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Shelf life of home cured bacon

Discussion in 'Bacon' started by Mofatguy, Mar 14, 2019.

  1. Mofatguy

    Mofatguy Smoke Blower

    Hey all. I have a question on the shelf life of home cured bacon that has been cold smoked.
    I have only made bacon once usimg disco's dry rub with bsugar salt and instacure #1 cold smoked and then fried for breakfast.
    When I vac packed I only put enough slices for 2-3 days worth.
    How long will it keep refrigerated.

    Just thinking I should be able to pack at least a weeks worth...maybe?

    Thanks!
     
  2. solman

    solman Smoking Fanatic

    The USDA has a website on bacon that may answer your question. In the link below, see section titled "HOME STORAGE OF BACON PRODUCTS"

    https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/porta...at-preparation/bacon-and-food-safety/ct_index

    Dry-cured sliced bacon 10 days without refrigeration, 4 weeks in the refrigerator, 3 months freezer
    Dry-cured slab bacon 3 weeks without refrigeration, 4 to 6 weeks in the refrigerator, 3 months freezer
     
  3. Mofatguy

    Mofatguy Smoke Blower

    Cool! Figured it would be at least a week. Thanks for the link.
     
  4. jcam222

    jcam222 Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    So it specifies “dry cured”. What about bacon wet cured with Pops brine? I can’t inderstand what the shelf life difference would be.
     
  5. I went ahead and vac sealed and froze all of mine in packages of 4 to 8 slices.
     
  6. solman

    solman Smoking Fanatic

  7. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    @jcam222 Brine cured bacon contains a lot of moisture. It is more susceptible to Spoilage Bacteria that are salt tolerant and unaffected by the Cure #1. Same with National Brand Bacon. A pack of Oscar Mayer Bacon, once opened, is good for a few days before it gets Sour from spoilage bacteria. Grandpa's Dry Cured Bacon hung out in the smoke house, as is, fall, winter, spring and summer, until it got eaten. Bad Mold also grows faster on the high moisture Brined bacon...JJ
     
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  8. skidog

    skidog Fire Starter

    So if I cured using Cure #1, salt, sugar then cold smoked the bacon I could leave it just sitting on the kitchen counter for 3 weeks? Or is it 3 weeks below a certain temperature?
    I would never do this, but it would be nice to know.
     
  9. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    No Sir...Don't forget, across the country and even in Europe, Hog's are slaughtered and the Curing/Smoking takes place when the temp outside drops below 50° during the day and lower at night. The Salt, Cure, Smoking and most importantly Drying, is done at progressively Colder ambient temps over Nov, Dec, Jan and Feb, give or take a month by region. At this point the meat, will still be edible but is sufficiently Salty, Smokey and Dry to be safely stored at ambient temps through the Spring and even Summer months at 90+°F...JJ
     
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  10. solman

    solman Smoking Fanatic

    Not trying to argue, but just trying to get clarity... you first say No, but your last sentence sounds like a Yes (given sufficient salt, cure, smoking and drying).
     
  11. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    No problem Solman. Skidog's post was confusing Curing bacon on the counter, ambient temp, any time of the year and the centuries old curing method of " Starting " the Curing at <50°F in the late Fall so by the time the ambient temps went above 50°F the Bacon would be Shelf Stable at ANY Ambient temperature, even during the Summer...

    Skidog' s First question...

    So if I cured using Cure #1, salt, sugar then cold smoked the bacon I could leave it just sitting on the kitchen counter for 3 weeks?
    (My answer...No Sir...)


    Skidog's Second question...

    Or is it 3 weeks below a certain temperature?
    (My answer with an explanation on how Room Temp Storage can be Safe...

    Don't forget, across the country and even in Europe, Hog's are slaughtered and the Curing/Smoking takes place when the temp outside drops below 50° during the day and lower at night. The Salt, Cure, Smoking and most importantly Drying, is done at progressively Colder ambient temps over Nov, Dec, Jan and Feb, give or take a month by region. At this point the meat, will still be edible but is sufficiently Salty, Smokey and Dry to be safely stored at ambient temps through the Spring and even Summer months at 90+°F...JJ)

     
  12. indaswamp

    indaswamp Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hey Chef jj, correct me if I am wrong, but didn't they do the salt box cure where the meat would basically just take on all the salt it could, and it was much much higher than the 2~3% we do when we measure out the salt, sugar, and cure #1 then put the meat in a bag for an equilibrium cure?
    The higher salt concentration pushed/pulled more moisture out of the meat and this was allowed to drain off and not reabsorb back into the meat. Then the slab was hung where more moisture was released...then smoked where upon more moisture would leave the meat.

