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MES 30 and Semi-Cooking Bacon

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I recently bought the MES 30 Electric smoker with cold smoker attachment and I have a quick question with regards to smoking at low temperatures.



Im planning to smoke a pork belly to semi-cooked which requires a lower temperature. However, I've read that low temps on electric smokers do no create a lot of smoke because it has a hard time burning the wood chips.



So can I use the heating element from MES 30 while using the cold smoker attachment at the same time to generate the required amount of smoke?



 



Also, I'm thinking of cooking my pork belly at ~160F until an internal temperature of ~125F. What do you guys think of this? Will it give good results? 



 



Thanks!

post #2 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by CanadianBacon8 View Post
 

I recently bought the MES 30 Electric smoker with cold smoker attachment and I have a quick question with regards to smoking at low temperatures.

 

Im planning to smoke a pork belly to semi-cooked which requires a lower temperature. However, I've read that low temps on electric smokers do no create a lot of smoke because it has a hard time burning the wood chips.

 

So can I use the heating element from MES 30 while using the cold smoker attachment at the same time to generate the required amount of smoke?

 

 

 

Also, I'm thinking of cooking my pork belly at ~160F until an internal temperature of ~125F. What do you guys think of this? Will it give good results? 

 

 

 

Thanks!

I've never hot or cold smoked bacon so I just did a little research. Since you have the cold smoker attachment, you should just use that and keep the heating element turned off. I read about one guy who smoked bacon using his smoker and 3-4 A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker. He says smoking bacon has taken him anywhere from 8-36 hours. As for cold smoking meats, the IT needs to be kept below 40° the entire time. Remember that the USDA Danger Zone is 40-`140°F if raw meat will remain unrefrigerated for at least 20 minutes. But I think those guidelines are a bit conservative. You could also put jugs of frozen water inside the smoker to keep the interior temp low. Besides, an IT of 125F you'd actually be cooking the bacon.  

 

But for cold smoking 160° is way too warm. You really don't want to go over 100°, but it might sneak up to 135° as has happened when I've done cold smokes with the heating element on for limited amounts of time to keep the wood pellets smoking. For my cold smokes this year I'm going to use Dust in my AMNPS, both bought from Todd Johnson/A-MAZE-N. Guys here have advised that Dust works better under low temps than pellets or chips. 

 

You didn't mention what you plan to use for a dry cure. That's a whole other involved process but worth it. 

post #3 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by daRicksta View Post
 

Remember that the USDA Danger Zone is 40-`140°F if raw meat will remain unrefrigerated for at least 20 minutes. 

 

Does that apply to smoking bacon (which is cured)?

post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by daRicksta View Post

I've never hot or cold smoked bacon so I just did a little research. Since you have the cold smoker attachment, you should just use that and keep the heating element turned off. I read about one guy who smoked bacon using his smoker and 3-4 A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker. He says smoking bacon has taken him anywhere from 8-36 hours. As for cold smoking meats, the IT needs to be kept below 40° the entire time. Remember that the USDA Danger Zone is 40-`140°F if raw meat will remain unrefrigerated for at least 20 minutes. But I think those guidelines are a bit conservative. You could also put jugs of frozen water inside the smoker to keep the interior temp low. Besides, an IT of 125F you'd actually be cooking the bacon.  

But for cold smoking 160° is way too warm. You really don't want to go over 100°, but it might sneak up to 135° as has happened when I've done cold smokes with the heating element on for limited amounts of time to keep the wood pellets smoking. For my cold smokes this year I'm going to use Dust in my AMNPS, both bought from Todd Johnson/A-MAZE-N. Guys here have advised that Dust works better under low temps than pellets or chips. 

You didn't mention what you plan to use for a dry cure. That's a whole other involved process but worth it. 
I believe the parameters change when meats are salted, brined, smoked, cured or dried. I thought Pop's mentioned something about par cooking/smoking meats that are cured. The USDA says refridgerate perishable food that has been at room temp two hours. Salting steaks an hour an inch at room temp would get my steaks cooked barely in time at the two hour mark. You have four hours in a smoker to get out of the danger zone. One guy asked about a whole hog and over 24 hours to smoke. The reply was as long as the environment the hog was in was 200+*F then it's in a food bourne pathagen free environment so it can be there till done. And then intact meat not punctured gets you more time when the outside of meat is >145*F before inserting the probe therm. Maybe there's more specific danger zone info on the preserving methods above under food safety forum.
-Kurt
Edited by Dr K - 5/18/17 at 2:40pm
post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shyzabrau View Post
 

 

Does that apply to smoking bacon (which is cured)?


