Calculating Legal Amounts Of Sodium Nitrite

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Calculating Legal Amounts Of Sodium Nitrite

Post by Chuckwagon » Wed Apr 18, 2012 09:54

USDA REGS
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connec ... OD=AJPERES



Calculating Legal Amounts Of Sodium Nitrite

During the mid 1970`s, I became interested in a congressional hearing that took place to define safe limits on the amount of nitrates and nitrites introduced into our meat products. It was determined by a panel of doctors that the maximum limit of ingoing nitrite in immersed, pumped, or massaged products be set at 200 parts per million.
To obtain this, it becomes necessary to add precisely 4.2 ounces (120 grams) to one U.S. gallon of water. In the case of comminuted sausages, the maximum allowed limit of sodium nitrite was determined to be 156 parts per million. In non-cooked, dry-cured (air-dried) fermented sausages, the limit was set at 625 parts per million. At the end of the hearings, it was determined that much more study should be done regarding the subject and it was decided that the panel would reconvene to study the issue further and again make recommendations. After 37 years of waiting, I see that there yet remains a wide controversy regarding "safe" and "effective" levels.

Solving For "n" (nitrite in curing mixture) In Comminuted Sausage:
To calculate formulas regarding cures, it is necessary to convert the weight of all components to a common unit such as pounds, ounces, kilograms, grams etc. Let`s look at comminuted sausage first and solve the question, "If I grind and prepare 100 lbs. of sausage meat, how much cure #1 do I need to add to the mixture?" The formula solving for "parts per million" equals the curing mixture (unknown), times the percentage of sodium nitrite in the cure, times one million (parts), divided by the weight of the meat. Mathematically written, it looks like this:

Parts per million = Curing mixture X % sodium nitrite in the cure X 1,000,000 (one million) ÷ Weight of meat

Knowns:
Cure #1 contains 6.25% sodium nitrite. It is written as: 0.0625
Maximum allowed parts per million sodium nitrite in comminuted products is 156 ppm.

Solve for:
Amount of Cure #1 (unknown represented by "n" for "nitrite")

The formula is written: 156 = n X 0.0625 X 1,000,000 ÷ 100
Enter these figures into your calculator:
n (nitrite)=156 X 100(lbs) ÷ 0.0625 X 1,000,000
The answer is: n=0.2496 lbs. of Cure #1.
0.2496 lbs. = equals 3.99 ounces or (113 grams)
113 grams of Cure #1 is needed to cure 100 lbs. of meat.


Solving For "n" (nitrite in curing mixture) In Brine-Cured Products
Now let`s talk about a brine curing mixture. It`s easy to substitute 200 for 156 in the formula for parts per million, but we must remember that in comminuted sausage, the nitrite remains inside the sausage - becoming nitric oxide having been reduced by staphylococcus and micrococcus bacteria. In a brine-cured meat product, a specific amount of nitrite is taken up or "picked up" then the remainder is flushed straight down the drain. There are too many variables in the process, including duration time in proportion to strength, to make precise conclusions or even construct any number of graphs or tables to accurately predict outcome. As Stan Marianski says, "A meat piece can be immersed in brine for a day, a week, or a month, and a different amount of sodium nitrite will penetrate the meat. Brines with different salt concentrations will exhibit different speeds of salt and nitrite penetration." - (Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages by Stan Marianski - Bookmagic). So, how do we ensure consistency?

Commercial meat processors employ an injection process that eliminates conjecture insufficient to ensure reliability. Modern processors, using a "gang" of needles, stitch-pump a precisely measured amount of a defined and particular strength wet cure based upon a ten-percent pickup. Here is a link to a commercial chart with the most popular formulas: http://www.wedlinydomowe.pl/roboczy/tab ... wania4.htm

So, if Ross has a ten pound ham, he needs to inject it with one pound of brine. To calculate the amount of Cure #1 in this case (placing it into a brine), we need to know the weight of a gallon of water. The formula reads, "Parts per million equal the curing mixture "n" (nitrite in curing mixture), times the % of sodium nitrite in the cure, times the pump percentage, times one million, divided by the brine weight". Mathematically written, it looks like this:
Parts per million = Curing mixture, X the % sodium nitrite in the cure,X pumped %, X 1,000,000 (one million) ÷ Weight of Brine

Knowns:
Cure #1 contains 6.25% sodium nitrite. It is written as: 0.0625
Maximum allowed parts per million sodium nitrite in brined products is 200ppm.
Hams should be pumped at 12% using Cure #1. Several whole muscle meats require only 10% pumped curing brine.

