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Cureing Bacon

Discussion in 'Hot Smoked Bacon' started by brokenwing, Dec 31, 2010.

  1. brokenwing

    brokenwing Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    I just picked up a 8 pound bellie today, and i am going to to cure and smoke it for some good old bacon.  I have some cure coming from Todd, but i also want to try doing it with 1 tbs of TenderQuick per pound.  My question is my TQ has been sitting around for 3 to 4 years.  That stuff does not go bad does it?  Also i want to add maple syrup and honey to a slab, can i add that to them while they are cureing, or should i wait till there done?  I am also thinking about adding 1 Tbs of brown sugar per pound of bacon.  Sorry for all the questions, just want to get it right.  Now i need to make me some bacon hangers!
  2. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    First thing I would say is don't combine two different cures.  Tenderquick is not a substitute for Cure 1.   I personally keep the cure and salt on the belly for 4 or 5 days before adding the sugars when I dry cure bacon.

    It is acceptable to let the cure do its job then add the sweeteners and let continue curing for a couple of ,more days.

    I have noticed that the sugar taste doesn't really become noticeable in fresh bacon until it rests in the fridge for a couple of days after smoking.

    Good luck, Bacon is one of those things that draws a lot of comments on the forum so I am sure you will get lots of help.
  3. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    My opinions:

    ~~~~I doubt if TQ goes bad, but I couldn't guarantee that--you could call them.

    ~~~~I tried adding Maple syrup during the curing---did very little for flavor.

    ~~~~I always add a TBS of brown sugar per pound of meat, right after I spread the TQ all over the meat. It seems to counteract the salt. It does not make the Bacon sweet. I also believe the sugar helps to melt the salt in the cure, creating that nice slurry of juice in the bags, making the cure penetrate the meat better. Do not drain the juice out of the bags.

  4. brokenwing

    brokenwing Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Thanks everyone, Bear I pretty much am following your, and otters recipe for bacon.  I will post as i go.  Thanks everyone!
  5. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    I have to agree with Bear and AL on this one. I also mix in some browns sugar during the curing. Now like Al has mentioned DO NOT mix the cures. I have also added the honey and spices after the curing process then smear you honey and spices on the slab and then it sit there for a day if you could then smoked it. Now you don't want to cook the bacon you just want to flavor it. So don't let the temps get too high now. I usually only let the temp get up to maybe 90° and leave it in the smoker for 8 hours or so. 
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2010
  6. brokenwing

    brokenwing Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    ya Todd is sending me cure I'm going to try on another bellie, no cure will be mixed.  I'm going to do this like my grandpa did on his hog farm, no heat, just using the amazen smoker, for a long cold smoke after it is cured.  I cut the bellie into some manageable pieces, put the tq on and brown sugar, and now it is napping in the fridge.
  7. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    You can't go wrong with simplicity.

    I dropped some cure in the mail for you.  Should get it Saturday or Monday.

  8. baboy

    baboy Smoke Blower

    Good luck, I just did my first belly and loved it. The hard part is waiting for the cure and finding a day to smoke.
  9. brokenwing

    brokenwing Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Ok cool todd.  Thanks for the responses everyone, i am off to the grocery store.  Got up to turn the bacon over in the bags, and the dag gone things leaked some juice.  Grrr, cant find anything made good anymore, so off to get some more ziplock bags.  That juice is got the cure in it, cant lose that.[​IMG]
  10. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    I agree don't lose the juice---some people drain the juice off---I totally disagree with that.

    I use bags big enough to put the meat pieces in, and be able to fold the top over, so no juice gets to the zipper part.

    You can't trust the darn zippers. I actually go by the size of bags I'm going to use, when I cut my belly up.

    I'm happy when the zipper is above the fold of the bag.

    Then each day, when I flip the packages over, the fold still ends up on top, with the zipper away from any juice.

    LOL---I learned like you did---with a couple of leakers.

  11. brokenwing

    brokenwing Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Well i thought i would share the progress thus far.  They have been cured with TQ and Brown Sugar.  They have been in the ice box since Friday.  Here are some pictures so far.  I am planning on a Sunday cold smoke.  Keep your fingers crossed for me, this is my first shot at making homemade bacon, wish me luck!


  12. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member


    Looking real good so far. Can't wait for the rest of the pics (especially the sliced Bacon)!

    I found a picture that might explain what I mean about the bag size (below).

    When you use a bag only a little bigger than the piece of meat, there is a good chance they will leak, because the juices will be laying against the zipper end, and some salt and/or sugar got in the zipper, and screwed it up.

    If you use bags big enough to be folded over above the meat, the juice will not get to the zipper, and never leak.

    Here you can see how they're folded over.

