Bacon Cure

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johnson.4204

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Original poster
Jan 15, 2024
4
1
Hello!
I just discovered this forum. Sorry if this doesn't belong here. I have been using this recipe here (https://heygrillhey.com/homemade-smoked-bacon/) for my bacon and have had mostly success with it but this past time it came out really bad. I cured the bacon for a week and it came out fairly flavorless, which doesn't typically happen. How long can I push my cure? I started perusing the forums and saw that most folks reference the curing calculator here (http://diggingdogfarm.com/page2.html) to make their cures. Should I edit the recipe from Hey Grill Hey with the percentages from Digging Dog Farm? Any information would be helpful. TIA!
 
Here is a basic recipe I have used in the past. Makes very good bacon.

Ingredients:
2 oz. Kosher salt (about 1/4 cup)
2 tsp. Cure #1 (aka pink salt, InstaCure #1, Prague Powder #1)
1/4 C. Maple sugar or packed brown sugar
1/4 C. Maple syrup


5 lb. fresh pork belly
(Makes enough for a 5 lb. belly)
 
Diggingdog calc works fine as long as you're aware it adds the salt in the cure to the additional salt you're adding for the total salt value you enter in that box.

I do my own calculations based on meat weight in grams for dry cure as follows:

0.25% cure#1
1.5% non-iodized salt
0.75% sugar

I also let the cure go for a couple weeks. The meat will be cured sooner, but more time will reward you with better flavor in the finished product.

The salt and sugar can be adjusted for taste, but the amount of cure does not get changed.
 
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By changing everything to grams you can get reliable results every time and know you're getting the right amount of cure exactly as you need.

Ryan
 
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Diggingdog calc works fine as long as you're aware it adds the salt in the cure to the additional salt you're adding for the total salt value you enter in that box.

I do my own calculations based on meat weight in grams for dry cure as follows:

0.25% cure#1
1.5% non-iodized salt
0.75% sugar

I also let the cure go for a couple weeks. The meat will be cured sooner, but more time will reward you with better flavor in the finished product.

The salt and sugar can be adjusted for taste, but the amount of cure does not get changed.
0.25% Cure #1 is drastically different than the 6.25% that comes up when I go to the Digging Dog Calc? How does that work?
 
0.25% Cure #1 is drastically different than the 6.25% that comes up when I go to the Digging Dog Calc? How does that work?
6.25 is the percentage of nitrite in cure#1, not how much you are using. The rest is salt. The 6.25% is just telling you how much nitrite is in the curing salt the calc is using.
 
Hello!
I just discovered this forum. Sorry if this doesn't belong here. I have been using this recipe here (https://heygrillhey.com/homemade-smoked-bacon/) for my bacon and have had mostly success with it but this past time it came out really bad. I cured the bacon for a week and it came out fairly flavorless, which doesn't typically happen. How long can I push my cure? I started perusing the forums and saw that most folks reference the curing calculator here (http://diggingdogfarm.com/page2.html) to make their cures. Should I edit the recipe from Hey Grill Hey with the percentages from Digging Dog Farm? Any information would be helpful. TIA!
We love fixing internet recipes here, seems like we do this a lot, welcome to the best smoking page on the internet SMF.

First off the amount of cure #1 she uses is a bit high (1-1/4tsp.)
Next is the salt which is over 3.75%. This is higher than most tastes would prefer
which brings me to sugar where she goes way over the top into the 6% range. This is a bad recipe, you may like it but it’s a bad one.

First thing you want to do is convert everything to grams for a better controlled curing journey. In your recipe it lists a 5 pound belly. To convert to grams you simply multiply the pounds meat, 5 in this case, by 454 (the number of grams in 1 pound) this gives us 5 x 454= 2270 grams meat weight.

Now cure around here is generally accepted at .25% to the weight of meat. This gives us 156ppm nitrite which is safe for all curing including sausage so it’s a good number to always work with. To find our cure #1 amount for 5 pounds we do this:

2270 x .0025= 5.6g

It is also generally accepted that 1 tsp cure #1 per 5 pounds meat is fine, but spoon volumes vary and are not accurate like weighing.

