Dry Cure 1st time

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mjh1

Newbie
Original poster
Sep 29, 2016
8
10
Fonthill, Ontario, Canada
Hello All

Great site looks like a lot of good friendly people and info.

Hopefully someone can help me out I have a question

I purchased and started to cure a 9.5lbs pork belly for bacon, I was given this recipe 

  • 1 4- to 5-pound pork belly, skinned

[h4]For the cure:[/h4]
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper or cracked black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons pink curing salt, such as Prague Powder #1
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar,

Which I doubled as I had almost 10lbs. 

1st question this recipe calls for a 5 day cure then smoke it, seems short to a lot of other recipes I see? Should I leave it longer or stick wit this 5 days?
 
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The formula for cure #1 is 1 tsp per 5# of meat.

So you would need 2 tsp for 10#.

The calculator most of us use is this one, all you need is a good scale.

http://diggingdogfarm.com/page2.html

We also cure for 14 days, rest for 4 days, cold smoke, then rest for 4 more days, then slice.

Some guys smoke over a three day period. Six hours of cold smoke each day with a overnight rest in between.

I just cold smoke mine 1 day for 10-12 hours.

Unless your belly is only about 1/2 inch thick, then 5 days is not long enough.

Al
 
So the recipe I followed is not right and I have to much curing salt? I have 4tsp with 10lbs of belly? If so is that going to ruin the meat and make it to salty to eat? 
 
 
Just over a day
Take it out, rinse it REALLY well, then dry it off and start over. This time use the calculator to get the exact amount you need for the cure.

At this point the cure hasn't penetrated too far and this will only set you back a day or so.  It's not the salt you need to worry about,  it's the nitrites.  Too much can be toxic, but don't fret, you're well under the toxic levels, but you still need to rinse and start over.

Edit:  Also do it like Al said for time and smoke...
 
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Charlie is correct that doubling the Cure #1 is no where near Toxic levels. The issue is somewhat disputed. The USDA suggests lower levels of Cure #1 for Bacon only, because most folks Hot Fry until Crispy and " some " studies have shown the carcinogen Nitrosamine can form. Of course like most studies of this nature, Saccarin, large quantities were fed to animals to cause cancer. It is extremely unlikely that eating 6 slices of Bacon goodness even a couple days a week will harm you and then a glass of OJ , antioxidents, with breakfast counters the effect of nitrosamine. That said, IF you are worried, rinse and start over but frankly, I would not bother and just use the recommended amount next time. You will be perfectly fine with what you have...JJ
 
If I leave it does rinse and a soak in water before smoking reduce the salty taste? And should leave it longer than the 5 days this recipe calls for?
 
Salt really won't be much of an issue due to the cure. Most all of us soak it for an hour and then test fry regardless. If too salty, soak another hour. Change the water regularly though.

As for time, I go a minimum of 2 weeks for cure. 5 days isn't enough to penetrate completely unless the belly is extremely thin.
 
Yep...Test fry and soak to reduce salt. Good guideline is 7 Days per Inch thick to get a thorough cure to the center...JJ
 
4 tsp salt in 10 lb belly will result in a maximum of 313 ppm nitrite. Whilst this is higher than we would want it is not approaching toxic levels when eaten in normal quantities.
 
Everyone has their own variation for dry curing but I have never really understood why some consider the need to soak the bacon after it has been cured to remove the salt. When calculating the cure mix at the beginning it is easy to adjust the amount of salt so that the desired levels are reached after curing without soaking.

When I first started to dry cure I was following recipes that would end up with ~4-5% salt, or I used ready-to-use cure mixes which were about the same. Yes, I certainly did need to soak these as the turned out way too salty. When I started to calculate my own cure I simply adjusted the salt levels to be around 2.5% and I have never had to soak it since.

Everyone has their own method and what works for you works for you - but it just seems unnecessary effort to add more salt than you need to then have to remove it afterwards 
th_dunno-1%5B1%5D.gif


For belly pork (streaky bacon) I allow 7 days to cure. For pork loin (back/canadian bacon) I allow 10. Within reason though you cannot over cure so if the belly stays in for 14 days that isn't a problem.
 
