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Dry Brine Fail

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  • Chas Martel
    Charter Member
    • Nov 2014
    • 57
    • Cheyenne, Wyoming

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    Dry Brine Fail

    I tried dry brining the first Boston Butt I cooked on my new pellet smoker. The butt was about 8 lbs. and i coated it with table salt the night before, wrapped it tight in cellophane, and left it in the fridge overnight before putting it on the smoker in the morning. I put it under a running faucet and rinsed off all the salt on the surface before applying Memphis Dust as the rub. When the cook was done, the meat near the surface tasted excessively salty. I'm inclined never to dry brine again. Since this episode I have smoked 2 briskets, another pork shoulder butt and several slabs of ribs without dry brining. All these cooks resulted in excellent meat products.

    Did I do something wrong with the dry brine attempt?
  • fzxdoc
    Founding Member
    • Jul 2014
    • 5179
    • My toys:
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    How much salt did you use, Chas Martel ?

    Meathead recommends 1/2 tsp kosher salt (or 1/4 tsp table salt) per pound of trimmed meat.



    • Porterdriver
      Porterdriver commented
      Editing a comment
      x2 on that. My experience, albeit limited, says that if you don't measure out the salt first then you will most likely over salt the meat. When you measure it out, I can almost promise that it will not look like enough to do the job but it does.
  • scottranda
    Charter Member
    • May 2015
    • 1748
    • Charlotte, NC

    And you must make sure the meat wasn't packaged already salted (or in a salty solution) before you put your salt on the meat.

    Plus, I think table salt is more potent than kosher salt. Go to kosher salt and use Kathryn's measurement above.


    • scottranda
      scottranda commented
      Editing a comment
      Don't quote me on "more potent". I do know table salt is denser.

    • fzxdoc
      fzxdoc commented
      Editing a comment
      Table salt has smaller granules. Hence Meathead's recommendation to use 1/4 tsp table salt per pound trimmed meat if not using kosher salt.
  • ecowper
    Founding Member
    • Jul 2014
    • 3360
    • Maple Valley, WA
    • Grill = Hasty-Bake Gourmet Dual Finish
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      Eric Cowperthwaite aka ecowper

    Table salt is much denser than kosher salt. If you followed the 1/2 tsp per pound recommendation, you ended up with far too much salt. You need to find a conversion for your brand of table salt compared to Morton's Kosher Salt (which is what Meathead uses). Or buy a box of Morton's Kosher Salt. Beware that Morton's and Crystal Kosher Salt do not have the same density, either.

    When cooking, you either need to use exactly the type of salt the recipe calls for, or be able to convert the measurements from one type of salt to another.


    • DeusDingo
      Founding Member
      • Jul 2014
      • 1141
      • Madison, WI
      • Weber Q320 grill
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      if you have salt to wash off after dry brining you put WAY too much salt on that thing


      • Spinaker
        • Nov 2014
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        When you brine again, you shouldn't need to rinse the butt. Just apply the rub before the cook and your good to go. I agree with what others are saying. Table salt, and the difference in volume from kosher is the culprit. It should not ever be that salty.


        • DWCowles
          Founding Member
          • Jul 2014
          • 9709
          • Smiths Grove, Ky
          • Hi, my name is Darrell. I'm an OTR truck driver for over 25 years. During my off time I love doing backyard cooks. I have a 48" Lang Deluxe smoker, Rec-Tec pellet smoker,1 Weber Genesis 330, 1 Weber Performer (blue), 2 Weber kettles (1 black and 1 Copper), 1 26" Weber kettle, a WSM, 8 Maverick Redi Chek thermometers, a PartyQ, 2 SnS, Grill Grates, Cast Iron grates, 1 ThermoPop (orange) and 2 ThermoPens (pink and orange) and planning on adding more cooking accessories. Now I have an Anova sous vide, the Dragon blower and 2 Chef alarms from Thermoworks.

          With the pork butts I always mix the salt in with the rub and applied to the pork butt/s the night before the cook. Never had any problem with it being to salty. FWIW, I only used kosher salt not table salt.


          • Spinaker
            Spinaker commented
            Editing a comment
            This is what I do as well DW. Mostly because I am using commercial rubs. But even when I do MMD or BBBR I still add the salt and rub at the same time.

