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Bag cure bacon - cure time?

SmokinEdge

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I'll do that. I was going to test fry after a soak, but I wouldn't have thought to discard the outer piece - thanks.

Here is a link to the original recipe that I used (you'll need to skip down a ways to the section "Dry cure method"). But here is the gist: " Start by combining ½ cup of salt ½ cup of brown sugar, 1 TBS of black pepper, and 1 tsp of Insta-Cure #1. "
I first tried this recipe a couple of years ago, but last year I changed it by eliminating the honey and instead added garlic and onion powder, but kept the salt and sugar ratios the same.
This year I again kept the salt and sugar ratios the same but added some cayenne pepper.
Per 5lbs belly:
-1 tsp cure #1
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (144 g) kosher salt
- 1 tbsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
Just ask here. Don’t use internet recipes. Any of us will be more than happy to help you develop a good working recipe. Just ask, this place is full of knowledgable people more than willing to help.
Our methods and recipes are time tested and accurate.
 

thirdeye

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I'll do that. I was going to test fry after a soak, but I wouldn't have thought to discard the outer piece - thanks.

Here is a link to the original recipe that I used (you'll need to skip down a ways to the section "Dry cure method"). But here is the gist: " Start by combining ½ cup of salt ½ cup of brown sugar, 1 TBS of black pepper, and 1 tsp of Insta-Cure #1. "

Thanks for the link. In a nutshell, the recipe is calling for 0.25% of Cure #1 which is correct. Next it calls for 6% salt, and 6% sugar, plus the addition of honey. A lot of honey. The main purpose of sugar is to offset the sharp bite of salt. I'm thinking that this recipe is acceptable to some folks is because of all the sugar and sweet. In other words.... instead of using something like 1.5% salt and 1% sugar, the recipe is heavy handed on the salt but even more heavy handed on the sugar. A high concentration of sugar can cause bacon to burn unexpectedly. This reminds me of my Grandfather's method for bacon which is called the 'salt box' method and is basically a wooden tray with sides, salt, sugar and cure. the bellies are coated by hand and sight. No measuring. It worked, but the bacon was not as consistent as modern curing techniques deliver.

Below is a snip from my bacon article so you can see where I'm coming from:

Mixing The Cure - The percentages listed below are based on the weight of a trimmed pork belly.
  • Salt - The recommended range of salt is between 1% and 3%. I use canning salt, but sea salt or kosher salt works fine. Do not use iodized table salt.
  • Sugar - The recommended range of sugar is between 0% and 3%. You don't actually need sugar in your cure, but it mellows the salt and adds flavor as well as color. A higher percentage of sugar will increase chances of your bacon burning when frying.
  • Cure #1 - The amount of Cure #1 is set by the USDA at 0.25%. Do not increase or decrease this amount, and always measure Cure #1 carefully and accurately.
How To Decide On Your First Curing Blend - First off, consider salt.... how salty do you like your bacon? The typical bacon you buy at the store is 2% to 2.5% salt and uses about the same percentage of sugar. A recipe might be 2% salt, 1.5% sugar or for a sweeter bacon you might use 2% salt, 2.5% sugar. White sugar has a lighter flavor and color, brown sugar is a deeper flavor and will make the bacon a little darker, and maple sugar is a bit sweeter and more distinct.
 

SmokinEdge

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Thanks for the link. In a nutshell, the recipe is calling for 0.25% of Cure #1 which is correct. Next it calls for 6% salt, and 6% sugar, plus the addition of honey. A lot of honey. The main purpose of sugar is to offset the sharp bite of salt. I'm thinking that this recipe is acceptable to some folks is because of all the sugar and sweet. In other words.... instead of using something like 1.5% salt and 1% sugar, the recipe is heavy handed on the salt but even more heavy handed on the sugar. A high concentration of sugar can cause bacon to burn unexpectedly. This reminds me of my Grandfather's method for bacon which is called the 'salt box' method and is basically a wooden tray with sides, salt, sugar and cure. the bellies are coated by hand and sight. No measuring. It worked, but the bacon was not as consistent as modern curing techniques deliver.