 
Everyone has their own variation for dry curing but I have never really understood why some consider the need to soak the bacon after it has been cured to remove the salt. When calculating the cure mix at the beginning it is easy to adjust the amount of salt so that the desired levels are reached after curing without soaking.

When I first started to dry cure I was following recipes that would end up with ~4-5% salt, or I used ready-to-use cure mixes which were about the same. Yes, I certainly did need to soak these as the turned out way too salty. When I started to calculate my own cure I simply adjusted the salt levels to be around 2.5% and I have never had to soak it since.

Everyone has their own method and what works for you works for you - but it just seems unnecessary effort to add more salt than you need to then have to remove it afterwards 
th_dunno-1%5B1%5D.gif


For belly pork (streaky bacon) I allow 7 days to cure. For pork loin (back/canadian bacon) I allow 10. Within reason though you cannot over cure so if the belly stays in for 14 days that isn't a problem.
Agreed. In this case I think the OP was just curious about reducing salt if needed. The recipe used is at approx 2.0 - 2.5% salt depending on brand...JJ
 
Ok I guess I will leave as is for now and and after the 10 to 14 days of curing soak in water and do a couple of test strips to see how salty it is and repeat if necessary.

Hopefully this 1st attempt is not a waste of time, money and is to salty,  I will follow the calculator and one of the recipes on this site next time.

Another newbie question does the curing salt add to the salty taste as well as the regular salt used, or does it have little taste and is more for the curing process than taste? 
 
 
Ok I guess I will leave as is for now and and after the 10 to 14 days of curing soak in water and do a couple of test strips to see how salty it is and repeat if necessary.

Hopefully this 1st attempt is not a waste of time, money and is to salty,  I will follow the calculator and one of the recipes on this site next time.

Another newbie question does the curing salt add to the salty taste as well as the regular salt used, or does it have little taste and is more for the curing process than taste? 
I feel confident that you'll be fine and looking forward to your next batch.

As for the added salt from the cure.  When I make anything with cure, I subtract the amount of cure #1 from the amount of additional salt I put into my product.  

Recipe needs 1 tsp of cure and 6 tsp of kosher salt, I only add 5 tsp of kosher and the 1 of cure.  Make sense?

Also, I highly recommend that you transition over to measuring by weight instead of teaspoons, tablespoons,etc...  Not all spoons are the same and when measuring in grams and liters, you'll find that your recipes are far more repeatable than with teaspoons and such.

Let us know how things progress.
 
 
Another newbie question does the curing salt add to the salty taste as well as the regular salt used, or does it have little taste and is more for the curing process than taste? 
Prague powder is ~93.75% plain salt and only 6.25% sodium nitrate which is the actual curing agent, so, yes it adds to the saltiness.  

Diggingdogfarm's calculator takes this in to account, so don't change the amounts from what it gives you.

http://diggingdogfarm.com/page2.html
 
OK quick update, and a little Bacon Porn


I let it cure for 12 days, soaked it in cold water for about 1 1/2hr changing the water 3 times, smoked it with Maple wood for about 4 hours until the temp of the bacon was just over 150F

Turned out pretty good, maybe a little salty but not bad at all, taste much better than store bought!

Thank you very much for all the advice, 

I do have a question for my next belly.

This one had a lot of fat, considerably more than store bought, are there different qualities of pork bellies or something I should look for or ask the butcher for when purchasing my next one? I did not weight what I trimmed off after smoking it but I'II bet it was close to 3lbs, once I started slicing it some of it was all fat no meat at all.
 
The bellies look pretty good from here!

I guess it would be nice to be able to pick thru a bunch of bellies until you find the one you like.

I always ask for bellies at least 2" thick.

That way your chances of getting a good one with meat & fat increase. IMHO!

But I have to say the best belly I got was from my Grandson who works in a high end restaurant in Ft. Laud.

He ordered it thru the restaurant & it was a real good one!

Al
 
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