Brining bacon in a bag?

Discussion in 'Curing' started by fungus, Sep 24, 2014.

  1. fungus

    fungus Fire Starter

    Hi I'm a newbie trying to make bacon.

    I see recipes for brine mixes. Most seem to advise big-ass buckets. I do not have a dedicated refrigerator for this purpose.

    If I decide to use zip-lock bags or some other bag for the brine, is there any ratio I need to keep in mind. I assume that the brine become diluted with the juices from the meat and it would follow that more brine equals less dilution. 

    questions:

    Does the dilution of the brine make a difference to the end result?

    What is the smallest amount of brine that can be SAFELY used to brine a slab of pork belly?

    Can it be done in bags?

    Thanks, 

    Gus
     
  2. I don't have 100% tested answers, but I'm in to find out them from the more enlightened bacon makers. This would be a great way for me to get this done in my fridge inside instead of taking up a bunch of space in the outside fridge.

    My logical answers though are that it's perfectly fine as long as the bag is being flipped everyday. The brine won't dilute. The curing process will pull out juices, but those aren't supposed to be drained each day because those juices contain the cure itself. Finally, as long as the piece of meat is submerged in the brine, then you've got enough brine.

    Now I'll let the intelligent people talk....
     
  3. shoneyboy

    shoneyboy Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    [​IMG]   I’ve cured turkeys in an ice bag before, all I did was make sure that the turkey was submerged in the curing solution…… That process is not as extensive as bacon….. Bacon takes a lot longer process for pork than  you would with turkey….. I would think that as long as you have it covered you would be alright, but there has to be some ratio to how much meat vs wet cure to ensure proper curing….. Basically you don’t want to over crowd the bag……I’d like to know that answer also…..SB
     
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yes you can cure/brine in bags......

    Weigh the belly.... convert the weight to grams... 454 grams per pound....
    2 cups of water weigh 1 pound or 454 grams...
    Add the 2 weights....
    7 1/2 pounds of belly = (454 x 7.5 = 3405 grams) + (454 grams for the water) = 3854 grams total

    For a 2% salt and 1% sugar and 120 Ppm nitrite cure(max allowable) .....

    add (3854 x 0.02 = 77 grams salt) + (3854 x 0.01 = 38.5 grams sugar) to the 2 cups of water... heat gently to dissolve.... cool.....

    then add (3854 x 0.000120 / 0.0625(cure #1 is 6.25% nitrite) = 7.4 grams of cure #1) to the cooled brine and dissolve....

    [ cure #1 must be added to a cool solution.. I recommend less than 100 degrees F.... cure breaks down at higher temperatures... somewhere around 130 deg. F... ]

    Add the brine/cure solution to the bag and refrigerate (38 degrees F)... turn and massage daily for 10 days minimum... 15 would be better.... remove, rinse and rest in the refer for a couple days uncovered on a rack... place the belly in front of a fan to form the pellicle (several hours) and smoke...

    That is the recipe I use... you can try it and make salt sugar adjustments on your next belly.... I cold smoke the belly below 70 degrees F for 4 hours... (Brides directions)... freeze for 3 ish hours to slice....

    When using a recipe like above, you can get perfectly repeatable results... it is easy to make adjustments... My bacon comes out exactly the same each batch... That is the bacon Bride likes best... a little smokier than store bought.... and a whole lot better.... If you want black pepper bacon, add the pepper and rub it into the meat before you form the pellicle.....

    If you don't have a grams scale, time to get one since you are diving into the curing process..... you ain't gonna leave curing your own meat.... GARONTEE.....


    Dave
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2014
  5. I have cured around 50 pounds of bacon. I get the pork belly from the butcher the day before I use it. I also cut off the skin to make pork skins. I use big Ziploc bags. I use the method in the charcuterie book by Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn.

    It uses pink salt "be careful that stuff is very specific in it's use" It takes 7 days to complete the process. I flip them and massage them every day.

