Jim's Bacon Making Process For Walking Dude. Pt 1

Discussion in 'Smoking Bacon' started by navionjim, Jan 18, 2008.

  1. navionjim

    navionjim Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Jim’s Bacon Making Process, For The Walking Dude Part .1

    The Walkin Dude asked me for my step by step procedure for homemade bacon, and seeing as how there are so many posts on bacon right now I thought I might just put this out for general consumption. I like this product and have tried to make this as simple to follow as possible, but even at that of course, your mileage may vary.

    Beware, as an engineer I tend to be a perfectionist so I can easily complicate simple processes in general. You could probably abbreviate my methods and be just fine, but this is just how I do it and it’s not a particularly common method either. I have stolen bits from several processes I either found on the web, or from Charcuterie or the books by Rytec Kutas, including those methods used for making “Box Cured Bacon”, “Prosciutto Ham”, “Italian Style Ham”, “Schinkenspeck”, and I’ve added some tricks I’ve personally perfected for making beef jerky. I hope you at least enjoy reading about this even if you never try it yourself.


    This process can be used for either belly or butt bacon, aka Buckboard Bacon. I was using “Country Style Ribs” AKA sliced Boston butt when I worked this out, but it works well with belly meat if you can find it. I have also used this with wild boar meat with good results.
    While it’s not absolutely necessary, I like to “certify” my pork especially if I’m unsure of its origin or if it’s known wild game meat. This is easily done by deep freezing it for two months prior to use. The purpose of that is to ensure that no triganosis is present in the meat prior to processing. As bacon is cured and cooked prior to eating it this is not absolutely necessary, but that’s just me.

    The Dry Cure:

    I mix all this together and pass it through a sieve several times prior to use just to ensure a homogeneous blending. Note that the addition of the Instacure #1 is not really necessary when using Tender Quick; I just add it to be sure I have enough cure in the mix, besides I make my own cures and have like a million pounds of the stuff.

    ¾ Cup Tender Quick
    ½ Kosher Salt
    ¼ cup Lawery’s Seasoned Salt
    2 Cups brown Sugar
    1 tsp Instacure #1
    1 Tbs White Pepper
    1 Tbs Garlic Powder
    2 Tsp Onion Powder1
    1 Tbs Dry Powdered Mustard


    Rinse the meat off first, if using bellies cut it into chunks about 6” wide and the length of the belly. If using Boston butt, cut it as if making “Country Style Ribs” or just buy it that way to start with. The reason for this is to increase the surface area so the dry cure can have greater contact with the meat, also because when it’s all done it fits better on my cheap assed meat slicer when it’s cut to that size.

    I pat the meat dry with paper towels and dredge each piece in the above mixture being sure to rub the mixture in to all areas of the meat. While the following can also be done in a 5 gallon plastic bucket with a suitable weight, such as a few bricks inside of zip-loc baggies, I choose to stack / layer the pieces in a large size stainless steel spaghetti pot then place the accompanying stainless steel strainer, colander, or whatever you want to call it on top of the meat. I wrap bungee cords between the handles on the pot and the handles on the strainer on both sides. This compresses the meat in the pot and aids in the “horsing” process. I sort of stole this idea from the process used for making prosciutto ham and I think it aids in firming up the meat. At this point I put the whole pot and strainer combination in a trash bag, and then place the lid on top just to hold it all together with the bag tucked in under the lid, and stick it someplace cool for the next two or three days. During this time the meat will “horse” and the pot will fill with liquid which is forced from the meat due to the osmotic action of the curing salts. As this happens the strainer will descend into the pot as the meat becomes “tighter” and the bungee chords pull the two together. On the second day I usually have to tighten the bungees another wrap around the handles to maintain a constant pressure on the meat.

    On the third day I remove the bungee chords, and invert the whole pot / strainer combination over the sink to drain off all the fluids that have accumulated in the pot. I Remove the meat from the pot and “overhaul” it by rearranging it in the pot. At this point I’ll also add more of the dry cure to the meat before stacking it up again and putting every thing back together, strainer, bungees, bag and lid. I put the whole mess back where it was and wait another two or three days.

    At the end of this time about six days total, I drain off all the remaining fluid that has accumulated in the pot and over haul the meat again, but I do not add any more cure this time. I mix up the following liquids in a large vessel, it’s ok to warm this mixture to aid in blending but you must allow it to cool completely before introducing it to the meat. You can add up to a pint of water to this if you need to stretch it a bit.

