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How Much Curing Salt Per Pound of Meat? (Tool & Calculator)

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Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.

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This calculator below is all about equilibrium curing either with a dry or wet cure.

Meat Curing Calculator Tool
Method Equilibrium Dry Curing or
Equilibrium Wet Brining
Meat Weight lb kg g
Pink curing salt %
Salt %
Water % %

Calculations
Pink Curing Salt 1.59 g or 0.056 oz (optional depending on preference or recipe)
Sea Salt 15.88 g or 0.56 oz
Water 0.181 litres or 0.048 gallons

Key Points

  • Recent tweaks – adjustable water for equilibrium brining (it was 40%, but that isn’t enough to submerge some meat shapes; I’ve had to go up to 80% for hams – I suggest dropping your hunk of meat in the container and test filling first!)
  • Hopefully, the above makes sense; it’s 0.25% pink curing salt for either pink curing salt #1 or #2
  • If wet brining, it’s a base of 40% water ratio to the weight ie. 1L=1Kg therefore, 1 Kg of Meat would need 400 ml of water.
  • It’s up to you; for simple dry-cured meat 2.25% is a very common sea salt level (pink salt in addition to this, so it ends up being 2.5% TOTAL SALT.

Information About Salt Per Pound for Curing Meat

Thinly sliced cold smoked dry cured bacon
A good batch of thinly sliced dry-cured bacon (applewood smoked)

You need accurate digital scales with equilibrium curing, the whole point is consistent salt flavor and consistent meat curing results.

Here is a page I wrote with some digital scales I can recommend.

When used, the recommended amount is a ratio of 4 oz for each 100 lb (1 kg for each 400 kg) of meat or 0.25% of the total weight of the meat.

http://www.britishbutcher.co.uk/Page-114-Curing.html

If you’re looking for a guide on building a DIY curing chamber for dry-cured meat or you are interested in a charcuterie coursecheck out more info on this page.

The amount of pink curing salt for the amounts of meat that you are curing is a ratio that should always be the same, but there are some calculations needed.

If you want to control the level of saltiness then this method will achieve this.

Getting accurate salt and pink curing salt is a must for meat curing at home or anywhere. Plus you get consistency in repeating recipes and your spice profiles.

So I created this tool/calculator to easily work out the amounts for you (well it was my awesome brother coding Mathematician Mike D).

For either Pink Curing Salt No.1 or No.2 (same percentages of pink curing salt anyway).

Rather than using a hit-and-miss method.

This calculation can be done manually, and I used to do it that way for many years.

I want to summarize the equilibrium curing and equilibrium brining process if you are new to these terms.

I think the confusion comes from the directions on a lot of pink curing salt, which talks about it in commercial quantities and applies to commercial methods

From using a lot of different types of curing salt. There are a whole bunch of methods that people use and you read about. So regardless of whether you’re cured, meat will be consumed in under 30 days for Pink Curing Salt No. 1. Or over 30 days for Pink Curing Salt No. 2.

But there’s one way to work out exactly how much curing salt for dry curing or wet brining cures.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the traditional ‘by the eye’ salting, that a master salter is respected for in Italy (Like the Parma Ham Salt Masters).

But many uses weighed amounts of salt over the whole pork leg anyway for prosciutto.

But if you want a more consistent outcome at home the below should help.

The owner of an 85,000-a-year Parma Ham factory (mid-sized out of 150 producers around Parma) I visited said 2-3% of his hams are wasted yearly. Due to the variations with hand salting, that’s about 2,550 Parma Hams a year in the rubbish bin.

Tables & Tools for Working out the Curing Salt

For Dry Curing Using Equilibrium Curing,

It’s the ratio of 0.25% pink curing salt to the total weight of the meat

How Much Curing Salt Per Pound or Kilogram of Meat?

Per Pound of Meat (453.6 grams)Per Kilogram of Meat (1000 grams)
Under 30 Dry Cure – Pink Curing Salt No. 1 (0.25% of the Weight)1.134g2.5g (0.25%)
Over 30 Dry Cure – Pink Curing Salt No. 2 (0.25% of the Weight) 1.134g2.5g (0.25%)

The biggest challenge for most people when they use this method is that the digital scales or even analog scales do not have the level of accuracy or precision to work out the precise amount to 2 decimal places or 1 decimal place.

ie. 5-pound slab of pork belly for bacon

1.134g per pound of meat

5 x 1.134 = 5.67 grams of pink curing salt for 5 pounds of pork belly

I highly recommend getting precise digital scales to do this method. (here is a link to some gear I have)

When you have an accuracy of 0.1 or 0.01 (check out the scales you need here)you can finally work out exactly the amount of saltiness you want in your cured meats. Whether it’s bacon or pastrami, this was a game-changer so that’s why I decided to come up with this helpful calculator.

