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Cured Bacon Color Question

cpanderson

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This is my first attempt at making bacon, so I had a question about the color of the cured bacon that I have not smoked yet. I followed recipes I have seen on this forum to create a dry brine for some pork belly I bought. The cure for 1 lb is shown below, and I weighed each individual piece and mixed up it's own batch of cure, spread on both sides, vacuum sealed without the vacuum, and stored in the fridge, massaging and flipping every day. Since I didn't have time to get to it after work, it has been curing for 11 days now. I am planning to rinse it and soak in ice water and then put in the fridge until smoking on saturday, but wasn't sure if the coloring on the meat is ok. Two pieces turned bright red in spots, while the third didn't. Obviously if it smells off I will throw it away, but I was just wondering if anybody has experience with this, and would know if it is normal, bad, or nothing to worry about.




 

chopsaw

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Looks fine . Gonna be good .
 

daveomak

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Looks good.... The meat will get it's pinkish color as it heats up ... in the fry pan, oven or smoker if you hot smoke it..
 

cpanderson

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Thank both of you for the boost in confidence... It is my first time, so wanted to be cautious. I had some trouble with the new mini-fridge I was holding it in, as I set it and it partially froze about 4 days into the cure, so I moved it into the fridge inside set at 38 degrees and worked on getting the temperature set properly. Nothing smelled bad as I unpacked it, so its in the ice bath. One will get just smoke as a baseline taste, the next one will get black pepper and garlic, and the last one will get a recipe for piri piri bacon that Disco posted... it sounds yummy! Still deciding if I want to use Cherrywood for the smoke, which I love, or if I should use something a little more assertive like hickory... I have 2 days to decide :) Will post lots of Qview when smoking and finished product.
 

indaswamp

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The meat should firm up like a well done steak when you push down on it with your thumb...that is from the cells in the meat swelling up as the salt travels through it. You're fine.
To set your mind at ease, do the fry test and you can check both the cure and saltiness.
Cherrywood will give you a deep mahogany color on the bacon.,, good to mix with hickory. I'd go 40/60 Cherry/hickory.
 

TomKnollRFV

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About the smell: I've cured stuff and it actually gets a bit off an odd smell. That's just the curing as well. But the last batch of canadian bacon I just did, colour wise..one chunk was rather normal looking, the other was definitely the distinct pink!

Now I wish my mini fridge's freezer compartment actually worked better. It had a problem getting a few mini pizzas I bought to stay frozen! Always some thing right!?
 

cpanderson

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About the smell: I've cured stuff and it actually gets a bit off an odd smell. That's just the curing as well. But the last batch of canadian bacon I just did, colour wise..one chunk was rather normal looking, the other was definitely the distinct pink!

Now I wish my mini fridge's freezer compartment actually worked better. It had a problem getting a few mini pizzas I bought to stay frozen! Always some thing right!?
This fridge doesn't have a freezer, and for the first 2 days it held a steady 34 degree temperature empty, once I put the bacon slabs in it, everything started to freeze. It must have needed the extra mass in the fridge to hold the cold to reach it's temperature it was trying to reach, and was probably losing to the outside. Now that I have it stabilized and a bunch of water bottle to hold the temperature, I have dialed it in to a 38 degrees
 

indaswamp

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This fridge doesn't have a freezer, and for the first 2 days it held a steady 34 degree temperature empty, once I put the bacon slabs in it, everything started to freeze. It must have needed the extra mass in the fridge to hold the cold to reach it's temperature it was trying to reach, and was probably losing to the outside. Now that I have it stabilized and a bunch of water bottle to hold the temperature, I have dialed it in to a 38 degrees
For every day the slabs were in the fridge and it was frozen, you need to add 1 day to the curing time.
 

cpanderson

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For every day the slabs were in the fridge and it was frozen, you need to add 1 day to the curing time.
They were skinny slabs, thickest part was 1 1/4" thick... kind of sad but it was all I could get without ordering through the butcher, so I took what I could get... I caught them starting to freeze on day 4. I was fideling with the temperature adjustment using an accurate thermometer in a water bottle to measure the actual instead of the ambient swings... but I think I was fiddeling with it too much.
I pulled them out as the liquid was starting to freeze on the surface, and put them in the main fridge at 38 degrees... I don't think it was close to 32 degrees for a day total. I let them cure 11 days total. I think I'm covered.
 

indaswamp

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Your call...but a little longer cure time won't hurt a thing. You will know one way or the other though when you do a fry test....
 

