Pork Belly Bacon No Pellicle Hot Smoke Results - QView

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tallbm

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Dec 30, 2016
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[EDIT: Added the rest of the content, it somehow was cut off hahaha]

Well today I did 5 pounds of pork belly bacon and decided to do it WITHOUT forming a pellicle in the fridge or with a fan!

Pic first then write up.


So I had 5 pounds of pork belly that finished dry curing today.

I was curious about whether or not a pellicle was really needed and it seemed that there was no precise information online that I could find to answer my questions. Most of the information seemed to point to the pellicle being most useful when cold smoking but no real solid info mentioned when hot smoking.

I "hot" smoke my bacon so I didn't know if the pellicle was necessary and information concerning the pellicle and hot smokes was vague at best.

It seems I was coming across another bacon related "mystery" to investigate just like I did with my 1st ever bacon smoke earlier this year.

The Cook and Smoke:
  • 5 pounds of dry cured pork belly cured for 7 days and cut in half (rinsed and patted dry)
  • 1st hour was done with a smoker temp of 100F without smoke being applied. this was for "drying"
  • After 1st hour I applied smoke 50/50 Cherry and Pecan
  • Also after 1st hour I bumped up the temp to 120, 140, and finally 165F every 30 min so to not render the bacon fat
  • Within about 3 1/2 hours the IT hit 145F (my target), this was way way way faster than I thought it would happen. Last time it took 12 hours for 8 pounds of pork belly to hit 145F IT
  • I turned down the temp to 150F and let the bacon smoke for a total of 5 hours before pulling the bacon. This held the temp of the bacon to about 148F as the bacon stopped climbing in IT
  • Pulled the bacon, sampled, and took pics. Everything came out great!
  • Total cook time was 6 hours where I applied smoke for 5 of those hours and the IT hit my 145F temp at about hour 3 of the the overall time. Again I just held the bacon at IT until I reached 5 hours of smoke being applied or else I could have pulled it at hour 3.
Is a Pellicle Needed for a Hot Smoke?

Well the look and taste right out of the smoker seems to be no different than my 1st batch of bacon done WITH a pellicle.

Baring anything different occurring after the bacon rests overnight for slicing, I think I have my conclusion.

My conclusion is that a pellicle is NOT needed for a hot smoke of bacon!

I cannot speak for cold smoking bacon but it seems that posts and claims on the internet are that a pellicle is much desired for cold smoked bacon.

Now I did do 1 hour at 100F before adding smoke. It COULD be possible that this 1 hour time period forms a pellicle and I just didn't know it. ALSO, my fan mod that stirs air could also have helped form a pellicle during that 1st hour period without me knowing it.

In any case I think that someone could possibly form a pellicle by simply doing the first 2 hours of a hot bacon smoke WITHOUT applying smoke. This seems like killing 3 birds with 1 stone to me by forming a pellicle, saving a lot of waiting time, and finishing the cook earlier, but I haven't done it so I am just speculating.

In any case I will not be doing a pellicle for my next hot bacon smoke to see if things change on that attempt. The more you do something the more you can truly learn about it :)

Other Lessons Learned:
  • Cutting the 5 pounds of pork belly in half and smoking DRASTICALLY reduced my overall cooking time
  • My fan mod in my MES is keeping temps quite even at the lowest rack and and is also reducing my cook times
  • Not really super relevant here, but I used LEM's Venison Bacon seasoning for my bacon seasoning while curing (along with cure#1). The LEM's Venison Bacon is meant for ground formed bacon but I wasn't wow'ed by the ground formed bacon with that seasoning so I figured I would play around and try the seasoning to make regular bacon. I have to use this seasoning up somehow :) I think I did 1/2 a cup of seasoning for 5 pounds of pork belly as an initial guestimation.
    • the flavor is perfectly fine for pork belly bacon seasoning but I am not thrilled that they have "hickory" flavor in it but oh well. I need to use up the seasoning somehow and I am seeing it does the job just fine.
    • [UPDATE:] - So I figured out the perfect measurement for using this seasoning. Take the weight of the pork belly you will dry cure in ounces or grams (not pounds) and multiply that weight by .0325 (3.25%). The number you get is the weight of the LEM's Venison Bacon Seasoning to use. This number does not include the measurement of cure#1 to use. Measure that separately and add to the seasoning. Doing this leads to pork belly that needs no ice water soaking after you rinse off the belly!!!
      1/2 a cup of seasoning is just a little bit salty upon doing my fry test, I think I will go down to 3/8 of a cup next time as I work to use up this seasoning
    • with the use of 1/2 a cup of the seasoning I soaked the meat in ice water for 2 hours to draw out the salt content. After the 2 hour soak it was perfect on the salt.
    • In a perfect world I wouldn't need to do an ice water soak but I used a store bought seasoning that was meant for something else so I knew a soak was likely to happen. I'm fine with it because it is a tool I'm learning to use as needed and the more I know the better I can handle unexpected or unwanted situations and still come out on top :)
Well I hope everyone finds this info helpful and if they attempt a hot bacon smoke with no pellicle I hope they post their results as well. Thanks! :)
 
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So how did it turn out?

