Picked up 51.5 pounds of pork belly today for $1.69/pound. It's a lot of meat but I couldn't pass it up. It was all or nothing. Is it better to freeze it raw and pull what I need or cure, smoke, freeze and pull what I need.
1) Do you have the capacity to brine it all in one big batch? And smoke it like such?
2) What is the condition of the pork right now? Is it squeaky clean fresh or is it degrading? If it is less than fresh right now, pickle it first, then freeze it up as salt pork and take it out in stages and just smoke what you can use.
3) If you freeze week-old pork as fresh it will just get worse when you unthaw it.
I would have to agree with Pops on this one... pork is not an "aging" meat.
Don't know what to tell ya... we do some fresh side every year, and it seems that if you don't eat it up within six months, it gets an old taste to it - I don't know for sure, but I think it is the fat because we've never had that problem with chops/roasts/etc. Then on the other hand... the home cured bacon/ham I've had seems to do the same thing if you let it set too long.
If it were me, I would cure it, smoke it, and eat the hell out of it till it was gone! I'm thinking with a few give aways to friends and family, you'll go through 50#'s of bacon in short order.
Thanks for the help. I'm gonna cure it all today and tomorrow and then smoke it when the time comes. I would happily send you some if I could. I can get this pork belly for $1.69/pound anytime, the problem is I have to buy it by the case. I need to find someone to split it with.
That is a good price on the bellies. Now I would like you said cure them all and smoke them.Then you can slice them and freeze them and take them out as you need. Jerry knows what it like to smoke a handful of bacon. Don't ya
Commercially it can be done either way, but if it is for long periods of time, usually it is in raw state, as curing doesn't do much for slowing fat rancidity. Either way the least amount of air contact will work the best for you.
I used TQ. Half of them I added maple and the other half I added brown sugar. The ones that got brown sugar will get onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper before they go in the smoker. Not sure if I'll add anything to the maple ones. This is my first time doing bacon so it's all a learning experience for me. If any one has any suggestions I would appreciate it.
My last comment would be to let them hang as long as you can before you slice, package, and freeze. My last batch of bacon ended up hanging in the smoker for a full day after the smoke (started smoking Sunday morning, and when I was finished, I killed my fire and left them in until Monday night), then I wrapped and had to let them sit in the fridge until the weekend (Monday night til Saturday). It is GOOD bacon. My thoughts are, it is much like cheese. If you can let is set a bit, the smoke will mellow throughout and it does make a difference.
On the slicing, set them on cookie sheets and let them stiffen up in the freezer if you can. This took me about 2 hours and made the slicing much easier.
I can't wait to see the pile of bacon you're going to end up with !