Trying out the "True Dry" vs vac sealed dry bacon

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I always hot smoke mine to 145° which yields a ready to eat product as it, but it always gets fried anyhow, so I really don't see any downside to cold smoking only ....... which will need to be cooked before eating.
 
These are about 9-10" wide, so even with a 10" deli slicer I'd still normally split them in half for easier slicing.

I went to grab a beer after I put these in the fridge and I realized why I like smoking meat so much. Not only is it delicious, but I had a flashback to my youth.

Dad was a fireman. Once in a while he'd have one of those days that they train for but hope they never actually need to use their training. Lots of oak framing in those old New England structures. When he got home all us kids would get a kiss on the cheek, then he'd hop in the shower before dinner with the family.

I'll always love the smell of good smoke.
 
I personally like hot finish because not having to handle raw pork first thing in the morning is really nice.
Also being able to snack on it is a huge plus as well. I really like to just eat the hot smoked bacon out of the fridge.
 
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Even though technically uncooked, handling cold smoked bacon isn't similar to handling uncured raw pork ...... it has been cured, after all.
 
Round 2 cold smoke finished. Fat side shot:

View attachment 694321

Dry on the left, vac seal on the right. This pic made me realize I should have noted which end was which at the start of this experiment. Thick vs. thin. The vac seal has incorporated all of the seasonings nicely while the dry still has some, well.... dry. Once it's sliced I don't think the dry bits will be an issue. Just little pockets of flavor!

And here's the meat side:

View attachment 694322


Both look pretty dang delicious!!! Back in the fridge for a rest. Still not sure if they'll be smoked to temp tomorrow or chill for a few days before slicing as-is.

Maybe amp up the experiment a notch? Cut both in half again and do a hot smoke vs. cold smoke battle??

They're about 4.5 lbs each so I have options.......
Looks great Chris

Difference really is in the pan. The hot smoked bacon will cook faster to browning. Otherwise, it’s what you prefer. The cold smoke should have more smoke flavor, but the hot smoke has enough. Enjoy your bacon. It looks absolutely delicious.
 
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I miss my Louisiana tomatoes. From Monroe

lived in both Monroe and West Monroe. I was just looking on Maps, I see McMillan Mall is long gone but that Captain D's (my great grandmother LOVED Captain D's is still there across the street from where it was located. I haven't been there since the mid 80's, that Captain D's must be fossilized by now lol


Bacon cheeseburgers. God created them on day 8 or 9, I'm betting His post Creation dinner was a brisket but a bacon cheeseburger surely dideth followeth soon thereafter. And it had fresh tomato on it too.
 
The day has finally arrived! Slicing day! Quick summary:
  • ~9lb belly split in two, half got the "True Dry" brine and half got dry brine and vac sealed
  • Both cured for 13 days
  • Both cold smoked over a two day period, total of 8-9 hrs smoke time using a mix of hickory and cherry
  • Rest in fridge for 5 days​
  • Both mostly thick sliced (setting of 4-4.5) but also did some thin for wrapping foods (setting 1.5-2)​
We'll start with the True Dry. Started out at 2213g and pre-slice weight was 1648g for a 565g or 25.5% weight loss. Little more than I expected but this was the thin end of the belly. I should have thought ahead and used the thicker part for the dry method knowing that it would lose more moisture. Oh well, next time!

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Firm texture, a little darkening on the edge but not a big deal, and I loved the color!! It went thru the slicer really nice and didn't throw around meat particles like a very moist meat would.


Now the vac sealed. Started out at 2205g and pre-slice weight was 1933g for a 272g or 12.3% weight loss. Pretty much what would be expected.


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Still pretty firm but noticeably less than the dry. The color is still really nice but not as deep as the dry. Still very happy with it! The extra moisture resulted in more meat shrapnel flying off the slicer and on to the wall (since I forgot to put up by usual backstop). But overall it sliced really nice! Nothing like when I do an EOR for jerky or something like that.


And finally the fry test!

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The whole slice is the dry. I cut the vac sealed in half to ensure I didn't mix them up. As SmokinEdge SmokinEdge mentioned, the dry fried up a bit faster. Makes sense. Less moisture to cook off. I need to work on my preferred thickness when slicing. 4.5 might have been just a bit too thick. Maybe try 3.5-4 next time.


Final Results (IMHO):
Both are DAMN GOOD! The flavor of the white pepper and garlic is great! I thought they might come out a little harsh on the smoke because EVERYTHING in my fridge tastes a little acrid from the time they rested. But the smoke mellowed out really nice. In fact, I might want a touch more.
Vac sealed was a bit more tender due to higher moisture content, but part of that is also the thickness they were cut. Flavor wise, dry wins. More concentrated bacon flavor.

For the process itself, I'll give the win to vac sealed. That is, unless you have a dedicated fridge for meats. Vac sealed can be stacked, tossed around, set on edge, etc. The half sheet pan required for the dry takes up a lot of space. I have a small fridge. It was almost an entire shelf out of use for 3 weeks. And after cold smoking them both, I had two shelves taken up by sheet pans for the past week.

I'm happy with both. I've got a nice supply of sliced for breakfast, burgers, and wrapping. And I've got some good ends that were squared off and chunks that got too small for the slicer. Those will be added to other dishes and maybe even ground in with some brisket for amazing burgers!

Right now they're both back in the fridge chilling. Now I have an hour or so of vac sealing to do. See you all in a bit!

And SmokinEdge SmokinEdge and DougE DougE , thanks for the inspiration for my little experiment here! It was fun and informative! Now... which of your recipes shall I steal next?
:emoji_stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::emoji_stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::emoji_stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::emoji_stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::emoji_stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
 
Some real solid bacon manufacturing there Chris, and very nice work comparing the two. The dry cooks different so treat it differently (don’t cook as long) I’m glad you are happy.

Btw, I slice most all my bacon in the ”2’s” on the dial.
 
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Both are DAMN GOOD! The flavor of the white pepper and garlic is great! I thought they might come out a little harsh on the smoke because EVERYTHING in my fridge tastes a little acrid from the time they rested. But the smoke mellowed out really nice. In fact, I might want a touch more.
Vac sealed was a bit more tender due to higher moisture content, but part of that is also the thickness they were cut. Flavor wise, dry wins. More concentrated bacon flavor.
For the rest after smoke just bag them, this will stop the smoke flavor on other foods in the fridge, bag resting is perfectly fine.

Im guessing that the tenderness from the vac sealed bacon came from the fact that those pieces had measurably more fat that the dry did, fat is flavor, but with bacon it’s also more tender. Fry up a fatty piece of the dry,,, you’ll see it’s just as tender.
 
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