Solve for:
Amount of Cure #1 (unknown represented by "n" for "nitrite")

Note that this time we are factoring in the pumped percentage required by the particular meat (i.e. 12% for hams). We are also dealing with the weight of the brine rather than the weight of the meat. A gallon (U.S.) of water weighs 8.33 lbs. If that water is saturated (100°), it contains 2.64 lbs. of salt. This is the point where no more salt may be dissolved in the water and the total weight of the gallon of water becomes 10.03 lbs. Because we do not use saturated brine (100°), the weight of brines will vary according to how much salt is contained in them. A very popular brine is that of 40°SAL strength. However, reducing the strength (from 100° to 40°) drops the weight of a gallon to 9.5 lbs.

So, the "curing mixture" = parts per million, X brine weight, ÷ % pump, X 0.0625 (sodium nitrate in the cure) X 1,000,000 (one million).
Written, it becomes: "n" = 200 (parts per million) X 950 (brine weight) ÷ 0.12 (percent pump) X 0.0625 X 1,000,000.

Alright, let`s say that Ross buys a ten-gallon hat and some Justins, and then rides his broomtail west to cure a half a herd of cattle. He`s going to need a lot of brine eh? On his way, he`s pickin` up Uwanna to "ride drag" wearin` his "angories" wooly chaps and spell off the biscuit shooter. Partycook and JBK are ridin` their ponies along and will pick up some anti-fogmatic at Big Bertha`s Benzinery And Bucket Shop. If these boys don`t paint their noses with scamper juice, they should ride into camp `pert near the time Ross diverts part of the Green River to make his "Maryland Marinade" for curing his part of the herd. Jest makes me all-fired proud to ride with these boys! Tarnation tenderfeet... they`re all sound on the goose with nary a streak atwixt `em. Say, just have a "gander"... :lol: at El Ducko grabbin` the apple atop that big hayburner from Texas. Shucks, there`s Big Guy and Devo , and Unclebuck, from Canada ridin` in jest ta` have a peek at Ross dunkin` the herd in the river to cure `em. Butterbean is packing iron and Dumoine is spittn` chaw. Grasshopper is forked on a paint, and IdaKraut is atop a big sorrel that I`m going to rustle from him later on tonight! :shock: There`s Maz and Norcal with their calculators, and two MN kids wearin` Tony Lamas best. Vagreys just fell off a` his hoss but w1sby broke his fall and saved his ol` carcass. An` jus` look at all those other WD cowboys come ta`see Ross dump nitrite into the river to float-cure his half of the herd! Shucks, if'n we missed anybody, it's 'cause they haven't been hangin' 'round the ol' WD Brand during the past 24 hours!

Ssorllih Ross decides to mix up a hundred gallons of brine to "cure the herd on the spot" pumping... not hams this time at 12%, rather beef chucks at only 10%! How much Cure #1 will he need to add to the water to make a curing brine? Grab yer` calculators cowboys. Yee Haw!

Solve for "n" (nitrate) using the formula above.
n = 200 X 9.5 ÷ 0.10 X 0.0625 X 1,000,000
Check you math here. 200 X 9.5 = 1900. That number is divided by the product of .10 X .0625 X 1,000,000 which is 6250
The answer is: n=0.30 lbs. of Cure #1 (based on 9.5 lbs. per gallon)
0.30 lbs = 4.8 ounces or 136 grams

In the United States, the only folks with access to pure sodium nitrite are commercial professionals who cure meat for a living. They basically use the formula above, but substitute pure sodium nitrite in their own formulas in place of the hobbyist`s "Cure #1" which is mixed with salt. By equally dispersing nitrate into salt via a roller "drum", Griffith Laboratories developed "Prague Powder Cure #1" containing 6.25% sodium nitrite and 93.75% sodium chloride. Because many nations around the globe (including the United States) yet do not use the metric system, I`ve found that many people are confused when it comes time to put a specific number of "grams" into a curing mixture. Let`s see if we can eliminate some of the confusion by posting a few mathematical equations:

1 ounce of Cure #1 = 6 level teaspoons (2 tablespoons). One ounce of cure weighs 28.35 grams.
4 ounces of Cure #1 will cure 100 lbs. of sausage. Four ounces of cure weigh 113.4 grams.
1 ounce of Cure #1 will cure 25 lbs. of sausage.
1/2 ounce of Cure #1 will cure 12 lbs. of sausage. This means less than 1/2 ounce will cure ten pounds of sausage.
4.8 ounces of Cure #1 (in the formula above) is equal to 136 grams and will cure 100 lbs. of meat.