          • Craigar
            Craigar commented
            Editing a comment
            I'm right with you guys. I do it mostly because I'm lazy and don't want to mess with the meat more than once.

          • CandySueQ
            CandySueQ commented
            Editing a comment
            Me three on this!
        • abandonedbrain
          Club Member
          • Jul 2016
          • 122
          • Lower Peninsula, MI

          I think the more worrisome thing to point out here is that table salt, at least the salt MOST people have at the table, has iodine added to it. This is fine for the human body in small doses (salting your cob of corn), but that much salt on the meat may be a pretty large hit of iodine. Plus, that may be kicking up the "salt taste" in your meat.

          This is one of the main reasons cooks worldwide use kosher salt without iodine when cooking. That, and it dissolves more slowly than table salt, and doesn't have any anti-caking agents. A good read is at: http://startcooking.com/what-is-kosh...y-all-the-hype

          You can buy table salt without iodine, but most don't bother. That small amount of iodine is very beneficial for the body. Just not for dry-brining. Try it one more time, and use kosher salt (try to find Morton's branded). I swear, I'm a complete convert, and I only just found out how to do this a few months ago. Every batch of ribs, or steaks, or even the pork butt I just smoked this weekend, has been dry-brined since I found out about the process. Every one of these was the best I'd ever made, and close to the best I've ever eaten.


          • AZRedneck
            Club Member
            • Sep 2016
            • 360
            • Arizona. 90 miles from water and 9 miles from hell.
            • Pit Barrel Cooker
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            The table salt VS kosher salt has already been discussed. I bought a box of Morton's kosher salt, and now dry brine almost everything at the recommended rate of 1/2 tsp/pound and the results are great. No rinsing, no salty flavor. Don't give up yet, try a carefully measured dose of kosher on your next cook, I think the results will be pleasing. As mentioned, it looks like it's not enough, and I think that's part of the point of the whole idea. It absorbs into the meat, retains moisture, without that salty taste. Further, if you dry brine, be sure to use a salt free rub! (I made that mistake once, it was a bit salty, but edible)


            • abandonedbrain
              Club Member
              • Jul 2016
              • 122
              • Lower Peninsula, MI

              So the OP mentioned one thing I hadn't thought about... the meat was "wrapped...tight in cellophane" after being salted. I've always left meat in the fridge in a glass baking dish, and I just cover the meat with cellophane. There's still air around it. What's the consensus on tight-vs-loose wrapping, and would this have affected the dry-brine for the OP?


              • RonB
                Club Member
                • Apr 2016
                • 12846
                • Near Richmond VA
                • Weber Performer Deluxe
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                abandonedbrain - I leave chicken and steaks unwrapped so the surface will dry for better maillard reaction. But with a big hunk of meat that's going to smoke for hours, I wrap because I want a wet surface to help the rub stick, and I'm not worried about getting enough bark over the long cook. Wrapping also means I don't have to be quite a careful when placing the meat in the refrigerator.


                • FireMan
                  Charter Member
                  • Jul 2015
                  • 7705
                  • Bottom of Winnebago

                  Ditto on the kosher salt. It's the only salt l've used over the years. Recently l have tried a little sea salt, but never table salt. I don't wrap anything, even a butt, use a little olive oil before the rub though. It's been a long while since l have looked at it, but did'nt Meathead discuss this with Doc Bonder?
                  l gave up on anything other than dry brining after joining AR, & seeing Michael Symon only use the method on turkey.


                  • jbeck1986
                    Former Member
                    • Jul 2016
                    • 104

                    Try it dry brining one more time. Follow the recipe and and use kosher salt and don't eye ball it. Measure it out per the recommendations. Grab pinches of it and sprinkle it from a good distance (I think meathead says like 8" or higher) and make sure it's evenly sprinkled and more where it's thick and less where it's thin. Give your pork butt 48 hours to dry brine and it won't taste salty.

                    Think about the hundreds and thousands of people that do this with positive results. There's a reason behind the salt. It retains more moisture and amplifies flavor. Give it another shot. Use slightly less than what the recipe calls for if you wanna play it safe but don't give up on it till you try it per recipe.


                    • Nuke em
                      Club Member
                      • Jun 2016
                      • 745
                      • Nj

                      Like meathead says, kosher and don't wrap in fridge. Read his article on salt. If you have to, weigh the two different types and you'll see the different amounts. That'll give ya some ref points later down the road




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