Need help Smoking Bacon

Discussion in 'Bacon' started by zotie, Jul 24, 2014.

  1. All-

    I've got a Weber 22.5 kettle with a smokenator in it and I have been using it with a lot of success to smoke pork butt, ribs brisket and chicken.  I've also been curing and smoking bacon I've done about 5 whole bellies so far and I had a few questions.

    I've been following this recipe :

    It tells you to take the Bacon up to 150F internal on the smoke.  Then when you want to eat it to bake it or fry it as usual.

    My problem is that while it tastes great, its super chewier and hard, and it doesn't crisp like normal bacon. My guess would be that it's over cooked since technically it's been cooked twice.  It also seems like taking it to 150 renders out most of the fat, making it harder to fry or bake without overdoing it.

    My question is am I right in assuming that, and does anyone have a step by step process on cold smoking bacon?  Recipe for the brine ect?  Can I pull off cold smoking in the Weber?  If not should I only be taking the meat if I'm hot smoking?


  2. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    These are the recipes we all use. Bear's is a rub and Craig's is Pop's recipe for a brine, Personally I like the brine, alot easier. As to smokes, everyone has their own ideas. I personally won't exceed 130 IT (Internal Temperature) when smoking side bacon, I have gotten up to 145 without rendering and considered myself extremely lucky. I have not cold smoked yet, I tryed it once and after the first 6 hours of condensate mopping I fired the smoker up...LOL I do plan on trying again since I have my understanding and patience now.


    There is two excellent tutorials here. Pops which is a brine and BearCarvers which is a rub.

    Here is what I understand, max heat allowable is approx. 140 degrees. The warmer the bacon the better the smoke holds the smoke, but you don't want to "Cook" it or render the fat. From what I have seen some do, cold smoke with a smoke generator the entire smoke. Some of the more seasoned veterans do extended smokes gradually increasing the temp from 100 to approx. 130 carefully watching to not render the bacon. Some small amounts of weight loss are generally given to loss of water from curing. Less than 5% seems acceptable.

    Cold smoking can but doesn't require a cooling medium like ice. More normally its achieved by just using a smoke generator, in the cooler seasons with no additional heat from the smoker.

    If you still have questions and don't we all, I would suggest you read either:

    Bearcarvers Tutorial

     Craigs Tutorial (Pops Brine)

    Rub cure (Bearcarver)

    Brine Cure ( Pops)

    The biggest problem these days with making bacon is finding sides!
  3. wasp

    wasp Fire Starter

    Hello from Australia

    Cold smoked bacon from this part of the woods

    Wet brine (pork belly) for at least 7 days 

    Brine is 1 heaped cup of salt ( i use rock salt), 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons cure and 5 cloves of garlic (halved) for 7 litres (2 gallon) of water (boil) and refrigerate, turn every day

    Rinse and pat dry, back in refrigerator for a day or two uncovered once brined

    Cold smoke for 6 hours at 13-15 degrees c ( 55-50f) and back into storage uncovered overnight

    Same again next day 6 hours plus of cold smoke

    Let sit overnight and then do what you want with it

    It is so not like supermarket thing stuff and wow so different

    I use wood pellets that are like your Hickory ( eg Red gum) and all good so smokey and no complaints so far

    Hope it helps

  4. I really don't want to confuse things even more, but the only thing I would recommend is to weigh your ingredients.  You'll notice in Bears thread that he carefully weighs everything he uses, which in a dry cure is very important.  You may have a little more flexibility in an equalization wet brine like Pop's, but the first time I used his I was surprised to find that in order to get the weight of cure #1 that I needed for his, I needed a filled-to-top heaping tablespoon.

    The amount of cure you're using per pound of meat (dry) or per pound of meat plus water (wet) is really important to keep things safe.  The problem I have with most recipes is the teaspoon or tablespoon measures.  Is the level or heaping?  You may have some give on most of the ingredients, but the amount of cure you use is very important.

    Martin (diggingdogfarm) has a calculator he has created and graciously shares here for weighing out recipes for curing.  It takes some time to learn this stuff, and can seem confusing at first, but I think it's very worthwhile in the long run.  There are health and safety aspects to this, and it irks me a bit when I see some recipes that are a little loose and casual, or in some cases are just plain wrong.  I've seen typos in recipes, calling for cups of cure when they meant tablespoons, which is really potentially dangerous.  Know what you need, then weight it out.
  5. Foamheart-

    Thanks a bunch that is exactly what I was looking for.  The recipe that I used calls for a wet brine.  I feel like that distributes the cure a little better.  All in all they call for just about the same amount so I think I am good there.

    Interesting to note the recipe that i am using has the ingredients (brown sugar, maple, salt, pepper, curing salt #2) in the wet brine but both Pop and Bear seem like they just use a little brown sugar and the full amount of cure to cure it then before they smoke they add any extra seasoning they want.  I like that idea better i feel like you would get more seasoning on it.

    Looks the main thing I am doing wrong is the temperature in the smoker, my recipe calls for a 225F smoker to an internal temp of 145 on the bacon.  Which basically cooks it all the way through and after looking at the pictures from the posts of the links you sent me its obviously that smoking at the lower temp is the way to go.

    So I think that clears it up I need to dial in the smoker for low temperatures thanks a bunch!

    As far as getting the bellies go I have a duroc pig farm down the road, I trade him wine he trades me bellies, so I'm pretty lucky in that regard.


    Last edited: Jul 24, 2014
  6. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hi RZ !!

