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How Salt Is Measured In Brine

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 03:49
by Chuckwagon
How Salt Is Measured In Brine

If the salt in the sea could be removed and spread evenly over the Earth's land surface, it would form a layer more than 500 feet thick. Seawater averages 3.5% salt. When a cubic foot of seawater evaporates, it yields about 2.2 pounds of salt. In contrast, the fresh water in Lake Michigan contains only one one-hundredth (0.01) of a pound of salt in a cubic foot. That`s merely one sixth of an ounce. This means that seawater is 220 times saltier than the fresh lake water in Lake Michigan.

The salinity of saltwater is measured in parts per thousand and the symbol 0/00 (parts per thousand), is used. For instance, the salinity of the Dead Sea (the world`s most salty endorheic body of water) is 30.4% or 304 0/00 meaning there are 304 pounds of salt in 1,000 pounds of its water. The level remains practically constant, unlike the Great Salt Lake in Utah where the water has a variable salt content between 8 and 27% or 270 0/00 in its heaviest concentration.
Why... my goodness, the water is so buoyant in that ol' lake that I`ve see horseshoes float on the surface! :shock:

Using A Salinometer

The only way to produce unvarying and consistent hams or other brined products, is to use a salinometer to detect the exact amount of salt in a brine. There is no "universal" or common brine, but there are general, suggested strengths. A floating glass salinometer tube has a stem marked by degrees from 1 to 100. One degree indicates only 0.264% salt and merely 0.022 pounds of salt per gallon. At the far end of the scale, 100 degrees indicates 26.395% salt and 2.986 pounds of salt per gallon. To strengthen the brine, simply add salt. To weaken it, add more water.
There is an old conventional and generally accepted rule that recommends using enough brine water to equal fifty percent of the meat`s weight. In other words, for a 12 pound ham, six pounds of brine water will suffice. This means the container must be a bit "snug" and perhaps even shaped like the product. Some recommended strengths are:

Poultry 21° (salinometer) degrees - 8 hours
Ribs 50° (salinometer) degrees - 3 days
Bacon 50-65° (salinometer) degrees - 1.5 days per lb.
Canadian Bacon Loins 65° (salinometer) degrees - 5 days
Hams & Shoulders 70° (salinometer) degrees - 1 day per lb.
Fish 80° (salinometer) degrees - 2 hours

A U.S. gallon of fresh water weighs 8.33 pounds. The maximum amount of salt it can hold (under normal circumstances at 60°F. (15°C.) is 26.4% (called the "saturation point"). Thus, one gallon of saturated brine contains 2.64 lbs. of salt and weighs 10.03 pounds.

If you unearth a great recipe and wish to know the strength of the brine, find the percent of salt by weight in the solution by weighing the salt and adding the weight of the water. Multiply the sum by 100%. Locate the percentage on a "Salinometer Brine Tables Chart (on the internet or accompanying your salinometer purchase) in the center column - the percent of salt by weight. The corresponding left side column gives us the number of Salinometer DEGREES, and the right side column, the number of pounds of salt per gallon of water.

Yup Pards! Its just like meetin` a bear on a tightrope. There is just no getting around it! If you want consistent results with your meat products, you`ll find the use of a salinometer is essential.

Hmmm.... Winchester 12 gauge salt loads! ... keeping kids off your lawn since 1886!

Best wishes,

Posted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 01:45
by Bubba
Thank you Chuckwagon,

I'll have to adjust some of my brine solutions and measure with the Salinometer, because I see a few deviations on my part that I will have to correct.


Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 23:44
by ssorllih
So then if I want a 37 degree brine I can multiply 37 times .264% and get about 9.8 percent salt . Then if I have a quart of water and wish to make a brine I multiply 32 ounces of water by 9.8 percent salt and get 3 and 1/8 ounces of salt. Right?