Cold Smoking without preservatives. ( nitrates, pink salt etc )

Discussion in 'Other' started by cabin, Sep 30, 2013.

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  1. I am new to cold smoking, have tried bacon,salmon (lox) and cheese. My first question is about bacon I have tried brining and dry curing but not happy about the taste, everybody @ SMF really seem to love bacon done either of these ways but to me something isn't right and I think its do to the nitrates used in preparing,It must sound crazy but I prefer the taste of store bought bacon over the ones I have smoked. Does anyone have a reciepe for preparing bellies without any preservatives. I have smoked about 60lbs of bellies and would like to try it again. 

    The lox came out good but again if I could prepare without any pink salt or other preservatives I feel it would be better. I was able to try some from a smoking expert and he said he never prepared with any preservatives but had no time to give me his reciepe and doesn't use a phone or computer but makes his living off selling his smoked foods..

    Any thoughts would be much appreciated, I use a WSM and the AMZN smoker tray.

    Thanks very much.
  2. If you don't use cure it won't taste like store bought bacon. The cure is what gives part of the taste. It also makes it safe to have in the danger zone long enough to smoke it.

    Just my

    Happy smoken.

  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Store bought bacon has "nitrites" in it...... nitrates are illegal when making commercial bacon.....   Making bacon without nitrites, you could create botulism in the bacon...  although it's not "highly probable"....  it is still possible.....  let us know where to send flowers and the "sorry you died" condolences cards....  and hopefully you didn't feed any "pathogen" bacon to your family......

    The finished bacon, if properly cured in nitrite, has less than 120 Ppm nitrite....   Nitrates, that convert to nitrites, in vegetables, some vegetables have over 1000 Ppm nitrates in them....   

    Now, I know that is harsh but, .........  fooling with food safety is something that you don't get a second chance, if something goes wrong.....   

    Cold smoking bacon, in a low oxygen environment like a smokehouse, is a perfect breeding ground for food borne pathogens...

    Now, Pops has a brining method that has been approved by "food safety" folks when the business was operating....   Click on the link below to see all the possibilities......    Dave
  4. It can be done (some country bacon is made without nitrites), but you need to use a higher percentage of salt than most folks prefer and you must know what you're doing to do it safely.

    It must be dry cured and dried down enough so that the water activity level (aW) is low enough so that it can safely be cold smoked without botulinum producing toxins.

    It will definitely NOT be anything like store bought bacon!!!!

    What exactly don't you like about your current bacon?

    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013
  5. donr

    donr Smoking Fanatic

    In theory

    You can cold smoke between 33 & 39°f without cure agents.  Which basically means you have to smoke it in a refrigerator, which is a difficult setup to say the least.  I thought about trying it, then quickly thought better of it.  At those temps, the meat takes on less flavor per unit time.  This means you will have to smoke it for quite a while.

    You can also hot smoke the belly to whatever the safe temp. for pork is.  This just cooks the bacon.

  6. Thanks Dave, after reading several of your previous posts I thought that the safety would be jepordized, and thats not what I want. I have tried Pops reciepe but still got a taste I wasnt crazy about although others seem to have enjoyed it. I will keep trying and tweeking my smoking process and hopefully come up with a taste I like better. The strange thing is I hot smoke eels occonsionally and they taste more like bacon then my bellies do and those are brinned in just salt water, maybe its the sugar that is throwing me off so I will try reducing the sugar next time. Thanks to all the other replies as well I appreciate all input.
  7. Good morning Martin, The bacon seems to have chemical taste and smell especially  when it comes right out of the smoker its hard to describe. I thought it might be the smoker it self so I cooked some wings in it to try and burn off some off the residue inside the smoker, but had the same outcome. I have been using apple/hickory dust, do you think I should try pellets or a different wood? 


  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Tom, morning.....  I think that taste may be creosote...  Too much smoke and not enough air flow through the smoker....   Bitter taste....  maybe a tingle on the tongue.......  Dave
  9. dave17a

    dave17a Smoking Fanatic

    I did pops brine and commercial Country Sugar Ham Cure from The Sausage Maker in a rub. GREEEAT!. If I were you dont do what you read here, and do what you think you need to do. But as you have read food born illness's will happen. Read up on boutulism. Somebody post the link. Dunno how to do that. Be carefull man. Dave
  10. Botulism is nasty stuff and cold smoking uncurred bacon can lead to toxins in the meat BUT the bacteria and toxins will be destroyed by cooking the bacon to 85c or 185f for at least 5 minutes. I gues it depends on what you do with the bacon after the cold smoke, but if you fry it and like it moderately crisp you will be way hotter for longer so is there a safety issue with uncurred bacon as long as you fully cook it later? That aside, I don't think it would taste like bacon.
  11. That's generally considered extremely unwise.
    It's not a good idea to take risks just because you MAY be able to counter them later.