No---Curing properly takes the Danger Zone problem away. That's the main reason for curing.

 

 

Bear

post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by CanadianBacon8 View Post
 

I recently bought the MES 30 Electric smoker with cold smoker attachment and I have a quick question with regards to smoking at low temperatures.

 

Im planning to smoke a pork belly to semi-cooked which requires a lower temperature. However, I've read that low temps on electric smokers do no create a lot of smoke because it has a hard time burning the wood chips.

 

So can I use the heating element from MES 30 while using the cold smoker attachment at the same time to generate the required amount of smoke?

 

 

 

Also, I'm thinking of cooking my pork belly at ~160F until an internal temperature of ~125F. What do you guys think of this? Will it give good results? 

 

 

 

Thanks!

 

 

Q: So can I use the heating element from MES 30 while using the cold smoker attachment at the same time to generate the required amount of smoke?

 

A: I believe that is what it was designed for.  That's one of the ways it's marketed according to what I just read from it's Amazon listing.

 

 

Q: Also, I'm thinking of cooking my pork belly at ~160F until an internal temperature of ~125F. What do you guys think of this? Will it give good results? 

 

A: I think that will give you good results according to what Bearcarver has mentioned in one of his detailed bacon posts "I don't care where it falls between 100˚ and 145˚----It is ALL GREAT ! "  I think you will be fine.

 

I have only 16 pounds of pork belly bacon under my belt but I did a lot of research before my attempt.  When the topic comes up I always mention I decided to take mine to 145F internal temp (IT) so it was safe to eat right out of the smoker.  I'm so glad I did and I wound up eating way more of the bacon right out of the vacuum sealed bags rather than frying it up hahahaa.  I did mine with the smoker at 165F until the bacon hit an IT of 145F.  It took 12-12.5 hours or so.

 

Also a word to the wise, be sure a do a salt test after curing before u smoke it.  You just fry up a piece and see if it is to salty.  If it is soak it in ice water.  It took 6 hours of soaking for me to get great salt balance.  If the fry test is acceptable on salt then smoke it up!  This step can save you from having a disasterous first bacon attempt.

 

I hope all this info helps :) 

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you very much everyone for the replies, they were very helpful!

post #8 of 14

I cure and smoke pork bellies below 70 deg. F from hours to days...    then freeze and cook when I'm ready... 

 

 

From Marianski's web site...

Cold Smoking

Cold smoking at 52-71° F (12-22° C), from 1-14 days, applying thin smoke with occasional breaks in between, is one of the oldest preservation methods. We cannot produce cold smoke if the outside temperature is 90° F (32° C), unless we can cool it down, which is what some industrial smokers do. Cold smoking is a drying process whose purpose is to remove moisture thus preserving a product.

You will find that different sources provide different temperatures for cold smoking. In European countries where most of the cold smoking is done, the upper temperature is accepted as 86° F (30° C). The majority of Russian, Polish and German meat technology books call for 71° F (22° C), some books ask for 77° F (25° C). Fish starts to cook at 85° F (29.4° C) and if you want to make delicious cold smoked salmon that is smoked for a long time, obviously you can not exceed 86° F (30° C). Cold smoking assures us of total smoke penetration inside of the meat. The loss of moisture also is uniform in all areas and the total weight loss falls within 5-20% depending largely on the smoking time. Cold smoking is not a continuous process, it is stopped (no smoke) a few times to allow fresh air into the smoker.

post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shyzabrau View Post
 

 

Does that apply to smoking bacon (which is cured)?

