smoking and maturing bacon questions

Discussion in 'Bacon' started by bigfish98, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. Yes, I do both.

    0 vote(s)
  2. Yes, I smoke more than once, but I don't mature the bacon.

    0 vote(s)
  3. Yes, I mature the bacon, but I don't smoke more than once.

    0 vote(s)
  4. No to both, I can't wait that long. BLTs are calling.

    0 vote(s)
  1. bigfish98

    bigfish98 Smoking Fanatic

    OK, I have finally been able to order some fresh pork bellies and will be starting the curing process early next week.  I have been reading a lot of info on here about bacon and I have made some BBB before.  A few of the threads and comments I have read mention smoking for multiple days with rest periods between smokes and also allowing the bacon to mature before slicing after it is smoked. 

    I would like to know what the general concensus is on these two practices.  Also, for smoking multiple days, do you just cold smoke for a day, put it in the fridge overnight, and then start the process over again the next day?  How many days does this go on?  Does this result in more shrinkage then just smoking 8-12 hours?  And as far as maturing the bacon, how long?  Is there a specific temp range?  Do you wrap it?  If so, in what?

    I know I am probably making a big deal about nothing, but I want to do my best.  Thanks in advance for any information!

  2. There are countless ways to do it, like anything, you'll just have to try a few methods and find what works best for you. :biggrin:

    I dry cure my bacon, I much prefer it to brined. The flavor is more concentrated and it does not steam when frying.
    I cold smoke my bacon (less than 80 degrees), with light smoke for 6-8 hours a day for a couple days. Why? Because it tastes better to me than warm or hot smoked.
    Maturing time depends on the temperature, the lower the temp the longer it takes.
    I mature my bacon, usually covered for most of the time, in a fridge for 5-6 days before slicing and frying.

    Last edited: Mar 31, 2012
  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    bigfish, morning.....  Diggy is describing the method for "old world" bacon flavor....  Have you ever bought bacon from a small country store with the hide still on it ???  U know, slab bacon ????  The stuff you usually had to add oil to the fry pan to get it to fry.... Bacon that didn't shrink in the fry pan.  ????  That is the method diggy is describing....   One member here smokes his off and on for a month.... 

    That is one end of the bacon spectrum....

    All the methods here will produce a quality bacon...  personal preferance is what determines ones final recipe after years of experimenting...
  4. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member


    Not sure where you are in this process but I can give you my opinion.  Look up the Dry cured Bacon Calculator in the Wikis under instructional.   This will make it easy to determine how much cure and salt is required to do a dry cure.  After that the rest is up to you.   I like to apply cure mix 3 separate times at 3 day intervals.  I find it allows for a good distribution of cure and salt.  I also like to use a very heavy sugar coat toward the end, even stretching the cure time out for a couple of days to add more sugar and allow it to help dry out and sweeten the bacon.   I find that by doing a dry cure  I get a denser, less salty, more flavorful bacon a lot like both Diggy and Dave described.      When you wet cure bacon the final product should be 10% heavier in weight depending on the concentration of cure in your brine.  Dry cured bacon generally weighs less before smoking.

    As far as smoking the trick is to have the bacon ready to smoke when you can give 40 hours or so of constant smoke.  I have gone as long as 36 hours in the smokehouse and the bacon was delicious.  I know of no reason to smoke much longer then that but I would imagine that if you do you would be better leaving it in the smokehouse and just letting it go.  Whenever your remove the bacon from the smoke you need to cool it back down to refrigerator temps, rebuild a fire, rehang the bacon and so on.  It's just easier to set your schedule to allow for an uninterrupted time period

    As far as allowing the bacon to meld at the end, I find that if it goes too long the bacon can become a bit tough.  I have allowed bacon to sit lightly covered in the fridge after smoking for up to 8 days but there was a noticeable difference in it's toughness.  The meat will continue to dry, remember, a refrigerator is normally pretty low humidity.  At some point I recommend after a couple of days go ahead and vacuum pack the bacon and freeze it.  It will continue to meld in the freezer, even if at a slower pace.


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