Discussion in 'Bacon' started by mark bacon, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. mark bacon

    mark bacon Fire Starter

    I have 54 lbs of pork belly that I am curing.  The bellies I got fresh in Chicago from a meat packing house including one that was a  Berkshire belly and they are generating more liquid than any bellies I have had in the past.  Should I drain the liquid or should I continue to flip the bellies in the liquid ?  

    Would 12 days in the cure be too long ?  I don't think I am going to be able to smoke much sooner than that.

     One belly  I am doing pancetta style since it was so thin and thought may as well try that.  I only had cure #1, not the long term cure #2.  will I need to bring this up to temp  because of the #1 cure ?  I know it is not normally smoked, but I am going to toss some pecan and give it a little smoke.  
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    rotate and turn the bellies.... do not discard the liquid... It has cure in it....

    I would remove the bellies at day 8 or 9..... rinse and dry well.... store in the refer for the remaining days for them to come to equilibrium and the salt, cure etc. to become equally distributed throughout the meat.... The meat should be exposed to the air during that time... Hang so they are not touching... air circulation on all sides.....

    As far as pancetta goes..... You need to follow a specific recipe to make it.... It takes months if not a year or more to make pancetta.... salt, cure #2, a curing chamber and weights of the meat to determine moisture loss.....

    It is not advisable to mix and match recipes.... the results, could be health compromising....
  3. There is a recipe in Charcutrie(Rhulman) that uses cure #1 on a pancetta. After curing it like regular bacon, just freeze or eat right away. It turned out well, although I imagine the long, dry cured pancetta would be much better. I've been unfreezing and cubing for use in Italian stews, soups etc.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2014
  4. mark bacon

    mark bacon Fire Starter

    I will keep the liquid in then, thanks.  Just keep rotating them in it, and then will let air dry 4 days or so since I know I can't smoke this weekend which would be the normal 9 day time frame.  What is the longest I could air dry the bacon without ruining it ???

    As for the pancetta, here is the recipe that I followed, but was really wondering about the air curing with #1 cure vs the #2 cure.  I have ready where pancetta can be hung for a couple of weeks after the curing process.

    I have seen where Prosciutto takes a year, but have not found a recipe for pancetta taking so long, am I missing something ?

    I will post some pictures as soon as I figure out how to on this site.
  5. This is very similar to the recipe I followed, and both are from what I would say are reputable sources.  Mine specifically states that it isn't meant to be eaten raw, so the air drying isn't as critical. Anyways, I dried mine in the basement for about a week, but then I felt it was getting to hard, so I cut and vac-packed, happy with the results.
  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    MY MISTAKE........

    There I go.... thinking of one style of charcuterie and commenting on another...... Please accept my humble apologies... Pancetta is made with cure #1 and it doesn't take months to cure....

  7. dave17a

    dave17a Smoking Fanatic

    So Dave, What about, bacon is all wrapped up and in a pan and is dry cure and liquid is all in pan? I dumped first few times last time and then left it in and it solidifide in pan. Got another belly going and dumped liquid. That is a concern of mine that cure is running out. Just wrapped up in plastic wrap.
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    There is no way to know what the concentration of cure, salt etc. is, once it has been dumped...

    The method of adding cure, salt, spices etc. to a bag is typically called a "Dry Brine".... the brine comes from the meat and none, or very little, water is added... If my bacon is "dry" after a day or 2, I will add 1/8 cup of water for moisture to make sure the surface get uniformly covered with the ingredients.... Not very often that happens...

    About dumping the liquid from cured meats in a bag..........

    Cure #1 is 6.25% nitrite which is 62.500 Ppm nitrite.... It is all on the surface of the meat..... If you dump the liquid, you are dumping cure and salt etc......

    Lets say none was dumped.. after 3-4 days the nitrite and salt etc. are penetrating the meat... the surface may be 25,000 Ppm while the center of the meat is 0 Ppm.... after the proper time for cure to take place, say that is 8-10 days or so, the center of the meat may be 25 Ppm while the outside is say 200 Ppm..... Now you rinse and dry the meat and let it rest in the refer for 2-5 days to "bloom" or come to equilibrium so the bacon has uniformly absorbed all the salt, cure, spices etc.... then it should be about 120 Ppm throughout... If you have added your salt at a 2% addition, there is no need to do a fry test... the bacon is 2% salt throughout....

    Anywho...... that's how it's supposed to work...... says so, in fine print, in physics class...

    Hope all that makes sense..... If not, let me know... Dave
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2014
  9. mark bacon

    mark bacon Fire Starter

    I keep rolling the bellies around in the in the liquid.  They will have been in "dry" brine for 8 days on thursday .   My plan is to soak them for about 1/2 hour, change water, and soak for another 15-20. Then I will let them air dry for until I get back home and can start smoking monday.  I will re-season them a bit as well.  Would you let them stay in the cure for the weekend ?

