Bacon, Not the Results I was Hoping For

Discussion in 'Smoking Bacon' started by justpassingthru, May 18, 2011.

  1. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Friends, yesterday I finally smoked my bacon, what a learning experience!

    The piece that I used Bear's recipe on tastes like ham, that's not so bad because I haven't had ham in over 20 years, but I was expecting bacon.

    After  curing for 11 days, when I did a fry test it, was way too salty, I spit it out and gave it to the cats and they did the same thing.  I let it soak in ice water in the fridge for 2 hours, and it was edible, rinsed it off, left it in the fridge overnight and smoked it yesterday.  It's still too salty for my tastes so I'll use it in some beans.

    The Chinese recipe was also too salty and received the same ice bath treatment, the recipe called for cure #1 but after reading about how hard it would be to rub that small of an amount on 3 pounds of meat I went with TQ and thankfully didn't add any salt.  My complaint is the TQ overpowered the rice wine and 5 spice taste, so next time I try this should I use the cure #1 and wet brine it so I don't have so much salt in my cure?

    Here's some pics taken with my phone, the batteries are dead in the camera.

    Here is the thin blue thanks to Todd's amazing gadget.


    This is after they came out of the smoker.


    Sorry their aren't more pics, and I can't slice them so into the freezer they go.

    I don't believe they are true belly cuts as as you can see they have rib bones still attached to them, Bear's recipe is the one on the left and the two on the right are the Chinese recipe.

    Thanks all for the help and advice and thanks for looking.

    I'm open to all advice and hints for the next time and there will be a next time!

  2. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  3. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sorry to hear it wasn't to your liking Gene, here's what I do for a pound of belly. Never had to soak them.

    salt                  8.5 g

    Brown sugar   5 g
    cure #1           1.1g

    11 days was a long time, I'll go a day for every 1/2 of thickness plus two days for good measure, so the 2" thick ones I got going now will be curing for 6 days.
  4. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Sorry it didnt turn out right Gene. I use TQ and have had to soak them 2-3 times depending on how they cure. Good luck   
  5. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Those look like ribs to me, a slab of pork belly will look the same, but different. We will get you straightened out. 
  6. old poi dog

    old poi dog Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Keep at it Gene.  At least you now have a baseline to work from.  Good suggestions from your friends as well.  You'll have it dialed in to your liking soon.
  7. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Sorry it didn't work out Gene, I'm sure next time it will be better.
  8. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    The bone in belly you got is weird...Belly is what is left after the Spare Ribs are cut out...Best of luck next time...JJ
  9. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hmmm, if my step by step tasted like Ham, instead of Bacon, it probably wasn't really "Belly".

    If you followed my step by step, exactly the way it is written, it would not be too salty, as I have never had to soak any of mine.

    It was either too much TQ, or you added salt, or you cured too many days for how thick the pieces were.

    11 days of curing was good for a piece over 4" thick. How thick were the pieces? I think if there were bones in, that would take less time & less cure.

    I usually soak anything I cure for about 1/2 hr to 1 hr just for giggles, and I have never even had anything salty, and never had to soak anything longer, except the one time I used Hi Mt, instead of TQ.

  10. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have never had to soak when using TQ.  I think Bear is onto something.  With the bone in, the amount of cure and the curing time could both be off.  Keep at it, Gene, you will get there.

    Good luck and good smoking.
  11. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Thanks all for your advice, from what you have said here and the PM's I have received even though the pork was labeled "Bacon" it was not belly meat.

    I weighed each piece in grams and calculated the necessary TQ for each piece, after the 11 days the pieces were NOT firm, in fact, the texture hadn't changed very much from when I started the process, this being my first attempt I wasn't sure at what "massaging" really was and found it difficult to massage with the bones on the meat.

    I'm certain my TQ is fresh (I have used it in all of my recent sausage recipes) and I used the correct amounts, because I checked, double and triple checked my figures before starting.

    My conclusion is the problem has to be with the meat, this is the fourth time I have bought pork for smoking off the shelf from a store and the finished product every time was not the best.

    For my sausage I had a friend order me a case of de-boned butts along with his order and they have all been excellent, there is such a large consumption of Char Siu here every Sunday morning that I'm convinced the best hogs go for that and the poorer grades are sold to the public in the stores.

