Bacon troubles

Discussion in 'Smoking Bacon' started by avas38, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. avas38

    avas38 Newbie

    I have tried to make bacon twice thus far with mixed results. Both times I used the recipe from Charcuterie by Ruhlman and Polcyn with the dextrose cure (450g salt/425g dextros/75g pink salt) and some other flavorings (brown sugar, bay, garlic etc.). The first time I dredged the bellies in the cure and tossed them in a bag in the fridge for about 7-9 days making sure to rub every couple of days. I rinsed then had my dad smoke them because I didn't have a smoker. The bacon ended up overwhelmingly salty and had an off taste, I think I could taste the pink salt in the mixture. Pretty much inedible.

    The second time I was far more careful and, instead of dredging, used about 1/4 cup of cure for 3lbs of bacon coating each piece well along with other flavorings. I stored the bacon in the fridge in a pyrex dish with a lid, flipping every couple of days and rubbing in the liquids that came out/cure to make sure it was evenly coated. This time I roasted he bacon in a 200 degree oven because I didn't have access to a smoker. This time the bacon turned out pretty well, good flavor, but it wasn't salty enough and I think the fat developed a slight off flavor/rancidity. I assume I didn't use quite enough cure this time.

    I am getting ready to make my third batch in about 1.5 weeks and will be using my 18.5" WSM for the first time, along with smoking a Boston Butt. I want to make sure I do it right. Is there anything I can do to ensure that this batch turns out with the perfect cure/meat ratio?
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011
  2. chefrob

    chefrob Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    az
    haven't used cure #1 yet so i won't speak of what might have gone wrong. the only thing i could stress is the correct weight of meat and cure............some one will be along soon to help. i for one will be watching this since i just picked up some cure #1 and want to try something different oher than high mountain.
     
  3. avas38

    avas38 Newbie

    The cure to meat ratio is part of what confuses me. In Charcuterie they mention using 50g of cure (about 1/4c) for 3-5lbs of belly which is a huge window. Is there a more specific guideline? It is very possible I missed it.

    edit: Also, I assume that cure #1 and pink salt are the same thing? That will help my searching.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011
  4. mudduck

    mudduck Smoking Fanatic

     
  5. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Fl
  6. mudduck

    mudduck Smoking Fanatic

  7. xjcamaro

    xjcamaro Meat Mopper

    I am also a newbie at bacon, i have done 2 batches thus far and both have turned out excellent. I use Morton's Tender Quick for my cure, it is very simple to use. Also, im sure this is true with all cures, the amount of cure you use on a peice a meat must be carefully calculated per the weight of the meat. Ive heard that too much or too little can be a health hazzard.  Maybe you might want to start off trying some Tender Quick for a couple batches until you get the hang of it? Also with the cure that i use, i soak my peices of meat in ice water for a 1/2 hour to pull the excess saltiness out of the meat before i let it sit overnight prior to smoking. If you havent done that, it might be a step you might want to add to your method. As far as baking it instead of smoking it ,and from what i understand, after the meat has been cured, its ready to go (to the frying pan), the smoking portion is just for flavor.

    Just some things to think about, im just a noob helping a noob. Im sure the pros will be by shortly to guide you a little better.

    I just know that TQ is simple to use and so far for me has been fool proof. I probably wont ever try any of the other cures just because of that. Im one of the people that wont try to fix what isnt broke.
     
  8. xjcamaro

    xjcamaro Meat Mopper

  9. mudduck

    mudduck Smoking Fanatic

  10. avas38

    avas38 Newbie

    Thanks for the recipes, I will read them over when I get a chance. Also, I had a 200 degree oven, I roasted to 150.

    How do you know I am using to much pink salt? The first try I think I did, the second, I thought I used too little because of the slightly off flavor in the bacon fat? Is there a ratio I should follow?


    What is the difference between tender quick and pink salt?
     
  11. avas38

    avas38 Newbie

    From the website you linked 3lbs of meat calls for about 0.1oz of pink salt, given a homogeneous mixture of the cure I use, I end up with about the same amount, maybe 0.02-0.04g too much. Is this small amount really significant? Although as a percentage it is, I guess.

    I thought the soak was if the bacon turns out too salty. Certainly the first time I tried this was an issue, but it wasn't the second considering I thought it could have used a little more salt. Should I still try to soak it?

    Lastly, I roasted in a 200 degree oven until the meat was 150 degrees.

    Thanks for all the help, I really appreciate it. I know following a recipe might be easier, but I really want to understand the process too!


    From my understanding of what TQ is when I mix salt, dextrose and pink salt am I not just making a homemade version TQ?
    From the website you linked 3lbs of meat calls for about 0.1oz of pink salt, given a homogeneous mixture of the cure I use, I end up with about the same amount, maybe 0.02-0.04g too much. Is this small amount really significant? Although as a percentage it is, I guess.

    I thought the soak was if the bacon turns out too salty. Certainly the first time I tried this was an issue, but it wasn't the second considering I thought it could have used a little more salt. Should I still try to soak it?

