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1st Time making bacon

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 

Ok, I'm a newbie, to both this site, and (comparatively) smoking meat too. This is my first effort at making bacon, so I haven't gone for prime belly cuts...I just grabbed cheap stuff at the local supermarket, and followed Pops  recipes (Which, in my honest opinion, should be made a sticky at the top of each forum...LOL, call it "How Pop does this" :) Anyway, onto the Pics...

Making bacon 005.JPG

About a kilogram (2.2 lbs) each of pork belly, and rashers. I chose to use iodised sea salt, as the iodine is good for the immune system in people...I just hope that it doesn't affect the cure (it shouldn't, but hey, combined with the sodium nitrate in the quick cure, I might very well have just invented pork grenadesPDT_Armataz_01_42.gif)


Making bacon 006.JPG

Hard to see (sorry about the blur), but I decided to leave the rind on the belly, because there really wouldn't be much left if I removed it. 

Making bacon 007.JPG

Dry ingredients 1 cup each of white and brown sugar, 1 cup sea salt, 1 tbsp Q-cure.

Making bacon 009.JPG

4 litres (a smidge over a gallon...1 gal=3.78 litres), of water, a good stir, and in goes the pork...I am a little concerned that not all the sugar dissolved, but I am thinking that the solution may be supersaturated (i/e more soluble solids, than can be dissolved by the amount of liquid), and that the sugar will dissolve as the meat absorbs the salt/sugar.

Making bacon 010.JPG

Water bags to hold the pork submerged...next step on with the lid, and into the fridge for about 10 days...I do have a questions though...how long should the cured pork dry before being smoked? How long should it have a clean soak for? The goal is to have this on Christmas day (I was going to do a turkey...but everyone wants a "traditional" roast on christmas eve, so I will probably do MY turkey in the new year.


And there you have it. A Guide for newbies...written by a Newbie, who has 0% experience in making bacon...LOL...Did I get anything wrong?

post #2 of 38

Originally Posted by Dreegle1 View Post
 I chose to use iodised sea salt, as the iodine is good for the immune system in people..

I've always heard that iodized salt with mess with the flavors, giving the meat a metallic taste. I can't really say if it's true or not but I guess you'll let us know.


...I do have a questions though...how long should the cured pork dry before being smoked?

You want to dry it long enough so that it develops a slightly tacky feel on the surface. that's called pellicle. A good pellicle will give you better smoke adhesion. Dry it on a rack in the frig and if you had a fan blowing on it, it will speed up the process.



How long should it have a clean soak for? 

Soaking all depends on how much salt you use and how much you like to taste. The recipe I use only needs to be rinsed and not soaked. Rinse yours well then take a sample of meat and fry it up. if it's to salty soak for an hour or two and test again.

Hope this is of some help to ya.

Edited by DanMcG - 12/17/11 at 11:05pm
post #3 of 38

Dan knows what he is talking about


I am not real comfortable with making a brine and still having stuff on the bottom.  It may just be gunk from the brown sugar but how can you be sure?   Also be careful changing the ingrediants when using these recipes. 


I don't know how iodized sea salt affects cure but it is a common rule not to use anything with iodine when preserving meats, fruits and vegetables.   Sea Salt has other things floating around in it that may not be good for curing.


We normally do not cut up the bellies before curing.  The cure times offered by Pops and the recipes normally found on this forum are for whole bellies or intact large pieces of belly.  When you cut them into smaller pieces you expose more surface area to the brine and you should use less cure time.  With a ten day cure I am willing to bet you will have some pretty salty bacon strips.  Not sure what Q-cure is but if it is a Sodium nitrate cure with little Sodium nitrite in the initital mix the shorter cure time might have an affect on well the meat is protected from spoilage.


Good luck with the bacon Dreegle,  I just can't emphasize enough that when doing this kind of stuff you really need to follow the recipes and be careful


Edited by alblancher - 12/16/11 at 4:24am
post #4 of 38



I just noticed that I was pretty direct with you yesterday on a post you made about microbes.  This morning I again gave you my contrarian opinion.  Please understand that my responses to your threads are an attempt to help educate you and not to criticize you.  I find your desire to learn refreshing and I want to make sure we start out on the right foot.


Good luck, thanks for understanding and thanks for posting

post #5 of 38


Now Dan and Al know what they are talking about. I think I learne from both of them if not about bacon about many many other things to do with smoking an curing. Now I do alot of bacon curing and I like to dry cure it. Now I do add some flavors soetimes but cure and brown sugar is by far the best to me. Then just smoke your bacon for flavoring with apple or cherry wood (my new Fav) and letti go for 8-10 hours then it comes out really flavor.

