Dry-Cured Garlic/White Pepper Bacon: Ecocure vs. Cure #1

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geostriata

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May 18, 2021
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So I saw the "Belly Prices" thread, and started searching for some pork belly locally. Found some at a mexican market for $3.99/lb. Since these will take a while to cure, I wanted to get a large quantity so I could freeze and have a good stockpile. Maybe not the best idea since this is the first time doing this, but oh well :)

Also, since I always like doing an A/B test, I did half with cure #1 and half with ecocure. I like the idea of using ecocure with my bacon since I want to sear it at high temperatures and that causes nitrosamines, yada yada yada. Not that I'm worried or anything, but I like the idea if it ends up working out well. If not, I'll eat cure #1 bacon happily until the end of my days (worth it if it comes sooner, haha).

(As an aside, why does Sausage Maker insist on having comically oversized containers for everything? I've got a fresh container of ecocure and NFDM and they're like 1/4 full. Takes up way too much space on my shelves... anyhow).

I found a recipe from SmokinEdge SmokinEdge , and had great luck with his recipes in the past, so I decided to give it a go. Here's the original thread.

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The starting bacon. I got the sense this wasn't premium, as there wasn't much actual meat on these pieces.

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I weighed out each piece and measured out the appropriate quantities of cure #1 (0.25%) for the first two pieces, and ecocure (1%) for the rest. The container in the bottom left is the mix of granulated garlic and white pepper to dust on the pieces at the end.

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To apply the mix, I put on some butcher paper and used a flour sieve to evenly dust with the cure mixture. Then I worked it in with my hands, flipped the meat, and did the same again. Then I smashed the sides into the remnants on the paper, put the meat on a rack, and then dusted the top with the remaining. Lastly, I visually dusted with the granulated garlic / white pepper mixture.

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I then set my drying chamber to 37F and removed the humidifier. I set the dehumidifier to activate at 65% RH, but I doubt it'll do much of anything at this temp.

And that's it! Fingers crossed and will post next step in 14 days!
 
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Thanks Jake. Be fun to see another opinion on the eco cure stand alone as a cure.
Yep, I didn't see much comparison out there, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

So far, it's harder to dry cure since there's 4x of it, so it took a bit more effort to get on the meat. It smells like play-doh, which was a little disconcerting. We'll see :)
 
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So looks like you are using skin-on bellies? That will take a little longer to cure, as the skin is pretty impenetrable, and the cure will have to travel from the direction of the other side.
 
So looks like you are using skin-on bellies? That will take a little longer to cure, as the skin is pretty impenetrable, and the cure will have to travel from the direction of the other side.
Good point! Fortunately, I won't be rushing things and will be curing for 14 days or so.

I suppose if you use the 1/4" cure travel per day metric, I'd be at 3.5" travel after 14 days. Nearly double the width of this pork belly, so I think it'll work out fine. We'll see!
 
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Interesting! All of the bacon seems to be firming up and curing as expected, but the ecocure group has a much sharper shade of red to it. Even on the pork skin.

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(The other change is I had to add a room-sized dehumidifier to the drying chamber to keep it at fridge-level humidity (<50% RH). I believe this because at 38F, dehumidifiers lose a lot of efficiency)
 
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Noticed a few small black specks on a 3 pieces on the underside of the belly. :(

No pictures to hide my shame.

The skin side of the bellies looked great, dry and firm and the lean showing a lovely red in both ecocure and cure #1. The lean side of the bellies (the part resting on the wire racks) was not dry and firm as expected. Ecocure cohort was drier/firmer on the lean side, but also more contaminated. Cure #1 cohort was wetter and looked basically uncured, but had less contamination. In any case, bad is bad. Tossed everything and did a deep deep clean of my chamber.

Things were going well, it seemed, but I think maybe as moisture dripped into the pan some of the salt/cure got pulled off the meat. Had I flipped the bellies and re-applied cure at least a few times, I'm sure that would've fixed it.

After getting few more bellies (higher quality this time), I'll retry the experiment.
 
I’m not sure what you are using as a chamber. Looks like an old freezer? I can see ice buildup at the bottom and water running down the sides from the top. Looks like a moisture nightmare in there and imo nothing should be cured in that unit
 
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I’m not sure what you are using as a chamber. Looks like an old freezer? I can see ice buildup at the bottom and water running down the sides from the top. Looks like a moisture nightmare in there and imo nothing should be cured in that unit
Yeah, you may be right. There was a very thin layer of frost. I don't think there was any actually water running down the sides though.

Normally it functions well as a drying chamber, as it's been used with success for beef sticks. For the bacon, I needed it at fridge temps, so I set it to 38F. Dehumidifiers stop work as well at that temperature, so I upgraded it from a little mini closet dehumidifier to a full room-sized dehumidifier. Even then, it was sitting at 70% RH. I noticed the frost, so I upped the temperature to 40F, and that enabled me to get the chamber down to 55% RH.
 
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