    I can't speak for Pops, but I used to include CBP, Garlic Powder, & Onion Powder in my curing bags with the TQ & the Brown Sugar, and it never seemed to do anything. That is why I only put TQ & Brown Sugar in the curing bags, and then season it before getting the pellicle started. I tried adding Maple Syrup a few times too, and found it to be a waste of good Maple Syrup.

    As for taking your Bacon to 145*----You have to get it there sometime, but only once!!

    I take my Canadian Bacon & my Buckboard Bacon to 145*--150* IT when I smoke them, then I can eat them cold or just heat them up a little before eating, but I never cook it a second time.

    However I only use enough heat to get good color & flavor on my Belly Bacon, and then Fry it or Broil it before eating it.

  7. Again, I hate to be a stickler for details, but cure #2 has nitrates in it, and is designed for a long-term dry curing process that works with bacteria to turn the nitrates into nitrites.  I am far from an expert, believe me, and anyone please correct me if I'm wrong on this, but you need to be careful with curing recipes.  There are a lot of people here with a lot more experience than me, before you start you might want to post the recipe and ask for opinions, just to be safe.  People here will be glad to help.
  8. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Good catch----My TQ brain is trained to ignore "Cure#1 and Cure #2", so I didn't even notice that.

    I don't think cure #2 should be used with Bacon either. I believe it's used with things like Dry Curing Summer Sausage & Salami type things.

    However there are a lot of guys here that know more than I do about Cure #1 and Cure #2.

  9. Bear-

    Thanks for all the info and insight!

    I think the author of my recipe was worried about people getting botulism from bacon hence the hot smoke and take it to a safe internal temp.  While the bacon I have made this way was was good it wasn't really worth the effort, all the fat renders during the first cook and your left with a ham like texture when you cook it again.  I'm going to move into cold smoking on this next batch.  Just have to figure out how to keep the Weber under 100 degrees, trail and error time.

    On my first run I did the recipe I found and then as an experiment I doubled the maple on a few slabs and added bourbon to the wet brine on a few too.  The conclusion was while you could taste the maple on the normal and you could tell that there was more on the doubled recipe it seemed like a waste of good maple.  Same with the bourbon.

    I was debating before the next run about following your recipe just the brown sugar, salt and cure and then before smoking brushing the outside with maple syrup, and potentially trying an experiment on inject it.  I might have to dilute it with a little water to get it to spread evenly.

    I love bacon but I can never get enough maple bacon!

  10. Cure #2 is used for dry aged cured products that are going to be aged more weeks upon months (salami and whole muscle types things usually). The Nitrates are a slow release ingredient that convert to Nitrites over time to help maintain a safe product. For bacon that is to be freezer stored, Cure #2 should not be used because they aren't interchangeable. 
  11. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Sounds Great----Cold Smoking is fine---It just takes a lot longer to get good color & flavor than warm smoking.

    As for keeping it under 100*. That's important if you want to tell everyone you cold smoked it, but I wouldn't worry about it going above a little.

    I've used 100*, 110*, 120*, and 130* smoker temp, and at 130*, my MES will spike up near 140* now & then, and I have never rendered any Fat from any of my Bacons.

  12. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    We have all been looking for a semi-sweet maple flavored bacon that doesn't burn so bad from sugar.

    Three Cheers for Disco!!

    Too much sugar OR the wrong sugar types increase the likelyhood of burning your slices while cooking. Disco tryed different types of sugar, with varying degrees of sucess, and now has found the Holy Grail.

    If you want maple flavored bacon without adding all that sugar (I think I would still add the extract to the brine though), he thinks he has a handle on it.

    PS Can ya tell we are all cured meats fanatics?
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2014
  13. Foam

    Yeah, I saw that, too.  I'm going to try that on my next ham, wife is a big fan of maple ham.  Used it in the brine before, with no results, not sure why I never thought of adding a concentrated mix into the injection.  I'm bummin' now, because I have nothing in the cure buckets, but going to be out of town for 2 of the next 4 weeks, so will have to wait until end of August to get something going.  I'll be shaken from withdrawal by then...
  14. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Where I live its way to hot to be trying to cold smoke or low heat smoke on cured meat still. I have learned that the "Old Timers" had the right of it. You butcher after the first frost, if luckly we will get one of those after Christmas sometime....LOL Very limited cool season here, so I now know to start getting the ducks in a row now because it is here and gone in a hurry. Its why I am without homemade bacon right now! I was too impressed and gave way too much last year away.
  15. Don't know how you guys take the heat down there.  Lived in Houston, then Beaumont for 2 years, thought I was gonna die both summers.  Older I get the further north I want to go.  Wife knows it's getting too hot for me when I start watching those shows on the discovery channel about living north of the arctic circle...

    More to my liking.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2014
  16. loppy

    loppy Fire Starter

    Going to try smoking bacon for the first time. Any good size of pork belly to start with. Thanks loppy
  17. Down the street from where I live there is a meat market (Vonhanson) they smoke some of the tastiest maple bacon, sausage and hams I have ever tasted. This is my first stab at making bacon so I am getting information from everywhere. Vonhanson uses what they refer to as a safe cure called sweeter then sweet which called for 2 cups to cure a 12 pound pork belly. I ask how to get that maple flavor and was told to add 1 qt of maple syrup, the instructions on the cure label says to cure for only 4 days more if you want it salty. I piled it on the 4th day which was yesterday and it has been drying no racks in my refrigerator since then. Now I am wondering about weather to cold smoke or hot smoke and exactly how to dibble smok how long and fat side up or down? I have a Masterbuilt 40" and a Masterbuilt cold smoker how should I rocked?

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