    Also you will need either a meat slicer or a very sharp knife.

    I smoke it after I cure it for about 3-4 hours low and slow. I enjoy it and you can experiment with different flavors. I like sweet and hot mixed so I use maple syrup and black and red pepper. Enjoy it you may never go back to store bought !!!!
     
  6. fungus

    fungus Fire Starter

    If I read this right, you add 2 cups of brine no matter what but the contents of the brine depend on the weigh of the meat? and if I add 4 cups of water, I use the same equation?

    so is this true?: 

    7 1/2 pounds of belly = (454 x 7.5 = 3405 grams) + ((454 *2)=908 grams  for the water) = 4313 grams total

    For a 2% salt and 1% sugar and 120 Ppm nitrite cure(max allowable) .....

    add (4313  x 0.02 = 86.26 grams salt) + (4313   x 0.01 = 43.13 grams sugar) to the 4cups of water... heat gently to dissolve.... cool.....

    then add (4313   x 0.000120 / 0.0625(cure #1 is 6.25% nitrite) = 8.28  grams of cure #1) to the cooled brine and dissolve....

    What i glean from this is the brine is based on the total weight of meat and water? Not that I would but just so I can understand, if I went with your formula but used 1 pound of pork belly in 7.5 pounds of water, would the added salt,nitrite be the same?
     
  7. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    When curing.... Ppm concentration of the nitrite is VERY important... Ppm, for curing meats, is based on weight....

    Weight of the meat and weight of the water and weight of all the ingredients....

    Soooooo.... If you add more water, you will have to increase the cure to take that into account... the same with the salt to get a 2% solution... etc..

    The method I have cited, is an equilibrium brine/cure..... When using that method, it is impossible to over salt, over sugar, and over cure the meat... One other important aspect of that method is......

    It is important to use the least amount of water to get the best effect....

    Looking at the physics, 2 cups of water is 454 grams..... the amount of salt, sugar and cure are extremely high in the water because the weight of the bacon doesn't have any of those ingredients in it.... That's what forces the equilibrium to work.... The high concentration in the water moves into the meat easier and faster...

    If equal weights of water and meat were used, the concentration of additives in the water would be twice what is needed for the total weight.... using 1/10 the water versus total weight, the concentration in the water is about 10X what is needed... thus forcing the equilibrium for the final product...

    I hope that makes sense....
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2014
  8. goliath

    goliath Smoking Fanatic

    i have been doing bacon for a while now and have great luck with a "dry brine" ... or rub and putting into bags.

    GOOD LUCK

    Goliath
     
  9. mds51

    mds51 Meat Mopper

    I have used Todd Johnson`s Country Brown dry cure several times with excellent results and since it is a dry cure it takes up very little space in my spare fridge. I use the 2 gallon Zip Loc Freezer bags and they hold very large pieces of belly or loin or pork shoulder. After just a little time the dry cure becomes a liquid brine that I leave in for the entire cure. I usually cure these cuts for 10 to 12 days and I do not do any injecting. Even the three inch thick pieces of pork shoulder have cured thoroughly and make great Buckboard Bacon. I rinse the pieces off and let them form a pellicle over night in the fridge and then I cold smoke with my AMNPS for ten to twelve hours. The pork loin I take up to 145 degrees internal temperature so it is ready to eat. All other cuts are cooked and treated like smoked bacon. I also brush pure maple syrup on the bacons while they are being smoked. So far this process and the AMNPS had made bacon that has great flavor and outshines anything you can find in the store. I forgot to say that I use either Hickory or Apple Pellets or a combination of both to smoke these pork products.
    mds51
     
  10. fungus

    fungus Fire Starter


    2240g Pork Belly

    sea salt 38g

    sugar 22.4g

    6.5%cure salts 6.8g

    in a bag in my fridge. Now is the time to tell me if I made a mistake please. I have a second one using the same ratio. I aim to cure them for 12 days. I will then smoke them in my Mastercraft dual pro. Temperature permitting I may cold smoke with AMZPS. Otherwise I will hot smoke with hickory and apple chunks.

