Corned Beef Calculator?

Recipes and techniques using brine.

Corned Beef Calculator?

Postby johnnycurewell » Sat Feb 15, 2014 7:54 am

Hi people.

I'm looking to make some corned/salt beef.

For some of my previous curing attempts - bacon and hams - I've relied on the extremely convenient cure calculators found on this forum (or via a link), and having had such good results with the latter I was hoping there's a similar tool for making corned beef?

I'd be very grateful if someone can point me in the right direction or at least recommend a tried and tested recipe that can be adapted to accommodate various meat weights.

Thanks for any help.
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Re: Corned Beef Calculator?

Postby NCPaul » Sat Feb 15, 2014 12:23 pm

If the brisket is just the flat, it can be cure as a dry cure because it is only about an inch thick. If you are working with a whole brisket, I like Oddley's combination dry and injection cure. I don't believe we have a calculator for corned beef.
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Re: Corned Beef Calculator?

Postby wheels » Sat Feb 15, 2014 3:36 pm

My recipe's here:

http://www.localfoodheroes.co.uk/?e=162

But I've yet to do a calculator for it. Mine's a very mild cure, very lightly spiced; that's the way we like it. Oddley's combination cure is a more 'classic' example of corned beef.

HTH

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Re: Corned Beef Calculator?

Postby johnnycurewell » Sun Feb 16, 2014 3:02 pm

Ok guys, I'll give Oddley's recipe a go.

I notice he uses both cure #1 and saltpetre. I only have cure #1 and cure #2 (US nitrite/nitrate %). Should I stick with the cure #1 and just leave out the saltpetre?
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Re: Corned Beef Calculator?

Postby wheels » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:40 pm

Yes, you can just use cure #1.

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Re: Corned Beef Calculator?

Postby johnnycurewell » Mon Feb 17, 2014 6:12 pm

Hi again.

Well for this first attempt I thought I’d try a small piece of brisket.

I initially bought a piece weighing in at just over 1.5kg but having seen the photos of Vindii’s fantastic looking corned beef / pastrami I couldn’t resist dividing the beef in half to try both his (Ruhlman / Polcyn’s) and Oddley’s recipes. Hopefully this wasn’t a bad idea! (No offense Phil, yours looks equally delicious and it’s next on the list.)

I’ve calculated the cure quantities for both recipes but I’m not sure how long to cure the meat for as they’re both relatively small pieces. Oddley says to cure “for about 10 days” (no meat weight given), and I’ve scaled the 5 days using Ruhlman / Polcyn’s recipe down to 42 hours pro rata. For the weight of my meats 10 days definitely seems too long using Oddley’s recipe and 42 hours possibly not long enough for the Ruhlman / Polcyn recipe....

I’m a bit out of my depth with all this (hence my initial calculator enquiry), so any suggestions regarding cure times are most appreciated :?
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Re: Corned Beef Calculator?

Postby wheels » Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:06 pm

Oddley's recipe is not time dependent (within reason). You're only adding the level of salt/cure etc required in the finished product, so technically you can't over-cure it. The 10 days is to allow plenty of time for the saltpetre to activate and work. If the brisket's not rolled, I'd be happy with 5 days as you're not using saltpetre.

Is the Rhulman/Polcyn recipe the one on p67 of Charcuterie? Did you scale the brine down? Or, use the full amount?

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Re: Corned Beef Calculator?

Postby johnnycurewell » Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:24 pm

Yes that’s the one, P67; one of the reasons I decided to give it a go is because I have the book. Cure amounts from ‘Charcuterie’ often seem contradictory to me but I’m pretty sure you gave this particular recipe the thumbs-up Phil so I thought I’d go with it. Yes I scaled both the brine and cure time down.

5 days sounds good to me for Oddley’s recipe - no it’s not rolled.
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Re: Corned Beef Calculator?

Postby wheels » Mon Feb 17, 2014 8:35 pm

It's somewhat academic now, but if you want to post the brine you used and the meat weight, I'll do a rough calculation for it. That said, brine cures are notoriously difficult to calculate.

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Re: Corned Beef Calculator?

Postby johnnycurewell » Tue Feb 18, 2014 7:07 am

I take it you mean my scaled down version of the brine from Ruhlman / Polcyn’s recipe, in which case (original recipe with revised amounts in brackets):

Meat - 2250g (784g)

Water - 4000g (1394g)
Salt - 450g (157g)
Sugar - 100g (35g)
Cure #1 - 25g (8.71)
Garlic - 3 Cloves (2.23g)
Pickling Spice - 20g (6.96g)

Hope this is OK Phil!
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Re: Corned Beef Calculator?

Postby wheels » Tue Feb 18, 2014 3:38 pm

That's fine. Based on the tests done by NCPaul, 4 - 5 days would be fine in this cure.

If it were mine, I'd then hang it to give it a good period of equalisation.

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Re: Corned Beef Calculator?

Postby johnnycurewell » Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:44 pm

Gotcha.

As well as scaling the ingredients down I did the exact same with the cure time, which equated to 42 hours. Your 4 - 5 day estimate sounds more realistic Phil. It seems scaling recipes up or down isn’t a problem then, within a certain range anyway, but obviously this isn't applicable for cure times.

Regarding the post-cure rest period, do you suggest the same thing for Oddley’s corned beef, or is it not necessary due to the pumping?
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Re: Corned Beef Calculator?

Postby wheels » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:13 pm

johnnycurewell wrote:Gotcha.

As well as scaling the ingredients down I did the exact same with the cure time, which equated to 42 hours. Your 4 - 5 day estimate sounds more realistic Phil. It seems scaling recipes up or down isn’t a problem then, within a certain range anyway, but obviously this isn't applicable for cure times.


Dry cure, and injection brine, recipes based on equilibrium curing (only applying/injecting what you what in the final product) almost always scale OK. The time is dependent on many factors, but with this type of recipe is almost always non-critical in that you can't over-cure the meat.

Brine recipes aren't so simple. It's a case of checking each one individually to see. They're not only dependent on the cure/meat ratio, but also time dependent. Scaling them doesn't always work.

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Re: Corned Beef Calculator?

Postby johnnycurewell » Tue Feb 18, 2014 8:22 pm

Thanks for clarifying Phil.

Having done the two recipes side by side it’ll be interesting to see if and how the end results differ. Oddley’s recipe is less straight forward having both a dry and wet cure, plus the actual injecting of course, but as you point out, only adding what’s required in the finished product really simplifies the curing process (and it can leave more room in the fridge).

Obviously hassle-free recipes and short cure times are convenient but I guess it’s really all about getting the best possible results, regardless of cure type, length of cure, etc (or should be anyway).

I see your ‘Salt (Corned) Beef’ recipe borrows from both of the above, first being pumped then brined. How would you say it compares?
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Re: Corned Beef Calculator?

Postby wheels » Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:06 pm

It's horses for courses. Some would argue that brining after injection will result in the product being above recommended nitrite levels. Hence the pump/dry cure system. Personally, I don't agree. The product shows no indication of being anywhere near the level of salt etc that calculations based on the US standards would indicate. However, next time I make some I'll revise the recipe so that it complies whichever way it's calculated.

HTH

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