Smoking Bacon

Discussion in 'Curing' started by mtkeg, Dec 22, 2015.

  1. mtkeg

    mtkeg Newbie

    Hey all,

    I am preparing bacon and have it curing in the fridge (day 2). I have been doing a lot of reading about how to smoke the bacon. I currently have an Oklahoma Joe offset smoker and live in Tennessee. I have read recipes where people cold smoke, smoke at 130 deg F and raise to 180 deg F after 8 hrs until the meat is at 150 deg F, or smoke between 200 deg F and 220 deg F until the meat is at 150 deg F.

    I plan on smoking Thursday next week and the temp here will be 50 degs. If I put the meat in the smoker (and apply no heat) and buy/use an A-MAZE-N-SMOKER and smoke it will that work for cold smoking and is it safe to do?

    Or should I smoke at one of the elevated temps (I guess for 130 I would only put a few pieces of coal on the smoker?) and apply smoke with an A-MAZE-N-SMOKER?

    Since the smoker is offset, how should I orientate the AMNS, belly, (and optional hot coals)?

    I would prefer to use pellets in the AMNS, would you suggest the AMNS pellet or tube smoker?

    I appreciate all your help! I know my first time making bacon won't be perfect... I just don't want to make anyone sick.

  2. gibsorz

    gibsorz Smoke Blower

    My general opinion of bacon is the longer it takes to make, the better it will be. Hot smoking bacon is a short cut in my mind (which creates excellent, and different results) If you have properly cured your bacon, it will be safe.

    After the cure, I would give it time (at least 2 days, up to a week) to equalize. Then I would cold smoke for 11 hours and then allow it to rest for a week.

    I would place the amnps as far away from the bacon as possible making sure there is plenty of airflow for the amnps.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2015
  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  4. travisty

    travisty Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Ditto to Dave!

    No need to get your IT to 150 if you cure it properly. I made that mistake on my first smoke, and though the bacon was still good, it didn't really taste like bacon, and didn't produce any grease when cooking since it was already rendered out. It was just sort of like re-heating fully cooked bacon.
  5. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I agree wholeheartedly.   It's been my observation that a good share of the ones hot smoking their bacon are the ones doing a short cure in which a hot smoke would then be required.   In their opinion, they are producing a good product and after all, self-satisfaction is what we are all after.   The problem with the short cure time is they can't do the longer cold smokes including the long rest equalization times due to the risk of their product  going rancid.

    Some like myself will smoke for days, to build a flavor profile.  Long curing times and cold smokes that seldom reach 65° are needed to accomplish this.  It truly seems some are turning their backs to a lost art in favor of rushing the process instead of being patient.  Therefore, they may never know what the true taste of properly cured bacon is like.

    The following is how I do mine. but, you do what works best for you.

  6. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hi MT,

    Below is a Step by Step that might help you.

    I take my Canadian Bacon & Buckboard Bacon to 145°, but not my Belly Bacon.

    For Belly Bacon I like to keep the Smoker temp between 100° and 130° , and have never had any fat render at those temps:


    Bacon (Extra Smoky)

    If you want to Hot Smoke, I believe Pops Hot Smokes his Bacon. Check with his Smokes.

    Last edited: Dec 23, 2015
  7. mtkeg

    mtkeg Newbie

    Gibsorz, DaveOmak, Travisty, Mr T 59874, and Bearcarver - Thanks for the Guidance

    DaveOmak - For my cure I followed Bearcarver's guidance (1 TBSP of Tender Quick per pound of meat, I eyeballed the Brown Sugar, and Cracked Black Pepper).
    • Is this cure OK if I decide to cold smoke in ambient temperatures?
    • Is ambient cold smoking something that is typically done?
    DaveOmak - The fire box is 16" Diameter x 17" Long and the cooking chamber is 16.5" Diameter x 36.5" Long
    • Do you think that an A-MAZE-N-PELLET-SMOKER 5X8 would work?
    Bearcarver - Do you have any thoughts on how to achieve the 100° and 130° on the offset smoker?

    Thanks for all your help!

  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    For cold smoking, that offset will need some heat to get a draft going... I think I would set up a cardboard box to cold smoke in... a couple rods through it and a rack set on the rods... holes in the box for air in and air out and you are golden... fill up the AMNPS and give the bacon ~10 hours of smoke... The iron in the smoker is a lot of thermal mass to deal with for a short smoke..
  9. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    MT morning.... I just realized you are new to the forum.... and I didn't notice a length of time for the meat to cure.....

    Anyway, the USDA recommends 7 days for inch of thickness at 38-40 deg. F...... Let me explain why....

    When you add the cure, and all the other stuff, the outer 1/64" of the meat, at the initial start of the cure, is 62,500 Ppm nitrite... all the nitrite is just sitting there... the interior portion of the meat is at ZERO ..... Below is a hunk of pig that didn't fully cure...

    The non- pink portion is at zero... the pink edge, next to the non-pink, "may" only be at 5 Ppm nitrite... meat color is no indication of a fully cured product...

    Time is the only thing that can make the meat "safe" where nitrite penetration is necessary... Trying to cut corners, by reducing the time involved for a proper cure, makes no sense... The meat is just sitting in the refer, trying to come to equilibrium to make the product safe for consumption after smoking... rushing the curing time is not in your best interest or you families...

