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Seasoning after curing and before smoking

blake06

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Hello,

First time making bacon and have been reading a bunch of threads for info.

I have 2 5lb slabs curing currently.  Both dry cure starting with the basic Charcuterie dry cure.  1 slab I added black pepper, garlic powder, some steak seasoning, and thyme.  The other has black pepper and brown sugar.

I have a Rec Tec and was planning to hot smoke to 150 IT based on some recommendations from friends, but after reading on this forum I'm hoping to cold smoke instead.  I bought the Rec Tec cold smoker box that is shipping to me at the moment.  I've read some negative reviews about the temperatures not getting quite cold enough in the cold smoker box, but it does look like I should be able to get close to 100 on the bottom rack, and I'm thinking that maybe I could add an ice block (maybe a large gatorade bottle of frozen water) to possibly get it below 100.

Planning to do maybe 6-10 hours at 100, then rest in fridge overnight, then do another 6-10 hours at 100.

If you see any issues in that plan, let me know!

But my main question is about seasoning the bellies after the cure.  I know I need to rinse off, then probably do a fry test to see if I need to soak to lower salt content.

After that I know I need to rest it uncovered in fridge for a couple days or even better in front of a fan at room temp to form a pellicle.

However, what about seasoning it?  If I want to season with some extra black pepper or a rub or so forth (maybe some maple syrup on the sweeter slab that has the brown sugar), can I do that?  Should it be done before resting in the fridge to form the pellicle? Or afterward right before I put it on the smoker?  Would rubbing maple syrup on one of them before smoking ruin the pellicle formation process?

Thanks!
 

daveomak

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I don't see where you added any cure #1... pink salt... sodium nitrite...  to the curing process...    Hot smoke only...  do not cold smoke....  bring the final Internal Temp up to 150 ish in 1 (one) cooking process...    do not double cook.....
 
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blake06

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Sorry, that probably wasn't very clear.  On both slabs, I started with the basic Charcuterie cure, which does include the curing salt #1 (along with kosher salt and sugar).
 

daveomak

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How much of each ingredient in the "basic" charcuterie cure, and how much are you adding to how much meat....
 

SmokinAl

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I am assuming you have cure#1 in your cure mix.

6-10 hours over 2 days is fine. Personally I only do 1 day & it's smokey enough for me.

I put my spices on before the rest period.

I usually put the spices on, then rest for 4 days in the fridge uncovered.

Cold smoke for 10 hours.

Then rest for 4 more days in the fridge uncovered.

Then into the freezer for 3 or 4 hours & slice.

Hope this helps!

Al
 

wade

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I have a Rec Tec and was planning to hot smoke to 150 IT based on some recommendations from friends, but after reading on this forum I'm hoping to cold smoke instead.  I bought the Rec Tec cold smoker box that is shipping to me at the moment.  I've read some negative reviews about the temperatures not getting quite cold enough in the cold smoker box, but it does look like I should be able to get close to 100 on the bottom rack, and I'm thinking that maybe I could add an ice block (maybe a large gatorade bottle of frozen water) to possibly get it below 100.

But my main question is about seasoning the bellies after the cure.  I know I need to rinse off, then probably do a fry test to see if I need to soak to lower salt content.

After that I know I need to rest it uncovered in fridge for a couple days or even better in front of a fan at room temp to form a pellicle.

However, what about seasoning it?  If I want to season with some extra black pepper or a rub or so forth (maybe some maple syrup on the sweeter slab that has the brown sugar), can I do that?  Should it be done before resting in the fridge to form the pellicle? Or afterward right before I put it on the smoker?  Would rubbing maple syrup on one of them before smoking ruin the pellicle formation process?

Thanks!
Hi Blake

I have not used the Rec Tec cold smoker but from reading the reviews and watching the YouTube posts I think it is really stretching the term "cold smoking". You could try using blocks of ice in the cold smoke chamber but if you put them in the original cooking chamber you will probably find that the controller will just increase the burn to keep the cooking chamber up to its programmed temperature. I think you sadly may have a challenge  on your hands there doing a real cold smoke.

An alternative that would enable you to cold smoke (at least at outside air temperatures) would be to use an inexpensive cardboard box smoker. I was teaching a customer how to make and use one of these over the weekend and will post some photos when I get home.

For the seasoning you usually try to put sufficient seasoning in at the start of the cure as this allows it to diffuse evenly throughout the meat. Hopefully you will find that the mix you have used will be sufficient. If not then you could add more but you should note how it turns out and adjust accordingly for your next batch. When I first started making bacon I needed 3 or 4 batches to get the seasoning just as I wanted it. 

Once cured just rinse it off under the tap - no need to soak it - then leave it in the fridge uncovered for 24-48 hours to allow the surface to dry. Then you can smoke it. Try to keep it as cool as you can during the smoke - but don't get paranoid. You say it is 80 F during the day - does it get cooler at night? Yes, you can split the smoking times over 2 nights without a problem. As Al mentions - you may nor need to smoke for that long but you can adjust accordingly for your next batch.

Once smoked allow it to dry for 24 hours in the fridge and then wrap in plastic wrap or vac pack. The smoke flavour will then diffuse through the bacon in the fridge over the next few days - I usually leave mine at least a week.