For Wet Brining Using Equilibrium Brining

A ratio of 0.25% pink curing salt to the total weight of the meat & the water (1 kilogram = 1 Liter, easier with the metric system to do this).

I am going to use the metric system since it’s easier:

1 gram (1,000gram=1kg) = 1 milliliter (1,000ml=1 Liter)

ie. 5 kilograms (5,000g) of pork belly for bacon in a wet brine

Pork Belly 5kg + Water 4L /4kg = 9kg or 9,000g

If I wanted to use a 2.5% total salt level for flavor (a bit salty for most people)

2.25% sea salt x 9,000 = 202.5g of salt for the brine

0.25% Pink Curing Salt No. 1 = 22.5 grams of pink curing salt

So for % of spices or sugar, you add this on top of the above

say plus 1% sugar, 0.01 x 9,000 = 90 gram of sugar

You would dissolve it all and have brine which can be varied to ‘choose’ your level of saltiness or sweetness! in your bacon!

The other benefit is that it doesn’t matter if you leave the pork belly in for 1 week or 2. It won’t overdo the saltiness!

For those of you concerned about reaching the right salt and pink salt levels, you could use a technique called equilibrium brining, which I first read about in Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine. To do this, combine the weight of the meat and the weight of the water, then add 2% of that weight in salt, and 0.25% pink salt, in addition to aromatics. This can cure from seven days up to twenty-one days (and maybe longer). This way you will never have bacon that’s too salty

http://ruhlman.com/2016/04/11/bacon-time/

Ingredients in Curing Salts

Pink Curing Salt No.1 (Under 30 Days Curing)

  • 93.75% Salt (Sodium Chloride)
  • 6.25% Sodium Nitrite

Pink Curing Salt No. 2 (Over 30 Days Curing)

  • 89.75% Salt (Sodium Chloride)
  • 6.25% Sodium Nitrite
  • 4.0% Sodium Nitrate

Pink Curing Salt & Tender Quick are Completely Different

Morton Tender Quick

  • Salt & Sugar
  • 0.5% Sodium Nitrite
  • 0.5% Sodium Nitrate

I don’t use tender quick, because I don’t know how much sugar is in it exactly.

Just note, it is not a tenderizer, the name is confusing – it is a curing salt that serves as a preserver.

Guys I know make wet brines from tender quick, for wet brining bacon for instance. They use 50 grams of tender quick per 1 Liter of water.

Don’t Measure with Teaspoons

Specifically, a level teaspoon is meant to be = 4.2g (depending on the teaspoon!)

Which is inaccurate, it can be used – results will vary.

But how many people use accurate level teaspoons, since teaspoons vary a lot also.

Different Styles of Meat Curing

  • Salt Dry Curing
  • Salt Dry Curing, then Cold Smoking
  • Salt Dry Curing, then Hot Smoking

You can Wet Equilibrium Brine using any of the above methods as well. But some people prefer wet or dry curing. I always find dry curing creates more depth of flavor, especially with the spices and flavors you use.

My pancetta large
Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.


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Comments

  1. This course looks awesome and I’m really interested in it. I already make my own bacon and sausages and I’m hoping to expand my horizons.

    Hope it will be here soon!

    1. Author

      Thanks, appreciated, I am beavering away and getting it complete! 🙂 Later 2020, don’t want to rush it – want an epic guide!

      1. “If wet brining, it’s a base of 40% water ratio to the weight ie. 1L=1Kg therefore 1 Kg of Meat would need 400 ml of water.”

        A little confused by this. 1 liter is 1000 ml so wouldn’t 1 Kg of meat need 1000 ml of water?

        1. Author

          That depends on the container size the meat/water will be in. Nowadays, I put the meat in the container, and pre-measure the water. Then remove the water and mix in the brine.
          Then I know how much water in ml I need and can do calcs (I worked backward to get the percentage). I need to think of a way to add this in to the calc, but I haven’t worked that out yet! Cheers T

  2. Great article. Some confusion here with dry and wet. I have started making my own beef jerky and don’t want to give my friends botulism or cancer. I make it in 1 lb batches. The beef weighs 1 lb and the marinating liquid is about a cup. I will put in the fridge overnight.

