Should I add sodium phosphate to equilibrium-cured bacon?

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geostriata

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May 18, 2021
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My goal is to make some bacon from pork belly, but to have it pretty similar to what my wife it used to. As such, I'm considering adding sodium tripolyphosphate to the pork belly, since that's what the big producers do and I do believe for good reason (I think it prevents it from shrinking as much when cooking, which my wife would prefer).

Thinking to try the bag method with this. So going with the 2guys recipe:
What do you all think? Terrible idea? If not, how much do you think I should add?
 
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My goal is to make some bacon from pork belly, but to have it pretty similar to what my wife it used to. As such, I'm considering adding sodium tripolyphosphate to the pork belly, since that's what the big producers do and I do believe for good reason (I think it prevents it from shrinking as much when cooking, which my wife would prefer).

Thinking to try the bag method with this. So going with the 2guys recipe:
What do you all think? Terrible idea? If not, how much do you think I should add?
Hmmm... I like phosphates for binding a lot. But with whole meat, they are used to get meat to hold more water, primarily for a profit-- it's sold by weight. There is no "juiciness" desired in bacon, you fry the stuff until it crisps up.

I make bacon by EQ, immersion. Mostly because I also inject it to get sugar penetration deep. But I have also done a dry rub EQ. The wet brined bacon does tend to spatter a bit more.

I see no taste or texture benefit to stpp for bacon, for a home non-commercial standpoint.
 
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Hmmm... I like phosphates for binding a lot. But with whole meat, they are used to get meat to hold more water, primarily for a profit-- it's sold by weight. There is no "juiciness" desired in bacon, you fry the stuff until it crisps up.
Thanks D Dave in AZ ! I think you're right. After researching this a bit more, it literally seems to be a profit motive. For some reason, I was thinking the phosphate helped the bacon not shrink as much when cooking, but I think that's not true... the opposite, in fact. The phosphate gets people paying for water instead of meat, and when you fry it, all that water evaporates.

Really strange if you think about it. Unless I'm mistaken, they're adding chemicals that don't do anything to improve the product. They're just there to mislead, but the first business that does this gets a huge profit increase and so the others need to do this as well to compete. Then you have a bunch of businesses pumping their products with phosphates to compete in a "race to the bottom," so to speak...
 
Thanks D Dave in AZ ! I think you're right. After researching this a bit more, it literally seems to be a profit motive. For some reason, I was thinking the phosphate helped the bacon not shrink as much when cooking, but I think that's not true... the opposite, in fact. The phosphate gets people paying for water instead of meat, and when you fry it, all that water evaporates.

Really strange if you think about it. Unless I'm mistaken, they're adding chemicals that don't do anything to improve the product. They're just there to mislead, but the first business that does this gets a huge profit increase and so the others need to do this as well to compete. Then you have a bunch of businesses pumping their products with phosphates to compete in a "race to the bottom," so to speak...
That also might be one of the reasons why homemade bacon just tastes so much better. :emoji_blush:
 
That also might be one of the reasons why homemade bacon just tastes so much better. :emoji_blush:
Yeah, I think you're right. But I'm also trying to not stray too far from commercial, since I'm trying to convert my wife to homemade bacon.

For example, I know that homemade mac and cheese using a mornay sauce is better than the kraft stuff in the box... but I also still really like the kraft stuff and I associate it as more of a comfort food. So if someone wanted to try to get me to stop eating the kraft stuff, it wouldn't happen with the fancy mornay homemade mac and cheese. Rather, it would happen with something more similar to the kraft stuff, but better in every way while still being similar.

In short, I'm trying to do that with bacon. To create bacon that's better in every way than what you can get in the store, but without it being so different that it's unfamiliar. Given a choice between a 2nd-best bacon that's still familiar, and a 1st-place bacon that is so different it is unfamiliar, I'd pick the 2nd-best bacon to make at this time. That's why I was considering phosphates.

That being said, I think this is a case where it's better to be slightly less familiar and skip the phosphates. It also saves a ton of effort cause I'd need to apply it through injection and then tumble the meat, I believe.
 