    This is how the meat was able to become shelf stable....
     
  13. Yes, you're correct.... back in time, cured meat was much saltier.. people would first either soak in cold water for hours or boil dried meat to basically de-saline and afterwards prepare meal the way they wanted... that's how they did it up untill someone discovered that small amount of "saltpeter" actually acted as today cure #1 & #2.....
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
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  14. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Salt Box or a version of it, salting and stacking on a shelf, is done for Salt/Sugar Only Curing. The amount of Salt/Sugar used is not really " All it Could Take, " but was, is based on age old techniques past down. The Master is there telling the Apprentice, " That's enough. Add another row of meat and Salt, etc. Or the staff is highly trained.

    With the addition of a Cure #1 we can reduce the salt to 2%. Curing in the bag. 7 to 14 days, lets the relatively small amount of curing mix to do it's job penetrating the belly. From there the Bacon is rinsed and rested/ hung, IN THE REFER, to dry for one or more days to form a pellicle and Smoked, a couple hours or several hours over days. This QUICK Cured Bacon needs to be refrigerated or frozen.

    As pointed out above, the addition of Salt Peter and better yet Nitrite, Cure #1, let us reduce the salt and curing time...BUT...With Belly Bacon some Artisans use a combination of old and new techniques to get Country Style Dry Bacon using Cure #1, Salt and Sugar, combined with multiple drying steps under refrigeration and long continuous Cold Smoking, Days, to further Dry and add the Antibacterial properties of Smoke. The end result, like Old World Salt/Sugar Only Dried Smoked Bacon, is self stable.
    Sorry guys but I don't have a specific detailed recipe and procedure to do this...JJ

    Here is an interesting video on how Benton's Salt and Sugar Only Country Bacon is made and becomes Shelf Stable...

     
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  15. I remember my grandpa telling me that, back in old days and without fridge they would load cured and smoked/dry aged bacon in to big terracotta or metal barrels and pour melted pork lard over the top to submerge bacon... pork lard would cool and seal.. then, they would store this barrels in cold cellars... it would alow them to keep it from spoiling and fresh trough summer....
     
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  16. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That is pretty cool and was likely way more flavorful than many modern bacon styles. Fat Sealing for preservation has gone the way of Curing and Smoking. There is no longer a Need to Preserve meat and other food items with these techniques but we remember that they Tasted Great. There are many French Charcuterie preparations are sealed in fat, Duck, Pork, And others to preserve them. Duck Confit, salted Duck slow cooked an sealed in it's own Fat. Pork Rillettes are another similar preparation...JJ
     
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  17. indaswamp

    indaswamp Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That's how they did it here too...
     
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  18. skidog

    skidog Fire Starter

    Sorry for the confusion. I meant first curing it in the refrigerator. Then doing the cold smoke. At that point you could leave it on the counter for 3 weeks?
     
  19. Cheffjj already explained in great detail but let me try differently....
    a lot of folks here mixing up cold smoking and thermal treatment..
    cold smoking is smoke treatment at very low temperature for extended period of time, days or weeks...
    Thermal smoke treatment is smoking at above 120F for long period counted in hours...
    Cold smoking means:
    curing, smoking at low temp and aging for extended period of time to get shelf stable product which doesnt require to be kept in fridge for extended period of time. .
    Thermal smoke treatment means:
    curing, smoking at higher temp, doesnt need aging and must be vacpacked and either kept in fridge or frozen...
    So answer to your question depends on smoking temperature. ...
     
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  20. indaswamp

    indaswamp Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm
    Also-how it is cured... dry cured products start pulling moisture out immediately, and continue to do so as it cures. Brine cured meats do not, they retain water....
    To be shelf stable, water must be removed to inhibit bacterial growth (along with the salt, cure, and smoke).

    Smoke also has anti-microbial preserving properties with some of the compounds created from the flame. With Cold Smoking, those compounds are allowed to permeate through the entire thickness of the bacon slab depositing those compounds deep within the meat.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
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