... And curious about how adding more brine "slightly" changes things--i.e. within an okay margin of error for something large like a ham? Or not? ...

I wouldn't want to take responsibility, especially as a snap judgement.

You'd probably be absolutely fine, but using a bag and a space-filler is the easy, no-change-from-the-recipe answer.

The book doesn't touch on

**Brine Calculations**.

Its something you only need to consider when branching out on your own.

The FDA's brine calculations are the basis of the FDA limits for nitrite and nitrate.

Whether or not these accord with reality,

*the limits are set on the basis of the calculations*, so the calculations are the official guide as to what is considered a safe cure (or rather a commercially legal one!)

They offer two calculations. One for a cure to 'equilibrium', the other for a short cure where the only thing that is assumed to happen is that the meat absorbs some brine (and the salts in exactly the same proportion as they were in the brine).

*The equilibrium calculation gives a different calculated result depending on the quantity of brine (at the same concentration). * (Shown later) The short cure calculation method just depends on the weight increase through soaking and the brine's original concentration - and does

*not* depend on the total brine quantity used.

Personally, I have criticisms of both methods (but no suggestions for formal alternatives), however they are what the limits are based on, but I don't really think either is individually fully justifiable for an 8 day cure. I think you are somewhere between them!

*Note that in this specific case, the results of the two methods are quite divergent. *Lets consider a 6.25kg ham. (So an 11kg system of brine + ham)

At equilibrium 6.25/11 ie

**57%** of the brine's starting nitrite would be calculated to be in the ham.

For the 'pickup' method, an 8 to 10% ham weight change would be maximal (thats what you'd get at equilibrium), so maximum is 10% of 6.25kg, ie 625g of brine "picked up", meaning 625/4752 of the nitrite going into the ham, ie

**just 13%** of the available nitrite.

Equilibrium 56%, pickup 13% - thats different!

The FDA calculations (for what they are worth) are found here

http://www.fsis.usda...ives/7620-3.pdf The relevant section starts on the 26th page of the PDF (bearing a page number of 21)

BUT should anyone look at the calculations in this document

*beware* - the "percentages" used in the calculations are actually

*proportions* (so % nitrite in Cure No1 "pink salt" is entered as 0.0625 *not* the 6.25 you might expect). Check that sort of detail in the worked examples!

{eg the calculation at the bottom of page "15", the 20th page in the PDF}

- of course all references to pints and gallons are to *US* pints and gallons...

- and formulae that use lb on both top and bottom, can of course simply have kg (or g) on top and bottom - its the ratio between the weights that counts!

As can be seen from my workings, I rarely use the equations in the form they are given, but I believe I *am* using exactly the same underlying logic. (Thinking in "pounds of nitrite" isn't my scale of working! )

And working in grams and kilograms is easy, at least compared to converting teaspoons into pounds...

Lets throw in the numbers for this recipe: 42g of "pink salt" at 6.25% nitrite means 2.625g of total Sodium Nitrite in the starting brine.

*Equilibrium* means the 2.625g ending up evenly spread between ham and brine, so we divide by the weight of the brine + ham total system (11kg for a 6.25kg ham) to get the final equilibrium g/kg of nitrite in the ham (and brine, its at equilibrium) and to turn that into parts per million, we multiply it by 1000.

I calculate this as

**206** ppm nitrite for the recipe, if a 6.25kg ham is used. Hence even if such a ham were left in the brine for perhaps two or three weeks to reach equilibrium, then it would only be slightly over the FDA's

**200** ppm "ingoing" limit (see the 17th page of the PDF with the page number of 12).

Using 50% extra brine (so 50% extra on salt, pink salt, sugar and water), means 63g Pink Salt, hence 3.9375g nitrite in the starting brine. The brine plus 6.25kg ham now totals 13.378kg. so, doing the numbers, there is an equilibrium at

**294** ppm - a considerable change from before! And

*all we have done is use more brine, of the exact same composition! *Whether this matters for 8 days, I really don't know, but I doubt it.

As I said, I think it could be "slightly" different if you increase the quantity of brine.

Significantly different? I doubt it, but I don't know for sure!

**Simplest to just use a bag to give yourself an ideal container! **
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - *Carl Sagan*