My first foray into the world of makin' bacon...

Discussion in 'Bacon' started by id2nv2nj2ca, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. id2nv2nj2ca

    id2nv2nj2ca Smoke Blower

    All, I have a couple questions about homemade bacon.

    A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a pork belly at Costco that was just around a quarter pound shy of 10 pounds.  For the next couple of days, I watched videos, read about recipes and techniques, etc etc etc, to the point of my head almost exploding.  At that point, I sent a private message to DaveOmak (?) because he seems to be an expert on this well as many others.  Which is awesome.

    I also got some information on another thread and someone posted a link to a handy calculator for measuring how much curing powder, salt and sugar it would need.  Sorry, I can't remember who that was to give them credit, but here is the link to the calculator for those that might not know about it already:

    Short story long......(er), I mixed up my curing solution, put it on as evenly as I could and then cut the belly in half because the whole thing wouldn't fit in my 2 gallon Ziploc bags.  Wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in the bags and into the refrigerator, turning them over each or every other day.

    According to Dave, I should have left them in the fridge for two weeks, took them out, rinsed and dried them and put them back in the fridge unwrapped for another week and then cold smoked them.  

    Well, I just couldn't wait that long and was anxious to try it out, so I rinsed and dried just one of the pieces (going to leave the other in the full two weeks (comes out Sunday) and cut a small piece off and cooked it to see if it was too salty.  It was not, so I put it unwrapped in the fridge for what ended up being a full day and a half, instead of a week and started the smoking process.  The first 8 hours didn't seem to produce very much smoke flavor at all, and since it was only 59 degrees when I got up today, I put it in again until the temperature in my smoker got up to 73 degrees.

    Now for the questions:

    What is the science behind this all, if anyone knows, because there are SOOOOOO many varying ideas, recipes, techniques, etc??  Why the two week cure and then a week in the fridge open?  Does that do something special to the belly?  Is there a certain way to cut the belly into slices like there is with brisket so it's not so chewy?

    I ask these questions for a couple of reasons.  First, because my bacon is a bit on the tough side.  I tried slicing it two different directions to see if that made a difference, but I really can't tell much of one.  And I sliced it almost as thin as the cheaper bacon in the stores, like the Farmer Browns at Sam's Club.  I was hoping it would be nice and crisp, but not so much unless it was on the burned end of the spectrum.  The flavor is AMAZING, I have to say.  The wife LOVES the flavor.

    Did my being impatient make this first try at makin' bacon not as successful as I had hoped?  Does the shorter curing time have something to do with it being a little bit tough and will leaving it in longer make it cook crispier? 

    Thanks in advance.  I wish I could "tag" Dave in this post, but I will probably just send him a link via private message, but if anyone else has any thoughts, I would love to here them before I do the other one that's still in the fridge.
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  3. 3montes

    3montes Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Interestingly enough I am in your very same position. I have a little over a 9lb pork belly in the fridge right now. My first attempt at bacon as well. I am using a wet brine as per Pop's recipe.

    If I had to offer anything I would say you do not rush anything when it comes to this art known as bbq. Particularly when using the curing process.

    I too read a lot about the process but didn't over do it either. You can get to the point of information over load.

    I have a good foundation in the smoking art so when entering new areas all I need is a good set of basic instructions like you get from Pop's or Bears step by step and that's enough to get me on my way.

    However I will be starting a post later on my first try and ask advice. You never know everything! [​IMG]
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I used to "short change" the belly using a short cure and resting periods....  results were tougher and bacon with less depth of flavor...   The longer I cured and rested the belly, the tenderness increased and the depth of flavor increased significantly....    Like a steak takes on tenderness and flavor with an aging period, I feel pork belly does the same....   

    I've tried warm smoking the bellies and the flavor and texture were lacking....  Now it's only cold smoking <70 deg. F...

    My next batch of bellies, I usually cure 60#'s at one time, I will be lengthening ALL the steps required to make good bacon...    I know it can't hurt from my previous attempts....   Someday, I may attain "Hog Heaven" in my bacon making skills.... 

