Bitter Bacon

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schwonkhead

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Dec 28, 2016
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Toulon, IL
Howdy all, haven’t been on here in awhile but I am in need of some help.

I have been using Bearcarver Bearcarver ’s bacon recipe for years with great success, even figured out how to cold smoke it using charcoal. The last couple rounds came out with a very bitter taste to them which made it a chore to eat it all as it was very unpleasant.

This time I decided to forego the smoke thinking maybe that was causing the bad taste but it still came out quite bitter. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what might be causing the bitterness? Should I add more sugar, or alter the recipe/timeline in some way to get back to the best bacon flavor?
 

schwonkhead

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Dec 28, 2016
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Toulon, IL
Oh and most importantly, is there any way to fix the 20 pounds I just cured? I have only sliced up 5 pounds so far so if I can do something to the rest of the whole slabs to make them taste better that would be ideal.
 

Brokenhandle

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And what if anything has changed? Are you sourcing your bellies from the same place?

Ryan
 
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SmokinAl

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For most of us bitter taste means creosote, so I would think that the charcoal/wood you are using are not combusting completely & your are getting the bitter taste from creosote. I’m sure other’s will be along with other ideas.
Al
 

indaswamp

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If the bacon was still bitter even though you did not cold smoke it, then you might be getting fermentation of the sugars which is creating lactic acid and making the product bitter/sour. Are you using the exact same process you have always used or did you increase the sugar? Did you lower the amount of salt? Are you storing the raw bacon in a cold enough refrigerator? and how long are you curing the bacon?
 

thirdeye

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Usually, fire/smoke management is the culprit for bitterness. But when you said 'no smoke' on this batch, what did you use for the heat source?
 

Bearcarver

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For most of us bitter taste means creosote, so I would think that the charcoal/wood you are using are not combusting completely & your are getting the bitter taste from creosote. I’m sure other’s will be along with other ideas.
Al

I'm with Al, when you use the word "Bitter".
The only way I ever had any bitterness from anything, was creosote, from one of my first smokes, 12 years ago.
I can't think of anything that could turn a cured & smoked belly Bitter, and I never had any myself.
Was it the whole slab?
Is it worse in any particular part or end?
Any bad colors?

Bear
 

DougE

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People keep missing that his unsmoked bacon was bitter, too. Something is up with the curing process. The OP stated that they have done bacon this way many times with no issues, so something has changed in the process.
 

Bearcarver

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I don't know if it matters, because we don't add any salt when using Tender Quick. However did you add salt with Iodine by any chance?
Just a Dumb guess. Maybe that could cause "Bitter".

Bear
 

schwonkhead

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Dec 28, 2016
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Toulon, IL
No extra salt, just 0.5 oz tender quick and 1 tbs brown sugar per pound, curing for 3 to 4 weeks in my basement fridge that I keep colder than normal because it always has some sort of meat in it.

I suppose it could be some sort of fermentation or something as indaswamp indaswamp said.

Now that I think about it, it has been ever since we moved to our new house and I’ve been using a different fridge than I had before, maybe it isn’t as cold as I thought? Could that cause some off flavors?
 

schwonkhead

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Dec 28, 2016
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Toulon, IL
The bellies have always been sourced from my cousins farm, he has tried a couple different breeds over the years but I wouldn’t think that would change much.

I’ve also used the same recipe for the “dried beef” venison that I put on my sandwiches and haven’t noticed anything off there.
 

SmokinEdge

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This time I decided to forego the smoke thinking maybe that was causing the bad taste but it still came out quite bitter.
This is the nuts and bolts of the whole thread, and the most perplexing and interesting aspect.

You are saying with no smoke just cure you are getting bitter taste?

I know you posted Bear’s method, but could you in your own words explain the exact process and recipe you are using?
 
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schwonkhead

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Dec 28, 2016
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Toulon, IL
I keep the cold smoke below 70, only do that in the winter.

I will put water in the fridge when I get home later and test that out. Thanks for all the replies.
 

schwonkhead

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Dec 28, 2016
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Toulon, IL
As an update to this, I believe I got a conclusion this weekend. Made my bacon using the same recipe but cured for 2 weeks instead of 4. This time it came out perfect. I didn’t think you could “over-cure” but apparently you can.
 

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