    Merry Christmas to you and your family... Dave
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2015
  10. mtkeg

    mtkeg Newbie

    Merry Christmas to you and your family also! My pork belly is 1-1/2 in. thick (2 lbs - I used 2 tablespoons of tender quick)... I have seen a bunch of different methodologies out there... I was planning on curing for about 10 days minimum.

    Does that sound about right?

    Will the amount of tender quick use yield a safely cured meat

    Good thought about the smoker... I didn't think about getting a draft going (I am used to cooking pork butts, brisket, and ribs).

    As for the cardboard box...
    - what size holes do you think I should put in the box?
    - Instead of cardboard can I build one out of untreated wood?

    Thanks again for your help!


    Edit: included meat weight and another question.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2015
  11. gibsorz

    gibsorz Smoke Blower

    The wood box would be better than a cardboard box. That is a true cold smoker. It would be much more weatherproof than a cardboard box. 10-11 days sounds about right, if you leave it in longer it won't hurt it. The longer you leave it, the more the salt will equalize and the sugar will be drawn in.

    Re hole size I would start with 3 1 inch diameter holes on each side. If that isn't enough to provide the airflow either make them bigger, or add more.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2015
  12. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    You are good on the TQ amount.  10 days minimum would be the minimum.  Wouldn't hurt a thing to go longer as gibsorz suggested.

  13. mtkeg

    mtkeg Newbie

    Guys... I really appreciate your help! I am kinda nervous since it is the first time I am curing bacon. I am definitely going to go longer than 10 days since I want to build a cold smoker (i can use this to smoke some cheese too).

    Why do some people prefer prague powder #1 instead of Morton Tender Quick? Don't they both cure meat safely?

    Why do people prefer hot smoking to cold smoking?is it really a time thing?
  14. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I use #1 and TQ. I think TQ makes pork taste like bacon and #1 more like ham. Yes they both cure safe.

    I also like warm smoking. Under 120 degrees for 12 hours. It takes on smoke faster than cold smoking
  15. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    That's using your head.​

    Some prefer #1 because it does not contain Nitrates.  Although TQ does contain Nitrates, I feel due to the amount of time I age my bacon the nitrates have converted to Nitrites and in my case it is just more convenient as I have used it for more than 40 years. 

  16. mtkeg

    mtkeg Newbie

    Mr T

    In your bacon recipe post you state the following:

    Does that still hold true? Will I not be able to fry the bacon in a pan?

    By ageing do you mean the 21 days from start to finish for your bacon as you describe in your recipe?
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2015
  17. gibsorz

    gibsorz Smoke Blower

    The difference between TQ, cure #1 is that TQ us both sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate. They are both in equal proportion of .5% of the total mixture. If you add 120 ppm for sodium nitrite with TQ you have 120 ppm nitrate as well. So I use #1 or #2, #2 has a lower percentage of nitrate when you mix it with the requisite salt than TQ would. #1 has none.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2015
  18. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Good questions,   Yes it is best to keep your bacon below 350°.  The following will explain. 

    A bacon cooking study, "Effect of Frying and Other Cooking Conditions on Nitrosopyrrolidine Formation in Bacon" (Journal of Science, Vol. 39, pages 314-316), showed no evidence of nitrosamines in bacon fried at 210 °F for 10 minutes (raw), 210 °F for 15 minutes (medium well), 275 °F for 10 minutes (very light), or 275 °F for 30 minutes (medium well). But when bacon was fried at 350 °F for 6 minutes (medium well), 400 °F for 4 minutes (medium well), or 400 °F for 10 minutes (burned), some nitrosamines were found. Thus, well-done or burned bacon is potentially more hazardous than less well-done bacon. Also, bacon cooked by a microwave has less nitrosamine than fried bacon.

    Sure you can fry bacon in a pan.  Advise keeping it under 350° though.

    21 days would be the shortest term for me.  I will normally let mine equalize for as much as three weeks after the long smoke before slicing and freezing. Don't be in a rush, it just keeps getting better. 

    It's OK to be nervous but, once you jump in, the water is fine.

  19. gibsorz

    gibsorz Smoke Blower

    It's OK to be nervous, I was at first, I used MTQ on my first bacon. Did a 10 day cure. No rest time or was still the best bacon I had ever just gets better from there
  20. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Cure #1 has less salt which make the salt adjustable in your recipe....


    ,2.2. Nitrate/ Nitrite Curing

    Most salt cures do not contain sufficient levels of salt to preserve meats at room temperature and Clostridium botulinum spores can survive. In the early 1800's it was realized that saltpeter (NaNO3 or KNO3) present in some impure curing salt mixtures would result in pink colored meat rather than the typical gray color attained with a plain salt cure. This nitrate/nitrite in the curing process was found to inhibit growth of Clostridium. Recent evidence indicates that they may also inhibit E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter if in sufficient quantities (Condon 1999, Doyle 1999).

    Several published studies indicated that N-nitrosoamines were considered carcinogenic in animals. For this reason, nitrate is prohibited in bacon and the nitrite concentration is limited in other cured meats. In other cured foods, there is insufficient scientific evidence for N-nitrosamine formation and a link to cancer (Pariza 1997).

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