Salt is generally applied between 1.5 and 2% to meat weight. This tastes best for the majority of people. So to find our salt at 1.5% we do this:

2270 x .015= 34g (your recipe uses something close to 80g)

Now sugar is generally applied no more than salt percentage and often as much as half to just balance the salt. To find say .75% sugar we do this:

2270 x .0075= 17g (your recipe somewhere over 100 grams)

What I’ve just illustrated is a balanced tasting and effective cure recipe that is delicious and extremely repeatable. What you were using is way overboard.
 
We love fixing internet recipes here, seems like we do this a lot, welcome to the best smoking page on the internet SMF.

First off the amount of cure #1 she uses is a bit high (1-1/4tsp.)
Next is the salt which is over 3.75%. This is higher than most tastes would prefer
which brings me to sugar where she goes way over the top into the 6% range. This is a bad recipe, you may like it but it’s a bad one.

First thing you want to do is convert everything to grams for a better controlled curing journey. In your recipe it lists a 5 pound belly. To convert to grams you simply multiply the pounds meat, 5 in this case, by 454 (the number of grams in 1 pound) this gives us 5 x 454= 2270 grams meat weight.

Now cure around here is generally accepted at .25% to the weight of meat. This gives us 156ppm nitrite which is safe for all curing including sausage so it’s a good number to always work with. To find our cure #1 amount for 5 pounds we do this:

2270 x .0025= 5.6g

It is also generally accepted that 1 tsp cure #1 per 5 pounds meat is fine, but spoon volumes vary and are not accurate like weighing.

Salt is generally applied between 1.5 and 2% to meat weight. This tastes best for the majority of people. So to find our salt at 1.5% we do this:

2270 x .015= 34g (your recipe uses something close to 80g)

Now sugar is generally applied no more than salt percentage and often as much as half to just balance the salt. To find say .75% sugar we do this:

2270 x .0075= 17g (your recipe somewhere over 100 grams)

What I’ve just illustrated is a balanced tasting and effective cure recipe that is delicious and extremely repeatable. What you were using is way overboard.
Thank you for all the information! I've never dug into recipes until now. Thank you for breaking it down for me. I will make a fresh batch of rub for my next batch.

I have been reading that some folks push their cure for 10-14 days (I think I've done 7 at the most). I thought I read excessive curing with nitrites can be bad for you, yet it seems like folks try to push their cure as long as possible. How do I know how long to cure the meat for? Does it vary based on weight?
 
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Thank you for all the information! I've never dug into recipes until now. Thank you for breaking it down for me. I will make a fresh batch of rub for my next batch.

I have been reading that some folks push their cure for 10-14 days (I think I've done 7 at the most). I thought I read excessive curing with nitrites can be bad for you, yet it seems like folks try to push their cure as long as possible. How do I know how long to cure the meat for? Does it vary based on weight?
14 days is my personal minimum. More time allows for flavors to develop especially if you're using any spices beyond the basic cure ingredients. Using weight for your measurements allows you to repeat results exactly every time. No rinsing or soaking will ever be needed. What DougE DougE gave you for percentages is a great basic start and you can adjust from there based on personal tastes. After many adjustments we settled in on:
.25% #1 (This should never change. Ever.)
1.8% Salt (My understanding is this should never go below 1.5% total in a basic cure.)
1% Sugar (Sugar is to balance the flavor and has no effect on the curing process)

Curing with an excessive amount of nitrites can be bad for you. The amount of time you cure has no effect on that.
The amount of time to cure is based on the thickness of the meat and not weight. The general rule for minimum cure time is 1 day per 1/4" of thickness plus 2 days to make sure. Again, this is the minimum.
 
