Traditional Brine Cure

The Sugar Brine Cure is used for traditional meat cure. All formulas for the sugar brine cure are practically the same varying only a little in the proportions of sugar, pickling salt and salt peter (sodium nitrate).

If you have a formula that you have tried for years and have found it to be satisfactory there is no reason you should attempt a new one. But for those who want to try a different formula or recipe we will give you this reliable one that is widely used and indorsed by many meat producers and several agricultural colleges.

The container should be scalded thoroughly. Sprinkle a layer of salt over the bottom and over each layer of meat as it is packed in, skin down. When full, cover meat with boards and weight down with a stone so that all will be below the brine, which is made as follows:

Sugar Brine Cure

Weigh out for each 100 pounds of meat, 8 pounds of salt, 2 pounds of sugar (preferably brown) or 3 pounds of molasses, and 2 ounces of salt peter. Dissolve all in 4 gallons of water. This should be boiled, and when thoroughly cooled, cover the meat. Seven days after brine is put on, meat should be repacked in another barrel in reverse order. The pieces that were on top should be placed on the bottom. The brine is poured over as before. This is repeated on the fourteenth and twenty-first days, thus giving an even cure to all pieces. Bacon should remain in the brine from four to six weeks, and hams six to eight weeks, depending on the size of the pieces. When cured, each piece should be scrubbed with tepid water and hung to drain several days before smoking; no two pieces should come in contact.

NOTE: For all curing always use pickling salt and not table salt, as the latter contains starch to keep it dry and this starch may cause the meat to spoil. If you carefully follow these directions you will have delicious sugar-cured hams and bacon.

Pickling Salt or Dairy Salt is fine-grained salt that has no additives and is generally used in brines to pickle foods. Unlike table salt, the lack of additives will help keep the pickling liquid from clouding.

Real Cooking

Did You Know?
Our ancestors cured meat for a couple of reasons. One of the most important was safety. There are many curing techniques that were developed in the days before refrigeration that are continued today for traditional reasons. A good example is corned beef. Old-time butcher shops closed every weekend.  Ice, the only refrigerant available, could not dependably hold fresh meat for two days.  To keep unsold meat from going to waste, the butcher soaked the meat in a strong brine or covered it with coarse salt to trigger osmosis. The grains of salt were called "corn" in England, and the name "corned beef" stuck with the product.

When meat is cold smoked its temperature often stays in the danger zone for several hours or days. Many environmental factors of this treatment are such that the growth of dangerous bacteria is greatly accelerated. The curing of the meat inhibits this growth.

Meat is also cured for one other reason, color. Using Prague powder is what gives meat its pink color. FREE Recipes