    The Wash:

    ½ Gallon Apple Juice
    ½ Cup Tender Quick
    ½ Cup Soy Sauce
    ½ Cup Vodka (This is a flavor solvent and Gin also works well adding a juniper
    berry component to the taste)
    1 Cup Maple Syrup (The real stuff, not Mrs. Butterworth’s!)
    ½ Cup blackstrap Molasses
    1 Tsp Real Villella Extract (This helps meld the flavors)

    Note: You can use honey instead of maple syrup and / or molasses for a different flavor, but the bacon may be a bit sticky when it’s done.

  2. navionjim

    navionjim Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Jim’s Bacon Making Process, For The Walking Dude

    Part 2

    I pour this concoction into the pot and agitate it a bit to ensure that it gets into all the spaces between the pieces of meat. There should be enough liquid to “float” or cover all the meat in the pot. I then place the strainer back on top of the meat but I do not use the bungees this time, the strainer is simply there to keep the meat submerged in the fluid. I then install the bag and lid and wait another two to three days.

    The Rinse and Dry Cycle:

    At the end of this time I drain all the fluid from the pot and remove the meat. I rinse off each piece and pat it dry with paper towels, then place each piece on a drying rack so that they don’t ouch each other. I use one of those metal kitchen racks normally used to hold pots and pans. I place the whole rack under a ceiling fan on high for an hour or so until the meat is dry to the touch.

    It is perfectly acceptable to allow the bacon to simply air dry for a few more hours before smoking, but I like to do the following procedure which I stole form Rytec Kutas for making an Italian Style Ham. This last step produces bacon with a rich red smoky color and a superior taste. To do this last step simple dip each piece in the following mixture and return it to the rack. Again you can warm this mixture to aid in blending but allow it to cool completely before introducing it to the meat.

    The Second Wash:

    1 Quart Water
    1 Cup Molasses
    1 Cup Maple Syrup
    1 Cup Brown Sugar
    1 Tsp Real Villella Extract

    NOTE: You can use honey instead of maple and / or molasses for a different flavor, but the bacon may be a bit sticky when it’s done.

    I dip each hunk of meat three times and return it to the rack for drying making sure that each piece has completely dried between drippings’. That means waiting about two hours between dips. Alternately you can use a paintbrush to apply the coating, but dipping does a better job. Be sure you put paper down underneath the racks as this sticky coating will drip off and mess up your floor or counter if you don’t.

    Altogether it takes 6 to 8 hours for the meat to dry on the rack and I do this at room temperature to aid in drying. Because the meat has been properly cured and contains enough salt and nitrites this shouldn’t pose any health problems. At least no one I know of has ever gotten sick from eating bacon made this way. Traditionally bacon hangs in the smoke house for much longer periods anyway.


    During the last hour or two I get my smoker ready for cold smoking. I have a stick burner, a NB Bandera with a vertical smoke chamber. When cold smoking I use a propane gas burner with a cast iron pan of wood chips in the firebox to reduce the heat normally created with a stick fed fire. I also fill the water pan with ice cubes to further reduce the chamber temperature. I am not shooting for an internal temperature of anything here. The bacon is cured and will be cooked later, the idea is to add smoke flavor, not to cook it at all.

    The choice of wood is up to you but I’m fond of a mixture of pecan, post oak and alder. Fruit woods are also good, but it’s your call as to what you want to use. The idea here is to maintain as low a temperature as possible. I shoot for something less than 120ºF which is about the best I can do in Texas with the smoker I have. 90º-100ºF would be ideal but it’s hard to accomplish in the heat down here. I smoke with the dampers wide open for the first 4 hours and then about half closed for the next 3 hours, putting out smoke for the whole time.

    Maturation, Slicing and Packaging:

    After approximately 7-8 hours in the smoker the bacon is removed and allowed to cool to room temperature. The bacon should then be place in a sealable plastic container and left in the refrigerator for an additional day, or at least overnight. This gives the smoke a chance to mix and meld with the other flavors. After the refrigerated resting time is up the bacon can be sliced and vacuum bagged for freezing. It helps to place the bacon in the freeze for a couple of hours prior to slicing and a meat slicer is a nice tool to have at this point but a sharp knife will suffice for the task if you haven’t got one.


    This bacon may be fried, baked or micro waved, but care should be exercised to use as low a temperature as possible when frying because of the higher sugar content of the coating. If fried at high temperature the sugars tend to caramelize rendering a dark appearance to the bacon. It will still taste great but it will turn dark if you cook it that way. If cooking for several people I have found that laying the strips on bread cooling racks set inside a broiler pan placed in the oven at 350-375ºF works quite well and as I’m usually baking biscuits anyway this is actually easier or rather, less labor intensive than frying, and far more forgiving.


