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Bacon smoking

steve johnson

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Hi guys I'm smoking some bacon using a pro q with some of James's whiskey oak dust it's been going 13 hrs and there still looks to be enough unburned to give me another 3-4 hrs smoke all vents on the Webber are wide open is this length of smoke from one fill, is this normal I think I only got about 10 hrs the first time I used it:icon_question:
 

wade

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Hi Steve

It will vary depending on how densely the dust is packed, its moisture content and also the surrounding temperature. In cooler temperatures it will burn slower.
 

smokewood

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I usually like to keep the moisture content of the dusts a bit higher so you get a longer burn rate and a bit more smoke, however the moisture content of the Whisky Oak is 6.9% which is really quite dry, however it is quite heavily impregnated with whisky, so initially it can be quite difficult to light.  
 

steve johnson

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I usually like to keep the moisture content of the dusts a bit higher so you get a longer burn rate and a bit more smoke, however the moisture content of the Whisky Oak is 6.9% which is really quite dry, however it is quite heavily impregnated with whisky, so initially it can be quite difficult to light.  
cheers james i was just taken aback by the length of smoke i got from it. lets face it being soaked in whiskey cant  be a bad thing 
 

smokewood

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Absolutely.  Did the dust light OK for you or did it take a while ?
 

steve johnson

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it lit ok no problems,only took a couple of minutes. it was only the second time i used the pro q but i suspect thats about the norm. would i be better off smoking stuff in my uds or my webber?
 

smokewood

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I have no experience with cold smoking in a UDS, but you will get excellent results in both the Pro Q and the Webber.  
 

sotv

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I have been looking around the forum for hints and tips for Curing and cold smoking some bacon for the first time on here. The cooking tips and storage whilst curing are all very helpful and have inspired me to try it out in the coming weeks. The only difficulty I am having is most of the ingredients needed, seem to be American branded items.

Has anyone any experience of curing and cold smoking their own bacon on here? and share a recipe for a curing mix, they have used with Uk readily available ingredients and where you got them from please.
 

wade

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Be very careful before decide to start smoking your own bacon... One you have done it you will not want to buy shop bought bacon again!

There are three basic methods for producing bacon - Dry curing, Immersion brining and injecting
  • Dry curing - The amount of cure/salt/sugar/spices is calculated based upon the weight of the meat and then is applied to the surface and is given time to diffuse inwards towards the centre (7-14 days).
  • Immersion brining - The final concentration of cure is calculated based upon the combined weight of water, salts and meat and is made into a solution. The meat is then left immersed in that solution until an equilibrium is reached throughout the meat and the cure concentration is theoretically the same throughout the brine and the meat. (7-14 days)
  • Injection brining - A cure is made that is typically 10 x the final required strength and then brine equating to 10% of the weight of the meat being cured is injected into the meat and is allowed to equilibrate (7 days).
There are variations to each of the above methods.

The two most popular on here are Dry Curing and immersion brining. In my opinion the Dry cure makes the better bacon (and it stores longer) however a lot of people on here do the immersion curing - many using Pops brine.

Here is a link you may find interesting that give you some photos of immersion brining. If you search the forum you will find plenty of other Q-views too

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/181560/immersion-bacon-curing-lab-test-results

Here is a guide I give to students who are interested in making dry cure bacon

Regarding the curing salts, you can get commercial ready mixed salt mixes from places like Sausagemaking.org and Weschenfelder.co.uk but to be honest it is better to mix your own as you get much more control. If you want, send me your address in PM and I will get enough Cure#1 in the post to you to get started. You can then buy some for yourself online if you want to make more.

Cheers

Wade
 
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wade

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As a general rule you want to aim for ~2.5% salt and 1.25% sugar. This will vary by personal taste though. For spices you can use a selection of flavours.

Black pepper - fresh ground at ~10g pepper per Kilo of meat

Szechuan pepper = ~6g per kilo of meat

Bay leaves - 2-3 leaves per kilo of meat

You can start off with white sugar but you can substitute bark brown sugar or molasses for deeper flavours

I usually then smoke with Hickory for up to 48 hours.
 

smokin monkey

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Be careful very careful! There's no return once you have cured your own bacon!

Wade has covered the science part for you and will send you some Cure #1.

Get yourself a good set of digital jewelers scales, for saying cure, salt and sugars, cheap enough of eBay and a set of digital scales for measuring the meat weight.

There are plenty of cure calculators on line, if you are using ISO iPhone etc a good one is iSmokeHog's Cure Calculator.
 

sotv

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Thank you all for your replies and very kind offer Wade. 

Lots more to read and digest before getting started, I think a dry cure may be the way I go with my first effort and will source some Pork Belly from my local supermarket to try it out. But if it works as well as other peoples attempts do. I live very close to Packington Farm where they breed Free Range pigs and I have had some excellent, but more expensive cuts of pork from there in the past.

I mix my own eliquids as I vape, so have several different sets of digital scales I use for that process..