Al
Hi Al.  

Well somehow I managed to cut off like half of the content before I posted hahahaha.  I have now edited the post to add the information I accidentally left out, it was late and I guess I just screwed up.

To answer your question.  Initial tasting turned out perfectly fine last night.  I did not notice a difference between this bacon without a  -pellicle and my previous 16 pounds of bacon that I DID do a pellicle with. 

It seems that I either unknowingly get a pellicle with my 1 hour drying in the smoker at 100F before applying smoke OR that a pellicle is simply not mandatory for a hot smoke when making bacon.  

I will be slicing and vac sealing in a couple of hours and will know if the texture was affected at all for that process but I highly doubt there is any issue because everything including taste and texture seems to be the same as it was with my last 16 pounds of bacon where I did do a pellicle.

I'll report back once the slice and seal job is complete, and oh yeah I will be nibbling during that whole process for sure!  Eating without the need for frying is just one of the perks of smoking bacon to a safe IT from the begining 
yahoo.gif
 
Glad to hear it turned out so well for you.

I always cold smoke my bacon, so this wouldn't apply to me, but it was a good experiment for the guys who hot smoke their bacon.

Al
 
 
Glad to hear it turned out so well for you.

I always cold smoke my bacon, so this wouldn't apply to me, but it was a good experiment for the guys who hot smoke their bacon.

Al
I'm glad it did too.  I feel the info is pretty good to have out there in the world.  When I had the question there were no real answers.  Others who asked the question before me received a mix of answers but most of it pointed to the fact that cold smoked bacon pretty much needed a pellicle but the guys asking the question mostly did not understand what a pellicle was, much less the how/when/why they would need or use it.

I think this will help solve some more bacon mysteries.  So far I feel I have tackled the mysteries of:
  • Skin on or off with bacon making no difference (at least with a hot smoke)
  • Curing with skin on causes no issues
  • Different Smoke flavors really coming through on soft cooked bacon but basically tasting the same on crispy cooked bacon
  • Texture of Hot smoked bacon (145F IT) being no different than store bought bacon texture
  • You can definitely get crispy bacon with skin on and/or hot smoked homemade bacon (the thinner you slice the more crispy you can get)
  • Soaking in iced water works to suck salt out with no issues and can be used as needed
And now, no need for a Pellicle when hot smoking.

It feels good to get some answers to some of these mysteries.  I hope it is helping people with their bacon makin journeys :)
 
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Well the bacon is all sliced, sealed, and now in the freezer.


So after slicing and more nibbling everything look and tastes just as good my batch earlier this year.

Also I think I may have decided to buy the Chef's Choice 615 meat slicer.  My father's Cabela's slicer is more of a pain in the butt to clean then I care for.  

I'm also debating the Chef's Choice 665 model because I have a $50 gift card to MidwayUSA.com and that is the only model they carry so I can get it for a good price but it is still more than the 615 model even with the $50 off.    

If you have any input on the Chef's Choice 615 vs 665 please feel free to share :)
 
Tall,

I warm smoke all my Bacon & give it at least an hour of Warm heat (100° to 130°) before I put the Smoke on.

I don't really look close as to whether there's an actual "Pellicle" on it, and it always turns out Awesome.

So IMHO just getting it warm enough to Dry before adding Smoke is all you really need.

It's usually Dry & a little Tacky, which is what the say Pellicle actually is.

BTW: I use a CC #645 for slicing. It's my Son's, but we share it. LOL---It's usually at my house.

Bear
 
Last edited:
 
Tall,

I warm smoke all my Bacon & give it at least an hour of Warm heat (100° to 130°) before I put the Smoke on.

I don't really look close as to whether there's an actual "Pellicle" on it, and it always turns out Awesome.

So IMHO just getting it warm enough to Dry before adding Smoke is all you really need.

It's usually Dry & a little Tacky, which is what the say Pellicle actually is.

BTW: I use a CC #645 for slicing. It's my Son's, but we share it. LOL---It's usually at my house.

Bear
Thanks for the feedback Bear.  Your experience falls right in line with what I'm seeing.  

Thanks for the input on the CC 645.  I thinking I can't go wrong with a CC of the design for the 615, 645, or 655.  I have pretty much made up my mind to buy one but I think I may wait to pull the trigger around the Black Friday/Cyber Monday time period this year :)
 
I have only made bacon two times. The first time I wet cured and formed the pellicle then dubble hot smoked to 120 the first time and to 155 the second time. The result was good tasting bacon that turns in to shoe leather when I fry it crisp. The second time I simply flowed Bear's step by step and it turned out great.

Randy,
 
I have only made bacon two times. The first time I wet cured and formed the pellicle then dubble hot smoked to 120 the first time and to 155 the second time. The result was good tasting bacon that turns in to shoe leather when I fry it crisp. The second time I simply flowed Bear's step by step and it turned out great.