14 days is my personal minimum. More time allows for flavors to develop especially if you're using any spices beyond the basic cure ingredients. Using weight for your measurements allows you to repeat results exactly every time. No rinsing or soaking will ever be needed. What DougE DougE gave you for percentages is a great basic start and you can adjust from there based on personal tastes. After many adjustments we settled in on:
.25% #1 (This should never change. Ever.)
1.8% Salt (My understanding is this should never go below 1.5% total in a basic cure.)
1% Sugar (Sugar is to balance the flavor and has no effect on the curing process)

Curing with an excessive amount of nitrites can be bad for you. The amount of time you cure has no effect on that.
The amount of time to cure is based on the thickness of the meat and not weight. The general rule for minimum cure time is 1 day per 1/4" of thickness plus 2 days to make sure. Again, this is the minimum.
Ok thank you for that information. That is very helpful! I will try this cure next time!

Do you smoke after the cure? Do you have a link to your process in another thread somewhere? If the recipe I had been using was messed up it sounds like the process might be as well lol.
 
Do you smoke after the cure? Do you have a link to your process in another thread somewhere?
I gave my process in post #3, mostly. Use the formula I gave per each piece of meat (weigh each and work up the cure for each). Rub the mixture as evenly as possible on all sides, bag in a ziplock , and cure in the fridge for a couple weeks flipping and massaging the bag(s) every day or 2.

And yes, I either cold or warm smoke following the cure.
 
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Thank you for all the information! I've never dug into recipes until now. Thank you for breaking it down for me. I will make a fresh batch of rub for my next batch.

I have been reading that some folks push their cure for 10-14 days (I think I've done 7 at the most). I thought I read excessive curing with nitrites can be bad for you, yet it seems like folks try to push their cure as long as possible. How do I know how long to cure the meat for? Does it vary based on weight?
In what I gave you, you are applying exactly what you want to be in the meat at the finish. Time, then, is for the cure to take place, that’s about a week, but then more time creates flavor development. It takes more than a week to let the process of salt diffusion and the osmosis effect to equalize. So for me 14 days is my goal time for most all cured meats that are whole muscle. The flavor at 10-14 days is much better, even 21 days is perfectly fine. Refrigerator temperature needs to be in the 30’s to go longer but most of our refrigerators are running around 35-37 degrees.
It takes a little more than a week to make the good stuff. The cure #1 applied at .25% will be most all depleted at the end of 14 days so no worries there.
 
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Another thing to consider on time is that if you like sweet or sweeter bacon you really need more time. Sugar diffuses into meat much slower than salt (sodium) so you need extra time for that sweeter flavor to develop in meat. 14 days is a great target here but 21 days would be better balanced for sweet bacon.
 
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Thank you for all the information! I've never dug into recipes until now. Thank you for breaking it down for me. I will make a fresh batch of rub for my next batch.

I have been reading that some folks push their cure for 10-14 days (I think I've done 7 at the most). I thought I read excessive curing with nitrites can be bad for you, yet it seems like folks try to push their cure as long as possible. How do I know how long to cure the meat for? Does it vary based on weight?
The HeyGrillHey (HGH) cure formula is more to a gradient (time based) than the equilibrium method all responses have suggested. By keeping the nitrite at the 0.25% you never get more into the belly by going 2-3-4 or 5 weeks.
And SmokinEdge SmokinEdge posted before I could finish my post that sugars take longer to uptake and that is why HGH uses a higher percentage of sugar to try to get it to penetrate in the week cure. With a longer cure, sugar % higher than salt % is going to get very sweet after a 3-4 week cure. Some like it sweet, I don't. Sugar also can cause burning if you don't watch the cooking temperature.

Also, when using cure #1 only make enough of your rub to use immediately.
 
The HeyGrillHey (HGH) cure formula is more to a gradient (time based) than the equilibrium method all responses have suggested. By keeping the nitrite at the 0.25% you never get more into the belly by going 2-3-4 or 5 weeks.
And SmokinEdge SmokinEdge posted before I could finish my post that sugars take longer to uptake and that is why HGH uses a higher percentage of sugar to try to get it to penetrate in the week cure. With a longer cure, sugar % higher than salt % is going to get very sweet after a 3-4 week cure. Some like it sweet, I don't. Sugar also can cause burning if you don't watch the cooking temperature.

Also, when using cure #1 only make enough of your rub to use immediately.
Correct, and I agree John. That is a gradient cure. In todays age I steer people away from them because of the learning curve there. You are on your game for sure. Love the conversation.
 
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