I definitely prefer a sweeter more gentler finished flavour than overly salty and spicy so will look for some recipes that impart that type of flavour to my bacon for my first attempts also.

Also would I be looking to cold smoke for 48 hours in the ProQ frontier I have bought and do you know if there is much topping up of the sawdust during that period and what temperature should I be looking to maintain and is there an internal temp of the meat to show it is done as you would with say pulled pork or Brisket?

Is it best to hang the meat from hooks or on the racks when smoking them also?

Amazon sell 1 gallon or 2 gallon ziplock bags, which would be the best size for curing the pork belly in (what size pieces of meat do most people use)?, As I am not sure of the size of the pork yet that will be placed inside it and which bag is best suited for the task.

Sorry for all the questions but you all seem happy to answer a novices queries. So taking advantage of your knowledge and expertise, you have gained. To hopefully give me a chance of success, when frying it for myself for the first time.
 

smokin monkey

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Packington Pork is reported to be good.

You are not looking to "Cook" your bacon, you are smoking it, so IT is not a problem, you need to maintain as low a temperature in your smoker as possible.

Site quote 75'F -100'F 24'C - 38'C, but I like to keep mine as low as possible.

You will have to re-load your dust. You do not have to do 48 hours smoke in one go, you can split it down into four 12 hour smokes, rest in between n the fridge, this will also drop the IT of the bacon back down.

If you buy a whole Loin, I normally cut into three, which on average will give 1Kg -1.5 Kg pieces. These are nice sizes to work with.

I normally cure for 10 days to be on the safe side.

I hang my bacon when smoking, I get my hooks from Ikea, stainless steel pack of five for about £5.00
 

wade

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Thats great Steve - I will get some in the post to you tomorrow morning. I will pop a sachet of Szechuan pepper in with the sachet of cure too so that you can try that.

The main reason that sugar is traditionally added is to help mask the saltiness of some cures as in some commercial cure mixes this can be as high as 5%. If you start by using 2.5% salt and 1.25% sugar this is usually good for the UK pallet. Our American colleagues often like higher salt and sugar content in their food than we do.

For your first try do not use large loin pieces. If the joint you have is 2 Kg plus then cut it in half and make two at the same time - one with slightly more sugar than the other. Keep good notes of what you do and then adjust accordingly next time. I tend to buy a whole pork loin and cure it as 3 or 4 separate pieces

Dont worry about getting massive bags specially. The "large" size ziploc food bags from Tesco or ASDA are usually sufficient - at least for your first few cures.

When smoking in the Frontier, place the ProQ in the bottom fire basket and put some water in the water bowl (with some clingfilm over the top) and this will help keep the inside temperature of the Frontier stable. Leave the top and bottom vents of the Frontier open as you are looking for a good flow of smoke and air over the bacon. Do not try to trap smoke in the smoker or you may get tarry deposits forming.

You are going to be COLD smoking at low temperatures (2 to 8 C at this time of year) and so you are not looking at raising the internal temperature of the bacon at all. Smoking overnight helps to keep the temperatures down and you can place the bacon back in the fridge during the day. The amount of smoke is a personal taste. 24-48 hours is a guide and the time required will also depend on the dust used and the amount of smoke generated by the ProQ. Some like mild smoke and others like it more pronounced.

Questions are good. We are happy to answer an many questions as you need. The only silly question is the one that does not get asked.
 

wade

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Snap - I went out for lunch half way through writing my reply and Steve has covered some of the points already 
 

wade

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Packington Pork is reported to be good.

You are not looking to "Cook" your bacon, you are smoking it, so IT is not a problem, you need to maintain as low a temperature in your smoker as possible.

Site quote 75'F -100'F 24'C - 38'C, but I like to keep mine as low as possible.

You will have to re-load your dust. You do not have to do 48 hours smoke in one go, you can split it down into four 12 hour smokes, rest in between n the fridge, this will also drop the IT of the bacon back down.

If you buy a whole Loin, I normally cut into three, which on average will give 1Kg -1.5 Kg pieces. These are nice sizes to work with.

I normally cure for 10 days to be on the safe side.

I hang my bacon when smoking, I get my hooks from Ikea, stainless steel pack of five for about £5.00
To add to what Steve has said above

Once you have finished curing in the fridge, rinse in cold water and pad dry with kitchen towel. Allow to rest uncovered in the fridge for 24 hours before you start to smoke it.

For loin 10 days for curing is fine (and that is what I usually use too) but within reason you cannot over cure. If you left it curing for 14 days that would be fine too.

I hang mine too however if you don't have hooks then you can simply rest them on the cooking grates to smoke. One it has finished smoking then leave for a few hours in the fridge uncovered before wrapping.

Dry cure bacon will last 5-6 weeks as a slab in the refrigerator - slightly less if sliced. I suggest you gauge how much you are likely to eat in, say, a 3 week period and then pop the remainder in the freezer until it needed.
 