    Well that’s all there is to it, I hope this diatribe helps someone, it is by no means the only way to make bacon at home, it’s just what I’ve found that works for me.

  3. ds7662

    ds7662 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Great Run down. This should be a sticky!
    Thanks for the info.
  4. mossymo

    mossymo Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Very good specific and detailed information, thanks for posting.

    Walking Dude
    Thanks for asking.

    I agree 100%, this would be a great sticky.
  5. blackhawk19

    blackhawk19 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Great Post
  6. fatback joe

    fatback joe Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yes, great write up and great info. I vote for sticky as well.
  7. possumgritz

    possumgritz Fire Starter

    Sticky sticky mo micky. Banana fana fo ficky. Fee fi fo mo lo ticky.......................................STICKY
  8. cowgirl

    cowgirl Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Your recipe sounds wonderful Jimbo![​IMG]
  9. walking dude

    walking dude Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    d88de is embarrassed sorta.........hehehe

    you promised not to kiss and tell...............BWHAHAHAHAHAHA

    thankx for the info dude.............and in my scheming mind......i have a couple other idea's from this article..............

    NOW..........how bout the method for your proscuitto.........AND the ham........LOLOLOL

    get a belly sometime, and try making pancetta........doesn't take as long as a proscuitto..........

    but once again......thankx
  10. navionjim

    navionjim Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Gee Wizz, I wasn't expecting that! Thanks to all of you, It's nice to be able to give something back in return for all I've learned from y'all. After writing this out I think I need to make another batch of bacon this weekend!
    Thanks Again
  11. bbq enthusiast

    bbq enthusiast Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    [​IMG] I too, think this should be a sticky. This kind of info is what makes this site great![​IMG]
  12. xcap

    xcap Newbie

    The whole process looks as tho it should make a great product Jim, but i have a couple of questions. In the beginning I read for the dry cure ingredients, 1/2 Kosher Salt & 1/4 Lawrey's salt, just under the 3/4C of Tender Quick so are the Kosher & Lawrey's amounts based on a cup. My assumption at least if I were to be just going ahead w/ the project & cold not ask anyone. Also could one make back bacon w/ this prosesstoo? Thanks.
  13. fritz

    fritz Meat Mopper

    Jim thanks for the info....This will come in very handy when I finally do my first belly and butt bacon[​IMG]
  14. cajun_1

    cajun_1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yep ... I agree ... Should be a Sticky..
  15. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Wow. A veritable discourse iffin' I ever saw one! POINTS!
  16. navionjim

    navionjim Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Thanks again to all y'all! Xcap, yes those amounts are based on a cup. And I don't see why you couldn't use this for "back bacon" I haven't do that as yet but it should work.
  17. wahouse8

    wahouse8 Fire Starter

    Yes, please sticky I will come back to this soon and try it out! [​IMG]

  18. desertlites

    desertlites Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    thanks jim,just pulled 6#'s from hi mtn. cure,have used your technique before and doing it again.I have it soaking now in the maple syrup,brn. sugar,molasses mix,soon to start the drying part,gonna be a all nighter looks like.
  19. navionjim

    navionjim Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Yeah but it's going to be well worth it! I love all nighters, so long as I don't have to stay up...
  20. dutch

    dutch Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Jim, This is a great post-easy to understand and follow. I vote that this should be made a sticky too!

    Oh wait a sec- I CAN make it a sticky [​IMG][​IMG].

    Here is the method I use for dry curing bellies:

    I use a couple of Sterilite storage containers that are just a bit larger than the pork belly. The first container has 30 to 40- 1/4 inch holes drilled in the bottom of the container and part way up the sides. In each corner of this container I have inserted a 2 inch nylon bolt and then ran a nylon washer and nut up the bolt to hold it in place; these bolts act as spacers. This container is then placed into the second Sterilite container which will catch the juices from the meat.

    To apply pressure to the meat, I’ll place a piece of plastic cutting board cut to size on top of the meat that the cure has been applied to. I then place a couple of wood 2X4 blocks (placed inside zip top bags) on top of the cutting board. I use two ratchet type tie-down straps (one for each block) to apply pressure to the cutting board- each strap is brought down and under both containers; brought up the other side and the strap is then fed through the spindle on the ratchet and tightened. I'll have to get my set up back from my brother and do some more bacon. I'll take pic's of my set up in action.

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