post #6 of 38
Thread Starter 

Thanks, all. I can't get my hands on kosher salt where I am, I looked in every supermarket within 100 miles (both of them :). So long as the iodine only affects the taste, I should be ok (I will let you know if it ruins it or not). I am in the process of getting DQ cure shipped to me...the freight is going to cost more than the salt, but I only have enough cure to make another 12 litres (err...about 3 gallons), until mid January. Also, it is Summer here...and I am going to try cold smoking, which will be virtually impossible...however, the smoker is going to be full (Cheese, vegies, and bits of meat I can find lying around a couple of days prior etc)...but back to the bacon, as I thought, the residue on the bottom of the tank has disappeared, and the brine appears to be a lighter colour. The fat appears to be whitening, and the meat pinking...Stuff it, I'll bung in a photo :D

macro bacon 002.JPG

After 2 days in the brine...Quick photo before going back into the fridge. Things seem to be going ok...but as they say, the proof of the bacon is in the eating...which, fingers crossed, will be almost as good as the next time I make it. Also, is very hard to get full pork bellies here, as well, so I am sort of limited to store bought rashers,  belly flaps and roast pieces. Thanks for that Al, I am now thinking that 5-7 days curing (I should be able to tell when the meat is cured) , and 1-2 days drying. Then smoking at as low a temperature as I can get for 6-10 hours, I have plum wood available, so I will use that...but I might be able to get my hands on a load of cherry very soon...once picking season ends :D

LOL...It is all happening, and I am sooo looking forward to pulled pork :D

post #7 of 38

Can you get canning salt where ever you are? (Australia or New Zealand I'm guessing) It works well also. Kosher salt might require  you to add more because it's a large grain salt, and when measured by volume you're getting less salt then canning or table salt. (air space between the larger grains)

post #8 of 38

Worse case scenario if all you can get is Kosher salt measure the salt by weight.  On ounce of salt is an ounce of salt even though the volume is different

post #9 of 38

Looks great so far.


I see BLT's on the horizon!

post #10 of 38

i will keep my eye on it

post #11 of 38
Originally Posted by alblancher View Post

Worse case scenario if all you can get is Kosher salt measure the salt by weight.  On ounce of salt is an ounce of salt even though the volume is different

I like that logic right there!


post #12 of 38
Thread Starter 

Still waiting for the wet cure to finish...So in the interest of the science of deliciousness, I am going to start a dry cure, on a 1.35kg (3 lb) piece of belly flap I got my hands on :D I am using the dry cure calculator (http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/a/dry-cured-bacon-calculator-and-procedure) but instead of wrapping in plastic wrap, I am going to use ziplock bags(should make it easier to spread the rub, and less loss of rub mix), so the question that I have, is, if I am sealing all up, do I still need to space the time applying the rub? I mean, if I am using 78.4 grams of rub, do I need to rub 25 grams in, leave for 3-4 days, then apply another 25 grams, and leave for another 3-4 days etc, or can I just put the full amount of mix in, and "massage" the bag every couple of days?


Incidently, it is almost impossible to get canning or kosher salt around here, mid january, when I get my cure 1, I am getting a 5kg (11 lb) bag. I have had to settle for, believe it or not, the cheapest salt in the supermarket, the "generic" brand. I am unsure of its drying process, but it is coarse grain, and has no addittives, like anti caking agent etc. So fingers crossed. goodluck.gif

post #13 of 38

I've yet to try Al's 3 application method but from what I've been told by people that have tasted his bacon, is that it's delicious. thumb.gif


I do it the way you asked about, mix it all up and apply it all to the meat and refrig. Then massage it every day or so. Cure it a day per 1/4"  of thickness  (about 1.6 days per cm)

The amount of cure used in the calculator is about the same as I would use.


I find it interesting that you salt choices are so limited. Is it because of your location or is it that way all over the country? I have a choice of countless varieties of salt on the local market shelves, and just assumed everyone else did too.


post #14 of 38



Just remember that you want the bacon to dry out.  I have noticed that if you stack the bellies they lose very little cure mix.  Plus if you are doing three applications with the amount of cure recommended you do not have a problem with losing a bit of the cure.  The calculator is based on the maximum amount of cure allowed for the amount of belly you are using.  If a little of the salt and sugar fall to the bottom of the pan or are taken to the bottom of the pan by the liquid being drawn from the meat you still have plenty of Sodium Nitrite available to cure the meat.  If too much liquid accumulates in the ziplocks then you are basically doing a brine and the amount of cure used is different.   That's why I encourage allowing the moisture drawn from the meat to drain away from the bellies.


Weigh out the amount of ingredients and sprinkle a third per application.   I believe Dan does a single application of cure and I don't have a problem with his procedure, anyway I've learned a lot from him.


Good luck, I hope you find the dry cure gives you a nice firm slab of bacon with a denser flavor.  It's more trouble then brining but I know I like the flavor and texture a lot more.


Btw I have found that I can do a thick coat of sugar after my last cure application has been absorbed (3 days after last cure application).  That coat of sugar pulls out even more moisture and seems to give you a nice "candy coating" on the bacon that once dry to the touch is a bit sticky (good pellicle) and not only makes the bacon sweeter, it also holds the smoke well.  Once you've smoked it don't forget to let it rest a couple of days in the fridge before eating.  The flavors definitely "bloom"

post #15 of 38
Thread Starter 

I find it interesting that you salt choices are so limited. Is it because of your location or is it that way all over the country? I have a choice of countless varieties of salt on the local market shelves, and just assumed everyone else did too.


