Looking for some help with my first attempt at bacon....

Discussion in 'Smoking Bacon' started by demosthenes9, May 10, 2013.

  1. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Want to make sure that I don't do something seriously stupid  :)

    Anyways, have read lots of threads about various ways to do bacon and considered myself to be "schooled" enough on the subject to give it a shot.  So, went to a small butcher shop in a nearby small town and picked up a 10# belly.  While there, I found out that they use a curing brine on their bacon and they would happily sell me some of their brining mix.  I said "Great" and they brought out a bag of mix that is kind of almond colored and told me specifically to mix it with 2 gallons of water and that it was enough for the belly that I was buying.

    Here's a photo of the curing brine mix.

    With a 10# belly, I figured there was enough for me to experiment and figured that I'd go ahead and try Pop's brine also as well as grabbing some TenderQuick as favored by Bear. 

    For Pop's Brine, I looked high and low locally for #1 Cure and eventually found a restaurant supply company that sold "Culinary Master's Curing Salt Sel Rose". 

    There's nothing on the bag itself that specifies "Cure #1", but on the local supply company's product list, this is listed as "Salt - Curing #1, Sel Rose 1lb Box".  Additionally, I questioned the people at the will call window and they told me that this is what their clients use for curing bacon.

    Figured that I'd make up all three cures, divide the belly into six pieces and use each cure on 2 of the pieces.

    For smoking, the plan was to cold smoke in my Smoke Hollow 44 using only an AMTS with Apple and Hickory as the source of heat/smoke.

    Right up until about a 1/2 ago, I was sure and confident in my plans.   Make brines/cures, put belly in for 9 days or so, take out and rest in fridge for a day, then cold smoke for about 12 hours.

    Now, I'm not so sure.   Is the "Curing Salt Sel Rose" the right stuff (i.e. Cure #1) ?  Is it safe to "cold smoke" the belly using the Butchershop's curing brine (since it isn't pink ?)   Am I taking "cold smoking" too literally ?   Is 12 hours too long a time or too short ?

    Also, since there aren't enough variables at this point, since each cured batch will have 2 hunks of belly, I had figured that I'd coat one from each batch with maple syrup/extract just for comparison.  End result would be 6 variations of Hickory/Apple smoked bacon.

    Anyways, would appreciate any input before I do something really stupid.  

    Thanks   :)
  2. Sel Rose is another name for Cure #1, but if you're not comfortable, call the manufacturer to confirm.
    Call and confirm exactly what is in the cure mix that you got from the butcher.
    I recommend keeping it simple, since this is your first time curing bacon.
    I'd go with one of two methods at a time.
    Smoking time depends on personal preference, nobody can tell you what's best, 12 hours isn't too long or too short of a smoking time depending on what you like.
    You'll just have to dive-in and see what you like it.

  3. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks for the reply Martin.   Funny thing is that I called the "manufacturer" listed on the label and they had no idea  :)

    If you say that the Sel Rose I have is Cure #1, that's enough for me.     I'll call the butchershop tomorrow and ask about their brining cure.   I was fine with it until I read a thread here that seemed to admonish against cold smoking if not using pink salt cure #1".

    As for smoke time, you allayed my fears there as well.  I wasn't sure if there were any safety concerns given the low temps.  That whole "40-140" thing.

    Thanks again !!
  4. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    The cure removes the 40 - 140 danger. You don't want the bacon to get above 90- deg. if you are cold smoking as the fat will start to render.(melt).

     If you notice when you mix up a pink salt brine it is not pink.

    As for the butchers mix i would figure it to be safe as they are not going to sell something bad and get sued. But make sure as to what cure is in it as different cures may require different curing times.
  5. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Just got off the phone with the butcher and he told me that the curing brine is a Maple Sugar cure that they use in the store.   He said curing time of 9 - 12 days was fine, that I could get by with 5 or so days, but the extra wouldn't hurt it.      

    Think I'm just going to go with Pop's brine for now as well as a TQ cure.  Will save the butcher's brining cure for later when I know more about it.

    Now, to figure out how to get the rind off this pork belly.

    Thanks again for the help!!
  6. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

     Pop's brine and a TQ cure will be a nice bacon comparison.
  7. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hoping so.   

    Just ran into something I didn't think to ask about before as this is my very first time making and using a brine.  Was I supposed to use warm water to dissolve the sugar?   Seeing how everything else in the process is "cold", I just pulled 1 gallon of cold water from the tap and dumped in the sugar, salt, brown sugar and Cure #1.   As of now, the other ingredients have dissolved, but the sugar is just sitting there on the bottom of the container.
  8. c farmer

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

    I used a wisk to mix it all up.  Sugar and all gone real quick. Also used cold water.
  9. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks for the info.  Guess I'll pull my belly out and beat the heck out of the brine for a bit   :)
  10. c farmer

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

    I mixed one gallon at a time and dumped into the bucket.
  11. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Success! Thanks again.  Was able to get some aggression out and accomplished a goal at the same time.      I haven't graduated to a bucket yet.   Found a  plastic 2 1/2 gal rectangular food container at Wal Mart.   Perfect size for 2   1 1/2 - 2# slabs of belly with 1 gallon of curing brine.     Ingredients are all dissolved now and belly is tucked away in a nice bath for the next 9 days or so.
  12. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Resurrecting this thread.      Both batches of bacon were cured for 11 days.  Rinsed and did a fry test on some of both batches and everything tasted fine.  Maybe just a bit salty.   Into the fridge for a couple days to form a pelicle.  

    Split both batches as previously discussed and coated a slab from each batch with some all natural maple syrup.   Filled an 18" AMNTS with a 50/50 mix of Hickory and Apple, got it burning and put it in my smoker.    Put all the bacon up on the top rack.  Temps never went over 85 degrees.  AMNTS burnt for close to 6 hours, and when near the end, I tipped it up, refilled the tube with 50/50 mix and went for another 6 hours of smoke, for a total of 12 straight hours.

    Took the bacon out, bagged each slab individually and into the fridge for 3 days of rest.  After the three days, did another test fry and all the bacon just seems off.  Hickory taste and smell is extremely strong and the bacon is salty.   For awhile, I almost questioned whether it had cured correctly, but seeing as how I'm still alive after trying about 16 slices all together, I'm presuming that the cure went just fine.

    Thing is, I normally enjoy a good strong hickory flavor, and with others talking about 24, 36, and even 72 hour smokes, I never would have believed that 12 hours would have been too much.

    Anyways, I have some pics from various stages that I'll try to post tomorrow.     Hopefully, with help, I can work out the kinks in my process and end up with a better batch next time.
  13. Cold smoked bacon benefits from a rest period so the flavors mellow and meld.
    I rest it for at least 5-7 days.
    If you move to cure #1 and use the calculator for a dry cure or equilibrium brine, you'll have better control over the salt content.
    I haven't done a fry test in at least 15 years, it always turns out the same.

    Last edited: Jun 8, 2013
  14. While you are at Walmart go to the bakery and ask for some frosting pails ( with lids) .  Usually they will be happy to give you some.
  15. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I picked a a few nice square frosting buckets from Sams Club. I can push it way back on the shelf in the fridge and it doesn't take up much room. I think it will hold 3 butts. Here is 2 butts, 1 gallon brine and ziplock bag full of water.

  16. I see a visit to Sam's in my near future.

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