    How do I calculate the amount of Prague powder #1? How long should I be able to keep the jerky in refrigerated?

    Thanks

  3. I’m wanting to do a 130 lb pig but I want to cur a whole pig how much curing salt do I use

    1. Author

      So general and broad I cant really provide detail Brian. You would nee dot break down the animal to dry cure.
      If you are cooking it or smoking it until it is cooked that is very different to dry curing!

  4. I am trying to make Canadian Bacon. Using your formulas I am calculating an amount to 1/3 of what I am seeing in recipes online. Why is this?

      1. It says .25% but i used your calculator and it does .35% fir some reason, is that an unsafe amount since i already have it curing?

        1. Author

          there is a wet brining and a dry curing amount on this calculator, you must have had wet brining selected since the water added dilutes the cure slightly.

          It your call, if I do you pink curing salt, the maximum I put in is 0.25% for a dry-cured meat project.

          Cheers Tom

      2. Hiya, I want to wet brine cure lamb ribs. Do I approximate the meat content to calculate the cure or do I weight the ribs including the weight of the bones to calculate the cure?

    1. I have been making back (Canadian) bacon for at least 20 years. The simplest recipe I can offer is as follows:
      Trim your loin well by removing any visible fat and silver skin. Costco usually sells a decent loin.
      I cut the loin in 4 (equal) pieces each weighing around 700 to 800 grams. This is optional but it works well in my process.
      On an accurate scale weigh out 2.5 grams curing salt per kg of meat (.25%). Add 10 grams salt and 10 grams brown sugar per kg (1%) and mix well. In the winter when not using a smoker, I start with a few drops of liquid smoke and rub all over meat then apply the rub equally over the 4 pieces. I place 2 pieces each in plastic (Ziploc) bags and refrigerate. Every day, I flip the bags. The cure will be complete in 5 days or less but no harm in letting it sit a few more. I then sous vide the 2 bags at 140 degrees F for a couple of hours. The end product is much tenderer than doing it on the smoker. Alternatively a good meat thermometer and a decent toaster oven will work. Not a big fan of cornmeal so I skip that step.

  5. Hey I’m really glad I found your site. I thought I was the only one as obsessed with Dry Cured Meats and the process of. I’m still new to doing my own charcuterie but my old soul grew up in butcher shops filled with the smell of smoke and meat. I’ve been chasing that smell throughout Canada the last 40 years with little but fantastic success when found.

    It’s hard to find true old school dry sausage or salami or meats in general made the way it was back then.

    Time to make my own.

    Thanks again for the site. So much to read here, I appreciate it.

    1. Author

      Incredible! Thanks for your kind words.
      Have you checked out the booklet and course? Its all go this year!
      Always motivating to get such top notch replies about the content. Last year I was very lucky to have had 3 months driving across Italy learning, drinking and eating!
      Again thank you.
      Tom

  6. My sausage recipe calls for 1/4 cup of curing salt. I can’t find curing salt, so I purchased Prague powder. Do you use the same amount of Prague powder?

  7. Hi, newbie here, In the calculator section under the pink salt calculation there’s the sea salt calculation, I know this is a dumb question but is the sea salt calculation the suggested amount of salt to use along with the pink salt? Thank you

  8. on how much curing salt per pond of meat it says to use .25% down on the chart it shows 2.5%. now the answer is correct for .25% but the 2.5% is not, somewhat confusing if a person was not paying close attention they would put way to much cure.

  9. This is a nice find, I’m attempting pinnekjott (Norwegian cured breast/ribs of lamb or mutton). My first use of Saltpetre, so the calculator was a great help. Previous cures have been short ones, but pretty good. My favourite so far by Tom Adams /
    Easy and great results. Tom sprang to fame with “Pitt Cue” which alas no more. He has Mangalitsa pigs under his wing along with much more. Now at
    https://coombesheadfarm.co.uk
    Will let you know how the pinnekjott goes 6/7weeks
    Thanks again, Goose

  10. Hi Tom;
    Just to clarify. On your equilibrium calculator, the option on the meat weight is in either pounds or kilo grams, I believe that’s a typo. Shouldn’t it be pounds and grams? There is quite a difference in cure and salt amounts,
    Thanks you, great site very informative.