Below is a snip from my bacon article so you can see where I'm coming from:

Mixing The Cure - The percentages listed below are based on the weight of a trimmed pork belly.
  • Salt - The recommended range of salt is between 1% and 3%. I use canning salt, but sea salt or kosher salt works fine. Do not use iodized table salt.
  • Sugar - The recommended range of sugar is between 0% and 3%. You don't actually need sugar in your cure, but it mellows the salt and adds flavor as well as color. A higher percentage of sugar will increase chances of your bacon burning when frying.
  • Cure #1 - The amount of Cure #1 is set by the USDA at 0.25%. Do not increase or decrease this amount, and always measure Cure #1 carefully and accurately.
How To Decide On Your First Curing Blend - First off, consider salt.... how salty do you like your bacon? The typical bacon you buy at the store is 2% to 2.5% salt and uses about the same percentage of sugar. A recipe might be 2% salt, 1.5% sugar or for a sweeter bacon you might use 2% salt, 2.5% sugar. White sugar has a lighter flavor and color, brown sugar is a deeper flavor and will make the bacon a little darker, and maple sugar is a bit sweeter and more distinct.
More knowledge. This guy has seen a thing or two in curing meat.
 

Lima Delta

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Thanks for the link. In a nutshell, the recipe is calling for 0.25% of Cure #1 which is correct. Next it calls for 6% salt, and 6% sugar, plus the addition of honey. A lot of honey. The main purpose of sugar is to offset the sharp bite of salt. I'm thinking that this recipe is acceptable to some folks is because of all the sugar and sweet. In other words.... instead of using something like 1.5% salt and 1% sugar, the recipe is heavy handed on the salt but even more heavy handed on the sugar. A high concentration of sugar can cause bacon to burn unexpectedly. This reminds me of my Grandfather's method for bacon which is called the 'salt box' method and is basically a wooden tray with sides, salt, sugar and cure. the bellies are coated by hand and sight. No measuring. It worked, but the bacon was not as consistent as modern curing techniques deliver.

Below is a snip from my bacon article so you can see where I'm coming from:

Mixing The Cure - The percentages listed below are based on the weight of a trimmed pork belly.
  • Salt - The recommended range of salt is between 1% and 3%. I use canning salt, but sea salt or kosher salt works fine. Do not use iodized table salt.
  • Sugar - The recommended range of sugar is between 0% and 3%. You don't actually need sugar in your cure, but it mellows the salt and adds flavor as well as color. A higher percentage of sugar will increase chances of your bacon burning when frying.
  • Cure #1 - The amount of Cure #1 is set by the USDA at 0.25%. Do not increase or decrease this amount, and always measure Cure #1 carefully and accurately.
How To Decide On Your First Curing Blend - First off, consider salt.... how salty do you like your bacon? The typical bacon you buy at the store is 2% to 2.5% salt and uses about the same percentage of sugar. A recipe might be 2% salt, 1.5% sugar or for a sweeter bacon you might use 2% salt, 2.5% sugar. White sugar has a lighter flavor and color, brown sugar is a deeper flavor and will make the bacon a little darker, and maple sugar is a bit sweeter and more distinct.

Good morning - food for thought for breakfast today! Thanks Thirdeye.

I used that recipe the first time I tried a bag cure. Prior to that I had brined my bacon using a 10% salt solution like I would for a ham. Coming from that, 6% didn't seem all that "heavy handed" at the time but of course I'm a greenhorn. Regardless of how this batch turns out, I'm already looking forward to next time.
One of the things I've noticed about learning to cure meat is that when a person is just beginning, it's easy to find recipes to follow but recipes don't really teach anything about the "why" of it all. I got tired of following prescriptions this year and got this book "Home production of quality meats and sausages" which I found really helpful in explaining the role of nitrite and nitrate in meat curing. But even a decent book can only help so much. I can see now too that I should have come to this forum sooner for the experience!
In any case, because of circumstances I won't be smoking until tomorrow so I'll take the bacon out today and soak it then let it sit overnight in the fridge.
 

SmokinEdge

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I got tired of following prescriptions this year and got this book "Home production of quality meats and sausages" which I found really helpful in explaining the role of nitrite and nitrate in meat curing.
Any book by Marianski is good. If I were to recommend a book for beginners or pro, it’d be that book.

I used that recipe the first time I tried a bag cure. Prior to that I had brined my bacon using a 10% salt solution like I would for a ham. Coming from that, 6% didn't seem all that "heavy handed" at the time but of course I'm a greenhorn. Regardless of how this batch turns out, I'm already looking forward to next time.
Just so that you understand the difference.
In a brine the meat can only uptake so much liquid. It’s hard to know exactly how much and every piece of meat is different, but 3-4% of meat weight is possible. This is why you can use a 60* SAL brine which is about 1.5# salt to 1 gallon water and nitrite concentration can be as high as 2000ppm. The assumption from USDA is that not more than 10% of the pickle can be absorbed, 10% can only be done with injection. So we are safe.

