I got a full loin and was going to break it down into two small hams and some back (Americans call it Canadian) bacon. I decided it was the perfect time to decide if I prefer brine or dry cure.
I started by trimming off a lot of the fat (I will use it in sausage).
I broke it down into four pieces, two bacon and two ham. One of each will be done in brine with the other dry cured.
I put 2 in a basic Pop's Brine.
1/2 gallon water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tbsp prague powder
I rubbed 2 with my own maple cure.
25 ml (2 tablesoons) kosher salt
4 ml (3/4 teaspoon) Prague Powder #1
25 ml brown sugar
25 ml maple syrup
This is for 2.5 pound of pork and has to be adjusted to the weight of each piece.
I forgot to put in the original post that my loin was 2 inches thick at the thickest point. If your loin is thicker, you will have to increase the curing times. Two days for every 1/2 inch and add 2 to 3 days, for example:
- 2 inches thick has four 1/2 inches, 2X4 is eight days, add two or three, cure for 10 to 11 days.
- 1 1/2 inches thick as three 1/2 inches, 2X3 is six days, add two or three, cure for 8 or 9 days.
Then the whole lot went in the fridge to cure for 10 days. I overhauled the dry cure every other day and moved the pieces around in the brine a couple of times.
I took it out of the brine and let them sit in the fridge over night.
The next day, the only difference I could see between the brined and cured was the brined was a slightly lighter colour. The brined is on the right in this picture.
I started off by putting my new Bear cooler in the Bradley. In a prior post, I had used ice in a tray and the condensation dripped onto my A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker (AMNPS) and put it out. Bear told me about freezing a bottle and putting it in a pan. It worked great. There was 1/3 cup of condensation in the pan after it was removed from the cold smoking.
I loaded one channel of the AMNPS with pecan sawdust. And lit it up.
Here is the Bradley loaded up. I cold smoked for 3 hours and then increased the temperature to 150F for another 3 hours to give the ham some colour.
About 1/2 hour into the 150F period, the sawdust ran out. I fired the AMNPS up with a mixture of Maple and Cherry pellets as I was going to be increasing the heat to take the bacon to 145 internal temperature later and the sawdust can only be used to 180 F.
After the 3 hours, I pulled the ham pieces. I like to finish the ham over steam as I find it gives it a more ham like texture.
I wrap the ham pieces in cellophane.
I then put it on a rack over water in a large electric skillet.
It has been hot here on the mountain so I steamed it outside to keep the house cool.
I took it to an internal temperature of 145 F. I let it cool and put it in the fridge overnight.
In the meantime, after taking the hams out, I had increased the temperature of the Bradley to 230 F and took the internal temperature on the bacon pieces to 145 F.
Here is the whole package. Into the fridge overnight.
The next day, this is the dry cured ham. It is tasty and has a nice moist texture even though it is very lean.
This is the brined ham. I don`t think the colour is quite as good but the taste is as good as the cured and I think the texture is even better with a softer ham feel and taste.
This is the cured bacon.
This is the brined bacon. Again, I think the colour of the cured is marginally better.
Here is a slice of both bacons frying. The cured is on the left and the brined on the right. I preferred the texture of the dry cured as it crisped a bit better. She who must be obeyed preferred the brined saying she felt it had a nicer chew, We both agreed the textures were very good for both. I would give a slight edge to the brined in taste. It just seemed to be a bit smoother cured flavour.
The verdict: I would say it is a toss up. Both tastes great. Both had great texture. In colour, a marginal win for the dry cure. In taste, a tie in the ham with a very slight win for the brine in the bacon. In texture, I preferred the brine for a ham and the cure for the bacon but the differences were very minor. I believe I will use brine from now on as it is just easier to prepare and use.
Edited by Disco - 9/13/16 at 8:49am