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So I know there must be a million of these "I'm just starting with this and..." posts (I myself have read over a bunch of them!) but I'm afraid I'm going to have to add to the list.
I'm a US expat graduate student currently living in Japan - deep love for all things food (make my own pasta, I've made my own cheeses; I like making things that other people buy) but I've never done any curing or smoking before. Unfortunately, what this country calls "bacon" is a mockery of the term (I can't even get into all the reasons why it's wrong, but trust me, it's wrong), and so I decided to try making it myself.
Some things were easy to come by (pork belly - everyone eats it uncured here, so I just got my butcher to sell me some in bulk before he sliced it for sale), some things were not (prague powder was impossible; I wound up, after much trouble, getting food-grade sodium nitrite from a pharmacy and then got a grad student in the chem department to make curing salts).
Now I've finally hit smoke time...
I decided to cold smoke it, mostly because one of the reasons the bacon here tastes to bad is that it's pre-cooked (even though that's done by boiling, not smoking), and I have no intentions to eat my bacon without cooking it. They sell a product here called "smoke wood" (http://www.auvelcraft.co.jp/smoke/smokewood/index.html) that is essentially highly compressed sawdust that burns continuously without putting off too much heat, so I'm using that.
At any rate, I've read a million forum posts and websites on this smoking process, and a lot of people seem to have very different opinions, but the general consensus is that temperatures between 40-100 seem to work best. I didn't want to do this for a week, so I decided to try and push the temperature a bit higher. Since the smoke wood itself puts off little ambient heat I put a very low flame on my smoker (which is intended for outdoor use, but my exhaust fan is more than adequate) for a few minutes to try and bring the temperature up a bit, which was successful, but I think it might have been too successful.
Since moving it outside to my patio I've managed to keep it at a pretty steady 45 degrees celsius which is about 113 fahrenheit. From what I understand, this is still not quite "hot smoking" as it's below 120, but it's getting there.
My questions are two:
1) Is 113 an okay ambient temperature to smoke it at - or is it worth trying to put a bowl of ice in there or something to try and pull it down?
2) How long do people recommend smoking bacon for? I was thinking 8-10 hours but I'm flexible...