TomKnollRFV

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Personally, I always do 14 days for curing any thing thick. It doesn't hurt it any to go the full time you can.
 

MarkyP

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Hey all. First time posting here, but been following some advice, so thanks for that.

Cured and smoked some belly and back bacon in a wet cure for about 15 days. I messed up the wet brine by putting in brown sugar, but cleaned the meat with vinegar and water and remade some more brine. The meat was in the wrong brine for about half of the time. I used a recipe it if a smoking book, so it wasn't a pre made cure, but I followed the quantities for the amount of meat and managed to get some saltpetre from a local butcher.

After the curing I rinsed and hung to dry I the fridge for 48hrs and then cold smoked for about 12hr in total (over a 24hr period - it was between 0-5 degrees Celsius over that period). Yesterday I got the bacon sliced by another local butcher and I quizzed them about the colour of some of the bacon. They seemed happy with the bacon so I vacuum packed it all up and chucked must of it in the freezer. Chocked sooner of the back bacon this morning and it tasted fine, not too salty and not too smokey, so that's all good.

Just wanted to get your opinion on the colour of the belly bacon, some of it is quite grey, am I just being paranoid (don't want to make anyone I'll)!?
 

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daveomak

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managed to get some saltpetre from a local butcher.
Saltpeter ???? Are you sure ??? Saltpeter is the PURE form of potassium nitrate .... WAAAAY to concentrated for beginners....
 

MarkyP

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Saltpeter ???? Are you sure ??? Saltpeter is the PURE form of potassium nitrate .... WAAAAY to concentrated for beginners....
So I'm still alive 12hrs after trying some of the bacon.

Attached is the recipe I followed, from the book titled "Home smoking and curing"

I called up a local butcher and asked if they had any saltpetre, they said they had some and gave me a fair amount in a bag (about 100g). I can therefore only assume they gave me what I asked for, but didn't see the packet it came out of.

Aside from the fact I've skipped the beginners stage, have you got any comments on my question, or follow ups on your initial comment, here to learn.
 

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dernektambura

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Your local butcher probably gave you premixed saltpeter cure, Not pure saltpeter....
100 grams of pure saltpeter would be good to cure close to 900 lbs of meat and your butcher knows that.... still, I would call butcher and ask....
 

daveomak

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How old is that recipe ????

You are correct about the grey color of the meat.... Saltpetre has no effect on refrigerated meats... The nitrate must be converted to nitrite by active natural bacteria found in meat.... Those bacteria will not "wake up" an do their job until the meat is at a temperature of ~ 50-55F... It is a very slow process...
Modern curing uses a mix of Sodium Nitrite (6..25%) and Salt in cure#1 or..... In cure#2 Sodium Nitrite ~6.25%, Sodium Nitrate ~(0.5% to 3.63% or more depending on manufacturer) and is designed for use in meats that are not cooked...

Cure2 2.jpg


The water, salt and sugar = 36,100 grams weight...
Saltpetre at 28 grams = ~700 PPM... I don't know the % nitrate in KNO3...


Cure ingoing maximums.png



Meat processing
Potassium nitrate has been a common ingredient of salted meat since antiquity[25] or the Middle Ages[26]. The widespread adoption of nitrate use is more recent and is linked to the development of large-scale meat processing.[27] The use of potassium nitrate has been mostly discontinued because of slow and inconsistent results compared to sodium nitrite compounds such as "Prague powder" or pink "curing salt". Even so, potassium nitrate is still used in some food applications, such as salami, dry-cured ham, charcuterie, and (in some countries) in the brine used to make corned beef (sometimes together with sodium nitrite).[28] When used as a food additive in the European Union,[29] the compound is referred to as E252; it is also approved for use as a food additive in the United States[30] and Australia and New Zealand[31] (where it is listed under its INS number 252).[3]


May I suggest, you purchase "cure#1" for short term curing like sausages, bacon etc...
Maybe get this book by Marianski for a basic book to jump start your venture into curing meats...
Seems the Kindle editions are updated as changes are made... I have both paper and kindle...


Marianski 1.jpg


Then, perhaps later, some of his other books....