I don't know if it is this way right around the country, I imagine the cities would have ready availability of whatever you want, but where I am there are only two "major" supermarkets, so there is no competition, and of the three butchers nearby, only one of them smokes/cures their own hams etc (and charges a fortune for them). The part that is really starting to annoy me, is that when shopping, it works out a lot cheaper to buy manufactured/processed crap, than fresh produce. They recently brought in a new system of charging for water, so it works out a lot cheaper to buy frozen vegies than growing your own in the back yard. Recently, in Australia, they introduced a "carbon tax"...price of pork has doubled, overnight (they use CO2, to stun pigs for slaughter),  There are some things in life, that I truly believe were better in the old days, and food preservation is one of them...It is a forgotten art around here. I mean $27 per kilo ($12.70 /lb) for smoked chicken? I can get chicken for about $3 a kilo ($1.30 lb)...and then there is the other side of the coin, prepackaged bacon for $8 a kilo ($3.60 lb), or pork bellies for $10.37/kg ($4.70 lb)... One of these days, I am going to own my greenhouse, smokehouse, outhouse and still, then when I am not tending to one, I'll be tending to (or running to) the other :)

Still, thanks to the internet, I can get anything that I want/need, just so long as I wait a couple of weeks, and pay the freight charges...but you would think that in regional/farming areas, there would be cures and salts readily available...


post #16 of 38
Thread Starter 

Back to the bacon...I think I am going to use the best of both worlds :) I will measure out the cure, and prepare the bags, so all I have to do, is switch bags every couple of days, and have the right amount of cure mix, ready to be applied. I am also going to use large bags, and whip up a tray(or find something I can use in the cupboard) that is angled, and will leave a "resovoir", for the juices to collect in, at the bottom of the bag, so I can just move the meat, rezip the bag, and drop it in the bin. The thickest part of the bacon will be 5.4cm (so about 9 days)...I will post pics...

I have to say it. I love this forum, you guys are great, and it lets me keep a step by step records, so If I go wrong, I will be able to work out where I went wrong (or more specifically, there are plenty of people around to help give me a forehead slap, and say "D'oh!" grilling_smilie.gif

post #17 of 38

When I am curing multiple bellies I weigh each one and determine how much cure mix is required per belly.  I used colored Tie Wraps to identify the bellies.  The amount of mix required by each belly is put into a small ziplock and the ziplock is labeled.  That way I have measured out the amount of cure required by each belly and know that I am not over applying the cure.

post #18 of 38
Thread Starter 

Ok...I have just taken the wet cured (almost) bacon out of the brine. It has shrunk a little, the meat is firmer, and sort of rubbery. More good news is that there is no bad smell, and a distinct lack of sliminess :D I have rinsed it, patted it with paper towel, and popped it on a wire rack, and back into the fridge to dry (i din't bother with the salt taste test, because, well, whatever shall be shall be :)...LOL, here is a picture

making bacon 002.JPG

Sooo...Onto the dry cure.

I bought a belly flap, got it home, and realised that half of it was rindless...Opportunity knocks. I cut the bit in half, and mixed up individual amounts of dry cure rub, using the calculator. So I am going to have 1.089lb  of skinless bacon (1.58 grams of cure), and 1.8lb  with rind (2.35 grams of cure)...Here's some more pics

making bacon 005.JPG


making bacon 006.JPGI

I applied 1/3 of my mix onto the bits of belly, and in 3 days will switch bags, and apply another 3rd, then 3 days after the last of the mix, and a couple of days after that brown sugar...Have I got anything wrong?

post #19 of 38
Thread Starter 

I just bought Jeffs rub and sauce recipes (partly because I am curious...mostly, I feel kind of obliged to contribute to supporting the site,)...So the question is, can I use Jeffs rub on bacon? I haven't actually received the recipes yet, so I am not sure what they contain (no I am not gonna drop any hints)...but if I were to include cure #1 into the rub (assuming that it doesn't already have it), would it work? i/e would the rub flavour the bacon? I am going to try anyway, and will let you all know the results...but forewarned is forearmed :)


post #20 of 38
Thread Starter 

Yay! Christmas...got my smoker :D

LOL...Some assembly required...

Christmas 2011 041.JPG


Christmas 2011 043.JPG


Problem...minimum temperature that I could get, while burning it in was 200 F...so no bacon for me :( Smoked roast cured pork it is :D (Will post pics...)

Just one more question, before I go off and busy myself for the next couple of months, not knowing too much about them...If using an AMNS, do you just light the sawdust, and let it smolder, or does the gas burner need to be on as well?


Merry Christmas all...Hope the new year brings you much joy, and, of course smoked products :D

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