    Seems though, every time I post a recipe that takes a month or longer to make bacon, those few folks jump in and say "I make great bacon and it only takes 2 weeks"...  

    Dirt makes bacon that takes a month or longer also...    He's not going back to 2 week bacon....  Soooooo, check out Dirt Sailors bacon making threads...
  5. id2nv2nj2ca

    id2nv2nj2ca Smoke Blower

  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    One final (I hope) question, why did my meat not turn more "red" or "dark pink" during the curing process?

    Different muscle groups turn different colors....
  7. id2nv2nj2ca

    id2nv2nj2ca Smoke Blower

    Thank you. Does the bacon I see in the store use another part of the pig than the belly? Maybe I waited too long to start the curing process trying to figure out what to do with it?
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Store bought bacon is received, cured within 24 hours by injection, and smoked (maybe) the next day and sliced...It generally is inside the processing plant for less than 72 hours....
  9. id2nv2nj2ca

    id2nv2nj2ca Smoke Blower

    Ohh, OK.  Thank you.  But that leads to another question.  Why does the store bought bacon cook up so nice and crisp if it isn't cured as long as we do at home?  You said, the longer it cured, the more tender it gets.

    PLEASE understand, I am not trying to be argumentative, just trying to figure this and some of the science out so as to make the best bacon I can. :)
  10. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Aging meat to make it tender and crisp bacon do not necessarily correlate....

    When frying store bought bacon, have you noticed all the water in the frying  pan ??    You won't notice the water in home dry rub cured bacon...

    My dry rubbed, cured bacon...   I bake it.....    It comes out crisp and full of flavor....  Doesn't shrink much...  stays flat....   perfect for brushing with maple syrup....

    Last edited: Mar 8, 2016
  11. id2nv2nj2ca

    id2nv2nj2ca Smoke Blower

    Then I shall give baking a try, thanks. :)
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2016
  12. docholiday

    docholiday Newbie

    First off, Hello!  First post here and grew up with my Dad smoking tons of things and would like to get my own experience and feet wet so I figured I would start here!

    I am in your same boat right now and if you don't mind my interruption on your thread.  Like you, I have been checking out TONS of videos, recipes question is.  I noticed (here on this website) that it states 1 TBS of Tender Quick for every pound of pork belly.  There was a video I saw that a guy used 1/4c of Kosher salt and 1/2 Tsp of Tender Quick (along with other herbs and spices) for 2lbs worth of pork belly.  My question is, if you follow the rule of 1 TBS of Tender Quick for every pound, do I still need the additional Kosher salt?  I'm nervous that would be WAY too salty.

    Any comments are appreciated!

    ***EDIT***  Later found that it was not 1/2 Tsp of Tender Quick in the recipe, but it is actually 1/2 tsp. of Instacure #1.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2016
  13. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    You will not be dissappointed with the dry cure. It is all I do thanks to Daves advice. Much Much better...and no grease popping or spitting when you cook it.
  14. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Are you sure it was TQ (tender quick) and not Cure #1 that was used in the video ?? There is a big difference between the two ...
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2016
  15. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I will be too salty...Just use the tender quick., then soak in cold water changing it several times every 30-40 min, do a test fry for saltiness and you are good to go when your taste buds say yes. I like pepper bacon so after the soak I pat dry and literally cover it up with big pepper. At that time you can add any other spices as well.

    _UPDATE___: FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON THE TENDERQUICK PACKAGE EXACTLY. 1/2 oz per pound of meat for a dry rub. Mortons wet brine cure recipe is also printed on the back of the Tenderquick bag.

    Last edited: Mar 20, 2016
  16. docholiday

    docholiday Newbie

    You know what, you are right.  He states it's Instacure #1. I guess I have been looking into so many different techniques and recipes it's starting to become mush in my head lol. 

    Thanks for the reply HT.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2016
  17. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Doc and HT, morning......  would you please edit your posts to reflect the 1/2 tsp. Instacure #1 so folks don't use the incorrect cure....

  18. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Done.Thanks for the reminder.

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