I'm no expert on that. I don't know how the cure and smoking the major meat companies use on commercial bacon is as a strong a preservative as in historical times. The bacon's still raw and if let in the fridge too long it will start to smell and get slimey, even if it's been cured and smoked. I also would be hesitant to cook raw bacon that had been left out overnight. But there are variables. What's the outdoor temp while the bacon's in the smoker? How many hours are you smoking it? In the real world (as opposed to USDA labs) how quickly does bacteria grow in temps between 40-140°? 

 

I see that there are some other replies to your question from guys with more experience. Also, just Google the heck out this whole thing and decide on your plan of action, what you feel comfortable with. 

post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearcarver View Post
 


No---Curing properly takes the Danger Zone problem away. That's the main reason for curing.

 

 

Bear

But if this is so, why do supermarkets keep their smoke and cured bacon in the refrigerated shelf sections and butcher display cases?

post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr K View Post


I believe the parameters change when meats are salted, brined, smoked, cured or dried. I thought Pop's mentioned something about par cooking/smoking meats that are cured. The USDA says refridgerate perishable food that has been at room temp two hours. Salting steaks an hour an inch at room temp would get my steaks cooked barely in time at the two hour mark. You have four hours in a smoker to get out of the danger zone. One guy asked about a whole hog and over 24 hours to smoke. The reply was as long as the environment the hog was in was 200+*F then it's in a food bourne pathagen free environment so it can be there till done. And then intact meat not punctured gets you more time when the outside of meat is >145*F before inserting the probe therm. Maybe there's more specific danger zone info on the preserving methods above under food safety forum.
-Kurt

But if cured, smoked meats like bacon are an exception to the Danger Zone rule, why are they kept in the refrigerated sections of supermarkets and butcher shops? And I don't know of any pit master who cold smokes a whole hog. This thread was about cold smoking a pork belly. I admit in the original post he never said he planned to slice it into bacon but I expounded on it anyway. But now that I think on it, I've never thought to Google how commercial bacon is made anyway. I just know you can buy fully cooked bacon off the regular grocery shelves alongside cans of SPAM and such. 

post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by daRicksta View Post
 

But if this is so, why do supermarkets keep their smoke and cured bacon in the refrigerated shelf sections and butcher display cases?


Cure doesn't make Bacon OK to keep unrefrigerated. It makes it OK to Smoke Low & Slow for many hours & even days.

It removes the Danger Zone problem.

 

It takes other methods to keep things like Jerky safe to keep in a jar on the counter, or in your pocket for days.

 

Others can give you better explanation about the other things, I'll just stick to Cure makes it OK to Smoke very low & slow.

 

 

Bear

post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearcarver View Post
 


Cure doesn't make Bacon OK to keep unrefrigerated. It makes it OK to Smoke Low & Slow for many hours & even days.

It removes the Danger Zone problem.

 

It takes other methods to keep things like Jerky safe to keep in a jar on the counter, or in your pocket for days.

 

Others can give you better explanation about the other things, I'll just stick to Cure makes it OK to Smoke very low & slow.

 

 

Bear

I just know the very basics of all of this but it's easy to get confused. So, I now get that salt and smoke can prevent bacteria from growing. I get hung up on questions as to why a dry cure works for a specified period of time but not long term, yet these processes were invented to safely preserve meats thousands of years ago when there was no refrigeration. And, as I told Kurt, I think it was, the post was about smoking a whole pork belly and not sliced bacon, which changes things. But Bear, you've always been great and educational in your explanations of techniques and how-to step by step procedures. 

 

I also know that the USDA is more conservative in its guidelines than is sometimes practical. I think it was Chef JimmyJ that once posted he had a difference of opinion with the whole Danger Zone thing. If I'm wrong about the source or Jimmy's opinion I apologize.  


Edited by daRicksta - 5/20/17 at 9:45am
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearcarver View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by daRicksta View Post

 
But if this is so, why do supermarkets keep their smoke and cured bacon in the refrigerated shelf sections and butcher display cases?


Cure doesn't make Bacon OK to keep unrefrigerated. It makes it OK to Smoke Low & Slow for many hours & even days.
It removes the Danger Zone problem.

It takes other methods to keep things like Jerky safe to keep in a jar on the counter, or in your pocket for days.

Others can give you better explanation about the other things, I'll just stick to Cure makes it OK to Smoke very low & slow.


Bear

What he said....icon14.gif
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