I'm trying for the first time to cure a second cut brisket (1.8 lbs.) to make pastrami (after curing the meat I will smoke it and then steam it). I followed a recipe from the Stanley Marianski book for a wet brine which calls for 453g (1 lb) of salt and 136g (4.8 oz) of cure #1 per gallon of water. Since I have a relatively small piece of meat, I reduced the amounts to 500 ml water, 60g of salt and 18g of cure #1. However, after I brined the meat, I started looking on line for other recipes and they all call for an amount of cure#1 much smaller than the amount recommended in the book. I understand that the amount of cure in wet brines is not the same as in dry cures as only part of the nitrates make to the meat, but I'm very concerned about safety. I have not cooked the meat yet. Can you please let me know if the recipe that I followed is safe? I didn't pump the meat but just submerged it in brine (today is day 4). Thank you!


Your question is ...did I use too much cure1...which is sodium nitrate? I dont think there is a safe and not safe limit for this..the more, the less healthy, but there is no poisoning within large margins...


Health concerns

Studies have shown a link between increased levels of nitrates and increased deaths from certain diseases including Alzheimer's, diabetes mellitus and Parkinson's, possibly through the damaging effect of nitrosamines on DNA, however, little is done to control for other possible causes in the epidemiological results.[10] Nitrosamines, formed in cured meats containing sodium nitrate and nitrite, have been linked to gastric cancer and oesophageal cancer.[11] Sodium nitrate and nitrite are associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer.[12] World Cancer Research Fund UK,[13] states that one of the reasons that processed meat increases the risk of colon cancer is its content of nitrate. A small amount of the nitrate added to meat as a preservative breaks down into nitrite, in addition to any nitrite that may also be added. The nitrite then reacts with protein-rich foods (such as meat) to produce NOCs (nitroso compounds). NOCs can be formed either when meat is cured or in the body as meat is digested. For most people, the highest dietary source of nitrates is from fruits and vegetables and no studies have conclusively linked nitrates and nitrites to cancer or any other form of diseases. On the contrary, some research has hinted to beneficial properties of nitrites such as lowering blood pressure by slightly expanding arteries. [14] The only reason nitrates and nitrites came under such legal scrutiny is when the US Food and Drug Administration presented a brief report which stated that some adverse effect was observed on mice (“depression of growth”) when their intake of nitrites was up to 90% of daily diet.[15]

  • Yes, I'm concerned that I used too much cure. The article from WP is about the long term effect on people of safe small amounts of nitrates assumption. This is a matter of debate. But no one argues that large amounts of nitrates assumption are poisonous and potentially lethal. With dry cures is fairly easy to calculate the amount of cure to use, as it is based on the meat weight. But when it comes to brines, things get more complicated as you don't know how much of the nitrates dissolved in the brine made it to the meat. I need some help understanding if the amount of cure I used is safe. Ty – Avi M. Jan 11 '16 at 14:44
  • yes, I understand you are talking about acute nitrate poisoning. You are well, well, well within limits with twice the amount of the recipe. There are no human cases of nitrate (well, nitrite) poisoning. But nitrite is just never healthy, at any level. You clearly used more than necessary. Your choice, you wont kill anyone short term. – Marc Luxen Jan 11 '16 at 15:18

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