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Old 04-07-2007, 09:40 AM   #1
SandySteel
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Question plug cut before or after brine

I posted this question on Bill Monroe's thread about sand shrimp in a blender. I haven't had a response yet so I thought I would put it in its own thread.
When I watched Bill's method of brining I noticed that he plug cut them prior to brining. This was counter to everything everyone had told me previously..........

I am curious about plug cutting them before you brine them. Everyone I have ever talked to has said to not cut them. Their reasoning is that it will reduce the herring scent out of the meat. Yet you feel that the scents you are adding have a better chance of being absorbed by the meat. It makes me curious what is happening at the cellular level with the meat, scent and scales when brining occurs.


I know that adding a high concentration of salt to most things in the kitchen induces what I believe is an osmotic reaction. The water gets drawn out of whatever you are putting it on. That goes for vegetables that I am preparing for the table. I think a similar reaction is going on when eggs get cured. They always juice out. Is this what is going on with the salty brine for herring?
I know that when I brine my baby back ribs that they get saltier so the salt is being absorbed. I think it also helps with the aborption of my dry rub after the brine.

Looking at what ask.com says it appears that moisture is actually added to the meat when you brine it but so are the other flavors you put in the brine. It would seem that with more moisture would come softer bait rather than firmer bait.
Yet brining the whole fish uncut seems to firm up the scales and skin.

Anyone have any thoughts?
Am I using the old propeller hat too much on this one?

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Old 04-07-2007, 10:01 AM   #2
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Default Re: plug cut before or after brine

I always plug cut my herring before curing. I use Nate`s Bait Herring Cure and that is what the directions say to do. It worked great for me last year with lots of fish caught. I haven`t been out yet this year but I am not changing a thing.
Yes I beleive osmosies(spelling?) is at work here. The same as in any other brineing for other foods.
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Old 04-07-2007, 10:06 AM   #3
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Default Re: plug cut before or after brine

I always like to plug cut just before i put the little fella in the water. My reason is this. The juice and blood that are left in the fish after removing the cuts will not be washed away by the brine. I don't know about the juice coming out of the meat better, but it would seem to me that all those goey bits from the guts would be washed away if you cut before brine. Just my two cents.
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Old 04-07-2007, 11:02 AM   #4
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Default Re: plug cut before or after brine

Bill Monroe stated in the video that he plug cuts them before brining so that they will soak up more of the scents.

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Old 04-07-2007, 11:23 AM   #5
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Default Re: plug cut before or after brine

Hmmm... maybe as long as you're already doing the bass-o-matic thing, you could chuck the heads and guts into the brine along with the sand shrimp. Yum.

I've always left heads on because it gives the option of rigging some of the herring whole or using an RSK in case you want to change things up on one rod. Maybe cutting some of the herring and leaving some whole would be worth doing.

Another possible reason to either leave heads on until fishing or even put them into the brine whole is that the heads sometimes fish well on spin-glos if you're running low on herring. Of course I'm always an advocate of bringing way more bait than you need so I usually pitch mine overboard.
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Old 04-07-2007, 11:28 AM   #6
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Default Re: plug cut before or after brine

I cut plug mine, put the hooks in them and then off to the brine bucket they go, at least 12 hours before launch time... They are firmer and brighter this way with the scent of your choice, and real fast and easy to hook up.
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Old 04-07-2007, 11:59 AM   #7
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Default Re: plug cut before or after brine

Osmosis and diffusion are fundamental physical processes.

Osmosis is the movement of water past a permeable membrane from an area of lesser concentration (osmolarity) to an area of greater osmolarity on the other side of the membrane. Basically water moves from one side of the membrane to "dilute" the stuff on the other side of the membrane. When brining bait, the cell walls of the herring's tissues are the "membrane" that water must cross. Water from inside the cells is drawn out to dilute the saltier brine solution on the outside. This has the effect of "shrinking" your bait, and it happens very quickly, especially when thawed or fresh herring is brined. The skin of the bait will actually wrinkle as the flesh beneath it shrinks. You are literally dehydrating the flesh.

Diffusion is the tendency for a substance to disperse from an area of greater concentration to one of lesser concentration.... the natural tendency for matter to dilute itself. Think about industrial or automotive emissions dispersing into the air. The more readily the substance can "move" thru its environment (say air or water) the more readily it will diffuse, especially if there is wind or current to aid the dispersal. Your salty brine with its added scents will "diffuse" thru a solid herring but it takes time because the cell membranes do not allow the salt/additives to pass as readily as water. This will take longer than the initial osmotic process descibed above.

Eventually the salt penetrates the meat thru and thru, at which point the bait itself has a salt concentration in the meat identical to that in the surrounding brine. Osmosis no longer exists as there is no omsotic gradient to drive the movement of water across cell memebranes, and diffusion also stops because everything has the same concentration. At that point, the bait is essentially "salt-cured" which will greatly enhance its shelf life. If you are going to store these leftover baits, I would recommend taking them out of the brine and placing them in another sealed container to better preserve the scales. They seem to fall off after prolonged soaking in the brine.

I like to brine my herring whole, then fresh-cut it as I fish. This releases the maximum amount of the natural herring scent. I also get a nice sharp clean bevel on the plug-cut. Baits that are cut before brining will have a blunter swollen bevel after soaking in the brine.
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Old 04-07-2007, 12:36 PM   #8
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Default Re: plug cut before or after brine

I prefer to cut after as well.

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Old 04-07-2007, 01:01 PM   #9
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Default Re: plug cut before or after brine

Pro-Cures Brine N Brite instructions say to cure before plug cutting.
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Old 04-07-2007, 02:59 PM   #10
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Thumbs up Re: plug cut before or after brine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slayerofthefishies View Post
I cut plug mine, put the hooks in them and then off to the brine bucket they go, at least 12 hours before launch time... They are firmer and brighter this way with the scent of your choice, and real fast and easy to hook up.
Slayer
I never considered rigging them before hand, specially before the brine? How does that seem to work? It sure might make fishing easier when your hands are cold and it is dark while rigging your lines. Do you lose less scales doing it before brining?
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