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Curing bacon for the first time..

Discussion in 'Bacon' started by Baconisgoood, Jan 24, 2019.

  1. Baconisgoood

    Baconisgoood Newbie

    Hello everyone! Looks like this is the place to get the answers I have been searching for. Thank you in advance for reading and/or replying!!
    Being a bacon lover I decided to try making it myself cause it seemed to be not very difficult to do. I purchased some pork belly which was cut in slabs about 2" x 2" x 8" from costco . In total I had about 5lbs of cuts which I split into 2 different Ziploc bags after applying a dry rub of salt , cane sugar, smoked salt and 6 grams of cure between the two.

    After 3 days the bacon is getting a nice med to dark pink color and there is enough 'water' in the bag to cover 3/4 of the slabs when lying flat. I rotate it everyday and I can still feel the grittiness of the salt on the pork through the bag. It is getting firmer to the touch by the day but I am concerned about the length of time I should keep in the brine due to style of cut I used.

    Should I just leave it for the recommended 7 days or will the smaller cuts cure faster? I'm concerned it may get too salty if I leave it too long.

    I look forward to any suggestions.


    Attached Files:

    SonnyE likes this.
  2. fajitapot

    fajitapot Fire Starter

    It mostly depends on the amount of salt you used. If you measured it as a percentage of belly weight, like 3%, you can leave it indefinitely and it will never go above 3%. Since this is your first time I'd go the full 7 days and see what happens. You can make adjustments next time based on these results.
    Baconisgoood likes this.
  3. Baconisgoood

    Baconisgoood Newbie

    Thanks for the advice.. I used 1/2 cup coarse sea salt, 1/2 cup of cane sugar and probably a 1/4 cup of smoked salt. I was trying a recipe I found online.

    Attached Files:

  4. Baconisgoood

    Baconisgoood Newbie

    I found a cure calculator on this site that seems to confirm that my salt percentage is around 3%. My main concern was that the cuts being smaller than the typical whole slab of pork belly, it may cure faster and become saltier.

    I'm guessing from what you are saying is that no matter the thickness of the cut the salt content should not get higher than the 3% I measured out for the original rub?
  5. fajitapot

    fajitapot Fire Starter

    Sounds like you're closer to the 10% range, which probably won't be edible if left to fully cure. I'd pull it early and rinse it off before smoking. It may be too salty anyway but next time weigh out the salt to precisely 2 or 3% and you won't have to worry about it. A good starting point is 3% salt, 2% sugar, and 0.25% Prague Powder #1. Salt and sugar can be adjusted but the cure #1 should remain the same.
    Baconisgoood likes this.
  6. fajitapot

    fajitapot Fire Starter

    Without knowing exactly which salt you used and how much it weighed there's no way of knowing precisely what those volumes translate to in grams. But 1/2 cup (plus another 1/4) is likely WELL over the 68 grams that would be 3% of 5lbs.
  7. fajitapot

    fajitapot Fire Starter

    You could actually remeasure everything just as you did it the first time, then put all the salt on a scale (just for reference). I'd be curious to find out what it actually weighs.
  8. Baconisgoood

    Baconisgoood Newbie

    Unfortunately I don't have any salt left over or the receipt from the bulk store... this was a try and see what happens kind of thing lol but now that I see this is actually possible for me to do, I'll be more precise next time. I just wish I found this site earlier.
    Appreciate the advice!
  9. HowlingDog

    HowlingDog Smoke Blower

    Hi Baconisgood,

    I just recently (last two weeks) cured and smoked bacon for the first time using the same Costco pieces that you did. Based on the research I did and using the various calculators (I found three of them and they all mostly agreed), I think you used too much salt, at least for my taste. Before I started, I purchased a $12 digital scale at Amazon so I could measure in grams. Using the calculators, I used about 10 grams of salt for each piece; and each pork belly piece was at or just over a pound.

    Regarding the cure time, setting aside the salt question, I cured for 8 days before I smoked and I wished I had gone a little longer. From what I read, a longer cure can add to the flavor. I just started a second batch, using the last three pieces in the Costco package I had, and I am going to let them go 12-14 days.

    I used Mortons Kosher Salt (big blue box), a little brown sugar (about 6 grams) and Prague Cure #1 (about a gram and a half to a gram and 3/4) per piece, depending on weight. I highly recommend carefully measuring each piece separately and measuring the ingredients separately for each piece.

    Also, from my single experience and reading, I am going to let them "age" a couple days after smoking. On my first try, the bacon flavor was mild right off the smoker, but each day it aged, it got better. By day 3, post smoke, it was better than all but two other bacons I have ever had.

    Trial and error is how I learn... You should see what I did to the first brisket I tried!!! Keep trying, don't get discouraged and you will soon be enjoying the results of your experience!!

    Baconisgoood likes this.
  10. Baconisgoood

    Baconisgoood Newbie

    I do have a digital scale and measured out the salt to follow the recipe I found, I just added the extra smoked salt to give it flavor. I have a feeling I will have to soak it to remove saltiness.