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sotv

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Thanks again both for the very helpful replies.

I have spoken to Packington Farm and was pleasantly surprised they sell their Pork Belly through my local butcher (even nearer) for £5.99 a KG only 50p a KG more expensive than my local supermarket currently does and they are happy to cut the rind off and square it up for me.

Going to get 2 x1 kg of the Pork belly and a 1kg of Pork Loin to see how they compare.

Going to use a basic rub of Salt (is non iodised necessary, if not just ordinary Saxa table salt perhaps)?

Brown Sugar (Ordinary Billingtons or more molasses based)?

Black Pepper

#1 Cure

I will add Honey to the above ingredients on 1 of them to try and see how that works and replace the black pepper with the szechuan pepper Wade is kindly supplying me with, to try on one of the other joints.

I have used the Diggingdogfarm online calculator and it gives me the following calculations based on a 1kg piece of meat

2.5gms of #1 Cure

22.66 grams of salt

12.5 grams of Sugar

and estimating I would need 2 grams of Pepper?

Based on 2.5% salt and 1.25% sugar

Whilst they are curing. I know it is best to cure them individually in bags, but can you stack them on each other once they are in the bags to save space in the fridge. Or do they have to be stored individually flat iyswim

Wade as you seem to have some experience with the ProQ Frontier and the cold smoke addition. Does the dust need replenishing during a 12 hour smoke or does it last?

Do you have to wait for it to catch (if so how long) before putting in the meat

Do you need to monitor the temperature or due to it burning so low you can just leave it to do its thing.
 
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wade

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It is best to use pure salt - non iodised and without anti-caking agent. "Table" salt is always iodised so coarse cooking salt is the one you want - as fine cooking salt usuaslly contains an anti-caking agent. You need to read the label. I use a course sea salt.

Yes the figures from the DDF calculator are good.

I use 10g of pepper for 1 to 1.5 Kg pork.

I pop all of the salt, sugar, cure, spice etc into an electric coffee grinder and blitz to a powder. This ensures that it is evenly mixed too.

Yes cure them individually (or in one single lump). You need the cure to diffuse evenly throughout the meat. In individual bags this will happen so long as it is fairly level and any brine produced is in contact with the meat. If you have two pieces of meat and all the brine flows to one end you could get one piece with more cure and the other with less. They should not take up any more space in the fridge as you want to get as much air out of the bags as possible to keep the bag/brine mix in intimate contact with the meat. I actually vac pack mine during the cure.

I have the ProQ smoke generator but, being honest, I prefer to use my AMNPS. With the ProQ the length of burn will depend on several factors including the type of dust, the moisture content of the dust and the air temperature. It should last 6-8 hours - maybe longer. If you set it going at say 9pm and then go out again at 6am you should be fine. You could always get it going at 6pm and then monitor the burn. If you dont think it will last then top it up again at 11pm before going to bed.

To get it going some use a tea light candle and others use a small cooking brulee gas torch. I just use my Mapp Gas brazing torch. If it does go out unexpectedly then don't panic. Just light it again and carry on. The salt, sugar and cure has already done its job and has made the bacon surface a pretty hostile place for bacteria and mold to grow - and the smoke will have added to this. 

To help the dust stay alight, nuke it for a couple of minutes on full power in the microwave before using it.This will get rid of a lot of the moisture content.
 

sotv

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Got my Packington Pork today, the butcher was very helpful, they cure and smoke their own bacon (on a much larger scale) but sorted me out, with what look some lovely cuts of pork and gave me what I thought was a decent discount Got a 1.5kg loin joint and 2 x 1kg pieces of Pork Belly all free range for £20 Based on what my local Morrisons sell these joints for, don't think there is much difference in overall price, for this sort of quantity? But never bought these particular joints for smoking before today, not too sure?

Blitzed all the dry ingredients that Wade kindly sent me along with some brown sugar in my coffee grinder before applying

Did the Loin joint in the dry cure with black pepper adding honey first and the 2 pork belly's with just the dry cure 1 with black pepper and the other with szeuchan pepper.

Going to leave them to cure turning them once a day for the next 7 days minimum and hope to get 4 consecutive nights that are reasonably dry and not to cold, when they are ready to be smoked. Think I am going to use a 2 part oak and 1 part hickory dust for this in the ProQ cold smoker.

Hopefully start my first thread with pictures when it is all done and ready to eat?

Once again thanks for all the help and input from Wade and Smokin Monkey for your advice and fingers crossed, it all turns out successfully, as other members attempts on here have been.

One slight difference based on what the butcher advised, rather than what most on here seem to do, is he advised me to keep the rind on. I have done this and see how it goes. Can always try it without next time.

Couple more Questions... When you add the dry cure to the pork, does it look as it has been dropped in a dirty puddle (due to the pepper) or was there to much moisture in the meat when I applied the cure?

How will I know the meat has cured all the way through properly? Do I cut it in half.
 
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