Noob - want to cure bacon

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pland01

Newbie
Original poster
Jun 28, 2021
13
3
I’ve read a few threads on Pop’s brine and think I want to use it to do some curing before I start trying to smoke. I’ve also done some searching to try to answer my questions but I’m new enough to this entire corner of the food world that I doubt I even know what to search for - links to previous discussions are welcome.

Background - my wife and I bought half a hog and half a cow, processed and delivered. My wife also got me an electric smoker for Father’s Day this year.

I have ham steaks and bacon that haven’t been cured. I want the “ham” steaks to be ham and I think I want to cure the bacon.

Edit: the bacon IS cured, the steaks are not. My bad for posting before going back through my texts to confirm

I’m BRAND new to any of this but Pop’s brine seems like a pretty good place to start. Everything I’ve read so far, though, talks about brining pork belly for bacon. My bacon is already sliced. Is it reasonable to try and cure the already-sliced bacon? If so, what sort of time should I brine it for?

Similar questions for the steaks, but I think I’ve probably got enough information to scrape by on those. They’re pretty thin, probably 1/4” or a little more.

The goal is to smoke these after I cure them but I haven’t gotten far enough into this to look at how to do that...
 
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First welcome to the Forum from South Carolina's Thoroughbred Country.

I only have experience in whole pork belly bacon. I'm sure others will come along and give you advice as well. That's the great thing about this group of folks, they all step up to the plate and help everyone out! Also, use the search function on the Forum. There is a LOT and I do mean A LOT of information in past threads that hit just about everything you can think of.

Pls, post some pictures on your project along with your recipe/procedure that includes the good, not so good, and the Huh?! That way, everyone here can get a better idea of what's happening and give better advice. 🍻
John

Here is a thread that was done in 1-2020 that should help you to be successful in your bacon project.
Butcher sliced the pork belly. Help? | Smoking Meat Forums - The Best Barbecue Discussion Forum On Earth!
 
Welcome to SMF!

I've an avid fan of Pops Wet Curing Brine and while I have done all sorts of experiments with it I have not tried it on already sliced pork belly.

i'm curious how or why it would be sliced without curing it?

Regardless.. It might be better to find you a pork belly and try your hand with that first.
 
i'm curious how or why it would be sliced without curing it?
I went back to text messages from the farmer to see what he’d said. I was mistaken. The bacon IS cured (that solves a lot of my issue, huh?), it’s the hams that are green. I’ll do some reading about curing those and go from there. My confusion came from conversations between the farmer and my father in law - FiL wanted green bacon but the processor wouldn’t do anything BUT cured bacon. I had that backwards in my head.

thank you both for the replies though. I’m going to check out the thread linked above just for the educational material.
 
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Well you can use whatever you have to make ham with Pops Wet Curing Brine so we can fix that issue too! So glad the bacon is already cured and sliced for you!
 
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Welcome from Colorado.
No offense to those who like Pop’s brine, but dry curing is just as simple, and the end flavor is much better, IMHO, the flavors are more concentrated and can be much more specific. All you need is a good gram scale and a good pound scale for the meat.
 
Welcome from Virginia.
Pop's Brine is a place to start but I have to agree with all said by SmokinEdge SmokinEdge .
This will make it easy and you can adjust your sugars and salt very easily....
 
the end flavor is much better, IMHO, the flavors are more concentrated and can be much more specific. All you need is a good gram scale and a good pound scale for the meat.
Let’s assume my current kitchen scale is sufficient - please expound on this. The wet cure seems REALLY easy and simple. It sounds like mix, out in the fridge, wait. I haven’t read anything about dry curing yet. If you have a link to a particularly good website or thread I’m game for reading about it!
 
As with all things there's more than one way to skin a cat as they say.

Pops Wet Curing Brine is more versatile than people give it credit for. Having done multiple dry brines and wet brines my vote is still for Pops Wet Curing Brine.

There's no weighing of meats and such. You make a gallon of brine and if you need more to cover the meat, you make another gallon.

Any flavor you can put in a dry brine you can put in the wet brine.