  11. Using your meat calculator for wet brining it shows 1qt of water needed for 5 lbs of meat. Since brines require submersion of meat. I am concerned that is not enough liquid. I will be doing pork butt. I can’t find any info on web how cure strength is affected by water dilution.

    Thank you for providing a valuable tool

    1. Author

      Sorry about this, I’ve got to get the ‘code’ on the page changed. I did a ham the other day and needed 80% water to the weight of the meat. You can manually work out = meat weight (example 1000g) + water weight 800ml (800g) = 1,800grams. say 2% salt = 0.02 X 1,800 = 36 grams. Pink Curing Salt 0.25% = 0.0025 X 1,800 = 4.5grams. Hope that helps, will get my brother to change code! Cheers Tom

  12. hi tom im interested in the online charcuterie course, does this course learn you how to wet cure a leg ham, thanks scott.

  13. Tom

    Loved your article!
    Did I miss or is there a section on injection? I figure u would just inject 10% of weight of meat?
    10lb ham inject 1lb brine (wet).

    Respectfully
    Thad M

    1. Author

      Uptake and injecting definitely gets the brine inside better. If there is bone, definitely helps lots. 10% or more makes sense, this calc is all about equalizing and initially it was for dry curing. Your right I should add notes on this page about brining hams, uptake and weight. Thanks & Cheers Tom

  14. Tom,
    I enjoyed your class. I may have missed this but along with the calculator do you have specific estimates for dry and wet curing times? I saw your note on wet cures that you can go one to two weeks and it wont change the saltiness. Are there specific hanging/drying temperatures and humidity levels for your recipes or just anywhere in the ranges you provided will work for everything?

    1. Author

      Hey Tim, thanks for getting my online course! Correct for wet curing, I often don’t go more then 4 weeks since the water/brine gets quite slimy. But also injection maybe be best to make sure larger pieces say over 1/2 pound / 500g get the equalising effect I’m 2-3 weeks. Also, curing for dry cured, I put it in the course somewhere, but I go by 1 week per 1 inch thickness. I also often put some heavy cans of tomatoes or the like on top to help ‘push’ in the cure. You have to get a feel for your drying chamber, it just isn’t that exact in my experience. Variables galore. If you go by 75% give or take humidity and 50-60 F or 10-14 celsius. I have been able to dry cure anything. Experience will dictate your corrections. All the best, Tom

  15. If using the equilibrium brining method, i able to add other flavors during the cure correct? For example adding sugar or maple syrup to sweeten. Would the amounts i usually added for doing a dry cure be applicable for the wet cure? or do you have an approximate amount to decrease?

    1. Author

      Hey Mike, I have found that less of the aromatics and spices will come through with brining it. So you may have to experiment. Also, if you syringe inject the brine, you are also making sure more penetration, which is what I am doing these days as well. All the best, Tom

      1. Thank you for your reply Tom. Ive got a few different flavor experiments going and will update you after 🙂

  16. Tom

    I did this

    Pork picnic 6.22lbs

    Curing salt 9.17 g or 0.323 oz
    Sea Salt 73.35 g or 2.588 oz
    Water 0.846 litres or 0.224 gallons
    Sugar 1.294 oz

    Then injected 10% about 9.952oz of the above mixed brine.

    I had been having luck doing this with a frisco spices packet( one already mixed) I emailed u earlier bout it.

    With the frisco spices I would let sit 1 maybe 2 days before smoking/cooking.

    Turned out awesome!

    I’m hoping the same.

    What do u think?

    1. Author

      Hey
      Dont know Frisco spices, never seen them before.
      So I stuck yr number in sounds like about 1.8% salt, which for hot smoked brining sounds good.
      Definitely, you went the right way with injection!
      Look forward to hearing some results! Sounds like you are on the right track…;-)
      Cheers
      Tom

  17. I am new to curing and don’t use much salt in my home cooking. If I am dry curing pork shoulder for bacon, is there a minimum table salt requires to push the cure through the meat?

  18. Tom

    I did inject like I had commented a year or 2 ago. Turned out FABULOUS !

    Couple questions tho!

    When u said dissolve did u mean boil?

    I only stirred in…wonder if my results would have even been better if I boiled then cooled when i make my ham?

    Also u ever use apple juice instead of water?

