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To Skin, or not to Skin

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
At what point do you experts out there take the skin of the pork belly?

Before the cure?

After the cure?

Just before the smoke?

I am putting 2 slabs on the smoke this morning and I took the skin off last night.

Just curious. icon_confused.gif
post #2 of 8

Before the cure

Can't speak from experience but just the other day I was talking to the guy at B.I.G. Meats in Omaha about ordering some belly and he seemed quite pleased to tell me that the ones he orders come with the skin already removed. Makes sense that they might cure better without. Plus you don't have to pay for something you are going to throw out anyway. But I have seen slabs that were smoked already that still have the skin on it. So......guess you'll wanna actually hear from one of the experts. Sorry, it's the coffee talking.

post #3 of 8
Rind on or off is more a personal thing. Myself I remove the rind prior to curing and smoking. I figure why waste the smoke on the rind only to remove it after smoking. Of course if you want the rind on then smoke away. just my .02.
post #4 of 8
for myself it depends on if I'm making cracklins or not-but the norm is I wait till after the smoke-than render it down in some of my cast iron,not only I get it re seasoned but yeilds me a few cups of grease to boot.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
I am going to try to fry up those skins I took off last night.

Saw somewhere to do that outside or you might have to move.icon_smile.gif

Here a a couple of pics of the smoke startup.

post #6 of 8
I guess it's a matter of choice, but I think I get better curing and much better smoking without the armor plated hide on the meat.PDT_Armataz_01_42.gif

post #7 of 8
We sold approx. 350 - 700 lbs. of home cured cob smoked bacon every week (one 55 gal. barrel held 350 lbs of bellies and we'd pull and smoke 1 - 2 barrels a week; and likewise put down 1 - 2 barrels of bellies a week too, rotating in the brining cooler, each barrel numbered and put on a chart w/date it was put down).
We hung the bellies in the smokehouse and smoked for 9 hours at 165°. All bellies had the rind on. We would pull approx. ½ of the batch and take the rind off for rind-off bacon, and leave the rest for rind-on. We displayed and sold both, giving the customer the choice, rind-on or rind-off, along with their choice of thickness and packaging (1 lb. per package, ½ lb, ¼ lb., etc.)
The bellies closest to the walls cooked faster than the middle ones and we'd pull them first and when hot, it was easy to loosen the skin around the edge and then pull off the entire rind. If we cooler'd the remainder and still needed more rind-off bacon, we'd skin off a few slabs more by knife, removing the whole belly skin as one piece.
It is MUCH easier to skin off the rind after smoking than before! Plus, the lower fat is white and clean, whereas skinned bellies that are then smoked are bumpy and bubbly and a layer of smoke on them that people thnk is 'another rind layer' that has to be removed also. We'd do custom hog cutting also, and many hogs started coming in skinned vs. scalded and scraped, and their bellies looked like bumpy jelly after curing and smoking, and more than once I'd have to remove a thin layer to get the smoke imprint off for a fussy housewife who didn't believe it was truly rindless, or who didn't like the jelly belly effect on the back.

Hams and bacons hanging in the drip cooler; you can see some of the rind showing on the back of the bellies:

post #8 of 8
Good point Pops,
I noticed that thin "yellowish-brown" skin on my belly bacons I smoked without the rind on. It was only about as thick as a piece of paper, but it is a might chewy. It also has a tendency to be pushed aside when slicing on my slicer, and accumulating on the end of the piece I'm slicing, under the sliding shelf on the slicer, until I cut it off with a knife.

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