With dry rub, the salt you apply is 100% salt. And the cure applied cannot exceed 200ppm because it is assumed that 100% we apply will be absorbed by the meat. So we mix up exactly what we want the meat to have in it when curing is complete. In this way we are never under or over cured. No mater if in cure 10 days or 3 weeks. It’s always cured to what we applied.
 

indaswamp

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I have not read through the entire thread, but the guys are giving you great advice. I did see this:
the leftover rub was added to the bag and has formed a brine with the water that came out of the meat.

Next time, put the extra rub in between the slabs if you will be stacking and bagging them together. This will help the slabs cure faster.
 

thirdeye

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Good morning - food for thought for breakfast today! Thanks Thirdeye.

I used that recipe the first time I tried a bag cure. Prior to that I had brined my bacon using a 10% salt solution like I would for a ham. Coming from that, 6% didn't seem all that "heavy handed" at the time but of course I'm a greenhorn. Regardless of how this batch turns out, I'm already looking forward to next time.

Okay fair enough. SmokinEdge SmokinEdge gave you a great rundown of the science behind the scene of curing brines and the Marianski book goes into more detail about the strengths of various brines as well as using charts and a salometer.

That said, equilibrium curing can also be used when making a curing brine. You mentioned a 10% salt solution, and here is why curing brines need way more salt, sugar and cure than an equilibrium dry cure. The short answer is weight. Instead of basing salt, sugar and cure on meat weight (when dry curing).... when brine curing you have water in the bucket, and in the equation. A gallon of water for example is 8.3 pounds, so if you wanted to cure a 3 pound pork belly and it took 1 gallon of water to cover it, you have to calculate salt, sugar and cure on 11.3 pounds total, not 3 pounds of meat weight.

In equilibrium curing, when you eventually find your sweet-spot recipe, say 1.7% salt, 2% sugar and 0.25% Cure #1 (or whatever you like for salt and sugar as the 0.25% of Cure #1 remains constant):
  • For dry curing, base your percentages on meat weight.
  • For brine curing, base your percentages on meat weight + water weight.
 

Lima Delta

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Thanks guys, those are excellent concise explanations. I understand the differences between the methodologies a lot more clearly now than I did before.
 

SmokinEdge

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As luck would have it, someone else usually already asked whatever dumb questions I may have had.
This is true Doug. But never hesitate to reach out. Either on the forum or PM.
If I can help you either way, I’m happy to do so. As well as many other members here. Just ask.
 

DougE

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This is true Doug. But never hesitate to reach out. Either on the forum or PM.
If I can help you either way, I’m happy to do so. As well as many other members here. Just ask.
Appreciate it. Curing is where I want to go next, and I believe Meijer has pork shoulder for 99 cents a pound this coming week. Maybe I will take my first attempt at buckboard bacon.
 

Lima Delta

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Good morning all.
The bacon is presently soaking in water and I'll be test frying some of it in about an hour. When I was transferring it into the water this morning, I noticed the color of the uncured portion of that one slab is unchanged since I put it back into it's brine. Is it possible that the meat had already taken up all the cure by the time I took it out earlier, and that the additional cure time didn't make a difference?

Also, if after test frying, if there are uncured portions what are my options for salvaging the meat?
My plan was to cold smoke it all day, but is that safe if it hasn't completely cured?
Hot smoke until cooked then freeze?
Freeze then hot smoke until cooked?
Non of the above?
 

SmokinEdge

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Good morning all.
The bacon is presently soaking in water and I'll be test frying some of it in about an hour. When I was transferring it into the water this morning, I noticed the color of the uncured portion of that one slab is unchanged since I put it back into it's brine. Is it possible that the meat had already taken up all the cure by the time I took it out earlier, and that the additional cure time didn't make a difference?

Also, if after test frying, if there are uncured portions what are my options for salvaging the meat?
My plan was to cold smoke it all day, but is that safe if it hasn't completely cured?
Hot smoke until cooked then freeze?
Freeze then hot smoke until cooked?
Non of the above?
I would cut one of the slabs in half the same direction you want to slice (a cross the grain) then slice some pieces from there. If cured the color (pinkish red) will get brighter in the pan as it heats up. If not cured the meat will turn grey.
 

thirdeye

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And don't worry about different shades of pink or red on the same slices. Myoglobin and fat amounts differ from muscle groups to muscle groups and will take the cure and color-up differently.
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Lima Delta

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I soaked my belly pieces in cold water this morning for two hours, and I switched the water out after one hour. I also test fried some pieces cut from the center part of different slabs. It's certainly quite salty, but definitely still edible. Whew!
 

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