• Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.

How do you know when you've cured the bacon long enough?

simple

Smoke Blower
97
11
Joined Jun 27, 2011
I've been reading and reading, and since I don't want to do anybody in, I'm being really cautious about this first batch of bacon.  I cured it using bearcarver's notes in his signature.  Today has been 4 days.  The belly was pretty thin--just a shade over an inch at it's thickest.  If it's a day per 1/2 inch then add 2 days for good measure, it should be ready to go in the cold smoker tomorrow.

But how do I know the bacon is ready??  It doesn't look any different. I got very little moisture out of it--a lot less than I've seen in pictures on smoking forums I've been looking at.  What does a cured bacon look/smell/feel like?  Is there anyway to tell that it is actually ready?  I"m just a little leery about the whole thing.  It's only a two pound piece, so it's not going to break the bank if it hasn't worked.  I just don't want to make anybody sick.

Can anybody help me out here?
 

tjohnson

Smoking Guru
Staff member
Moderator
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Insider
5,600
139
Joined Dec 29, 2009
Good choice to use a small piece to practice on.

I go 10 days on my bacon

Some guys go less and some go more

My bacon seems to "Firm Up in about 7 days

I also cheat and add a couple oz. of water for moisture in the bag.

Make sure you rinse it off well, and do a test fry to check saltiness.

Smoke for 6 hours and check.  I oversmoked my first bacon and got a little gun shy.  I check at 6 hours and then keep going.

Some guys smoke all the way up to 20 hours, but I think it's personal preference and how smokey you want it to taste.  Also, the wood you choose to smoke with will make a difference.  Hickory will have a little more "Bite" than Apple or Maple.

Todd
 

jak757

Smoking Fanatic
Group Lead
796
21
Joined Dec 4, 2009
I go 7-10, and have gone up to 13.  I've heard it said that you can't over cure, but you can under cure.  Like Todd said, just check for saltiness, and soak as needed.

Also like Todd said, the bacon will get firm by around 7 days.  If yours has been curing for 4 days, I'd give it a few more.  Relax, be patient.  And get ready for some great bacon.  I remember how nervous I was with my first batch....it was so good I can't buy pre-packaged bacon anymore, my family just won't stand for it.

Good luck -- let us know how it turns out.
 

SmokinAl

SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
Staff member
Moderator
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
47,030
7,824
Joined Jun 22, 2009
Like they said, you can't over cure meat unless you let it go for a month or so then the meat starts to break down. I always let it go a couple of extra days longer than I think is necessary. 
 

DanMcG

Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
5,444
2,111
Joined Feb 3, 2009
I've been reading and reading, and since I don't want to do anybody in, I'm being really cautious about this first batch of bacon.  I cured it using bearcarver's notes in his signature.  Today has been 4 days.  The belly was pretty thin--just a shade over an inch at it's thickest.  If it's a day per 1/2 inch then add 2 days for good measure, it should be ready to go in the cold smoker tomorrow.

But how do I know the bacon is ready??  It doesn't look any different. I got very little moisture out of it--a lot less than I've seen in pictures on smoking forums I've been looking at.  What does a cured bacon look/smell/feel like?  Is there anyway to tell that it is actually ready?  I"m just a little leery about the whole thing.  It's only a two pound piece, so it's not going to break the bank if it hasn't worked.  I just don't want to make anybody sick.

Can anybody help me out here?
I'm not sure what Bears recipe is but you are correct with your time frame, 1/2 inch per day plus 2.

I guess there is no way to really tell if it's cured, but this is the steadfast rule that's been used for a long time so if your cure mix was right and you applied it properly it's cured. But if you have doubts go a day or two longer.

It won't appear much different on the outside, but will be redder inside if you cut it open.

Don't worry about it not giving off any juices, I've done a bunch of bellies that never leaked any fluids.

As far as looking smelling feeling different the only thing I can think of is it will be firmer, less bendable, but some will be firmer then others.

The first one is always alittle nerve racking but I'm sure it will be fine,.
 

pops6927

Gone but never forgotten.
Staff member
Moderator
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
7,245
1,181
Joined Jul 23, 2008
I know it's painstaking waiting for it, but like the old saying goes, ... "fageddaboutit!"  Just ignore the fact that you're curing the best tasting, most succulent, smokey-delicousness-ly cured-and-smoked-piece-of-heaven you ever wrapped your lips around for over a week ...  that's all!

(makin' ya drool now?)
 

nwdave

Master of the Pit
SMF Premier Member
1,590
21
Joined Dec 9, 2009
I share your pain.  Waiting can be so frustrating but we're promised that we'll never look back after the first one.  I've still got 3 days to go on a programmed 10 days and still might go a couple days longer, just to be sure.  But then I'm doing BBB, not belly.
 

franko

Fire Starter
64
10
Joined Mar 27, 2012
I know it's painstaking waiting for it, but like the old saying goes, ... "fageddaboutit!" Just ignore the fact that you're curing the best tasting, most succulent, smokey-delicousness-ly cured-and-smoked-piece-of-heaven you ever wrapped your lips around for over a week ... that's all!

(makin' ya drool now?)
I have been curing a couple of 2 pound pieces of very thin belly bacon (1/2 to 3/4”) (all I could find locally) for 9 days now and it hasn’t firmed up at all. Used 1 tablespoon of tenderquick per pound along with some seasoning spices. Should I be concerned? I have never used tenderquick before.
 

TheGrumpyGriller

Fire Starter
58
34
Joined Jan 29, 2021
I know it's painstaking waiting for it, but like the old saying goes, ... "fageddaboutit!" Just ignore the fact that you're curing the best tasting, most succulent, smokey-delicousness-ly cured-and-smoked-piece-of-heaven you ever wrapped your lips around for over a week ... that's all!

(makin' ya drool now?)
I'm doing myfirst bacon. I started with a 19 lb belly, took off the skinand ribs and have it in your brine. It's been in 7 days and planning to go to 14. Do you recommend putting any rub on them for the second week?

Thanks!!
 

chef jimmyj

Epic Pitmaster
Staff member
Moderator
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
Group Lead
20,689
5,209
Joined May 12, 2011
Pops6927, is no longer with us. He passed last year. To answer your question, any additional favoring or seasoning, can be applied after the Brine Cure. Remove the Belly from Pops Brine, rinse and towel dry. Apply the desired Rub, no salt of course,☺, and let the Bellies rest on a rack, uncovered, in the refer a day or two to dry a bit and form a Pellicle, a sticky surface that allows the smoke to adhere better, then smoke as desired...JJ
 

TheGrumpyGriller

Fire Starter
58
34
Joined Jan 29, 2021
I saw that in the tag, but thought it was for another person - my apologies for the group. I just joined the forum a couple of weeks ago and didn't realize he had passed. R.I.P.

Thanks
 

chef jimmyj

Epic Pitmaster
Staff member
Moderator
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
Group Lead
20,689
5,209
Joined May 12, 2011
Pops is a Legend around here and new members ask questions of him from time to time. His legacy lives in the hundreds if not thousands of members that he taught his tricks too. Post any questions you have and we will help...JJ
 

Latest posts

Hot Threads

Top Bottom
  AdBlock Detected

We noticed that you're using an ad-blocker, which could block some critical website features. For the best possible site experience please take a moment to disable your AdBlocker.