Marianski 2.jpg
Marianski 3.jpg
 

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daveomak

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Great information by NEPAS:

CURES - Cures are used in sausage products for color and flavor development as well as retarding the development of bacteria in the low temperature environment of smoked meats.

Salt and sugar both cure meat by osmosis. In addition to drawing the water from the food, they dehydrate and kill the bacteria that make food spoil. In general, though, use of the word "cure" refers to processing the meat with either sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate.

The primary and most important reason to use cures is to prevent BOTULISM POISONING (Food poisoning). It is very important that any kind of meat or sausage that will be cooked and smoked at low temperature be cured. To trigger botulism poisoning, the requirements are quite simple - lack of oxygen, the presence of moisture, and temperatures in range of 40-140° F. When smoking meats, the heat and smoke eliminates the oxygen. The meats have moisture and are traditionally smoked and cooked in the low ranges of 90 to 185° F. As you can see, these are ideal conditions for food poisoning if you don't use cures. There are two types of commercially used cures.

Prague Powder #1

Also called Insta-Cure and Modern Cure. Cures are used to prevent meats from spoiling when being cooked or smoked at low temperatures (under 200 degrees F). This cure is 1 part sodium nitrite (6.25%) and 16 parts salt (93.75%) and are combined and crystallized to assure even distribution. As the meat temperate rises during processing, the sodium nitrite changes to nitric oxide and starts to ‘gas out’ at about 130 degrees F. After the smoking /cooking process is complete only about 10-20% of the original nitrite remains. As the product is stored and later reheated for consumption, the decline of nitrite continues. 4 ounces of Prague powder #1 is required to cure 100 lbs of meat. A more typical measurement for home use is 1 level tsp per 5 lbs of meat. Mix with cold water, then mix into meat like you would mix seasonings into meat.

Prague Powder #2

Used to dry-cure products. Prague powder #2 is a mixture of 1 part sodium nitrite, .64 parts sodium nitrate and 16 parts salt. (1 oz. of sodium nitrite with .64 oz. of sodium nitrate to each lb. of salt.) It is primarily used in dry-curing Use with products that do not require cooking, smoking, or refrigeration. This cure, which is sodium nitrate, acts like a time release, slowly breaking down into sodium nitrite, then into nitric oxide. This allows you to dry cure products that take much longer to cure. A cure with sodium nitrite would dissipate too quickly. Use 1 oz. of cure for 25 lbs. of meat or 1 level teaspoon of cure for 5 lbs. of meat when mixing with meat. When using a cure in a brine solution, follow a recipe.


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daveomak

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  • M MarkyP :
    Hey, thanks for your message about the bacon and curing. Just so I'm clear are you saying that if the butcher had given me pure saltpetre and not a saltpetre mix then the quantities I used following the book recipe I shared would be in the correct proportions as per the table you shared. If the saltpetre was a mix and not pure then I wouldn't have the correct quantities to properly cure the meat, which I assume is why you included the advice on bacteria.

    I'm not looking for someone to say it's 100% safe to eat what I've "cured" but once I confirm with the butcher exactly what they have me then it would be good to know if in your opinion it is good to consume e.g. would you eat it if I cooked it for you?

    Thanks for all the book tips too and for the details on the premix cures, I'll use those in the future, but for the 8kg of bacon I have and for the 10kg ham I currently have curing I'm hoping they aren't going to have to be thrown out.


    25 minutes ago

  • daveomak daveomak :
    MarkyP, afternoon... Confirm with the butcher, what he/she gave you... Get a label.... Then come ask what's going on....
    16 minutes ago

  • daveomak daveomak :
    Please return to your original post so there will be a logical set of questions and answers...
 

MarkyP

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I called the butchers today and they didn't have the packaging anymore as they'd used the rest of the mixture up. But they told me that they use a premix from a company called Lucas Ingredients and that they typically use 100g of cure to 1kg of meat. I think I've had a few mixed messages because I mentioned before getting the "Saltpetre" that I had a ham weighing 9kg plus 8kg of bacon to cure and they said what they'd given me would be more than sufficient (I had over 100g). So I'm confused as to what I was given.

Lessons learned, in the future I'll buy an actual premixed cure.

But what to do with the ham (which is still in a wet brine) and the bacon?

Thoughts welcomed and thanks in advance.
 

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