Bacon - In A Fish Smokert?

Discussion in 'Smoking Bacon' started by grillius, May 19, 2015.

  1. First post here after much lurking - so much good information and experience in these forums!   Really a great resource.

    I'm getting ready to do my first cold smoke bacon - actually Bearcarver's extra smoky bacon.   20# of bellies have been in the Pop's brine about 12 days and I'm planning to smoke this weekend.  AMPS and pellets arrived this week and are ready to go. 

    The question I have is this:  I borrowed a homebuilt smoker from a firiend, its made of cedar and has had lots of fish (salmon mostly) smoked in it.   It has a definite fishy aroma just sitting there.   I'm wondering if this will affect the bacon and give it a fishy taste or odor.   Logically, any smoker has different meats run through it at different times, and things turn out fine.  But on the other hand, maybe being made of wood will tend to make this smoker hold/impart the strong fishy aroma?

    I like fish, smoked and otherwise, but I don't think I want it mixed in with my bacon.

    I would much appreciate insight on this and whether I'm worrying over nothing, or whether I ought to think of an alternate smoker.   TIA for your thoughts on this -
  2. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yes you probably will get a fishy flavor to go along with your bacon. I have been smoking fish for many years and I have a dedicated smoker just for fish. You may be able to get rid of some of the fish smell by spraying down the interior with white vinegar. Let it dry, leave the door wide open repeat a couple times a day for several days.
  3. Thanks DirtSailor, I may give that a try or may just consider it a reason to pick up my own smoker - I'd really hate to get 20# of nice bacon ruined by the fish smell. [​IMG]  
  4. The more I think about it the more I'm leaning towards just buying a smoker.  This wood one is borrowed and so I'd need to buy one at some point.  The thought of 20# of fishy bacon is not a pleasant one.

    Lowe's has a pretty good looking MES 30 electric (model 20071514) in stock nearby for $179, so I'm going to check that out.   Of course, after reviewing the MES threads re Gen 1, 2, 2.5, etc. etc. I feel like I have entered the "wilderness of mirrors" as the CIA's James Anglin called the espionage world many years ago - its hard to know what device you are actually looking at, much less what to make of the various conflicting reviews and comments.  [​IMG]  
  5. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    See if lowes has a spare fridge box. I cold smoke all of my bacon except Canadian so I could use a card board box with a smoke generator like the AMNTS or AMNPS from Todd at AmazN. When I hot smoke Canadian bacon I use my vertical propane smoker.
  6. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    20lbs of bacon might be a lot for the 30" Masterbuilt. Have you measured the slabs to see if they will fit (width might be an issue, unless you cut them down to fit)?
  7. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Welcome Grillius!![​IMG]

    When I first started smoking with my original MES 30, I did a total of 19 Huge Salmon Fillets cut into small pieces. That took 8 full smoker loads, over a few weeks, to get it all smoked. I went to Bacon shortly after those 8 smokes, and there was no fish taste in any of the Bacon.

  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Last edited: May 21, 2015
  9. Thanks everyone for the additional suggestions.

    DirtSailor and Dave's suggestions re: cardboard cold smoker sound good except there are other smoking projects I'd like to do in the future that will need more heat, so I went ahead and picked up the MES 30 at Lowe's yesterday.    $194 out the door.

    I did the seasoning run for 3 hrs, and the internal temp probe steadied out at about 264 degrees when the controller was saying 274-277.  I put a remote digital thermo probe in through the vent hole and it tracked very close (with 2 degrees) of the MES internal probe.   So, at first blush, looks like the MES probe is accurate but the controller reads 10-12 degrees higher than actual.   I'll check the difference again at a lower temp (say 100-120) and see if the offset is the same.    This was in late afternoon and we had a strong, very cool breeeze coming off Puget Sound and I was pretty happy to see the MES get up to temperature fairly quickly and then (as far as I could tell) doing a pretty good job holding it there.

    Bmaddox, you're right on the quantity, I have 6 nice pieces of belly at about 3+ lb. each, and I think I'll end up doing 3 at a time in the MES over two runs.  Might  be able to squeeze them all in at once, but from my grilling/BBQ experience to date (and using my CharGriller for smoking pork butts, etc.) I think airspace is your friend and a little extra room is better than a little too much meat. 

    Bear, thanks for the feedback on this - I'm basically doing your extra smoky bacon for this first attempt and planning to run the MES at ~110-120 as you referenced in your thread.   Glad to hear your MES 30 was able to go from salmon to bacon no problem.   The borrowed smoker made of cedar is just so fishy smelling that I am hesitant to go that route,  I do have some tuna loins in the freezer, though, that I may brine and smoke in the cedar smoker while I have it.  

    Really looking forward to getting going with other smoking projects with the new device.   With the CharGriller and its remote firebox, it was always a constant battle to control/maintain temperature, get and even temperature within the main unit, and be constantly re-filling the Weber chimney with briquets to get them ready to add to the side box.   You can go through a LOT of Kingsford and wood chips to get 15-20# of butts up to ~200 degrees internal, so although the family and I loved the results, it was a lot of work.    I think the MES is going to make it a much less labor intensive effort, and easier to get consistent results.    I love charcoal and the CharGriller and will always stick with that for steaks, general grilling, rotisserie, etc., but for low n' slow smoking its not the best setup, at least for my needs.