    As for Bear's recipe, I'm convinced the problem was the meat and not the TQ or the process for I have followed his Pepperoni Beef Stick recipe many times with excellent results. 

    For my Chinese bacon I think I'll wet cure next time with cure #1 and see how that works out and go from there, I like a challenge and the bacon my friend makes is very good, but he won't tell me how he does it, it's a Chinese pride thing, one of the tricks I have learned is they use Maltose for a sweetener and it is very sweet, ...It takes my Char Siu over the top, maybe I'll try using that in my bacon recipe.

    Again, thanks for all of your help.

  12. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    your right gene... bacon is not as  easy as it looks......I think i got lucky on my first bacon problem was not enough salt and the bellies pieces were too small but the taste was good
  13. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Hey Joe,

    I'm happy for your success,  I guess we just keep trying until we get it right, huh?

  14. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    The best reason I can think of for why the Bacon you cured with TQ was too salty is this:

    Since it was "difficult to massage because of the bones in the meat", there must have been a good percentage of bones in the meat. Bones won't accept cure, so when you weighed the pieces, you put enough TQ on to cure the amount of weight including the bones. Therefore you had too much TQ for the amount of curable meat. Couple that with the fact that you left the pieces in cure for 11 days (you didn't reply to me as to how thick the pieces were). Looking at the picture you posted, I would guess (roughly) that those pieces were approximately 2 1/2" X 2 1/2", which would call for about 7 days in cure. If you used too much cure (due to bones), and you cured for 4 extra days, you would get a salty tasting product. In a case like that in the future, if you have bones in the meat, making it hard to tell how much cure to use, I would recommend going with a wet brine cure with a Cure #1. When you do that, it doesn't matter how much meat there is---It only matters that you have the mix right. You can get that brine cure mix amount from some of the threads posted by "Pops".

    Notice to anyone who finds their Bacon to be too salty after curing:

    If you have your Bacon in cure too long, you can get  a salty taste when you do the salt fry test. This is why I recommend the salt fry test. I have never had to soak any Bacon from my TQ cures, but I continue to do that test every time!

    If you do find your test pieces too salty, soak your pieces in cold water for 2 hours, draining every half hour. You can't just soak for 2 hours without draining the water, or you will be soaking it in salt water. Then do a test again. If it's still too salty, soak it some more. Don't just quit & leave it too salty. You can also cut up a potato, and put the pieces in the water. They tell me that helps draw the salt out.

  15. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    I had to look up what "Char Siu" is, and after seeing a picture of it on Wikipedia, I would say you should be making a lot of that!!!

    Just look at this picture!!!!!

    Char Siu:



  16. chefrob

    chefrob Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    good advice........i used dan's formula but i use raw sugar instead of brown sugar.
  17. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member


    I think you have cleared up the problem with the weight of the bones and you're pretty close as to the actual measurement of the meat except the piece I used for your recipe was a little over 3", I'll return to my search for some real belly, thanks for your help.

    Char Siu sells for $14/lb at the Farmers Market every Sunday morning, too high priced for me, that is why I make my own, I tried many recipes from the Internet and was never satisfied, then a friend's 80 year old grandmother put me in the right direction with the correct ingredients, after some experimentation I nailed it, you should try it some time.


    Do you see that yellow fruit in the top left corner of your pic, that's a Star Apple(Carambola), I don't really care for them because they are tart, maybe smoking them well remove the tartness, thanks for the idea!

    Last edited: May 20, 2011
  18. ol' smokey

    ol' smokey Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    First of all, curing bacon and Ham are the same process, only the piece of pig is different....By chance, have you done something to PO your butcher?
  19. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Ol' Smokey, LOL, ...have you ever been to a "Chinatown" or seen pictures or heard stories of one, I guarantee you wouldn't want to buy anything from a so called "butcher" here, ...when looking in their store you will come to the realization of how and why they received their name.    [​IMG]

    The only mass produced meat here is pork and that is usually the only meat you find in a butcher shop, all of our beef and lamb comes from New Zealand in Cryovac and goes directly to the French chain of supermarkets, so they don't need "butchers" as we tend to think of butchers, our chicken is Tyson from the States, so you see why I'm limited to where I can buy pork.

  20. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    If ya got something way to salty add a couple quartered white potatoes to the soak.The potatoe will draw out alot of the salt.
    Last edited: May 20, 2011

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