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VIDEO- Dr. Greg Blonder: "The Magic Of Salt: So Vital, And So Misunderstood" (53 mins)

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    VIDEO- Dr. Greg Blonder: "The Magic Of Salt: So Vital, And So Misunderstood" (53 mins)

    Dr. Greg Blonder, is an amazing polymath and the AmazingRibs.com resident science advisor and mythbuster. He has a physics BS from MIT and a physics PhD from Harvard. In his life as a physicist he rose to become the Chief Technical Advisor at AT&T's legendary Bell Labs and he holds more than 80 patents in the areas of optical disk recording, integrated fiber optic devices, displays, computer systems, software, and user interfaces.
    As an entrepreneur, he has been a partner at the Morgenthaler Ventures, a technology centric venture capital firm that has supplied funds to Apple among others. He has also lectured at Columbia University and Wharton, written a number of articles for Business Week, and teaches Scenario Planning part time at Parson's The New School for Design.
    His love of food, especially barbecue, has brought him to food science where he conducts original research for this website, and patiently answers my dumb questions. He has enough grills and smokers that he could open a retail business, and nobody I know understands better than he what happens when heat hits meat.
    For this Seminar, we will be discussing salt, why you need it in cooking, why it is essential for human survival, and how it reacts with different foods in its own special way.

    Background reading

    Here are some of Meadhead's articles on:
    Wet brines
    Dry brines

    Illustrations used during the seminar
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    Attached Files

    Excellent info. Learned a lot!


      Indeed. I think we all did


        "The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea" Isak Dinesen or Karen Blixen...not sure
        "The cure for anything is salt --on brisket, steak, ribs, pork shoulder...." fracmeister---for sure


        • David Parrish
          David Parrish commented
          Editing a comment
          Nice one Frackenator

        Wow... just got a chance to hear this archived version... Just WOW! This changes everything!


          This was excellent. Thank you, MH and Dr. Blonder, I learned a lot. Watched some segments multiple times and will be makin some adjustments. Thank you!


            That was incredibly informative. Sets a high standard for those that follow!


              The last thing I wanted to watch this morning was a seminar on SALT! But, curiosity prevailed and I ended up watching the WHOLE PROGRAM. Very interesting---and important and useful! I've since shared the key concepts with several family members. Thanks, Dr. Blonder! (From now on, no more salt in my rub mix!)


                Game changer ! Thanks !


                  Originally posted by tastey life View Post
                  Game changer ! Thanks !

                  Welcome to The Pit TL! When you have a moment, check out my Welcome letter and tips topics, which will help you complete your signature (Tip#1). They're here and here.


                    Question on Dry vs. Wet Brine: Why does the good doctor seem to say (mark 26 min) that wet brine does not continue to penetrate with time but stops at the fist 1/4" and only continues during cooking - but dry seems to penetrate deeper with time, why wouldn't wet brine continue as dry brine, (If true how could anyone every wet brine a brisket in wet brine to make corn beef, if it wouldn't penetrate the meat all the way, how can it be preserved fully? What is is about the wet (water) that stops the salt from penetrating using a wet brine?
                    Last edited by TheFienshmeker; August 17, 2014, 09:37 AM.



                      You are correct- wet and dry both continue to diffuse in at about the same rates. I was trying to make a slightly different point, but did so awkwardly so this is a great opportunity to clarify.

                      Most wet salt brines are very strong- 6% or more. Dry rub brines are even saltier- nearly 50% at the surface when you first shake on. But, since the amount of salt is limited by what you shook on, the concentration in the meat continues to decline with time, until it is uniformly diluted at say the 0.5% level. On the other hand, if you left meat in a salt brine for the same time as you did for dry, the salt level continues to RISE because it can draw on the "infinite' supply in the brine. At some point, the wet brine will end up oversalting the meat compared to dry. Which is the problem with wet brines- how fast the salt enters depends on temp, fattiness, orientation of the meat fibers to the surface, the species, etc. Very hard to predict the outcome with wet brines, which is why I generally favor dry.

                      In the first half hour, both wet and dry quickly diffuse in the top 1/4" or so. Typically, this means you end up with less total salt in the meat after a half hour in wet brine vs dry, due to the above effects.

                      Also see


                        Very interesting and informative, and well worth the price of admission. I'm looking forward to the next seminar.


                          Thanks a lot for this fantastic lecture! I just joined the Pitmaster club after having read tons of articles on amazingribs.com and I have to say that it's already worth it and in fact would have been worth it for the free content itself!!! I have a question regarding the extraction of water from meat by putting salt on it. I understand that vegetables have a different cell structure so the effect will be different. Nevertheless, I learned in school, which admittedly was some while ago, that that osmosis "carries" water from a cell which has a higher concentration of salt to the cell with lower concentration through cell membranes. This, if I remember correctly, is the reason why we should not drink sea water because it would make us even more dehydrated. I would be very interested in why the effect is different for, say, a pork shoulder. Is it a matter of salt concentration or why does water not directly get sucked out? Maybe you implicitly already answered this question but I couldn't figure it out as a layman. Thanks in advance and keep up the great work (which I have no doubt about)!


                            Meat is not like the Pyramids- a solid mass of "cells" each stacked tightly on top of each other. Instead, there are bundles of cells with interstitial pores, capillaries, fat, collagen, .... More like a house, with hallways and doors. The salt ions take the easy route- in between the cells, rather than through the cells. So osmosis (which requires a barrier that lets one ion through but not others) is less of an issue.

                            Water and juices do not ooze out when you squeeze on meat because the water molecules are electrically attracted to charges on the surface of the muscle fibers. During cooking, proteins fall apart and cell walls break, liberating a lot of liquid, and making it easier for flavor to penetrate through the damaged structure.


                            • WEKing
                              WEKing commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Are the microscopic cracks and dents in chicken. pork and lamb the same size as in beef? The reason why I ask is I'm wondering if larger molecules of sugar and garlic can enter into the chicken, pork and lamb where they are too big for beef.

                              Thanks for your help!

                            • docblonder
                              docblonder commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Chicken is denser than brisket, and sirloin is like most cuts of lamb. Pork in-between. But this is AFTER cooking, when the muscle fibers have slightly separated. Before cooking, the big molecules simply won't penetrate.

                              Shellfish is a bit different- it lacks a closed capillary circulation system and instead floods the interior with blood. So 30 minutes in a flavored brine will actually allow spices to penetrate through a shrimp.


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