After a successful sausage-making holiday season, and having been enticed by comments of makin' bacon on this site, we decided to try some...
On January 22 (Thursday), we took the second step (the first being to buy the pork belly).. From my sausage post, here's an account of that day:
"Busy evening putting our first Bacons together... got a 14# whole skinless belly from local meat co., so we're doing 3 different kinds:
1) 4# Cover Brine, plus injected with a mix of 1 cup Maple Syrup (the real stuff) + 2 cups brine solution.
2) 5# Dry Cure - simple recipe, with brown sugar, and 1 cup sorghum (molasses) drizzled on after belly was in the ziploc bag.
3) 5# Dry Cure - same basic recipe, but added 1 cup ground black pepper to rub.
Now everything is in the fridge for many (~10) days to cure.
Will be properly turned/'massaged' each day, then cold smoked with Hickory."
Since that post, the process has been completed!
Saturday January 31: Ready to come out of the cures. Rinsed all three of them off well, sliced a few pieces to test for saltiness... good to go, so hung in refer to dry.
The brined bacon (we'll call it the 'Maple Bacon') was very moist (of course, having been submerged for over a week).
The dry cured sugar & molasses bacon (we'll call this one the 'Sorghum Bacon') took on a dark hue from the molasses - smelled great!
The dry cured pepper bacon (we'll call this the 'Black Pepper Bacon') did not 'juice' much during the curing phase.
Sunday February 1: got smoker pre-warmed to 80*F with open damper. Hung bacon inside to form pellicle.
Two hours later, returned to begin smoking process - loaded up the Amaz-N-Tube Smoker with hickory pellets and lit it. Closed damper, and laid the the smoke-tube in the smokehouse.
Monday February 2: about every 8 hours, re-filled the smoke-tube (see at bottom right).
Here's what it looked like at about 20 hours:
Here they are, after 32 hours in the cold (~70-80* F) hickory smoke, and a rest in the fridge over night.
1) Brined 2) Sorghum and... 3) Black Pepper
After cutting each slab in half (nice amount of meat in this belly!),
I used the old Rival 1101E/3 Food Slicer to make bacon strips... Mmmm-mmmmMMM!!! This smells smokey!
Then I just had to try some... here's some of the Sorghum Bacon (on the left side) and the Pepper Bacon (on the right)...
Now, for the results...
All have a good deep smoke; tastes and smells great. As noted in other posts, the sugars tend to make the bacon very dark at the tail end of cooking - I cooked at medium-lo heat in a big pan.
1) The brined bacon is very good. Cooks well. The Maple Syrup is hard to detect, no real distinguishable Maple flavor.
2) The Sorghum really comes through! Wow! Better like the taste of sorghum, or reduce the amount used by at least 50% (to 1/2 cup or less). I like this one, it's very unique!
3) The Pepper Bacon is the best for all-around eatin'. Nice smooth pepper taste, deep smoke flavor.
Will be vacuum-packing some, and trying not to eat it all myself!
Thanks to all for your previous posts on the topic, they really helped me do it right!
Edited by Pwrwgnwalt - 2/4/15 at 8:30am