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First time bacon

the smoker

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Hello everyone. My first attempt at making bacon. I will get to the details, but here's where I am... 9 days curing, flipping daily. Virtually no liquid in the bags. Pulled them out, cut a couple strips and fried them. They were a bit too thick. They didn't crisp like they should. They didn't taste like bacon from the store. Now I need to soak them in water, then 2 days open air in the fridge to pull remaining salt and moisture out. Smoking them after that. Anyone that has experience in bacon let me know what you think. Thank you all! 20201007_182812.jpg 20201007_183759.jpg 20201016_155246.jpg

5 lbs belly
1 tsp curing salt (maybe need more?)
About 1/3 cup sea salt (maybe to much from tasting it, but didn't look like it was enough)
Little pepper
Little garlic (maybe leaving it next time)
 

thirdeye

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What was the source of your recipe? And did it include the procedure? Cooks has a similar one that still uses dry measurements by volume instead of weights but it uses maple sugar.

Your recipe looks straight forward, although I prefer working from percent of the meat weight to calculate my dry cure mixture. For example I like 1.8% salt, 1% sugar, and 0.25% Cure #1 (which should NOT be changed). Other people like different percentages. Using percents, I can take ANY weight of belly and mix the exact proportions needed. That said, I used volume measurements for many years, and the most important one (1 teaspoon of Cure #1 to 5# of meat weight is correct). Salt and sugar can be varied to suit your taste. Sugar is often used to offset the saltiness.

When sampling after curing and before a soak-out or smoking, you can expect it to be more salty, and a little bland since there is no smoke flavoring. And it didn't crisp up because it's in sort of an immature state. Once you complete the finishing procedure it should be fine.

I "overhaul" daily (flip over), and soak-out my cured bellies too, an hour or two usually does the trick. The 'equalization' time in the fridge varies. I like 18 hours, but 12 hours works too. A lot of folks go longer like you are planning. I always add black pepper, and refresh it after the soak-out. I like garlic powder on some of my bacon too.

Smoking options are cold smoking, hot smoking, and double smoking... which can be more than one cold smoke session, or a cold smoke session + a hot smoke session.

Following smoking, there is some 'blooming' time when you allow the bacon to cool at room temperature and darken slightly. There is also some 'mellowing' time when you keep the bacon in the fridge a day or so before slicing and /or packaging.

Anyways, keep us posted...
 

the smoker

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Joined Oct 1, 2012
What was the source of your recipe? And did it include the procedure? Cooks has a similar one that still uses dry measurements by volume instead of weights but it uses maple sugar.

Your recipe looks straight forward, although I prefer working from percent of the meat weight to calculate my dry cure mixture. For example I like 1.8% salt, 1% sugar, and 0.25% Cure #1 (which should NOT be changed). Other people like different percentages. Using percents, I can take ANY weight of belly and mix the exact proportions needed. That said, I used volume measurements for many years, and the most important one (1 teaspoon of Cure #1 to 5# of meat weight is correct). Salt and sugar can be varied to suit your taste. Sugar is often used to offset the saltiness.

When sampling after curing and before a soak-out or smoking, you can expect it to be more salty, and a little bland since there is no smoke flavoring. And it didn't crisp up because it's in sort of an immature state. Once you complete the finishing procedure it should be fine.

I "overhaul" daily (flip over), and soak-out my cured bellies too, an hour or two usually does the trick. The 'equalization' time in the fridge varies. I like 18 hours, but 12 hours works too. A lot of folks go longer like you are planning. I always add black pepper, and refresh it after the soak-out. I like garlic powder on some of my bacon too.

Smoking options are cold smoking, hot smoking, and double smoking... which can be more than one cold smoke session, or a cold smoke session + a hot smoke session.

Following smoking, there is some 'blooming' time when you allow the bacon to cool at room temperature and darken slightly. There is also some 'mellowing' time when you keep the bacon in the fridge a day or so before slicing and /or packaging.

Anyways, keep us posted...
Thank you for the insight. I was all over the place looking at recipes. I found a Calc that uses weight based off of %. So I started there. But it seemed that the salt was too low so I upped it. I'll know more after the soak and smoke. I won't try another piece after the soak or the dry out. I'll wait until I smoke it.

