Back in late April, early May, I finally got the nerve up to try making my own bacon. I did a fair amount of research, and started off with a Costco belly, using Pops brine (https://www.smokingmeatforums.com/threads/1st-go-at-bacon-w-pops-brine.275437/) The results were a success, but I wanted to see what dry curing was like to compare the two. So, I started the process, did my research and ordered a good scale from amazon. I settled on Smokin Als Berkshire bacon recipe (https://www.smokingmeatforums.com/threads/berkshire-hog-belly-bacon.271069/). It seemed pretty straightforward and I trust Al's recipes! Now all I needed was some pork belly. I first went to restaurant depot, but all they had was skin on, and it was frozen. I was still in experiment mode, so I figured why not. It was 39 lbs, and frozen solid. It was May 31, and I was leaving town Friday for the weekend. I really wanted to get it in the cure before I left but how was I to thaw 40lbs of meat in less than 24 hours? Into the bathtub, wrapped in an Un scented garbage bag. Could not sink it for anything so I just flipped it over every few hours or so. Once they all thawed I was able to see what I had. Not very good. Very skinny and my attempt to take the skin off proved inefficient. I picked the best pieces, cut them up into manageable sizes, and into the cure they went! The recipe calls for you to use the bacon calculator (http://diggingdogfarm.com/page2.html), and once cures are measured based on weight of each slab, you simply add two tablespoons each (or 1/8 cup) of CBP, granulated garlic, and granulated onion. Into the bags with even amounts on each side and sealed up for two weeks rest in the fridge. I diligently flipped, rotated and massaged the bellies daily. This is a pic from another belly but shows my method of adding cure, salt, sugar and seasoning. As the next week progressed, I kept thinking about how thin the belly’s were, and with the skin on I was in for a real challenge. So, I decided to run to Costco and see if they had any nice thick belly. They had one, so on June 9, another two slabs entered the cure! Now I had something to work with. If the RD belly’s didn’t come out well, at least I have the back up Costco belly! Then, on June 14, a surprise arrived at my door. I received a tender belly from my better half, for Father’s Day. She has heard me mention wanting to try one, and didn’t realize how much I already had working. Well, it’s a good problem to have so why not? I followed the same method, only this time I used my vacuum bags because the fridge was starting to smell like funions (the onion and garlic powder is where I imagine that comes from). At this point my fridge was full and I started to worry about what on earth I would do with all this bacon. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it! Now my focus began to shift back to the RD belly, and what I would use to smoke it with. I decided on cherry, and since last time I smoked my bacon for 12 hours, this time I would try a full 24. My plan was to simply smoke at night, with no heat, for 12 hrs at a time over two days. With rest in the fridge in between. RD belly’s after a two hour soak. This wasn’t really necessary and going forward with this mix I will no longer soak. On the old Lang 36 patio! After two rounds of smoke. My house smells so good, and now I’m really beginning to get excited. Back to the fridge for two or three days rest... Some hand sliced pics. Very hard removing the skin. Time for the first creole tomato BLTs of the year!! Some of the best bacon I’ve ever tried. Dry cure is definitely the way to go for me!!! Now my focus shifted to the Costco belly, and I decided to do that with corn cob, since I heard so much about it here. That Costco belly was good and thick! Into the smoker with corn cob burning. Boy is it a pretty color!! Into the fridge for 3 days...smells so good! Talk about a pile of bacon! That’s almost 35lbs, and I still have a tenderbelly in the fridge. What to do!? Well, after much debate, I decided to make a small public advertisement to friends and family asking anyone interested to reach out to me, as this bacon was for sale. No kidding, it was gone in three hours. I made a nice little profit and folks asked for more. But now I didn’t have any bacon for myself...yet! So, now I have a second fridge and currently have 7 bellies in various stages of cure, all presold. But that’s for another thread down the road. My focus now was to finish the tender belly, as it would be my personal “stash”. I know this thread has been very long and pic heavy, so I will try and wrap it up. I decided to do each of the three TBs in a different smoke. One hickory, one apple and one pecan. All 24 hrs each. We have since tried the apple and the hickory, and both are delicious. The quality of the tenderbelly is unmatched. As good as the RD and Costco belly’s were, the TB is on an entirely different level! It literally melts in your mouth. And, I will certainly buy from them again. I’ll leave you with pics from the TB smoke slice and store. It was a fun project, thanks for looking!!