    That’s all I use now and the flavor is AWESOME!

    Thanks
    Thad

    1. Author

      Awesome, if the salt or sugar is fine, its dissolves easily, I sometimes use spice grinders to get it fine rather then boil and cool.
      Never used apple juice Cheers T

  19. Hello Tom,
    I want to equilibrium wet brine a domestic turkey for 5 to 7 days at 40* Fh in about 2 gallons of water in a 5 gallon food grade bucket and then hot smoke it. In your calculator it looks like
    20 lb turkey 2.5% salt (80% water)(2 gallons of water)
    Pink curing salt: 40.82 g
    Kosher salt: 408.28 g
    (80% water)(2 gallons of water)
    And other seasonings

    Do you think I can run with this?
    Equilibrium brining will allow me to make sure the Cure gets all the way to the Bone after 5 to 7 days. That’s what I’m looking for.
    I have done a few over the years but at salt to water ratios and soak time were just a inconsistent guess.
    Any suggestions is greatly appreciated.
    Mike P

    1. Author

      If you are cooking/hot smoking it – 2.5% salt is alot!
      injecting at a lower salt content would be the way I go. Take a long time for salt to travel through a large turkey!
      Turkey I’m not that familiar with apart from the wild ones I shoot Cheers T

  20. Hello Do you have an idea on how much lbs of meat Is needed in a brine made up of 12 gal of water 22 lbs of salt and 6 Oz of saltpetre?

  21. Your ‘Don’t use teaspoons’ weight is off. You say a tsp is meant to be 4.2 g, and that teaspoons are different. Both are incorrect – a tsp is a standard imperial VOLUME measure, and it always contains a volume of 5 ml. Now, the WEIGHT of that tsp depends on the density of what you are measuring! It does not measure grams at all! With salt, (which is heavier than water), according to USDA, the weight of those 5 ml would be 6 grams. Not 4.2 grams. I agree that weighing precisely and using metric is best! But until I get that really precise scale, I like to double-check curing salt with level teaspoons, and that works fine when you use the 6 g.

    1. Author

      No worries, thanks for the comment – I have 8 different teaspoons including the ‘measuring’ type. Lots of variations. Maybe its only my teaspoons! You encouraged me to google it and do some research. Have a read of this wiki article”The household teaspoons provide very bad approximations of any unit of measure. In a small-scale research, Falagas et al. found out that the volume of liquids inside different teaspoons varies almost three times, between 2.5 and 7.3 ml (0.088 and 0.257 imp fl oz; 0.085 and 0.247 US fl oz)” – Teaspoon Wiki (never thought I would google teaspoons!) 😉 Tom (ps I am undiagnosed dyslectic I think! My excuse!)

  22. Hi Tom,

    I really like the information that you publish. It is backed by science and experience. I see that you now recommend 80% liquid at times to cover large meat pieces to be brined, which gives us more flexibility when trying to match the brining pan with the chunk of meat. Do you think your cool coding bro (Cody) could add the 80% parameter to your brine calculator. With that we can choose either 40% or 80%, this would tidy up any possible errors. Even though it’s easy enough to calculate, it really helps from second guessing ourselves when dealing with such minute quantities of curing salts that could be disastrous. Keep up the informative content, it really is logical and easy to follow

    Kind regards,

    Andrew

    1. Author

      Hey thanks Andrews, I’ve wanted to get it done….its been on the list for some time! My brother had another kid, so he is a little time poor! 🙂 I’ll give him a few more pokes and he is a wizz so it shouldnt take him much! Cheers Tom

      1. Hi again Tom,

        I’ve just worked out you can not only populate the weight of meat you’re using, but also adjust the salt percentage and adjust the water percentage. It defaults back to the original presets when you refresh so future calculations won’t be compromised. This means when you’re measuring out the water with the meat in your tub, you can effectively keep the exact ratio required by entering in the new water percentage and letting the calculator do the rest. Your bro can kick back and relax with new Bub for a bit longer. I feel a bit sheepish for not realising from the get go

        Regards,

        Andrew

  23. I made my first ham out of a pork loin using this method and it turned out great.

    My question is about adding other additives such as cayenne, sriracha, or other spices or flavorings.

    Could they be added during curing?

    1. Author

      Definitely, a salt/spice mix is the way to go. Then, some like to add ‘coating’ although traditionally, peppercorns or chili were just used as protection during the drying. Cheers Tom

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