Yes you should take a slice after it has been cured - but don't test the end of the slab as this will taste more seasoned than the main bacon. Either cut 3 or 4 slices and use the innermost one as your test or cut the whole slab in half and take your sample from the middle. 

Don't forget to post some photos 
 
 
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blake06

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How much of each ingredient in the "basic" charcuterie cure, and how much are you adding to how much meat....
450 grams kosher salt (1lb morton)
225 grams sugar
50 grams curing salt #1 (2oz, about 8 teaspoons)

Of that basic cure above, I used 90 grams per 5lbs of meat (equivalent of 1 tsp of cure #1 per 5lbs meat)
 

blake06

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Thanks, Wade.

It should be down in the low to mid 50s at night when I'm ready to do the smoking.  So with that, and with a frozen water bottle in the cold smoker box, I'm thinking I'll be able to get the bottom rack of the cold smoker box down maybe as low as 80 degrees.
 

daveomak

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How much of each ingredient in the "basic" charcuterie cure, and how much are you adding to how much meat....
450 grams kosher salt (1lb morton)
225 grams sugar
50 grams curing salt #1 (2oz, about 8 teaspoons)

Of that basic cure above, I used 90 grams per 5lbs of meat (equivalent of 1 tsp of cure #1 per 5lbs meat)
That will work just fine... Good job....    Dave
 

wade

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Try the Rec Tec with ice before you commit your bacon to it. If you find that it gets too warm here is a low/no cost alternative...






This was a demonstration for a customer using salmon and cheese, but the kitchen sieve with pellets lasted for about 5 hours when fully loaded, and I have successfully smoked bacon using this setup before a couple of times.
 
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dirtsailor2003

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Along the lines of seasoning, I like to season during the cure and then again after rinsing, prior to forming the pellicle. 

My cousin has a Traeger with the cold smoke box on it. He finally gave up trying to use it with the smoker running. It worked great as a warming box but not cold enough to cold smoke. What he does now is he uses one of the AMNTS tube smokers from Todd at Amaze N Smokers. He places it on the opposite end of the smoker from the cold smoke box. This set up only raises the temp 10-15 degrees.
 

wade

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No. The natural air/smoke flow through the smoker is good without any assistance
 

blake06

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Along the lines of seasoning, I like to season during the cure and then again after rinsing, prior to forming the pellicle. 

My cousin has a Traeger with the cold smoke box on it. He finally gave up trying to use it with the smoker running. It worked great as a warming box but not cold enough to cold smoke. What he does now is he uses one of the AMNTS tube smokers from Todd at Amaze N Smokers. He places it on the opposite end of the smoker from the cold smoke box. This set up only raises the temp 10-15 degrees.
I saw a thread on another forum where a guy had done some temperature tests with the Rec Tec cold smoker box.  Running the smoker at 180 with an outside ambient temp of about 37, his bottom shelf on the cold smoker box was 74 degrees, middle was upper 90s, and top was 120 or so.   That was without any ice in the box.  But his ambient air temp was 20 degrees colder than mine is going to be.  So with the ice, I'm thinking I can get down to about 80.   That should be sufficient for cold smoking if I can actually get down to that temp, correct?

As for idea of using a tube smoker, I do actually have one (haven't ever used it), but when searching in google, I saw several people mentioning that you would need a fan if you do that.  Is that not the case?  Could I just put the tub smoker in my rec tec on the far left of the main smoker chamber and not need any type of fan for air flow?
 

wade

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Sometimes you find that one size does not always fit all and you actually need more than one type of tool (smoker) in your box. I am waiting with interest to see how you get on using the Rec Tec as your smoke generator and I hope it goes well. I would not be surprised though if after you have tried to use it you find that you move to a different solution for cold smoking that will be less fiddly. 
 
 

dirtsailor2003

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I saw a thread on another forum where a guy had done some temperature tests with the Rec Tec cold smoker box.  Running the smoker at 180 with an outside ambient temp of about 37, his bottom shelf on the cold smoker box was 74 degrees, middle was upper 90s, and top was 120 or so.   That was without any ice in the box.  But his ambient air temp was 20 degrees colder than mine is going to be.  So with the ice, I'm thinking I can get down to about 80.   That should be sufficient for cold smoking if I can actually get down to that temp, correct?


As for idea of using a tube smoker, I do actually have one (haven't ever used it), but when searching in google, I saw several people mentioning that you would need a fan if you do that.  Is that not the case?  Could I just put the tub smoker in my rec tec on the far left of the main smoker chamber and not need any type of fan for air flow?
My cousin hasn't had any draft issues and he just places the tube in the smoker. He is a computer geek and he did rig a fan but he found he didn't need it.
 

blake06

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Awesome, I might try with just my amazen tube in that case and see how that works.

What wood do you guys like best for smoking bacon?
 

dirtsailor2003

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That all I use for smoking bacon. I use it in my vertical smoker and it works great.

Your tube would work for smoking in a cardboard box also. Fire it up and give it a try. Throw a piece of cheese in and see what happens .
 

daveomak

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I've tried PC (pitmasters choice) and hickory...    For bacon, I think hickory is really good..  PC is good but not "bold" enough for bacon... 

PC is my main go to wood for most everything else... it's mild and forgiving when adding to most all meats...
 
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