Making smoked foods - Brining and smoking

It seems that brining is really important.

It's soaking food in a salt water solution.

Gratuitous smoked rib shot from last night
From here on in, it gets a little hazy.

Last night I made a brine of water sugar and salt. I'd tell you the proportions, but I don't know what they are. It started with a half cup of rock salt and a half cup of brown sugar, and around two litres of water. But then I added some more water so I really have no idea.

Luckily, my recipe or lack there of isn't the point of this post.

This is...

Apparently brining initially adds salt to the cells in the food, then when the solution is a bit depleted, a cell might have more salt than the surrounding brine, so it starts to draw in water. From what I've read, it might be worthwhile to figure out when that transition takes place, and remove the brine once the cells have started to turn towards taking on water, and replace it with a flavoured liquid instead of just the brine.

With this in mind, I spent a reasonable amount of time probing my whole chicken in brine with the probes of my multi-meter.

It's been an odd night.

It stands to reason that the changing salt content might change the resistance of the chicken. Resistance measures how conductive something is. I'm pretty sure salt water conducts better than pure water, and less sure that perhaps pure water might not conduct electricity much/at all. Either way, there might be something useful to be gained from sticking probes into chicken.

Wikipedia says this on the subject (on conductivity, not on probing chickens)...



Electrical Conductivity

Electrical conductivity of ultra-pure water is 5.5 × 10−6 S·m−1 (18 MΩ cm in the reciprocal terms of Electrical Resistivity) and is due only to H+ and OH- ions produced in the water dissociation equilibrium.[7][8] This low conductivity is only achieved, however, in the presence of dissolved monoatomic gases. Completely de-gassed ultra-pure water has conductivity of 1.2 × 10−4 S·m−1, whereas upon equilibration to the atmosphere it is 7.5  × 10−5 S·m−1 due to dissolved CO2 in it.


I'm not really sure why it says that. I'm guessing it means something to someone, but I think it's roughly agreeing with me.


With this in mind, it might be possible to detect the point at which the food stops taking in salt, and starts taking in moisture.

Currently I'm at the stage in my research where I find it annoyingly difficult to get a good reading. The harder you press the probes, the better chicken conducts. I'm guessing this is just because there's more chicken exposed to the current, because there's more probe exposed to the chicken.

So for my next trick, I'l be concentrating on the brine and it's conductivity because I can completely submerge the probes, and as a result, I might get more consistent readings.

I'm also at two more stages.

One is not being sure what I should be looking for in the readings. ie how what's happening should effect the conductivity of the readings.

And the other is wondering if perhaps I should just have a bit of a lie down, and forget the entire episode.

120 Things in 20 years - Maybe the reason aliens are always probing things is because they are trying to ascertain the correct procedure for brining and smoking everything. Aliens like making smoked foods.

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