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Preservation/Curing Question

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I'm about to cure and smoke some pork belly I have, and as I've been doing research and looking at various techniques and instructions, I've noticed that a large amount of recipes, and a large amount of people, freely use the nitrate/nitrite cure as an aid in their curing process.

I really try to stay away from things like that as much as possible (although I try to stay realistic), and wanted to ask y'all if there are legitimate reasons why a salt/sugar based cure alone (whether it's brown sugars, molasses, maple syrup, etc) isn't possible to safely process homemade bacon. I understand things like the visuals as far as color (the bacon not staying a nice pink inside), etc., will be affected. I understand that those nitrites/nitrates are an integral part of the curing process, but I'm not convinced yet that bacon can't taste out of this world, and be preserved safely (vacuum sealed and frozen till eaten) without the addition of those ingredients.

So, I'd really appreciate it if someone could help me understand.


post #2 of 15
Salt curing will not make bacon, but it will make salt pork.

The methods to salt only cure a bacon are an advanced technique. Your comments on Sodium Nitrite are an indication that you are new to this. To be safe use the nitrite cure method to create you bacon. If you are worried about the nitrite you can take the bacon to 140 F when finishing the smoke and convert it all to Nitrous Oxide and release it as a gas.

Salt only cures require a HAACP plan to perform safely. If you have the knowledge to develop your HAACP based on the chemistry you can probably do this. If not you need to purchase a few books and get experience curing and eventually you will get to a salt only cure. Or sugar only.
post #3 of 15
Nitrates and Nitrites are required only if the food will be in the danger zone for any amount of time. I have seen many recipes that call for a brine/sugar cure under refrigeration and then the bellies are hot smoked. The meat gets to a safe temperature in a reasonable amount of time and the risk of contamination is minimized. If you plan on doing a cold smoke on the bacon you need to use either the nitrates/nitrites or a lot of salt (enough to make the bacon inedible) to ensure a safe result.
post #4 of 15
Use the cure.
post #5 of 15
if u dont mind me asking, whats the reason for not using it? i just did my first batch of bacon with some 6.25% cure and it worked like a charm.
post #6 of 15
I look at it this way:
Cured & smoked Pork Belly = Bacon
A lot of salt cooked fast enough to be safe (maybe) to eat = Very salty cooked Pork.
Pork without cure, cooked slowly = Sickness or possibly worse.

post #7 of 15
Ok lets say that is a question that crops up from time to time,,,,
I cure... bacon....belly....CB.....Buck Board Bacon and have cured for 49 of my 59 years...Beef(corned beef), pork and Sausage etc......

I started out cureing with my Gfather and Father.... seriously at 10..I was taught how to cure and why ( Bone Sour and meat sour)..We always cured....That is what makes it a Ham or Bacon...The Cure...

Morton tender quick has been around for Years and years...Inst cure #1 and ( Insta cure #2 is used for also slow dry cureing in Sausage Makeing dry cure)....and has been for years.....

but Know your cures and how to use them...they are not interchangeable....

I know of no other cures other than Nitrates...
post #8 of 15
I don't have a copy yet, but this book on the subject has received very high reviews: Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
I've owned a website for over 11 years and have taught hundreds of people how to can and various other things...

I recognize the hidden "are you freaking nuts wanting to do it that way?" when I see it...lolol I'm just teasing y'all, but I understand what you're saying.

I just placed an order for pink salt. I sure don't want my pork belly to be only 'salt pork'. I have the Charcuterie book, and think I'll try the recipe in there.

Now, another question please...

As long as I have the base cure (like the one in Charcuterie), is there any reason why I can't add spices and such to that base cure, or will that adversely affect it's ability to cure properly. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I appreciate y'all visiting me in 'kindergarten curing/smoking class' and being patient while I conquer this latest learning curve.

post #10 of 15
By all means add the spices with the cure and apply at the same time. Another cure I have been using is Hi Mountain Buckboard bacon cure it has their spices and cure all in one
post #11 of 15
I and I think others add about an equal amount of Brown sugar to the Tender Quick, if you're using Tender Quick.
I think if you use the other cures, like instacure, you have to add salt, so I imagine you would match that amount with sugar to counter that salt. I never use anything but Tender Quick, unless it comes in a premixed kit. I tried "Hi Mt Buckboard Bacon pre-mix", and personally I like my mix better. That was the only time I ever had to soak my bacon longer than a half hour to get rid of the "Salty" taste. On some of mine, like CB, I'll add some Black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder---After curing, but before putting in the smoker.

Hope that helps,
post #12 of 15
What BBally said.
post #13 of 15
I grew up in a family market using wet cure for hams, bacons, chickens, turkeys, etc. (see my ham cure below in my signature). My dad had his own formula made up but it was basically sugar, salt, brown sugar and curing salt plus water. I've successfully duplicated it on here and have shown successful smokes in ham, pork butt, belly, dried beef, chicken, and turkey smokes.
Without the curing salt plus proper pumping techniques you risk having the meat spoil before the cure can get to it. You need the cure.
post #14 of 15
I have cooked with Brian's cousin often, have the book.. it is good.
post #15 of 15
Find yerself a good recipe with cure (Pops put up a nice en there fer ya) follow it. Get some curin under yer belt an then expand yer horizons. Ya don't wanna just jump right inta this, lots ta learn, the old ways er very interestin but ya gotta be carefull ya don't make yerself er somebody else sick. Salt curin is a art, the product takes a fair amount a time an care ta do it right. Better ta be safe an use the cure. I feel the whole cure nightmare talk is a bit overbloated. Done properly, it is the safest way ta preserve meat.
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