    Criticism and tips welcome. 
     
  11. fungus

    fungus Fire Starter

    by that, you mean you have them uncooked and sliced like store bought bacon and could freeze even. then cook as you eat?
     
  12. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I also prefer to use the dry brine in vac pack bags. It is much less bulky, less overall mess and the results are good.
     
  13. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    [quote name="FunGus" url="/t/170051/brining-bacon-in-a-bag#post_1243417

    2240g Pork Belly
    sea salt 38g
    sugar 22.4g
    6.5%cure salts 6.8g

    in a bag in my fridge. Now is the time to tell me if I made a mistake please. I have a second one using the same ratio. I aim to cure them for 12 days. I will then smoke them in my Mastercraft dual pro. Temperature permitting I may cold smoke with AMZPS. Otherwise I will hot smoke with hickory and apple chunks.
    Criticism and tips welcome. 
    [/quote]


    Gus, morning..... Looks good to me.... 1.7% salt.... 1% sugar..... 197 Ppm nitrite....

    If you made notes, next batch you can adjust salt or sugar if you choose... until it's perfect.... Dave
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014
    mckay likes this.
  14. mds51

    mds51 Meat Mopper

    FunGus
    That is correct on the cold smoked products. The pork belly and pork butts are cold smoked to attain a rich smoked flavor and leave the fat intact for proper frying or cooking. The Pork Loin is first cold smoked and then finished off with heat and smoke to attain the 145 degree internal temperature. I still warm the Canadian Bacon for most meals but it can be eaten right out the sealed bag. I have found that the cold smoking lets the maple syrup and or black pepper or any other spice or coating I put on the bacon penetrate better into the top layer of meat and fat.
    mds51
     
  15. fungus

    fungus Fire Starter

    Have you ever compared the difference in smoke penetration between adding Maple syrup before the smoke vs brushing it on at the end. Ie. I wonder if the sticky tack would be a barrier to smoke penetration similar to a cooked crust in hot smoking?

    Gus
     
  16. mds51

    mds51 Meat Mopper

    I actually brush the Maple Syrup on before I put the meat in the refrigerator to form the Pellicle and then again before I smoke and sometimes a few times during the smoke. I have always had great smoke penetration with the cold smoking and the use of the AMNPS. The bacons take on a beautiful dark reddish brown color and the smoke flavor is perfect. The Maple Syrup gives it a little taste but does not over power the smoked bacon flavor. I also use black pepper on some of my bacon and I apply it before forming the pellicle and then into the smoker. I like just a hint of pepper and not a heavy pepper taste. The Country Brown Cure that Todd Johnson shared adds such a good flavor from the curing that you do not need much more added flavor. Experiment like I have done from learning on this forum and make or smoke it to your liking. I have said it several times but thanks to this forum and Todd Johnson`s products and great support I actually think I know what I am doing in this great hobby.
    mds51
     
  17. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Smoke penetration HOT and COLD smoking.....




     
  18. fungus

    fungus Fire Starter

    Yes, it was that graphic that I was thinking of when I asked the question. If what stops smoke penetration is a barrier of some kind, I wondered if syrup would create a similar effect.
     
  19. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    From what I have read..... smoke penetrates best on a dry (pellicle) surface at low temps.... after that, I can only guess...
     
  20. fungus

    fungus Fire Starter

    Also, what date should I be pulling this thing? I have plans to visit the USA for Canadian Thanksgiving which is October 13 because its colder here and we harvest earlier.

    I will be home that day I can pull it and rinse it etc but wont likely smoke it till the following weekend sat the 18th. Is that too long? 

    cure started 29th. it will be 13 days on Oct 13th and the smoke would be 5 days later.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014

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