Until coming to this forum, I had not heard of fry testing dry cured bacon. It was my observation that there were those who were regularly fry testing and at times soaking their bacon prior to smoking due to the bacon being too salty. I have since discovered why, in my opinion this is happening and can explain why fry testing should not be needed.
The need not to fry test bacon prior to smoking can be explained in one word "equalization". I will attempt to explain equalization in curing meats. Take for instance a dry kitchen sponge, pour a tablespoon of water on the top center. At first the entire amount of water is confined to the top portion of the sponge. After a few minutes the sponge absorbs the water and it is distributed evenly throughout the entire sponge, equalized. An illustration of this can be found in the Morton® Home Meat Curing Guide or in pdf. form, page 15.
We know that sugar counteracts the harshness of salt. As salt enters meat at a faster rate than sugar, time must be given to allow the sugar to equalize with the salt within the bacon or the bacon will taste salty. It was my observance that the ones doing a fry test on their bacon were the ones using a shorter cure time, some 10 days or less beginning to end, than what is generally recommended by cure manufactures, such as in the following thread. Calculating bacon cure time using Morton® Tender Quick® or Sugar Cure® (Plain or Smoke Flavored)
Without personally doing a physical comparison, I believe that by cutting the curing and equalization period short, if a sample is cut from the end, the fry test can result in a very salty test piece due the salt being more concentrated in that area. By cutting the curing time short, the salt has not had time to penetrate or equalize throughout the entire piece as it would with a longer cure time.
Personally if a pork belly two inches thick, I cure it for 14 days, let it equalize for two days, and then smoke to a desired color which could be from a few hours to three or more days depending on the smoke generator used. Starting from the start of the smoke it is then allowed to equalize for five or more days to allow the smoke to equalize as in when smoking cheese, totaling in 21 days start to finish. After the 21 days it is then vacuum sealed and refrigerated or frozen.
My intensions here are not to disprove any one technique, but to possibly explain why certain results are achieved. If you like the results you are getting by using the technique you are presently using, by all means keep doing it. For those who have not tried a longer cure such as recommended by Morton®, try it and treat yourself to some real country cured bacon by doing a fry test along with some pancakes and eggs. Let us know your results.
Related thread: Salt vs. Sugar Absorption Rate?
Edited by Mr T 59874 - 2/13/15 at 7:56am