Sodium Erythorbate - Good, Bad, or Indifferent?


Steve_A (Tatoosh)

TVWBB Super Fan
An ingredient I am considering for occasional use is sodium erythorbate, which is used in some sausages and supposedly allows for a much shorter brine time, as little as 24 hours for bacon and hams that are to be smoked. While a longer brine time is not a particular problem for me, a fast brine has some attraction. Such as today when I ran out of bacon. I had a few days worth put away to keep me going until my next pork purchase. But then the wife mentioned she had promised bacon samples to a couple of her friends and classmates. Shazzam ... No Bacon! If I buy pork tomorrow when they get a fresh delivery of pork bellies, I'm still looking a week in the cure or brine before I can smoke.

I had heard on a different forum that it should not be used with or exposed to phosphates such as Amesphos, but when I checked with Allied Kenco, they replied that using the two together is not a problem. So, while it won't arrive in time to help my current bacon drought, I am planning on getting a pound or two for use with sausages (and one beef hotdog recipe in particular) and to allow me to do a "fast brine" when necessary.

I have noted discussions in other threads about the intensity of spices or flavorings apparent when using a wet brine, some folks feeling a wet brine provides less intensity while others favoring if for better penetration. Either way, with a short duration wet brine enhanced with sodium erythorbate, the exposure to flavoring agents will be minimal. My initial thought is to use the sodium erythorbate to speed the time and save any spices (pepper, garlic, caraway or whatever) for the 24 hour rest after the wet brine in the refrigerator, when I normally leave it unadorned so it can form a pellicle. But even that is a pretty minimal introduction. J Biesinger's thread, well supplemented by MartinF's comments, make it look pretty apparent that to obtain fuller flavor profiles from any additional spices, a longer brine exposure is really better - the equilibrium brine thread ... or the longer exposure to a dry cure.

So the sodium erythorbate will likely be reserved for the sausage recipes I have that call for it and the occasional, fast wet brine & injection of bacon when an emergency resupply is necessary.

I am curious if anyone has used it for speeding the cure process?
I think it's going to be of limited use to you in bacon making unless you're stitch pumping or vacuum tumbling the bacon.
Sodium erythorbate does speed up the action of nitrites, but it has no affect on the distribution and equalization of salt and nitrite in the meat.
So, sodium erythorbate is only reliably useful in shortening the overall cure time when combined with a curing method that rapidly distributes and equalizes the salt and cure such as stitch pumping or vacuum tumbling mentioned above.

I hope that makes sense.

It does make sense. Would you consider my injection with a needle as the equivalent of "stitch pumping"? Provided I make a pattern of injecting the wet brine into the bacon or whatever meat is being cured. I had been told to inject the bacon about every 1 inch or so with some brine. My current injection system is a fairly inexpensive syringe intended for chicken that I found down in Manila, not one of the much nicer units favored by competition barbecue folks.
Injecting it in as many locations as you can will certainly make a difference, but I doubt you'll distribute the cure as evenly and throughly as commercial injectors. I'm not trying to discourage you, just calling it as I see it.

You can see commercial injection at work in in this video starting at 1:55......


Steve -- I've done my own home version of stitch pumping with a butt to make buckboard in 3 days, so I can't see why it wouldn't dramatically shorten the time for curing a belly. I mixed up a brine cure and immersed the butt in it, and then loaded up my Cajun Injector and went to town.
Steve -- I've done my own home version of stitch pumping with a butt to make buckboard in 3 days, so I can't see why it wouldn't dramatically shorten the time for curing a belly. I mixed up a brine cure and immersed the butt in it, and then loaded up my Cajun Injector and went to town.

I do the same with a combination cure using a saturated injection and dry cure rubbed on the outside, sodium erythorbate isn't needed in that case because the 3-4 days is enough time for it to work......when gang pumping or vacuum tumbling are combined with the sodium erythorbate curing is completed almost instantly, that's the difference.

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Since it is called for in a sausage recipe I will be making, I need to get some. When I saw the makers comments about it's effect for cure time, I thought that was something I might want to do occasionally. At this point most of my bacon is done by a dry cure so sodium erythorbate wouldn't play a role. But with fast production bacon, using with injection would be interesting. Watching the video, it looked like they were "stitching" the bellies about 1/2 inch to maybe 3/4 inch apart. More work, but definitely do-able.

I have been curing my bacon, whether wet brine or dry cure, for 7 days normally, never less than 6 1/2 days. If I decide to "speed" up the process, I see that I need to inject my bellies on a grid system. I may make up a perforated guide for that. Hand injecting is obviously slower and not so precise in the amounts, but I think it is not impossible.

I much appreciate the video MartinF, it was a pleasure to watch. I have a few of the Food Tech videos but had not seen a "how they do it" for bacon before. I like their slicing machine. The liquid smoke (which I am not particularly against) was what I've been telling my wife and bro-n-law about. Actual smoked bacon was pretty rare when I was in the States, only the specialty meat shops would carry it. I never saw it in any of the major chain supermarkets.