That being said, I think this is a case where it's better to be slightly less familiar and skip the phosphates. It also saves a ton of effort cause I'd need to apply it through injection and then tumble the meat, I believe.
Not so. You can add STPP to wet brine. Because bacon is fried I don’t recommend it but you can add it and because it is sodium based it will diffuse into the meat with a wet brine.

Commercial bacon shrinks a lot when fried and that is the pumped water frying off. The best tasting bacon is dry rubbed.
 
Not so. You can add STPP to wet brine. Because bacon is fried I don’t recommend it but you can add it and because it is sodium based it will diffuse into the meat with a wet brine.

Commercial bacon shrinks a lot when fried and that is the pumped water frying off. The best tasting bacon is dry rubbed.
Ah, good to know!

I'm currently thinking of doing somewhat of a hybrid approach. Bacon-in-a-bag, is great for its reliability, but the meat will be sitting in a bag in its brine. Dry rubbed, on the other hand, will result in a better tasting product, but I believe it will also be under-cured. That is, a significant amount of the nitrate drips out into the pan before it has had a chance to react and cure the meat.

So how can I get something that is both fully cured, but not sitting in its brine 100% of the time? Possibly I could measure how much nitrate is lost in the dry rubbed case, and then calibrate accordingly by adding supplemental nitrate initially. Or, I can try maybe something half-way-between the two approaches. That is
  1. Leverage cure accelerator to speed up the curing process (though this won't speed up the diffusion part, so possibly this will only help a little... Shouldn't hurt though and the antioxidants are nice anyways).
  2. For day 1, apply 2/3rd the cure/seasoning/salt on all sides. Resting the meat lean-side-down in a tub of the same size.
  3. For day 2, flip meat and apply remaining 1/3rd the cure/seasoning/salt to the top lean side.
  4. Day 3-14, hang or put on a rack to finish.
This way, less than half the meat is resting in a brine and only for two days. With the accelerant and the flip, it'll help get to a more even curing faster. On day 3, it'll be dry curing without brine for the remaining time.

In fact, I wonder if all that is more complicated than it needs to be. What if one just goes with the bacon-in-a-bag approach for 2 days with accelerant, and then racks it to air dry at fridge temps. That might be the way to go...
 
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Ah, good to know!

I'm currently thinking of doing somewhat of a hybrid approach. Bacon-in-a-bag, is great for its reliability, but the meat will be sitting in a bag in its brine. Dry rubbed, on the other hand, will result in a better tasting product, but I believe it will also be under-cured. That is, a significant amount of the nitrate drips out into the pan before it has had a chance to react and cure the meat.

So how can I get something that is both fully cured, but not sitting in its brine 100% of the time? Possibly I could measure how much nitrate is lost in the dry rubbed case, and then calibrate accordingly by adding supplemental nitrate initially. Or, I can try maybe something half-way-between the two approaches. That is
  1. Leverage cure accelerator to speed up the curing process (though this won't speed up the diffusion part, so possibly this will only help a little... Shouldn't hurt though and the antioxidants are nice anyways).
  2. For day 1, apply 2/3rd the cure/seasoning/salt on all sides. Resting the meat lean-side-down in a tub of the same size.
  3. For day 2, flip meat and apply remaining 1/3rd the cure/seasoning/salt to the top lean side.
  4. Day 3-14, hang or put on a rack to finish.
This way, less than half the meat is resting in a brine and only for two days. With the accelerant and the flip, it'll help get to a more even curing faster. On day 3, it'll be dry curing without brine for the remaining time.
Why do you not trust the process? And how deep do you want to discuss this? Simple question we can handle here but if you want a deep discussion it’s best in PM’s because most can’t or won’t follow. I’m happy to answer all of your questions and speed up the curve.
 
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Why do you not trust the process? And how deep do you want to discuss this? Simple question we can handle here but if you want a deep discussion it’s best in PM’s because most can’t or won’t follow. I’m happy to answer all of your questions and speed up the curve.
I had an earlier failure with "true dry" process, where the analysis of that failure led me to believe that a bit of the cure leeches out with the water. As a result, the meat is undercured overall.

I'll send you a PM. Thanks!
 
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