Whichever way you choose, do your own research, make your own decisions and post up your results.
 
As with all things there's more than one way to skin a cat as they say.

Pops Wet Curing Brine is more versatile than people give it credit for. Having done multiple dry brines and wet brines my vote is still for Pops Wet Curing Brine.

There's no weighing of meats and such. You make a gallon of brine and if you need more to cover the meat, you make another gallon.

Any flavor you can put in a dry brine you can put in the wet brine.

Whichever way you choose, do your own research, make your own decisions and post up your results.
And THIS is why you cannot control the uptake of ANY ingredients you apply. It works fine, but I will never again cure meat with ingredients measured in volume. I will alway apply those ingredients to the meat by weight. I sure don’t mean any offense.
 
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And THIS is why you cannot control the uptake of ANY ingredients you apply. It works fine, but I will never again cure meat with ingredients measured in volume. I will alway apply those ingredients to the meat by weight. I sure don’t mean any offense.

The OP asked about Pops Brine... just trying to share my knowledge about his questions.

The brief time I "knew" Pops from here he answered every question I had and I have never made a product with his methods that wasn't amazing. Since he's no longer with us, I don't mind trying to share what I know when people ask questions.

It's not my place to tell people they're doing it wrong or that method won't work etc. I feel obligated to share what was passed on to me.

OP - I said this before, do your research, make your own decisions and if you have questions please don't be afraid to ask no matter what method you choose.

I'm also interested to know what method the seller used to cure the bacon you already have.
 
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I’ve read a few threads on Pop’s brine and think I want to use it to do some curing before I start trying to smoke. I’ve also done some searching to try to answer my questions but I’m new enough to this entire corner of the food world that I doubt I even know what to search for - links to previous discussions are welcome.

Background - my wife and I bought half a hog and half a cow, processed and delivered. My wife also got me an electric smoker for Father’s Day this year.

I have ham steaks and bacon that haven’t been cured. I want the “ham” steaks to be ham and I think I want to cure the bacon.

Edit: the bacon IS cured, the steaks are not. My bad for posting before going back through my texts to confirm

I’m BRAND new to any of this but Pop’s brine seems like a pretty good place to start. Everything I’ve read so far, though, talks about brining pork belly for bacon. My bacon is already sliced. Is it reasonable to try and cure the already-sliced bacon? If so, what sort of time should I brine it for?

Similar questions for the steaks, but I think I’ve probably got enough information to scrape by on those. They’re pretty thin, probably 1/4” or a little more.

The goal is to smoke these after I cure them but I haven’t gotten far enough into this to look at how to do that...
To make basic cured meat, you need salt, cure #1, and a bit of sugar to balance everything thing out, sugar is not essential to curing and provides no curing properties but is a balancer to the salt.

Here is what I do:
Weigh the meat ( we will use ham steaks of around 4” thick for this”)
Say the ham steak weighs 3 pounds.
We convert that pound to grams by multiplying 454 x 3 =1362 grams.
Now we apply salt. ( I like 1.5% which is the minimum) so we multiply 1362x0.015= 20.43grams of salt (use pickling salt or kosher, No iodized salt)
Next we apply cure #1, I can run you through the math, but we apply cure # 1 at 1.1 grams per pound. This number is solid going up in pounds to impart 156 parts per million, a good safe number in curing.
So we would have 3.3 grams cure #1.

sugar goes in for taste. I like 1.0% so we just calculate 1362x 0.010 = 13.62 grams sugar.

Here is the recipe for a 3# ham steak:
Salt- 20.43g
Cure #1- 3.3g
Sugar- 13.62g
Mix this up, rub the ham steak. Use all the rub mop it up with the meat. Place meat in a 1 gallon zip bag. Refrigerate for about 1 week turning the bag every other day. Then rinse, or not and smoke, or not, but you will have precise cured ham, or bacon, or corned beef, whatever. No brining tub, just a zip bag and a piece of meat. Real space saver in the fridge.
 
