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Youngest Son's BB Bacon and "Red Spots" on cured meat

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 

Youngest son came over a week and a half ago with a pork butt and he boned it out, split it and butterflied the clods and made up his brine, putting it in a 2.5 gal. Rubbermaid container and into the back fridge.  

Today is the day to smoke, so I wanted to document the curing portion and a question I often get; rotating the meat.

You do not have to alter the position of the meat once it is immersed in the brine.  The parts that touch one another are still getting fully cured through the meat; the brine immersion still allows the brine to seep into the meat even though the surfaces are touching.  Here is the container as it has sat in the fridge from the day it was put in there; no agitation, movement or shaking of it at all





Here it is with the top off:





With the bag removed:





OMG!  What are the blood red areas?  .....


Well, all they are, are the areas that the bag touched.  The first stage of meat is deoxymyoglobin, where the meat is a purplish color as it isn't exposed to oxygen.  2nd stage is oxymyoglobin, where it is exposed to oxygen and turns a bright red color.  Third stage is metmyoglobin where the meat turns brown.  This occurs naturally through age, but with the infusion of sodium nitrite, it occurs within a minute or two once exposed to the air, just a chemical reaction to the sodium nitrite.  So does that mean that the meat did not cure?  Well, kinda-sorta but not really - only the surface area a few microns thick did not turn brown, but it was because the surface did not get a chance to oxidize and turn brown.  It still cured totally; it just didn't get a chance to turn color because the bag laid on it!  So, the assumption is that the meat never got to cure, but it did, it just didn't get a chance to turn it's nice ugly brown color is all!  I've said that a couple times now, haven't I?  Oh well... lol!


So, now it's time to hang it in the smoke house and fire it up... it's 22 here this morning.. brrrr... for Texas!  But, it fired up fine and smoke is a rollin'...






Now, just checked the temp for the first time, and we're within 10 degrees... at 140°!




Isn't that a wonderful color?  Corn cob pellets and maple pellets on top!  

post #2 of 37
Thread Starter 





Color of Fresh Meat: The Basics

By Christopher R. Raines

The color of fresh meat is considered one of the most influential factors related to fresh meat purchasing decisions.  To many consumers, it can be a troubling thing, to go to the self-serve retail meat case and see one steak that is a bright, cherry-red color (packaged on a tray and wrapped in film) and right beside it is a dull, purple appearing steak (packaged in vacuum).  Why the color difference? Even if those two steaks were cut from the same loin, they can appear very differently.

The reason for this apparent difference is probably due to how the meat was packaged.  In order for meat to “bloom” (meat industry jargon for turning from purple to red), exposure of the primary pigment in meat (myoglobin) to oxygen is needed (*meat color is a super-complicated thing; for now, let’s presume oxygen is the only substance that can cause meat to bloom; I’ll delve into others in later entries).  Thus, if fresh meat (“fresh meat” meaning steaks, chops, ground beef, etc. — not salami, bacon, ham…) is packaged in a way that lets it contact oxygen (this is how most meat in self-serve meat cases are packaged), or displayed fresh at the meat counter, it should look red.  Problematically, once the steak is cut and exposed to air, oxidation (going rancid or “off”) may begin.  To mitigate oxidative deterioration and essentially keep meat fresher longer, there is vacuum packaging (some folks use the blanket term “Cryovac” in lieu of vacuum), in which meat is packaged without oxygen, and thus the fresh meat would appear a dull, purplish color.  Vacuum packaging is pretty handy – take the air away, and meat will keep (frozen orrefrigerated) longer.

Below is an illustration of the relationships among different states of myoglobin in fresh meat:

Adapted from Mancini & Hunt, 2005

Forms of myoglobin, adapted from Mancini & Hunt, 2005

There is a lot happening in this diagram! (1) Let’s start with DEOXYMYOGLOBIN in the upper left, which appears purplish.  This is the color of meat when myoglobin is in its native state, or immediately after cutting and before blooming.  For example, purple is the color of meat in the middle of a steak (i.e., When you cut across a raw, fresh steak that’sred on the surface, it should be purple in the middle.  If you let the steak sit for a bit exposed to air, that color will change, or bloom, to cherry red.)  (2) In the presence of oxygen (better referred to as oxygenation), fresh meat blooms and turns its characteristicred color.  This form of myoglobin is called OXYMYOGLOBIN.  After prolonged exposure to oxygen, (3) we then have METMYOGLOBIN, which appears brown.  If you’ve ever been to the grocery and see brown spots on the “Reduced for Quick Sale” fresh meats, those superficial blemishes are METMYOGLOBIN.  (Those little brown spots may not look appealing, but may not mean the meat is not safe to eat after cooking.  However, if you’veany reason to believe it’s not safe – such as smells spoiled - don’t eat it!)  After the meatoxygenates and turns red, it will eventually oxidize and turn brown.

