HELP! I think i ruined my bacon.

Discussion in 'Smoking Bacon' started by louballs, Mar 17, 2014.

  1. louballs

    louballs Smoke Blower

    Hey Guys,

    It was my first time trying a wet cure for the bacon. I used pops brine as recommended. I had about 10 pounds that I cut into 3 slabs. I put them in the cure in a 5 gallon food grade bucket and used a brick covered with a gallon bag to hold them down. I think the brick may have been too heavy and squished the meat together and did not let the cure fully get to all of the meat even though I agitated the bucket daily. It looks like the center of the meat is still "pink" looking while the rest is noticeably darker and firmer to the touch. Do you think that's what has happened? Am I screwed? I've attached a picture of the meat now, you can see the "pinker" area in the middle.

    Lou
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2014
  2. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I don't think a brick would cause anything like that.

    The only way to tell for sure if the cure got to the center, is to cut it in half at the thickest place, and look at the color there. If the faces of that cut are pink all the way, the cure got to the center. If it's pink part way through, but a grayish brown in the center, then it didn't.

    Bear
     
  3. mchar69

    mchar69 Smoke Blower

    If you warm smoke it up to 160 it won't matter much.

    Did you fry a test piece?
     
  4. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Check the center, like I said above first. If & only if it didn't get cured to the center, you could smoke it to 145* internal temp. Pork is done at 145*, according to the USDA. But like I said, that's a last resort for belly bacon. I'm betting the cure got to the center of yours, if you had it curing long enough. That brick didn't hurt anything.

    Bear
     
  5. louballs

    louballs Smoke Blower

    Thanks for the reply.

    I don't think that it got all the way through. I cut it last night and it was too different colors and textures. Would it hurt if I put it back in for another week (21 days total) to let the rest of it cure???
     
  6. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'm not sure, because I don't brine cure.

    However can we see the color of the inside where you sliced it??

    Like was said above---Another alternative would be to smoke it with about 200* smoker temp, and take it to 145* in no longer than 4 hours.

    Bear
     
  7. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Test fry a slice and see what it looks like. The picture looks like meat is pink and fat is not. Is this belly meat or from a pork butt?
     
  8. louballs

    louballs Smoke Blower

    This is from a belly. The picture actually shows only fat. You will see the center of the fat is very pink while the outside is darker and firm to the touch. The same goes for the actual meat. I am work now so can't post a photo of how it looks after I cut it. The "pink" area is rectangular in shape, like the brick I used. I think the brick held the pieces on top of one another and almost made it like 1 thick slab of meat instead of three individual slabs. I am not really interested in hot smoking, so if I can't continue to cure this I will probably just take my losses and order a new slab.
     
  9. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I sent Pops a PM, hang in there until he gets it.
     
  10. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Lou,

    You said when you cut it, it was 2 different colors. What colors, and where was each color. I'd like to see what a fresh cut looks like.

    The problem with curing it again is you don't know how much cure it absorbed, so you don't know how much more cure to give it. If there really is an area that didn't get cured, you would be able to cure that, but at the same time you'd be giving the parts that were cured too much cure.

    The color of the outside of the fat means nothing to me. When you get home, could you make a new cut & post a picture or two of the face of the cut?

    Bear
     
  11. louballs

    louballs Smoke Blower

    Yes, I will definitely post that up later. The color of the actual meat is also pink looking on the under side. I wasn't going to start a new curing process, i was going to put it back into the same cure...if that makes a difference. That is where it is now as I was awaiting for some help from here. Thanks again!
     
  12. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That would be different----I had no idea you still had the old cure you used around yet. I'd still like to see pics of the inside, but I would think putting it back in the curing brine you had it in would be OK if it needs it. I would still check with Pops, because he is THE Wet Curing Genius in this Neighborhood. He might want to see the interior pics too.

    Bear
     
  13. louballs

    louballs Smoke Blower

    Hey guys,

    I took one of the end slabs and cut it in half. Its hard to tell from the photo but the meat in the center is a much lighter pink and softer in texture than the meat near the edges and surrounding. I am thinking the cure did not make it to these areas.

    Lou


     
  14. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That looks find to me.  Nice pink inside.
     
  15. louballs

    louballs Smoke Blower

    The camera actually makes the meat look more pink than it is. My concern is the difference in between the sections of meat. The part that I know is cured is much firmer and darker. Not squishy like the center
     
  16. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That looks completely cured to me.