    Bellies are coming out of the brine tonight and drying tomorrow,  into the smoker Saturday morning.  I'll try to post some Q view pics over the weekend.

    PS - Dave, I think I saw a reference in one of your posts that you are a former Hempler's guy?   That stuff is the gold standard around here as far as my family is concerned; when I told my wife about that post, her optimism about the quality of info here on the forum, and my smoking plans, went up subsatntially! [​IMG]   My daughter is up in Bellingham at WWU and I suggested she keep her eye out for any eligible young gentlemen from the Hempler family who might be available . . .  [​IMG]

  10. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Grillus...... Yeah, I had a maintenance business and I did welding work for them.... Welded up their smokers, slicing tables etc..... I had a friend that was the maintenance guy there.... The cool thing was they cooked up all the ends and pieces from their bacon for employee snacks... They had 3 types of bacon, determined by final weight... water added, that weighed 102% or more of the original slab... no water added that weighed 99% to 102% of the original... and old world style salted, dry rubbed or what ever it was.... it must have lost at least 20% from original and you had to add oil to the frying pan to cook it.... that stuff was awesome.... we'd sit around the frying pan and eat bacon.... those were the days... then they built a new manufacturing plant in Ferndale and sold out to some big chain.... I asked Dick Hempler if it was like selling one of his children since his dad had started the business way back when...... I didn't get much of an answer....
  11. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  12. Last night these 3 came out of the brine, were patted dry, and then into the fridge.   This morning I gave them a few hours with the fan - an old GE that I have had since the mid-60s when I was a kid (and it may have been around the house a few years before that).  Built back when US companies built durable, high quality tools and appliances right here, that would last a lifetime (or close to it).  

    The AMPS is loaded and lit - these will be in the smoker soon. 
  13. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looks like a Great Start, Grillius!!![​IMG]

    Be Back,


  14. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Are they done yet are they done yet??? 😀🍻
  15. About 3 hrs into the smoke, about 9 to go.   I spent some time chasing temps around in the first few hours but things have settled down in the ~120F range  . . .

    That AMPS is really a slick deal - just smoking away nice and steady with zero attention needed.
  16. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    LOL---Are we there yet, Dad???

    Been awhile, but even I can remember hearing that a few times!!

  17. Still smoking away here, I had a short period where the AMPS went out for some reason, so I had to re-light and get it going again.  That in turn caused temps to spike a bit - but eventually it settled down to about 115 in the chamber, with the MES set at 110. 

    I'm starting to wonder whether perhaps the MES controls temps with reference to what the controller thinks the BTU demand should be for the temperature you set, as opposed to what it actually needs to drive a certain rate of change or hold a certain temp - but that with the AMPS adding heat to the equation, it results in the set temperature needing to be a little lower than the desired chamber temp.  At least, that's what it seems like.  Fooling the controller, as it were.

    I'd hate to see a detailed chart of time/set temp/actual chamber temp for today, its been all over the place.  But I'm hoping that the meat and the process are adaptable to enough variation that the end result won't suffer too much,
  18. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If the AMNPS adds heat, it just makes the MES heating element kick off sooner, because it will get to the set point sooner. The MES should stop heating at the set point no matter what, and kick back on when it drops 1 or 2 degrees below set point.

    As for the temp being all over the place, the important thing is that the average smoker temp is in the area of the temp you wanted it to be.


    I pulled the bacon out of the smoker last night after about 12.5 hrs.  Of that, there was probably  1- 1.5 hr where the AMPS was not putting out smoke, but otherwise it appeared to generate plenty of smoke, and in fact at the end there was about 2/3 of the last row of pellets still unburned. 

    The AMPS had been placed on top of the sloped drip deflector that sits above the heat element and the MES wood chip tube.  I removed the lower rack from the MES and had the bacon on the top 3 racks.   I think the AMPS added some heat to the piece on the lowest rack, because that one had a darker, more burned looking area in the middle of the exterior surface.   I rotated the pieces between racks to to bottom once or twice during the smoke, to try to balance out any variations in temp, etc.

    Popped them in the fridge to chill overnight, hit the sack, and this morning I sliced up the smallest of the three - after cutting it in half the other direction to make the slices shorter and easier to manage in freezing and also in the pan.

    (Drum roll please.......)

    Big thumbs up reviews from me. my wife, and our team of product testers (my kids home from college for the weekend with a couple of their friends) !   The Pops brine cure gives a nice, slightly sweet flavor to go with the pork deliciousness.   Really, really good.   [​IMG]     I trimmed off the exterior slices and other odd bits because they are really a little too smoky, and chopped those up to use later in beans, salads, soup, etc. where some extra smoke would help.

    I'm going to slice up the rest and vacuum seal it in about 1/2 lb. quantities for easy use later.  Tomorrow, the other 9# will get smoked after getting a cracked black pepper coating.  I may go a little less on the smoking time, and also will work on a better position for the AMPS to avoid the hot spot under the lower rack.

    All in all, a pretty good first effort, and thanks again to Bear and the others who offered tips on this.   I have a hunch that smoker is going to be getting a lot of use this summer..... [​IMG]  
    Last edited: May 23, 2015
  20. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Good looking Bacon there, Grillius!![​IMG]

    I like to use some of the outside pieces just for snacking---I love them!![​IMG]

    However they're also Great in Beans & Soups, and so on.[​IMG]

    You're hooked now!!  Nice Job![​IMG]--------------[​IMG]


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