I hope this takes some of the mystery out of calculating nitrites in meat. For more information on this subject, refer to "Home Production Of Quality Meats And Sausages"... by Stan and Adam Marianski, and "The Art Of Making Fermented Sausages"... by Stan and Adam Marianski. (See Bookmagic.com)

Best Wishes,
Chuckwagon
Last edited by Chuckwagon on Wed Jul 20, 2016 11:42, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by ssorllih » Wed Apr 18, 2012 14:55

Thanks Chuckwagon.
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Post by ssorllih » Thu Apr 19, 2012 03:05

I should think that a piece of meat placed into a brine solution would after a time come to equilibrium. So if the brine solution was 15 % salt eventually the meat would absorb enough of the salt to be equal to the % of salt remaining in the brine. That problem that we have is when to remove the piece in order that we stop the absorption of salt. On a large, thick piece there will be a gradient ranging from equilibrium at the surface to perhaps zero at the center. Removal at that time wiill allow continued migration of the salt into the mass of the meat and at some time the distribution of salt through the mass should become fairly uniform.
The exchange of fliuds from the meat and the absorbtion of brine I think will make determination of salt uptake unreliable by weighing. Also the total salt and sugar uptake in a dry cure will be offset by the small losses of fluids called exudate so the weight change of a dry cured product will not be a reliable control for a brine cured product.
The other factor involved is the subjective matter of taste preferences. Do we then use a consistant brine strength and vary the immersion times until we reach the stage of satisfactory taste?
The bacon slab that I presently have in brine could be a starting point. A 50° brine and one week immersion and one week of equilization for two pounds an inch and a half thick. If it is too salty then I shorten the time per unit weight/thickness. Not enough salt then increase the time. One day will equal 14 per cent time based on one week. Plus or minus a day could make a substantial difference.
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Post by Baconologist » Thu Apr 19, 2012 03:22

That's why injecting has become so favored.
When injecting is combined with an equilibrium brine, there's little guesswork.
I inject anything over 2-1/2 inches thick.

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Post by ssorllih » Thu Apr 19, 2012 04:04

Even with injecting the brine we still have areas of high concentration and areas of zero infiltration into which the solution must migrate. Is there a center to center distance pattern for the injections? How much time is needed to achieve a uniform distribution of the brine following injection? I have read that physical tumbling of the meat pieces helps to distribute the brine. In the absence of a tumbler is the distribution of the brine inhibited by the weight of the meat bottom side of the piece? I turn my pieces every day.
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Post by Baconologist » Thu Apr 19, 2012 04:22

That's what makes curing meats as much or more an art as it is a science.
Luckily there are ways to ensure consistent results.
As a rule, the more concentrated a brine, the quicker and more thorough the curing.
I use a highly concentrated brine for almost anything, but as I indicated above, the salt and such are limited to an amount so that over-curing is an impossibility.
As far as under-curing goes, I take special care when injecting coupled with turning the meat a couple times a day accompanied by a 20-30 second massage.


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Post by ssorllih » Thu Apr 19, 2012 04:47

Quantitatively what constitutes a highly concentrated brine? About 20% by weight is saturated and 100 degrees on a salinometer. Injecting 5 ounces into the piece would to be equal to an ounce of salt. That much would be more than I would use in total on a two pound bacon slab.
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Post by Baconologist » Thu Apr 19, 2012 05:26

I typically make a brine that's 20% the weight of the cut.
The brine is of medium strength, but as a whole it's concentrated.
I shoot for no more than about 2.00-2.25% salt.
As an example, I recently cured some Irish Spiced Beef.
The weight of the bottom round that I used was 1 kg.

For the brine I used:
20 grams salt
10 grams of sugar
3 grams of cure#1
To that I added water to equal 200 grams.
To that I added the aromatics.
I injected half of the brine, then placed the meat and remaining brine in a tight fitting bag ready for the wait and massaging.

A piece like that is finished curing to an acceptable level in 3-4 days, but I typical leave it to cure for a week or more so the flavors fully meld.


