Thanks to this site, I finally got brave enough to try making my own bacon. I'm still trying to find a decent butcher here with a great price on pork bellies (I had to pay $3.49 a pound), but here is what I did. I would appreciate any and all criticism, praise, suggestions, etc.
I picked out this belly because it seemed to have the best meat to fat ration of what was offered.
I wanted to find the weight of this belly to properly calculate the cure mixture, so I set up my scale and tared the weight. It's hard to see (my camera was being a pain) but with the plate on the scale it still says "0" on the readout, so that I wasn't factoring in the plate when weighing the belly. I wanted to be absolutely sure I was using the right amount of cure.
Okay, so my belly weighs 1640 grams.
I used the cure calculator site to figure out how much cure, salt, and sugar I would need. As this was my first bacon, I left everything at the default setting.
So I would need 4 grams of cure. I tared the weight on the scale again, and measured out 4 grams.
According to the calculator, I also needed 28 grams of salt.
Finally, I needed 16 grams of sugar. I used brown sugar, simply because I like it better than plain sugar.
It was time to prep my work area with plastic wrap.
The belly went on the plastic wrap, and it was time to divide the cure for even sprinkling.
The belly had no rind (I haven't found a place that sells one with the rind still on, so I made the decision to place half of the rub on one side, and half on the other. Being a geek, I measured the amount of rub I had (48 grams) and measured out 24 grams for each side of the belly. The picture below shows how much went on each side. Does this look like enough?
Can cure work its way through fat?
I wrapped it up in plastic, and then this went into a Ziploc bag for 10 days.
After 10 days, I pulled it out of the fridge, rinsed off the rub, and cut two slices for a fry test.
Looks good so far, and tasted pretty good as well, especially for not being smoked yet.
I wasn't terribly sure what a pellicle was supposed to feel like, nor how long it took for one to form. Still, I placed the belly in the fridge and went to work.
When I got home, I inspected the belly and now I know what people are talking about when they say it feels slightly tacky. I then cold smoked it with my AMNPS (temps were around 70 degrees) with a mix of hickory and oak for 12 hours. After twelve hours it looked like this:
This was my first bacon...there was no way that I was going to wait any longer. I sliced it up!
Great day in the morning, this smelled amazing as it was frying up!
Overall, I gained SO much confidence from this! My advice to anyone considering this is to do your research, use the formulas you find here, and just jump in and do it! I've permanently borrowed the deli slicer from my wife's parents, and as soon as I get a vacuum saver I intend to purchase bellies in bulk and go nuts.
Once again, I would appreciate any and all critiques, suggestions, etc.