Cure (& smoke) turkey, brining only, no phosphate?


  • Re: Cured and smoked turkey.

    I would like to cure [using Walton’s Complete Turkey Cure, WCTC] a 21 lb turkey by brining only-- no injection & no phosphate. The Meatgistics procedure Notes mentions a 2 day brining only option- but the brine solution concentration given was for cover/dilute brine [post-injection]… For just brining, should I combine the injection cure solids (7.4 oz, adjusted for 21 lb meat based on recommendation & assumption to inject the full 5.3 oz of cure into a 15 lb bird) with that of the dilute brine solids (14.7 oz per gal, here assuming my cure/meat mass ratio)? Then again, I estimate (based on limited 'net search turkey/poultry carcass density of ~0.8 g/ml) I’ll fit ~2 gal of brine with the turkey for my 5 gal bucket… implication here is to double the mass of the brine cure solids by now adding 2 gal brine, hence my problem (I’m aware that one should maintain a strict cure mass per meat mass ratio for a given cure time, but I’m not that familiar with WCTC…)

    i.e., Any comments on amount of cure (WCTC) solids needed for a 2 day brine only cure for a 21 lb turkey would be greatly appreciated. (I would also be interested in a faster cure time, but no injection… this time.)

    Thanks in advance!

  • Regular Contributors

    Without injection, you may get some brine flavor in two days, but the cure will be incomplete , and not reach the interior of the bird, and may not be suitable for low temperature smoking. For thick pieces of meat or poultry, you really need to inject the brine to get the cure to the interior of the turkey, particularly in a short two day time window. My $.02 worth.

    Another observation that will tip you off if you have incomplete cure penetration. If you cut a piece and see a distinct pink/grey line in the meat, you can be pretty sure your cure did not penetrate all the way through the meat.


  • Thank you for the rapid and insightful reply Paul. Upon re-reading, the Walton’s Meatgistic’s Other Notes 2nd point technically calls it “brining” as opposed to “curing”… Regardless, I was looking for and greatly appreciate you sharing your experienced advice. I will follow the recommended injection protocol (sans phosphate, I would have used that had I read carefully…). I will generate & use ~2 gal of brine at the specified concentration (granted, I would still have expected a mass/mass recommendation there). Any idea on the upper limit of time for the “+” in the recommended 12+ hr?


  • (I should add, above I’m opting to define brining as sticking a piece of meat in salt, whereas curing is to let it sit in the salt until it’s preserved ;)…

  • Regular Contributors

    I would redefine your definition of brining a bit.
    I almost always see the term brining when used with “brine”, which by definitions is a solution of salt and possibly other stuff dissolved in water vs. sticking a piece of meat in salt which I would define as dry salting or dry curing

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    Andy_9 Are you the person I happened to be in the showroom when you called yesterday? Sounds exactly like what I was helping the showroom out with yesterday. processhead good answer, concise and accurate!

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