Getting into the chemistry of the matter, the state of the iron in myoglobin (the heme pigment – this is the iron than makes red meat “high in iron”) is a determining factor to fresh meat color.  DEOXYMYOGLOBIN and OXYMYOGLOBIN contains iron in the ferrous (Fe 2+) state and METMYOGLOBIN contains iron in the ferric (Fe 3+) state.    Let’s dig deeper into this ferrous/ferric business…






Electron management is the key to meat color management. As outlined above, the difference between desirable, red fresh meat and undesirable, brown meat is oneelectron.  Yep, one. Follow the arrows in the diagram, and you can see how the different color forms relate to each other.  A classic example of these color dynamics in action that you may have observed yourself are the different colors of beef present in one ground beef vacuum chub.  Meat may look red or purple on the outside, but have a brown, muddyappearance in the middle.  That’s totally okay — look above at the color cycles.  The red(bloomed) ground beef was put into a vacuum package, and before it turns purple, it turnsbrown.  Since the beef has gone through this natural color cycle a few times (from purpleto red to brown to purple…), the enzymes in the meat that allow for this cycle to continue are worn out (those guys tucker out pretty quickly and easily).  Thus, the meat may stop atbrown and stay there. That’s just how the color dynamics work — it does not necessarily mean the beef has gone bad.

I’m working an entry as to why cooked beef color is not a good indicator of doneness, and why a meat thermometer should be used to ensure that any ground meat is cooked to 16o°F.  (UPDATED: cooked ground beef color post here)  There’s another thing happening in the upper right of the myoglobin color forms diagram —CARBOXYMYOGLOBIN.  I’ve left that out of the color dynamics explanation for now, but will address it soon.  (UPDATED:  Carboxymyoglobin post here)


From "Meatblogger.org"



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post #3 of 37

Looks great Pops!


This may be a silly question, but what is the bag for?



post #4 of 37
Thread Starter 

Now, the BB Bacon is finished!  Let's examine the exteriors:


Before, piece 1:




After, piece 1:





Before, piece 2:




After, piece 2:




Now, I've cut the smaller piece right where the bright red was:




and, voila, cured all the way through!





MMmmm, now doesn't that just look good?!


Thanks for looking!


post #5 of 37
Thread Starter 

Not a silly question at all!  It is a half-full ziploc bag, with water, to keep the meat submerged in the brine.


Originally Posted by AK1 View Post

Looks great Pops!


This may be a silly question, but what is the bag for?





post #6 of 37
Thread Starter 

Of Course, PJ is right there every step of the way....!




Waiting for this:




Now is that intense or what??!! LOL, she is a professional beggar, no doubt about it!  

post #7 of 37



Now that I look at the pic again, I can see the water inside.

Originally Posted by Pops6927 View Post

Not a silly question at all!  It is a half-full ziploc bag, with water, to keep the meat submerged in the brine.





post #8 of 37

It looks great as always Pops! Glad to see your passing your skills on down the line!

post #9 of 37

Looks awesome Pops!!  PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif

post #10 of 37

Looks-Great.gif. Now I know the answer to the few Red spots on the meat. 

post #11 of 37

Another great post, Pops.  Thank you!


Good luck and good smoking.

post #12 of 37

Thanks Pops.... I needed to know that.... You are a keeping this neophyte informed.... Good job...   Dave

post #13 of 37

How long do you smoke for ? I've only made 2 batches of BBB, I smoked the first for 8 hrs and the 2nd for 12 hrs, keeping the temperature down as close to 100 deg as possible.  Suggestions ????

post #14 of 37
Thread Starter 

It is entirely your preference!  I do mine at 230° until the internal temp is 150°; then it is fully cooked and can be eaten as-is or heated, fried, baked, etc.   These pieces took me from 8am to 1:30pm because they were fairly thin; Rob butterflied them to reduce thickness which was his preference; he ran the knife, I just advised him how to best maneuver around the bone to leave as much meat intact as possible but he did all the cutting, I am severely limited as to what I can either do or endure a/c fatique.  Plus, he won't learn if I do it; every butt he does he learns more!  


At 100° your meat is still considered 'raw' and would require cooking before it is edible, and pathogens can still be alive and well on it or in it..  At 135° it is considered 'partially cooked'; and still requires cooking to min. 146° internal for fully cooked, but is high enough to destroy pathogens.  At 146° minimum internal it is fully cooked and can be eaten as-is or further cooked by any method.  I take it to a minimum of 150° in the thickest parts just to be safe that it is definitely fully cooked; I don't want myself, my kids or their kids and friends getting sick from something I've produced, naturally.  And, I'm their father.  I don't trust them as far as I can throw them, either....

"Oh no, dad, I would never eat any without cooking it fully first..." (nom nom nom...)  ... lol... know what I mean?!  I've known them too long.. and they're still confessing some of the things they've pulled behind my back... at least the milder ones..., lol!





Originally Posted by Shoneyboy View Post

How long do you smoke for ? I've only made 2 batches of BBB, I smoked the first for 8 hrs and the 2nd for 12 hrs, keeping the temperature down as close to 100 deg as possible.  Suggestions ????



post #15 of 37
Pops , great post with lots of good info. thanks icon14.gif
post #16 of 37


Now thats some good looking BBB. I like the before and after Q

post #17 of 37

Thank You Again Pops! 77.gif


I just got my cure in, I have a butt in the frezzer. Been wondering what kinda of bucket to put it in as I have limited space. Now that I see I can go as small as a 2.5 gallon I gotta get on this BBB train. Using your brine of course. What size were those butts?

post #18 of 37

Pretty nice...My Cure #1 soon cometh...JJ

post #19 of 37

Great looking BBB! Thanks for the great info once again Pops! I haven't tried your brine yet, but I do have 4 more butts in the freezer! 

post #20 of 37

Pops,Do you notice any flavor difference with hot or cold smoke? Thanks for the very informative post.  Vic

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