This is the Calc
 

thirdeye

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That's a great calculator, as is the ones at Dr Blonder's guinineideas.com. The purpose is so YOU can enter the percentage of salt and sugar that YOU like, then the calculator does the rest of the calculations for you. I was making bacon before the internet, so I'm comfortable with long hand calculations. But if I'm doing 5 or 6 pieces of belly, I double check with one of those calculators. Plus I normally do pieces in the 3# to 5# range, so it's easy to spot a number that is way off (like when you miss a decimal point).

You should probably use caution when assuming something is too high or too low. NEVER fool with the 0.25% of Cure #1, that is a benchmark engineered for food safety.

The Universal calculator you used will allow you to put ANY value for your salt percentage, but the normal salt ranges are 1.5% to 3.5%. On occasion I've seen some 5% recipes, but that would be pretty salty in my book. Sugar is generally in the same range, and if you like a sweeter bacon you can go somewhat high. You have to be careful when frying hi-sugar bacon as it can burn easier.

Sample a slice or two (you don't want the outer slices) after the soak-out and if it's too salty, soak for another hour or two.
 

the smoker

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You don’t mention any sugar in your recipe. I believe that helps with the crispness.
I was trying to stay away from sweet. I really wanted to see what it was like without the sugar. Do you feel sugar is a necessity?

That's a great calculator, as is the ones at Dr Blonder's guinineideas.com. The purpose is so YOU can enter the percentage of salt and sugar that YOU like, then the calculator does the rest of the calculations for you. I was making bacon before the internet, so I'm comfortable with long hand calculations. But if I'm doing 5 or 6 pieces of belly, I double check with one of those calculators. Plus I normally do pieces in the 3# to 5# range, so it's easy to spot a number that is way off (like when you miss a decimal point).

You should probably use caution when assuming something is too high or too low. NEVER fool with the 0.25% of Cure #1, that is a benchmark engineered for food safety.

The Universal calculator you used will allow you to put ANY value for your salt percentage, but the normal salt ranges are 1.5% to 3.5%. On occasion I've seen some 5% recipes, but that would be pretty salty in my book. Sugar is generally in the same range, and if you like a sweeter bacon you can go somewhat high. You have to be careful when frying hi-sugar bacon as it can burn easier.

Sample a slice or two (you don't want the outer slices) after the soak-out and if it's too salty, soak for another hour or two.
From all my reading, I really wouldn't mess with the curing salt. I was just thinking out loud lol. Other then 'maple bacon' I really didn't know sugar was a main player. So I left it out. Say for 5 lbs belly, how much sugar? Sugar doesn't play well with CI skillets lol. But we like to keep sugar low
 

shaneyb72

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I just did my first bacon very recently. I’d say you are doing just fine. I had so many concerns throughout the whole process!
I also had little to no liquid in the bags while curing.
But I followed almost the exact process you are and it turned out great!
 

Fueling Around

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Sugar is used to balance the saltiness. By keeping the salt under 1.5% you can omit sugar.

I use Blonder calculators for wet or dry curing.
 

the smoker

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I just did my first bacon very recently. I’d say you are doing just fine. I had so many concerns throughout the whole process!
I also had little to no liquid in the bags while curing.
But I followed almost the exact process you are and it turned out great!
Did you taste right out of the bag before the soak and dry out?
 

thirdeye

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I was trying to stay away from sweet. I really wanted to see what it was like without the sugar. Do you feel sugar is a necessity?
From all my reading, I really wouldn't mess with the curing salt. I was just thinking out loud lol. Other then 'maple bacon' I really didn't know sugar was a main player. So I left it out. Say for 5 lbs belly, how much sugar? Sugar doesn't play well with CI skillets lol. But we like to keep sugar low
Sugar is a variable and is mainly used to knock the edge off the salt. So let's say you are NOT shooting for a very sweet or maple bacon type of product you could omit sugar if your salt percentage is low. If you have a mid-range salt amount (say 2%) you might opt for 0.7% to 1.25% sugar. And... if you like your bacon with a salty footprint, and select 3% salt, you might bump the sugar to 1.5%+. It's all a balancing act of flavors and totally up to you.

One thing to keep in mind is that salts and water easily penetrate meats during curing and the penetration is very predictable. Sugar is a larger molecule, so it has to work a little harder when penetrating meat. Some authors feel the concentration of sugar is higher near the edges. A friend currently is dry curing bacon that called for a maple syrup injection, so this step eliminates the worry that the maple flavor won't penetrate the full thickness.
 

ab canuck

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Looks good so far, I do similar style but I do not soak at all, 10-14 days dry cure, hang in smoke house and away we go. Also use diggingdogfarm calculator. I found it to be the best so far.
 

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