Are the brisket and corned beef the same

Can you safely triple the brine recipe for corned beef?

I'll take a fully cut brisket from the packer tomorrow and weigh about 15 pounds. I am going to make my first pastrami. For the Corning brine, all the recipes I find are required:

  • 1 gallon / 4 liters of water
  • 1.5 cup / 350 g salt
  • 1 cup / 225 g sugar
  • 42 g of pink salt
  • Spices

This assumes a 5 pound chest piece. I am planning a 7 day bath. Given the size of the brisket, I will very likely need more saline solution. Can it be doubled safely? Tripled? I mainly ask about the amount of sodium nitrite in the solution and the possible dangers with higher amounts.

At the LD50 is around 71 mg / kg. If it were tripled to 126 g, the pink salt (which contains 6% sodium nitrite) would have 7.56 g total. That sounds incredibly high.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.


You should fine-tune this recipe as long as you are sure that all of the components are scaled the same.

The USDA regulations for commercial brine and hardening technology specify a maximum of 200 ppm (parts per million) sodium nitrite in the finished product. They also mandate a minimum of 120ppm inflowing nitrite for adequate preservation properties in chilled products.

Let's use the metric weights for your formula to calculate the concentration yourself:

Weight of the individual batch: 4000 g (water) + 350 g + 225 g + 42 g = 4617 g

Weight of sodium nitrite: 42 g * 6.25% = 2.625 g

Saline concentration = 2.625 / 4617 = 568.6 ppm

That may sound like a lot, until you realize that concentrations of around 2000 ppm are often used in commercial brine solutions. For example, federal standards also say that 2 lbs. Sodium nitrite can be used per 100 gallons of water, which equates to a solution of approximately 2400 ppm, provided it is injected into the meat at the rate of 10% per original meat weight. (That's just nitrite and water. As soon as salt is added to the mixture, the concentration drops to about 2000 ppm or a little less.)

How does that align with the USDA? Because generally very little of the solution is absorbed by the meat. Even when injected directly into corned beef, the meat normally only gains about 10% by weight, which means that these concentrations effectively drop to 1/10 in the actual end product.

For a relatively short cure of a large piece of meat (as in your case): If you want to meet USDA conservation standards, you must weigh the meat before frying, weigh it afterwards, calculate the weight gain, and then calculate how much solution has been absorbed, to see if the nitrite falls in the 120 to 200 ppm range. My guess is that your brine wouldn't even hit the low 120ppm range in meat if you didn't inject it. (If the meat hardens longer or contains smaller pieces, more nitrite can circulate in the meat. We would then have to do another type of calculation that assumes the solution is getting closer to the meat, but this will not be the case. ) happen in 7 days.) Even so, even lower concentrations of nitrites will add significant preservative qualities even if they don't '

In terms of toxicity, you also need to consider the chemical reactions that occur in meat (and which create that pink color). Some nitrite is converted into nitric acid and binds to other components of the meat, effectively rendering it harmless. Even if you calculate the amount of nitrite solution that has been absorbed by the meat, it may not accurately reflect how much is actually left in the meat when various chemical processes take place. (By the way, the lowest published human toxic dose is 14 mg / kg, and the lowest lethal dose is likely 25 mg / kg. You'd probably have to eat your entire 15-pound chest piece cured with the maximum commercial saline solution in a session to get close to that crowd.)

In terms of efficiency, I doubt you should need 3 gallons of saline for a single 15 pound chest piece. The book Guard Manger from the Culinary Institute of America has a recipe for corned beef with 3 gallons of water (and 198 grams of pink salt, for what it's worth, higher than your concentration). But it's for 4 chest pieces of 10-12 pounds each, and they even make an injection of 10% the weight of the meat before dipping.

So I doubt you need to actually increase the recipe that much in a decently sized container (maybe 1.5-2 gallons at most?). If the brisket is oddly shaped and doesn't fit well, I can cut it into two or three pieces that fit better and require less saline. This also increases surface area and absorption, which is likely to be in line with the results of the recipe you found for the 5 pound brisket.

If the entire saline recipe, including the liquid, is tripled, the concentration of each element will remain the same. It's like making 3 batches and mixing them up.

I rely heavily on Cook's Illustrated and the Harold McGee books for this.

Here is the Cooks Illustrated pdf for the Basics of Brining. I have relied on this for a number of years and have not yet been wrong.

LD50 refers to the body weight of the organism:

"The lethal dose (LD50) is the amount of an ingested substance that kills 50 percent of a test sample. It is expressed in mg / kg or milligrams of substance per kilogram of body weight."

To use your 71 mg / kg number, a 100 kg person would have a 50% chance of death (LD50) if they ingested 7,100 mg of the substance.

I find that the LD50 of sodium nitrite is 180 or 175 mg / kg, which is even higher. A person weighing 100 kg has a 50% chance of death if they ingests 18 grams of sodium nitrite (equivalent to 288 g of Instacure 1).

Safety data sheet for sodium nitrite - ScienceLab

Of course, these numbers refer to rats, but that's how it's done.

Disclaimer: Not a doctor, do your own calculations.

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