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Author Topic: Dry Brine Questions  (Read 1491 times)

fishtruck

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Dry Brine Questions
« on: November 22, 2020, 10:09:00 AM »

Having tried a dry brine for the very first time this past week, results were somewhat mixed. Read everything I could find as well as watching many Youtube videos on the subject.
Followed the 1 cup coarse salt to 4 cups brown sugar recipe. After 5 hours, turned the fish to ensure even contact with brine. Brined for a total of 14 hrs in fridge over night, rinsed and using fan dried for additional 3 hrs.
After Pellicles were formed satisfactorily, placed into little chief where I smoked it for 6 hrs ( small pieces of about 3" by 1" pieces) with 2 pans of mixed  maple and hickory chips
First off, too much time as product was too dry and too firm.
Secondly, way too salty.
 Questions, how much should I decrease the salt content, 3/4 cup? or less than that.
                 Did I overdid the time of brining?
                 Should I start looking to see whether it is done after 4 hrs?
                Thanks for any and all tips, much appreciated
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DanL

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Re: Dry Brine Questions
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2020, 01:13:47 PM »

When I started years ago, I also found the 1:4 salt:sugar to be a bit salty. You can go to 1:6 or even 1:8. Try some small batches before you commit.

Dry brines really draw the water out of the meat, so thinner pieces will lose relatively more water than thick pieces for a given brine time. You could brine thinner pieces for shorter time, and monitor for firmness, though I have not tried that.

Also put the thinnest pieces on the top racks, where they are furthest from the heat
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stsfisher

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Re: Dry Brine Questions
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2020, 08:13:41 AM »

I always do a dry brine, and use an approx. 4-1 mixture.
Not sure how you rinsed, but I would suggest making sure you don't skimp on the rinsing cycle, and ensure you pat dry after rinsing. In the beginning I too had very salty brines, rinsing for longer than you think might be required will not hurt. My strips are approx, 2" wide and the length of the salmons fillet, vertically.

Temperature outside and inside your box, along with thickness of your salmon will vary your smoking time as you probably already know. I know I check every pan, at min and sometimes check more frequently to see how they are coming along. I have found smoking times to be anywhere from 3hours to sometimes 12 hours.

Another thing I like to do is give each piece a maple sugar/ grenadine / Whiskey glaze for approx. 30min at the end. Careful here as you can easily burn the the sugar glaze if you keep it in too long.   
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fishtruck

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Re: Dry Brine Questions
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2020, 09:32:50 AM »

Thanks to the both of you for your kind reply.
I'll start by doing what DanL said about salt to sugar ratio. Then I'll follow what STS said about rinsing thoroughly and patting well.
Going to try again soon, nothing else to do nowadays
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stsfisher

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Re: Dry Brine Questions
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2020, 09:42:22 AM »

oops, second post
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CohoJake

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Re: Dry Brine Questions
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2020, 12:53:51 PM »

I no longer measure my dry brine my cups - weight is more accurate.  The last batch I did was 7 lbs of brown sugar to 3 lbs of kosher salt - and it was the best I have ever made.  Not too salty, not dry. Keep in mind that salt is much more dense than brown sugar, so this isn't as salty as a nearly 2:1 brine by cups.  I don't use a fan for drying anymore because it just results in too hard of a product - same with drying roe after curing. 

I go for a shorter smoke time - 4 hours with 2 pans of chips in my big chief, then finish in the oven at 200 F until the fish reaches 140 in the thickest parts.  I do a maple glaze when finishing in the oven, and one last coat when I take it out to cool - I don't want the glaze to block the smoke when I am smoking. 

Did you take the skin off when you cut it into chunks?  I always leave the skin on and leave my fillets whole (because I'm lazy), but I can certainly see it getting too salty or dry if you don't have the skin on.
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fishtruck

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Re: Dry Brine Questions
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2020, 03:21:08 PM »

Thanks for replying.  Yes I did leave the skin on. Would a longer brining period make for a more saltier product? I brined it for close to 14 hrs. On a wet brine, I usually only do max 12 hrs.
There's lots of good input here for me to think about.  I'll definitely incorporate most of these ideas on my next try. Thanks to one and all.
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stsfisher

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Re: Dry Brine Questions
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2020, 04:28:32 PM »

Just finished a batch, and it turned out great. Here is my step by step process. Keep in mind i am using a Little Chief. Have owned a Bradley but prefer the chief.

1.5 - 2 Coho rinsed and pat dried, cut into 1.25" to 1.5" ( left the tail portions at approx 5 inches) pieces placed skin side down 1/4" apart from each other in glass and Tupperware containers.

5 Cups of Rogers Best Brown Sugar
1 Cup of Windsor Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1 Table spoon Onion powder

Smoother all pieces of fish ensuring every piece is thoroughly covered. cover containers and place in the fridge.I left the fish in the fridge for approx. 22 hours. I id not flip the pieces. I say approx. as I started the brine process at about 6am the day before and took the fish out of the fridge at 5am the next day.

Remove fish and rinse each piece ensuring there is no left over sugar and salt on the fish. Place on racks, pat dry with paper towel, and allowed to air dry for approx. 5 hours. I air dry mine on the kitchen table under a ceiling fan.

Preheated the Chief with a pan of Cherry wood chips from Canadian Tire and waited until smoke was well established before putting the rack in. After 1.25 hours I emptied the chips and replaced with fresh chips. I probably could have left the chips longer but find any longer the wood chips create a burned taste in the finished product. At the 3 hour mark I removed the second pan of chips and checked the fish, rotated the racks as needed.

At the 5 hour mark I removed the fish again to check at which  I figured they were good. I then glazed 2 of 4 racks of fish with  non measured portions of apple sauce, brown sugar and maple syrup. The rack then went back into the chief for 30min. Removed the rack and let cool for 30min, ready to serve.

Honestly I have been smoking salmon for probably close to 25 years and this might be one of the best yet. I cant say I have ever had a recipe for smoked salmon and always try something different every time, but i have written this one down to see if I can duplicate. Don't be afraid to try your own concoction as you might be pleasantly surprised. 




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