Randy,
Thanks for the info Randy.  I'm sure I will eat some crispy bacon over the next few days.  I prefer soft but others prefer crispy so I will give it a taste when it happens and if I get shoe leather I will let you know.  I didn't last time so I think it will be ok, plus I sliced half as thin as last time as well so that should make for extra brittle crispy bacon :)
 
Not knowing anything about making bacon I followed the instructions of my butcher down the street who makes some of the best maple bacon and sausage imaginable. He also dubble smoked a lot of his meats, bacon included. He is the one who told me to smoke to 120 the first day and to 155 the next day. There was no talk of pellicle but because of the resting times I'm sure there was pellicle formed. The finished product looked like bacon, smelled like bacon and tasted like bacon, but it wouldn't crisp up like bacon instead it got tuff. I ask the good people of SMF where I went wrong and was told that I had cooked it and that was the problem. It wasn't a total loss though, because l used it in beans and the like.
I am sure interested in knowing if you have the same experience. I don't have a meat slicer so I slice it by hand and am unable to cut it real thin.
My second try at bacon I didn't go beyond 120 smoking between 100 and 110. I still don't have a meat slicer so once again I sliced it by hand and the bacon crisps up nice. This turned out so well that I will be buying a slicer for next time and I won't be buying any store bought bacon ever again as home made is way better.

Randy,
 
So I picked up some pork belly from the local grocery store on the cheap, never smoked belly before. Where can I find info on curing details and what not?
 
 
So I picked up some pork belly from the local grocery store on the cheap, never smoked belly before. Where can I find info on curing details and what not?
It depends on which type of cure you want to use.

I Dry Cure with "Tender Quick", made by Morton Salt.

Here is a Step by Step that tells you all you need & how to do it:

Bacon (Extra Smoky)

Bear
 
LUCC- There is a curing section on this forum you should research and read up. IMHO the better of the recipes and choices are Pops wet brine or Digging dog farms calculator for dry cure. Another place to start is just using Morton's Tender Quick and follow the directions exactly.  

Randy- Pull the trigger on that Chefs Choice slicer. Pick the model you want, but either way you go, its going to get used.
icon14.gif


My theory on the pellicle on bacon is that you don't do it for the same reasons as you do fish. Even then I don't believe you HAVE to do it to turn out a good product- even on fish. In fact, I never did it on my fish for years, and only seems like a term that's thrown around only recently. No one ever turned it down back then or now. For bacon, there is more to the firming up texture after a WET BRINE for me. When its pulled from the pickle, a slab of bacon is pretty much a wet limpy noodle. Letting it dry out in the fridge for a couple of DAYS so that there is equilibrium of moisture content from a WET brine DOES make a big difference for the texture and moisture content of the bacon. When I dry cure, I have found this is not so important to go as long, but still do because I have rinsed the slab with water or did an Ice water soak after curing. Do you want WET bacon or DRY bacon? Well... A drier bacon will  have longer shelf life as that is the whole intent for curing bacon originally right? Especially if you cold or only warm (<100') smoke, the drying step is more important as you don't have the heat to remove any further water from your bacon. Ever let your bacon sit in the refrigerator too long until it starts to spoil? That usually starts with getting slimy and them moldy. Keep it dry(er), and it will store longer.

So to summarize and illustrate... With bacon you are usually slicing it anyway, so the edge is all a surface pellicle you would get in a piece of bacon that is only dried for an hour or two anyway. That is, unless you extend your dry time... Ever notice how bacon "puckers" around the edge when you cook it? I notice this way less the drier (more equalized) I get my bacon. Its firmer. Its easier to crisp up (when desired) It slices easier, and extends storage life. Its really more of a "dry age" period of the bacon than just forming a pellicle. This really is something else. Perhaps there is a misapplication of the term "Pellicle" when it comes to drying bacon and for what purpose.

ok... there's my 2 cents. I don't claim to have bacon all figured out, but these are my observations by my experience so far anyway.
 
I updated the main post with the bolded text below.
I made 24 pounds of bacon this past week and I wanted to use up this seasoning and the Jalapeno one I have so I went and did some number crunching, researching, and educated guessing to figure out how much of the seasoning to use to get the right amount of salt WITHOUT having to ice water soak the bellys to remove excess salt.

I dry cured with the seasoning for 8 days and also added the proper amount of cure on top of the seasoning. I'm very happy with how it came out and now I know to use these seasonings at 3.25% of the pork belly weight and then add the proper amount of cure#1 on top :)

I hope this info helps those out there using these or similar store bought bacon seasonings! :)


[UPDATE:] - So I figured out the perfect measurement for using this seasoning. Take the weight of the pork belly you will dry cure in ounces or grams (not pounds) and multiply that weight by .0325 (3.25%). The number you get is the weight of the LEM's Venison Bacon Seasoning to use. This number does not include the measurement of cure#1 to use. Measure that separately and add to the seasoning. Doing this leads to pork belly that needs no ice water soaking after you rinse off the belly!!!
 
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