     That would be 11 days in the cure ? 

    As for the pancetta, I just ordered some valentines gifts for my wife and kids from Zingerman's and notice they had a smoked Pancetta. I think I will do mine over applewood and pecanwood as that will be a milder smoke flavor.
  10. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Let the bacon air dry/bloom in the refer, on wire racks for3-5 days, no problem....
  11. mark bacon

    mark bacon Fire Starter


    I'm thinking it will then shrink even less when cooking ???  What is the longest you've dried before smoking ?  

    Also what is the longest you've let it rest after smoking until cutting and packaging ?  I have a slab I am going to have to cut or at least bag as it has now been a week since it came out of the smoker.

  12. dave17a

    dave17a Smoking Fanatic

    Makes sense after reading couple times and dumping cure and other flavors was my concern. Well will do small test fries. Dog first.LOL. But I know it is not a joking matter. Like I said it was fine last time. smoker Never got above 60* I beleive. Second year on bacon learning all the time. Thanks, Dave...Dave
  13. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I've let bacon rest for 3 days, then into the cold smoker at 40-60 deg F for 6 days adding smoke for 6 hours/day.... just leave the bacon hanging in the smoker 24-7... some folks smoke it for 30 + days... no refrigeration... every day it loses moisture that way... lessening the chance for bacteria to grow... with the salt, cure and smoke, no problems hanging in the smoker...
    Then I put it in the refer for 2-3 days unwrapped, then the freezer for about 3 hours to set up..... into the slicer if it has set up enough for good slicing...

    I figure as long as I cleaned all the stuff thoroughly while curing the bacon... the wire racks were sanitized etc. for the fridge rest, and I always run my smoker up to 275+ for several hours before any food stuff goes in it to give it a good sterilization.... even though it may not be cleaned, the stuff in there is dead for the time being.... It may regrow after the smoke when new spores show up but..... that's for me to worry about next week....

    When cold smoking like I mentioned above, you may have to add a little water and oil to the pan when frying... water helps get the fat to soften and melt... the oil helps to make contact with the bacon so it will fry up nice.....

    Last edited: Feb 11, 2014
  14. Nice I just got a line on some local Tamworth hogs, I'm going to order one for the fall, glad to see they have a good rep.[​IMG]
  15. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Dave

    With the dry cure you will have weighed out the cure mix according to the weight of the meat you are curing. Therefore to ensure that there is sufficient concentration of the cure penetrating the meat it is important that it is all kept in contact with the meat for the duration of the curing period. You need to make sure that none of the brine is lost. The easiest way to do this is to use some large zip lock food bags instead of just wrapping it in plastic wrap. The natural brine that is produced will not spoil the meat - in fact keeping it in contact with the meat is a crucial part of the curing process. If you have a large enough vacuum packer it is good to pack the bacon and salts in this for the salt curing period as this will help ensure the brine stays in contact with all surfaces of the meat without having to turn it so often. 
  16. mark bacon

    mark bacon Fire Starter


    If I vac seal a brined belly, how long do you think it could stay in there ?  since its airtight, would it slow the process down to where it could be brined for a month or even longer??  Then would you bring out into the air for a few days ?   

    I go to Chicago for my bellies, and it would be nice to know I could buy more and let them sit, taking them out for final processing as I have time and need them.
  17. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would vac seal and freeze them, trimmed and ready for the brine... vac and freeze the trim for later use also...

    IMHO, trying to short-cut the curing process is not a good idea.....

  18. mark bacon

    mark bacon Fire Starter

    I probably didn't word it correctly, what I am wondering is how long I can brine bacon before smoking and am wondering  if using a vac sealer with brined bacon can stretch the brine time and  allow me to buy 100 lbs of bellies all at once, brine them all at once, and put some in vac bags that may not be pulled out for final prep for a month or more while the others will be done the standard 2 weeks of curing, rinsing and drying.   

    My wife is right, my communication skills are marginal....  but this site is really really helpful and glad I found it...
  19. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Brine can become "ropey" and "slimy" after 10-15 days.... depends... if you use sugar in the brine, it "can" grow bacteria as the yeasts eat the sugar.... the brine then needs to be changed to new, and the meat rinsed thoroughly... and the bucket or whatever sanitized......

    Like I said.... short cuts, when it comes to curing..... I don't advise it..... ALSO.... brined meats that have salt in them, do not freeze well... with the 'proper' amount of salt, meat will not freeze at 10 degrees F.....

    Brine what you will use at one time.... If you can smoke 15#'s of bacon in your smoker...... prepare only 15#'s.....

  20. mark bacon

    mark bacon Fire Starter

    Rats, so much for the bulk buy on bellies.  Better safe than sorry,  Thanks for your info, HUGE help.  

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