    If you look at a finished piece of bacon, you will see that different parts are a darker pink (almost Red) than other parts.

    Also the darker pink are harder when you chew them than the lighter pink. That's all normal.

    The thing you don't want is Grayish Brown. You have none of that. You're good to go.

    I would get that pellicle going, and smoke it when you're ready.

    Bear
     
  17. louballs

    louballs Smoke Blower

    Thanks guys, I'll take your word for it. I just get nervous with curing etc. Maybe the weight of the brick caused that area of meat to be more tender?? In either event. I have rinsed it and put it in the fridge to start getting the pellicle going. Hopefully I won't get botulism!! haha
     
  18. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Looks fine to me!  Smoke it and fry it and if there's any left at all, send me some, lol!  [​IMG]     It will turn a variety of colors when brining, from gray, pink, blood red, maroon, sky blue pink, etc.  You are exchanging fluids (don't read into it.... lol!).  Sure, you can brine it some more if you like.   Curing meat is versatile and if you follow the steps (clean equipment, potable cold water, stir the ingredients until it is clear, put in the meat, weight it down (a bag-covered brick is fine!  Or, just fill the ziploc half full of water.  At the store, we used 5 gal. collapsable water tote bags, one or two on top, then we'd dump the water inside, rinse them out and clean them, and use 'em again and again.  The brine cooler had capacity for 70 55-gallon Rubbermaid buckets and was anywhere from half to full almost all the time.  We'd load in 24 slabs of bellies in a bucket, fill with brine then put one or two 5 gal bags in top.  Now that bottom slab got just as cured as the top slab with 300 lbs. of other bellies on top of it plus 1 or 2 - 40 lb. bags on it, so the weight is not a problem.  And you couldn't agitate it or stir it.  It just sat there and cured for minimum 21 days to 30 days, depending on it's lineup in the rotation, used a long handled meat puller hook to yank the bellies out into a huge roll around tub, dumped the used brine down the floor drain and cleaned out the barrel.  Rolled the tub into the smokehouse room, put bacon hangers into each belly and hung in the smokehouse 1 inch apart, nothing touching (would leave a white spot),  1 row above with 2 rows, I row under, 2 rows, 6 per smokestick, 24 total.  Let them drip overnight, then fire up the smokehouse at 7 am the next morning, feed crushed corncobs into the cast iron pan we'd slide out to refill, then slide back in over the long propane burner and close the lower door.  Dad had installed the two smokehouses facing each other, 3 ft. below the main floor on a cement slab.  He built a trap door that you could lower to roll the tub of meat on to so you could load the smokehouses in the upper large door.  Then, you push up the trap door and you could climb down a couple small steps into the 'pit' where you could open the smaller lower door and slide out the oblong cast iron pan on L bracket runs to fill the pan with the crushed corn cobs every ½ hour or so for 8-9 hours, the bacon internal temp. reaching 146° minimum.   Then we'd turn off the smokehouse, let the bacon cool an hour, then pull out how many slabs we'd want for 'rindless' bacon.  50 years ago, most bacon was sold rind-on.  We'd de-rind 10 slabs usually for rindless.  Lay the belly skin-side up, take your knife and slide it under the skin as close as possible but not cutting through the skin, all around the outer edge, in about 1" - 1½".  On some bellies that had gotten more heat (like close to the walls, gaining reflective heat) you could just grip the skin with a pair of Vice-Grips® and pull the skin off clean.  Most bellies, however, you'd have to keep sliding your knife just under the skin until you've sliced the skin off, as close as you could, leaving as much fat on the belly as possible.  Leave the rest until the morning, then take out of the smokehouse and hang in the drip room, then into the cooler for storage.  One batch would last a couple days then we'd have to start the process all over again.  Plus, put down as many bellies as we'd take out to smoke.  That was bacons.  Hams we'd to 36 per batch into two barrels, 18 each....


    We had a wooden cooler to store the smoked meats in; back then we had to keep the meats off the wood walls so we used dropcloths hung off the rail hooks and newspapers on the floor to soak up the grease; we'd have to change the papers every day, and the drop cloths between every batch of meat.  But, it worked!
     
  19. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    There you have it, pops has spoken. Thanks Pops.
     
  20. louballs

    louballs Smoke Blower

    Pops and everyone else who has contributed to this thread THANK YOU. You saved me from throwing away 11 pounds of good pork belly! It's what makes sites like these truly invaluable. I really appreciate everyone's input and will post up my final results once the bacon is smoked and sliced!

    Lou
     

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