    Did you package each piece separate in a bag as well when curing or just put all of it together after the rub?
  11. SonnyE

    SonnyE Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The first time I try a recipe, I usually find myself wanting to make adjustments to the next trial.
    But don't give up. And don't throw it out just because it may be to salty for your taste the first go around.
    Salted Pork goes great in a big old pot of Beans. Don't add any salt, just wait and see how it tastes, then doctor it.

    There are a number of great recipes here to work with here. I'm somewhat settled into a few.
    We really like Slab Bacon, aka: Pork Belly Bacon. My wife likes Canadian Bacon, so I've made that as well. I have a chunk of Disco's Back Bacon peppered I'm about to slice up. And have a slab I started two days ago.
    I go for 14 day cures, 1 to 5 days Pellical, 6 hours of Apple Sawdust smoke, and another 5 days of aging in my "Curing Fridge" (aka: Beer fridge).
    I got the little fridge to keep peace in the family. I didn't want to stink up the house fridge with smokey bacon smells, but I like it on my beer cans. LOL!

    You'll get there. Try some of the recipes you'll find here.
    Baconisgoood likes this.
  12. GaryHibbert

    GaryHibbert Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Before you smoke it, rinse the bacon off. Then pan fry a small slice. If it's too salty then soak it in ice water for a day and do another fry test. Continue this routine with fresh water until the meat is not too salty. Then rinse, pat dry, and put it uncovered in the fridge for 24 hours. Then smoke and enjoy.
    SonnyE and Baconisgoood like this.
  13. HowlingDog

    HowlingDog Smoke Blower

    Yes, I weigh each piece separately and put them in individual bags. For me, it is easier to keep track of.

    I am not usually a very "make notes of things" kinda person, but for the bacon and I think other things involving curing, I think I need to be. I made an Excel spreadsheet on my process, along with reminders of cure measurements. Below are the notes and things I am tracking. On my scale, 1 teaspoon of cure was about 5 grams, so I figured 1/2 teaspoon is 2.5, etc. Then, for each piece, I noted weight, and amount of cure, salt etc and and notes about smoking.... It has helped me so far, but I am only on my second try! It is all a learning process.....


    Excel cells/headings. Looks better in Excel:

    Hot Smoked Bacon
    Smoke Notes

    Date in to Cure Calc/Est Nitrite PPM
    Date Out 1 tsp = 5 grams 1/8 tsp = .625 grams
    Date in to Equalize 1/2 tsp =2.5 grams 1/16 tsp = .3125 grams
    Date Smoked 1/4 tsp = 1.25 grams

    Piece # 1 2 3 4 5
    Cure Amt
    Salt Amt
    Sugar Amt

    Ingredient Notes

    Smoke Notes

    General Notes
    Baconisgoood likes this.
  14. solman

    solman Smoking Fanatic

    i'm just now starting to read about making bacon at home, and started reading BriCan's posts about the seasoning and cure he uses (link). for future reference, his recommendation is 2% salt (but no more than 2.25% salt) per pound, and 0.25% #1 cure per pound (which works out to be just a tiny bit over 1 gram of cure per pound).

    doing some math, 3/4cup of salt is about 186g. five pounds of meat is 2265g. 186 divided by 2265 is 8.2%. that's a lot of salt.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
    Baconisgoood likes this.
  15. rexster314

    rexster314 Smoking Fanatic

    Just use the diggingdog cure calculator. Much easier and faster. I've been using it for years now. I do around 190 pounds of bacon each month and using it I've found the perfect ratio to where I don't have to rinse or soak the bacon due to extra saltiness.
    Don't overthink curing bacon.
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  16. Baconisgoood

    Baconisgoood Newbie

    Thanks everyone for the responses.

    I did find that calculator and I do plan on making more bacon with the amounts weighed, individually packaged and written down. I'm pretty sure the package I bought was 2.8kg and I took out one piece to cook with right away so I'm guessing it was closer to 2.5 kg not 5lbs, which puts me closer to 5-6% salt (still high most likely).
    I think tmrw I will take them out of the packages, rinse and fry up a small piece to see where I'm at. Tmrw afternoon will be 6 full days in the bag.
  17. SonnyE

    SonnyE Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Holy Mackerel! I'm a real shirker then. :emoji_astonished:
    But yeah, with that level of volume curing, I would think you'd have it down pat.

    Is your last name Hormel? :emoji_laughing:
  18. SonnyE

    SonnyE Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I use a sharpie and do notes on the gallon ziploc for the slab in it.
    I jot down weight, start date-end date, and put a 1 on one side, and a 2 on the tother.

    (Because I have taken out my slabs to massage and turn, and forgotten which side was up. Or which side goes down.
    Sounds dumb, but yes, it does happen occasionally. So the 1, 2 keeps me honest. In my world accuracy always counted.)
    Baconisgoood likes this.