while making my batch of bacon that my food scale maxes out at 5lbs, so I had to use our regular, human, scale for that haha. I will probably do the same for the jerky since I'll want at least 5lbs of finished product. But if I don't have to weigh the water it'll make that a bit easier.

If you want accuracy and repeatability, I strongly recommend a good gram scale for the meat/water and a very accurate gram scale for the cure.

There is, however, a way to do it without any scale that's as good as the rule-of-thumb 1 tsp. cure#1 per 5 pounds of meat via a graduated brining container.

Lastly, what's the SHORTEST amount of time that I should be leaving something in the EQ brine?

This depends on numerous factors, strength of brine, thickness of meat, cut of meat, muscle orientation, amount of connective tissue, amount of fat, etc. Anywhere from a day (or less) for very thin jerky to weeks. I recommend pumping thick pieces of meat.

Simple curing calculator: http://www.diggingdogfarm.com/page2.html

~Martin
« Last Edit: January 19, 2017, 02:41:45 PM by DiggingDogFarm »
~Martin

DiggingDogFarm

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Re: Brines 101: The differences between Gradient and Equilibrium Brines
« Reply #43 on: January 19, 2017, 03:23:03 PM »
I hope the following will make understanding an equilibrium brine a bit easier.
I'll keep details to a minimum to highlight what's most important.

One level teaspoon of Cure #1 applied to five pounds of pork will, given enough time, come to equilibrium.
~156ppm nitrite in the pork when curing is complete.

The same is true for four pounds of pork plus one pound of water. Again one level teaspoon of Cure #1 can be applied to the five pounds (this time meat and water) via mixing it with the water. So, in this case, the cure, given enough time, comes to equilibrium in the meat and water instead of just the meat. ~156ppm nitrite in both  the pork and the water when curing is complete.

« Last Edit: January 19, 2017, 03:29:06 PM by DiggingDogFarm »
~Martin

SmokedGouda

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Re: Brines 101: The differences between Gradient and Equilibrium Brines
« Reply #44 on: January 19, 2017, 03:40:17 PM »
I hope the following will make understanding an equilibrium brine a bit easier.
I'll keep details to a minimum to highlight what's most important.

One level teaspoon of Cure #1 applied to five pounds of pork will, given enough time, come to equilibrium.
~156ppm nitrite in the pork when curing is complete.

The same is true for four pounds of pork plus one pound of water. Again one level teaspoon of Cure #1 can be applied to the five pounds (this time meat and water) via mixing it with the water. So, in this case, the cure, given enough time, comes to equilibrium in the meat and water instead of just the meat. ~156ppm nitrite in both  the pork and the water when curing is complete.

This absolutely helps understand the water aspect of the brine, thanks Martin! The calculator works for both traditional dry cure (like for bacon) and EQ brines, right?

I'm assuming I plug the numbers into the calculator and use those amounts and then I'll just add enough water to cover everything in the container? Or do I need to factor the weight of the water into any calculations?

I'll definitely get a better scale in the near future, I just didn't realize mine was such a low limit when I went to weigh the meat. The one I have now should work well for weighing the cure ingredients, so I'll just need one that handles heavier weights for the meat.

Thanks again!
Phil from NJ
Beginner.
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Maverick ET-732