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Post by Chuckwagon » Thu Apr 19, 2012 05:52

Nicely done Bob! Thanks.
ssorllih (Ross) has got two bacons curing as an experiment. One is dry-cured. It should be interesting to compare the two at the end of his endeavor. :wink:
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Post by ssorllih » Thu Apr 19, 2012 13:25

I figure that to be about a 54° brine. Have I got that right?
Edit to detail my thinking:
a saturated salt solution is 26.4 ounces of salt per one gallon of water or 128 ounces. Dividing we get 128÷26.4=4.48. Therefore one unit of salt can be dissolved in 4.48 units of water. Bob has about 23 grams of salt including the cure and 167 grams of water. ( 200 grams of brine consisting of 20 grams of salt+10 grams of sugar +3 grams of cure#1 + 167 grams of water) 167H²O÷4.48=37.3.
23÷37=61.6% saturation.
Therefore the original calculation of 54° is in error and the brine strength is nearly 62°
It works because there is a limited supply of salt due to the small volume of brine.
Last edited by ssorllih on Thu Apr 19, 2012 14:23, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Baconologist » Thu Apr 19, 2012 14:01

I get approximately 51.5°, if I calculated correctly.

22.8125 grams salt
167 grams water

22.8125/167=13.66% salt


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Post by Baconologist » Thu Apr 19, 2012 15:22

ssorllih wrote:I figure that to be about a 54° brine. Have I got that right?
Edit to detail my thinking:
a saturated salt solution is 26.4 ounces of salt per one gallon of water or 128 ounces. Dividing we get 128÷26.4=4.48. Therefore one unit of salt can be dissolved in 4.48 units of water. Bob has about 23 grams of salt including the cure and 167 grams of water. ( 200 grams of brine consisting of 20 grams of salt+10 grams of sugar +3 grams of cure#1 + 167 grams of water) 167H²O÷4.48=37.3.
23÷37=61.6% saturation.
Therefore the original calculation of 54° is in error and the brine strength is nearly 62°
It works because there is a limited supply of salt due to the small volume of brine.

A fully saturated 100° brine is 26.395% salt or 2.986 lbs. salt per gallon of water.
So in the above case it's, more accurately, a 51.7522° brine.

In this method of brining, brine strength is of little significance, it's the total amount of salt that's important.

It's really as simple as a dry cure with a little water added! LOL


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Post by ssorllih » Thu Apr 19, 2012 15:59

Thank you! my error on the weight of salt in a saturated solution. So then a gallon of water(128 ounces) will desolve 47.8 ounces of salt and will make a solution that weighs 175.8 ounces. I presume that the volume will be greater than one gallon?
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Post by gvaughn » Mon May 21, 2012 14:58

I have been struggling with nitrite concentration calculations for several weeks. I have a copy of the USDA calculations handbook and use the formulas to calculate PPM in recipes I use. I primarily use immersion processing though I do pump prior to marinating. In my researching nitrite usage I have seen many references to either 3 or 5 ounces of cure #1 per gallon of brine as a "standard".
The goal of immersion curing is to reach "equilibrium"; this takes time since it is a slow process. The USDA calculation for PPM when using immersion curing includes the green weight of the meat as well as the weight of the brine. Using their calculation to determine the minimum weight of meat in the brine yields 88 pounds of meat to 1 gallon of brine containing 5 ounces of cure #1.

There are several different methods of curing and each method has its specific calculations for nitrite concentration. Pump curing is not the same as pumping the meat then soaking in the brine. When using nitrites and/or nitrates we need to be careful to stay within the limits specified by the USDA since, as they sat, "Excess nitrite or nitrate can be toxic". The USDA introduction to the nitrite calculations section says:
"Calculations for curing agents are based on the green weight of the meat and/or poultry and/or meat/poultry byproducts (meat block), used in the formulation of the product. Because nitrite and nitrate, after being converted to nitric oxide, function by reacting chemically with the meat or poultry myoglobin, the amounts of nitrite or nitrate permitted in the cure must be based on the meat block used in the formulation, not the finished weight of the product. Using finished weight as the weight base for these calculations would be unacceptable because more curing agent than is allowed could be added to the product. Excess nitrite or nitrate can be toxic."

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Post by redzed » Mon Nov 23, 2015 17:40

Here is a classroom style presentation on calculating how much nitrite to add to your sausages and when preparing a brine. Good stuff, makes it easier to understand, take notes and remember. It's handy to use the online calculators and brining tables but it's also valuable to educate ourselves and understand where those numbers come from.

https://vimeo.com/90169552
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