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bacon falls apart after hot smoking

josiegirl

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hi there i just made some bacon by myself for the first time(made some with a friend who knew what he was doing). It was a belly off a pig i butchered myself, i split the belly into 4 pieces so i could cure them in a tub in the fridge. I smoked them at 200 degrees in a neighbors bradley smoker til they were around 140 although the thickness varied so some was higher some lower.cooked some up and it tastes pretty good, problem is i cant slice it without the different layers of meat and fat coming apart. not as bad when the slices are very thick but the thicker stuff doesnt get as crispy. is this normal? i guess store bought bacon does the same thing but not this bad. i did cut the slab i am doing first into smaller sections so my knife could cut all the way through it, would shorter slices of bacon do this? should i keep the slices longer? my knife is definitely not the ideal knife to be doing with im just trying to work with what i got. really confused! at least it tastes good.
 

JC in GB

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What kind of hog did you use for the belly? Some hogs make better bacon than others and this may just be the way the meat is on that type of hog.

What cure method did you use? How long was it in cure?

How long did you smoke it at 200F? I usually start my bacon at 150F and increase every hour till 190 then smoke to about 145 - 150 before I pull it.

Not sure what might be happening from your description.
 

chopsaw

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Put it in the freezer for 3 or 4 hours . First time I made my own , I tried to slice with s knife . Stopped and went to cabelas and bought a slicer . Understand if you can't or don't want to , but it really helps with bacon .
 

Bearcarver

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Yup---Even when we use a Auto-slicer, I put the Bacon in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours to make it slice better. Hand Slicing I'd go 3 hours.

Bear
 

D.W.

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Yup---Even when we use a Auto-slicer, I put the Bacon in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours to make it slice better. Hand Slicing I'd go 3 hours.

Bear
Yup. Cut slabs to size for slicing. Wrap in some plastic wrap and put into freezer for a few hours. Couldn't agree more. Sometimes I'll get half to two-thirds of a way through a slab and then put back in the freezer to firm up again.
 

josiegirl

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hurray! so many great tips. I managed to get pretty nice slices off after a little practice. still have 2 slabs to go cuz i got a blister on my knife finger but tomorrow those bad boys are goin into the freezer to make it easier. i think thats probably the problem. the hog was a commercially raised pink piggy i got from a producer who's selling cuz of corona. got him delivered to my house for 100 bucks! so imagine its a good breed of pig for bacon, isn't that what they use for store bacon? most recipes for hot smoking went to 140, whats the difference between that and going up to 150?
 

daveomak

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The problem is you are cooking the bacon.....
I cold smoke my bellies below 70F for several hours over a few days... then cool or into the freezer for a couple hours and then slice....
I don't see the reason to cook bacon twice...
Pre 1970, bacon was cold smoked for up to 30 days.... Never pre cooked...

In the refer with a dry rub of cure#1, salt and sugar...
Bacon 5-2020 001.JPG

In the smoker...
Bacon 8-30 002 (2).JPG

blooming in the refer
Bacon 8-30 009.JPG

Sliced....
8-30 bacon 002.JPG
 

Bearcarver

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hurray! so many great tips. I managed to get pretty nice slices off after a little practice. still have 2 slabs to go cuz i got a blister on my knife finger but tomorrow those bad boys are goin into the freezer to make it easier. i think thats probably the problem. the hog was a commercially raised pink piggy i got from a producer who's selling cuz of corona. got him delivered to my house for 100 bucks! so imagine its a good breed of pig for bacon, isn't that what they use for store bacon? most recipes for hot smoking went to 140, whats the difference between that and going up to 150?

140° isn't done yet. 145° is the USDA safe to eat Temp.
So like Dave said, "No need to cook it twice" so if you take it to 145° or 150° you won't have to fry it, bake it, or cook it in any way before you eat it. You'll only have to warm it.
If you cold smoke it, you will have to Fry it or cook it in some way up to 145IT before eating it, and be careful not to burn it.
People do it different ways:
Some Cold smoke it.
Some Hot Smoke it.
And some, like Me warm smoke it (Between 100° and 130° smoker temp).
Try them all if you want to see what you like best. Just don't let others tell you their way is the only way.