  12. And yet you do that exact thing every single time you buy chicken or turkey from a North American processor. It is not a small possibility your poultry has dangerous levels of salmonella, it is actually probable. You accept that extremely high risk because safe handling and fully cooking should counter it later.

    High temps will kill both kinds of bacteria and destroy any toxins, not a MAY.
  13. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    It was done for centuries without cure.

    Unknown to some is that the salts in certain parts of the world were "contaminated" with nitrites and nitrates.

    Yes there were dry cure and smoke cured methods.

    Some people got lucky.

    Remember that the average life expectancy back then was about 40.  Or 50 for a really old person?

    I just will not go there for my health and the health of those I love!

    Use the cures correctly and be happy with your product!

    Good luck and good smoking.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2014
  14. I don't buy chicken or turkey from North American processors.
    I'm not going to argue.
    I only said that it's extremely unwise.
    Go for it....just please don't feed it to the innocent.
    There are safe ways to cold smoke without the use of nitrate or nitrite...there's no reason to take unnecessary risks.

    Last edited: Jun 24, 2014
  15. The hysteria about botulism on this forum is bizarre. Yes it is a real threat but it is a very very rare issue and one that can be stopped multiple ways. People didn't get lucky in the past. Sufficient salt levels or drying is just as effective as nitrates and nitrites. Modern consumers don't like their food that salty or dry so we look to alternatives. That doesn't make the other methods unsafe, and even if it is hard to tell if it is salty enough or dry enough, high heat remains a 100% effective backup. We need to worry about botulism in things we don't cook to high temps like injected Q we only cook to 145* or cold smoked products consumed raw. It is a very manageable threat.

    According to the CDC, the US has about 25 cases of food born botulism a year, most occur in native populations of Alaska with traditional foods. I don't need the CDC to tell me not to eat a rotten seal flipper that has been burried in the ground for three months. Compare that to 1.2 million cases of salmonella poisoning resulting in 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths a year. Focus the preaching on the real threats, not the imaginary boogeyman.
  16. There's no hysteria, just wise or unwise practice.

  17. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You won't win this fight. I've seen botulism brought up here in threads about smoked cheese (dry hard cheese) or 38F smoking .

    History is meaningless, people who have been doing this for centuries got lucky or used nitrates without knowing (sarcasm ofcourse).
  18. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014
  19. I am not ignoring the suggestions from the CDC, FDA, microbiologists, or others whose suggestions are based on science and fact.

    More facts, 90% of the cases of food born botulism in the US are from improperly preserved foods (stink fin and home canning) which we are not talking about. Most of the remaining average of 2.5 cases a year (in a country over 300 million) are from sausage.

    Science tells us the risk comes from bacteria plus moisture and a lack of oxygen and ground meat mixes the surface bacteria into the middle with moisture and shoving into a casing provides the low oxygen. Poking a raw hunk of meat to inject or stick in a temp probe can also put bacteria into an anaerobic condition inside the meat. For the big hunks we are hot smoking, the 40-140-4 rule protects us. Heating hot enough for long enough, such as 85c for 5 minutes provides another layer of protection. With sausage, if you cold smoke between 70-90f you are putting it at the ideal temp for max bacteria growth. If you then dry the sausage and eat it raw, or insufficiently cook it later, there is a danger you or your family will be one of the 2.5 cases per year. The recommendation to add nitrate or nitrite to sausage is good advice to eliminate this small but potentially deadly risk (under 5%). That is based on science.

    When you are talking about a solid piece of pork belly that will be sliced and cooked well above 185f (85c) for 5 minutes you are introducing myth and hysteria that contradicts the advice from the CDC and FDA. The uncurred bacon needs to be treated just like raw poultry or any raw meat. Maintain safe handling to avoid cross contamination and fully cook it and the experts with real PHD's and not Internet forum degrees tell us it is safe. Eat it raw or rare and there is a very very small danger from the surface bacteria getting anaerobic conditions in the smoker or more likely if you vacuum seal after the smoke. (Where are the all caps warnings about vacuum sealing?) If you like your bacon rare or raw, nitrate cure is good advice. Otherwise, cook it to 185 and be safe.

    When 450 people die per year from salmonella and botulism in meats kills at a rate of 1 person per decade we are looking at a risk ratio of 4500:1. Funny I don't see 4500 times as many all caps warnings and people getting told not to feed poulltry to innocent guests in every chicken thread. Perspective and balance based on facts might be in order here.
  20. This subject (and the like) has been discussed on this forum ad nauseam.
    The forum has a policy which is to recommend practices that are generally regarded as safe (as per the website owner.).
    You're not going to change that so why waste your time?

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