I am a very frequent user of Pop's brine- my avatar is Canadian/back bacon, and I just finished a dinner of "corned" pork and cabbage.
IMG_20210628_181114.jpg


A couple things I don't think anyone else touched on:

-Your ham steaks should be finished within 24hrs, as the understood standard is that it goes about 1/4" deeper per day. That is both sides, so about 1/2" per day.

-Sugar takes longer to absorb than salt. At roughly Pop's regular concentration/amounts, the same brine will taste on the saltier side if it finishes in a few days, whereas after a week it starts tasting pretty sweet.

-I use about the regular amount of salt, and half sugar (so equal parts of both). I use solely Aldi's raw sugar instead of white and/or brown. Maple sugar or just syrup is another thing to consider.

-Pork butts are a very cheap way to get both bacon ("buckboard bacon"), a sliceable ham-substitute, or the crowd-pleaser "pulled ham/bacon". I am also very partial to curing ribs.

-Play around with it, IMO. Get a butt and slice it into a few pieces, experimenting with different sugar/salt ratios and spice additives. Chile heat (capsaicin) isn't very water soluble, but the vegetal flavor of dried chiles and floral flavor of habaneros will come through. Pepper (black/white) is more soluble.
 
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kilo charlie kilo charlie
You are correct. I am not trying to correct you. Pop’s brine is great, I had many conversations with him. It’s fine, I am only offering a new guy a different way, much more predictable and precise way to cure meat. Sure not trying to be personal to you.
 
Your ham steaks should be finished within 24hrs, as the understood standard is that it goes about 1/2" deeper per day. That is both sides, so about 1" per day.
This is incorrect.
The accepted amount of cure travel is 1/4 per day. This can vary but a total of 3/8 to 1/2 per day is correct, unless you inject.
 
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I don’t think I’m going to try a butt just yet. Mostly it’s a logistics issue - all the meat is currently frozen and I can thaw a small package of bacon or a single ham steak quickly and easily vs the butt. Since the bacon is actually cured (I have no idea what the processor did) I will start with a steak. I have a few of them so I’ll probably try Pop’s brine and the dry cure. Might as well, as y’all have pointed out!! I like my ham to have some sweet to them so that’ll be the goal in curing and cooking them (I’ve always done them on the stove top with some brown sugar and honey but I’m excited about smoking them now)
 
I don’t think I’m going to try a butt just yet. Mostly it’s a logistics issue - all the meat is currently frozen and I can thaw a small package of bacon or a single ham steak quickly and easily vs the butt. Since the bacon is actually cured (I have no idea what the processor did) I will start with a steak. I have a few of them so I’ll probably try Pop’s brine and the dry cure. Might as well, as y’all have pointed out!! I like my ham to have some sweet to them so that’ll be the goal in curing and cooking them (I’ve always done them on the stove top with some brown sugar and honey but I’m excited about smoking them now)
Just relaxe and enjoy the ride. We are here to help. Whichever, whatever way you go. Then later when you decide to change to a new method, just ask. We will guide you safely on your way. Have fun.

Oh and by the way, welcome to SMF, from Colorado.
 
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I don’t think I’m going to try a butt just yet. Mostly it’s a logistics issue - all the meat is currently frozen and I can thaw a small package of bacon or a single ham steak quickly and easily vs the butt. Since the bacon is actually cured (I have no idea what the processor did) I will start with a steak. I have a few of them so I’ll probably try Pop’s brine and the dry cure. Might as well, as y’all have pointed out!! I like my ham to have some sweet to them so that’ll be the goal in curing and cooking them (I’ve always done them on the stove top with some brown sugar and honey but I’m excited about smoking them now)
Those ham steaks you usually cook on the stove top were probably smoked beforehand. That said, the sodium nitrite (i.e. cure #1) gives a smokey/hammy/bacon-y flavor, too, so your steaks would taste pretty hammy just fried like that.

If you want, you can just thaw the steaks in the brine itself. You can increase the amount of sugar in the brine, but it may not really speed up sugar absorption depending on how soon you're smoking them. You can always inject it with a sweet solution, or straight up corn syrup.
 
 
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