Here's a Step by Step on how I do it:
Bacon (Extra Smoky)

Bear
 

daveomak

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OR, you can cook it based on the pasteurization process.... which processors do... When I worked at a family sausage/hams/bacon etc. manufacturer, they processed finished product to 138F.... I wasn't aware of the process at that time... they had charts collecting data from the smoker/cookers that recorded time and temperature....

Here is a pasteurization table you can follow to insure your food is safe to eat.....
Personally, the final time I use is, suggested time plus 1/2 to 1 additional hour for insurance in the event my therm is off or there are cool spots inside the smoker.....


The pasteurization times for beef, lamb and pork are listed in Table C.1. Table C.2 lists the pasteurization times for chicken and turkey.
Temperature... ....... Time.... ....... Temperature... ........ Time
°F (°C) (Minutes) °F (°C) (Seconds)
130 (54.4)........... 112 min
131 (55.0) ......... 89 min...........
132 (55.6).......... 71 min............
133 (56.1).................. 56 min............
134 (56.7).................. 45 min...........
135 (57.2).................. 36 min............
136 (57.8).................. 28 min...........
137 (58.4)................. 23 min............
138 (58.9).................. 18 min...........
139 (59.5).................. 15 min ...........
140 (60.0).................... 12 min............
141 (60.6).................. 9 min..............
142 (61.1).................. 8 min.............
143 (61.7).............. 6 min
144 (62.2).................. 5 min
145 (62.8).................. 4 min
Table C.1: Pasteurization times for beef, corned beef, lamb, pork and cured pork (FDA, 2009, 3-401.11.B.2).
 

josiegirl

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beautiful bacon daveomak! i was thinking about cold smoking but i was afraid my bellies weren't very good quality because they looked like they hadn't cured evenly so didnt want to take all that time fiddling with them if they weren't gonna be all that great anyway. but they did cure evenly, even though uncooked there were grey spots. bacon ended up ok though, its all gonna end up cooked anywa so im not worried about the cook temp. its all for beans and fry pan! much of it ended up going into trimming pile for beans and such but still happy with it!
 

Bearcarver

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beautiful bacon daveomak! i was thinking about cold smoking but i was afraid my bellies weren't very good quality because they looked like they hadn't cured evenly so didnt want to take all that time fiddling with them if they weren't gonna be all that great anyway. but they did cure evenly, even though uncooked there were grey spots. bacon ended up ok though, its all gonna end up cooked anywa so im not worried about the cook temp. its all for beans and fry pan! much of it ended up going into trimming pile for beans and such but still happy with it!

You did good, Josie!!
Any time there is a question of whether or not the cure got all the way to center, like grey spots, it's a good idea to Hot Smoke, and not spend a lot of time smoking in the danger zone (40° to 140°). In other words, treat it like it's not cured, to be safe.

Bear
 

josiegirl

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aaahh good thing to remember for the future! so the grey spots aren't normal? what leads to that typically? i cured it 14 days overall, overhauling on the 7 day mark. i didn't use quite as much cure as i wanted to because i ran out and only had #2. it actually seemed firmer when i overhauled it, maybe i cured it too long?
 

daveomak

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Dry curing removes moisture and the meat firms up... Increases flavor... and readies for cold smoking..
Curfe#2 IS cure#1 at 6.25% nitrite and anywhere from 0.5% to 4% nitrate...
The belly you cured IS cured... You can't cure meat too long using cure#2... Properly cured with cure#2, you can hang meat forever in a charcuterie while waiting for a sale....
A picture of the 'grey' spots would be good.....
 

Bearcarver

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aaahh good thing to remember for the future! so the grey spots aren't normal? what leads to that typically? i cured it 14 days overall, overhauling on the 7 day mark. i didn't use quite as much cure as i wanted to because i ran out and only had #2. it actually seemed firmer when i overhauled it, maybe i cured it too long?

I can't help you with differences between Cure #1 and Cure #2, because I Dry Cure with Tender Quick.
However the grey spots (See below Pic) aren't normal, and are normally a sign of not being cured all the way to center, which could be caused by not curing long enough, not using enough cure per pound of meat, meat being too thick to cure to center without injecting, and a Refrigerator being too cold for the cure to work properly (Best Temp is between 36° and 38°).

The Pink in this picture shows where the meat was sufficiently cured.
The grey in the centers shows where the cure did not reach:
uncured cured pork copy.jpeg


Bear
 
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