    Lastly, I roasted in a 200 degree oven until the meat was 150 degrees.

    Thanks for all the help, I really appreciate it. I know following a recipe might be easier, but I really want to understand the process too!


    From my understanding of what TQ is when I mix salt, dextrose and pink salt am I not just making a homemade version TQ?
     
  12. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

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    Personally I don't care how much cure the book says I go by what is recommended on the cure package itself. Cures are nothing to mess with for theycan hurt you I have heard and that works for me. I have used pink salt and tenderquick before and they are really different in the amounts that you should use. Now there is one good thing that Bear had in his how-to thread is the fry test. You should fry a piece before you smoke it and that way you can see if it's too salty or not salty enough. Then you can smoke it to your likings.
     
  13. avas38

    avas38 Newbie

    Sorry about the confusing double posts above. For some reason it was moderated and my changes do not appear properly. On top of that I cannot edit it. The second post (which is repeated twice in the same post) are my current questions.
    The pink salt I got came with no instructions, besides I want to understand the guidelines and safety rules so I can experiment safely.
     
  14. chefrob

    chefrob Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    az
    a couple of things kept nagging at me about these two lines and i just couldn't let them go, i'm just trying to understand the process.........

    no matter how much your "cure mix" ingredients were on as far as amounts by weight, how could you ensure the right amount of cure #1 was actually on the meat if by "dredging" the bellys? the other thing is when you measured a 1/4 C. of "mix" how did you come up with that amount based on 3 lbs of belly and how do you know how much cure #1 was in that 1/4 cup if a big batch of "mix" was made and you just scooped out a 1/4 cup?

    also on another note fat starts to render around 128 deg so i normaly don't go over 125 when smoking my  bacon that i will fully cook at a later time. 
     
  15. papagreer

    papagreer Meat Mopper

    Also, from reading Bears post multiple times over the last couple weeks, when you measure out the TQ and sprinkle it on the meat, any of the TQ that doesnt stick needs to go in the bag as well to keep the ratio correct. Dont know if that helps but I assume that goes for any cure that you are using. Just make sure the full amount ends up in the bag.

    And 200 degrees is def on the hot side. Like chefrob said, 125 or under is optimal. I would keep it 100 or under and just extend the smoking time if its way below that. AS far as Im concerned, Bears tutorial is awesome. Thats what I will be following when I take a stab at bacon.

    Chris
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011
  16. desertlites

    desertlites Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The pink salt I got came with no instructions, besides I want to understand the guidelines and safety rules so I can experiment safely.---------     you need to read up on your different types of cures and there ratios of use-not all cures are used the same-for the new bacon maker I suggest mix's like buckboard ETC-yes it works great on slab also-and as mentioned soak your meat after the cure process several times as needed and by all means do your fry tests --always test fry what your going to smoke (bacon-sausage etc ) also don't COOK your bacon at 200* smoke it in steps starting around 90* and work up to 110-120. I havn't been around this site since the change but if you did some searching you will find Alot of good info from the pros like Pineywoods and others-just keep it safe and practice practice practice. good luck
     
  17. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    If your "pink salt" came without any instructions, I would be wary of using it, unless you know for sure what it is. 
     
  18. avas38

    avas38 Newbie

    I was following the directions in the book "Charcuterie." They say either the dredge method or using 1/4C (or 50 grams, I used weight) of their cure will work. As far as knowing the right amount of cure is present in a given amount, he same question could be asked of any other spice rub or Mortons TQ. You can assume a homogeneous mixture if it is properly if the particles are similarly sized (which they are) so an amount removed will maintain the initial ratios.

    I appreciate the note about the fat. If I do smoke the bacon at a higher temperature will that affect the end result, aside from rendering some fat and possibly cooking it slightly?


    That is exactly what I have been doing. I have been searching, but sometimes I find it a little hard to find what I need. For example, I still don't know why the second batch wasn't salty enough and should I really soak even if it isn't salty enough?

    I really think the fry test is a great idea and will certainly try it next time!
    I bought if from a reputable butcher supply company. It came labeled, just not with specific usage instructions.
     
  19. xjcamaro

    xjcamaro Meat Mopper

    Im not trying to be mean, but i think you need to find a basic recipe and try it on a small peice of the belly. Save the rest of the belly so you dont ruin the whole thing. It seems like you are trying to make changes to the recipes or methods that didnt work.

    What i would do, and this is just me, is find a basic recipe using the ingredients you have. And follow it to a T. Dont change anything, and try a small slab. Before you go making your own changes to a recipe i would find a basic one that works. And experiment with small peices as not to throw out a whole belly.

    You need a good base to start on, find something simple that works. Then move on and make small changes. Once you get a good recipe that gives you good quality plain bacon. Then start making your little changes with the spices as you should probably not make changes to the cure (hazzardous).

    Just a thought, and just trying to help you keep from having to throw out a bad belly.
     

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