    Then when you flip & massage them, that fold will just go the other way, always ending up on top, and the juices will be down with the meat. Even if the zipper is busted, it won't leak.


    Hope this helps,

  13. brokenwing

    brokenwing Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    thanks bear, ya next time I'm going to have to buy a little bigger bags.  So far the new bags I bought are holding up.   2 of the bellies have alot of juice, the other one just a little.  It all looks really good though.  Now for all you bacon pros, when do i remove the skin, before or have the cold smoke.  The skin looks to me like it could be a pain in the butt to get off.
  14. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    That's a matter of choice. Some guys leave it on.

    I either buy it without, or remove it myself before I do anything.

    I don't want to eat it, so I figure why cure it & why smoke it.

    I also don't want it making my curing take longer, and I don't want it blocking smoke from getting to the part I'm going to eat.

    My 2 Pennies,

  15. papagreer

    papagreer Meat Mopper


    how do you pick a good belly? Are there any tips that you use to get a nice meaty one, rather then a fatty one? I've never bought one before but would like to cure some bacon soon. Do you do a side view of it?


  16. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Smoked pork rind is a great addition to a pot of slow cooked beans.  It adds a nice smokey flavor and becomes very soft and tasty after a couple of hours at low heat.  There again you are just adding fat to beans but down here there is no real problem with doing something like that.  Plus you can always pull it out when you serve.

    If you leave the rind on plan on curing your bacon on the longer side of recommend cure times.  The rind does act as a barrier to cure penetration but bacon is seldom more then a couple of inches thick so not an insurmountable one.  

    I have also found that the rind makes it easier for me to hang green bacon in my smokehouse.  I do not have access to bacon racks (to cheap to buy them), I use stainless steel wire and dowels.  I find the rind helps hold it together.  There again, personal preference. 

    The rind also slows the penetration of smoke.  Plan on leaving the bacon in the smoker longer.  If you would normally pull the bacon after 10 hrs plan on 12 hrs of smoke.  There is no hard and fast rule on this.  Most of the advice I have gotten and have read says to smoke your bacon to color.  There are to many variables to give an exact smoke time.   

    If you have to skin the bacon yourself I find it is easier to remove after smoking.  The smoked rind separates pretty easy with a fillet knife.  The dried bacon pulls away from the rind easier and you can skin it like you are filleting a fish.  I find that if I leave the rind on I am not losing so much of that great fat because of my lack of knife skills.  I am not as good a knife guy as I should be and I get very frustrated trying to remove the rind from raw bacon.

    If you have the option of selecting individual bellies knowing which one to pick is also personal preference.  I have to buy them by the case or half case and I tend to just find the best, most reliable butcher I can and take what he can get.  I can not find a butcher or grocery in the area that has whole pork belly in the display case.  Some the oriental groceries will carry them but they normally trim the hell out of them instead of leaving them whole and their cost goes up dramatically.   Your most important selection criteria is the green bacon's freshness.  How is the color and smell.  Does it feel or look the least bit slimy.  There can be a big difference between a belly just out of the wholesalers freezer and the butchers display case.  Another reason I buy case lots.  The butcher orders it, she calls me saying it just came in, I pick it up right off the delivery truck.

    As far as fat vs lean, who knows.  I kind of like bacon fat so I may like bacon with a greater fat content.  If you want lean bacon you can always trim off some to the fat and save for making sausage. 

    Good Luck,  Bear has given you some great advice.  I would defer to his recommendations.  I am just trying to provide some personal experience.

  17. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    As for the meat/fat percentage, like Al said, maybe if you have a few to choose from, you might be able to keep away from one that has too much fat, but when I get them, I have a butcher order me one. I don't even think he has any control over that. He gets them from various suppliers.

    First one I got from him for $2 per pound (without the skin) was perfect---good amount of meat---maybe 60% meat.

    Second one I got from him for almost $3 per pound (He said it was a different supplier). I got it home----about 90% fat!!!!

    Third one was $2.50 per pound. Again a very nice one.

    Most are descent, but that second one was way too much fat (don't think there's anything you can do about it).

    I don't think you can tell, unless you can cut a nice slice down the middle---But you can't do that until you own it.

    That's been my experience on it.

  18. brokenwing

    brokenwing Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    So after 8 Days in the cure, i rinsed it off, and soaked it in water for a half hour, and then did a fry test.  Tasted great, way different taste then store bought bacon, almost like ham, granted it is not smoked.  I then left one plain, one with Black Pepper, and the last one with honey brown sugar glaze.  Back to the fridge to take a nap, so the pelicle can form.  Tomorrow I'm going to do a long cold smoke with maple.  Here are a boat load of pics for you all to look at the progress.





    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011
  19. chefrob

    chefrob Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    lookin' good so far..........
  20. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    lookin good BW, keep the pictures coming.