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Want to try bacon but I’m scared

Discussion in 'Bacon' started by busmania, Aug 9, 2018.

  1. busmania

    busmania Smoke Blower

    Ok I’m not really scared but just kind of overwhelmed. I will hot smoke my first batch and wait till winter to try cold smoking. Would probably like to cure. Can someone point me to a simple hot smoked pepper bacon thread or tips? Is “pink salt” what I want for the cure? Bought some 3 years ago and still have not used it. I’m ready to finally give it a go. Help?
  2. SonnyE

    SonnyE Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  3. TomKnollRFV

    TomKnollRFV Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Here is the method I used for Back Bacon<Canadian Bacon> - Disco is a member here and that is his blog <he also does some wonderful youtube videos!
    * https://oldfatguy.ca/?p=4294 *

    This is Bear's Buckboard bacon method<Bear uses Tenderquick> -
    * https://www.smokingmeatforums.com/threads/buckboard-bacon-step-by-step.268717/ *

    I haven't done pork belly yet, and my buckboard bacon is curing..but I have both Tenderquick and Pink Salt 1. They aren't interchangable; you need to find recipes for them..or check out the digging dog cure calculator in my signature. If you don't have one yet; get a decent digital scale. You will be working in 1/10th of an ounce for cure at times. Now other's will chime in with more experience but curing at home is easy peasy when you are discussing wet/short term curing like this. I'm afraid to tackle the stuff that involves long term/fermented curing.
  4. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The pink salt you want is Cure #1, which is not to be confused with Pink Himalayan Salt which is just a salt.

    Here is a link to a calculator that will tell you how much cure #1, salt, and sugar you need for the amount of pork belly you have http://diggingdogfarm.com/page2.html

    You will want to convert your pork belly weight to grams but they have a converter tool on the site as well so no problems there converting.

    I dry cure, which means I just apply the cure and seasoning all over the pork belly meat with the meat in a gallon ziplock bag.

    Here is a simple approach:

    1. Get a pork belly, any size you like
    2. Cut the pork belly so that the pieces fit in gallon sized ziplock bags, this is about 4 pounds worth of belly per bag so if you get an 8 pound belly you should be able to cut it in half and fit in 2 ziplock bags
    3. Weigh each piece of cut up pork belly and write down the weight, this is important
    4. Put each piece of pork belly in it's own ziplock bag
    5. According to the weight of the piece, use the calculator to tell you how much cure #1, salt, and sugar you need
    6. Measure out the cure#1, salt and sugar FOR ONE BAG OF BELLY and then mix it up in a bowl or something (I do this by hand)
    7. Pour the mixed up cure seasonings in the bag for the pork belly and coat the pork belly all over
    8. Push out as much air as you can from the bag and seal it (it doesnt need to be air tight)
    9. Repeat steps 5-8 for the other piece of pork belly
    10. Put the bellys in the fridge and flip once every day
    11. Cure the bellys in the fridge for 10 days (some do 7, some do 14, but 10 should cover you on an 8 pound belly that isn't more than 2 inches thick or so)
    12. After cure period has completed, pull the meat out of the bags and rinse off completely
    13. Pat the meat dry with paper towels
    14. Cut a slice and do a fry test in a skillet to see if it is too salty or not. If too salty then soak in ice water for an hour or two and then do another fry test. Repeat until it isn't too salty and change water every 4-6 hours. If you THINK it is a little salty then it is TOO salty, keep soaking. This is not a mandatory step BUT it is a good test to keep in your tool belt as you cure smoke things just in case you mess up or you use something like a store bought cure kit which are often too salty... trust me I know lol.
    15. Put bellys in smoker with NO SMOKE for 1 hour at 100F
    16. After 1st hour apply smoke and bump up the temp to 115F. I find that 5 hours of smoke is about as much as I like to go for bacon. This is true to me (and some others) for 100% pure hickory, other woods and combos like my favorite 70% Apple/30% Hickory :)
    17. Each 35-45 min bump up the temp about 15-20F until you get to 170F, this keeps the fat from melting out by gradually increasing the temp vs quickly increasing the temp which is bad
    18. Let the bacon cook until the IT hits 145F if you want bacon that is 100% hot smoked/cooked ( I do it this way so I can cut some slices and taste when it is done and then later I eat most of it without it ever hitting a skillet hahaha). Some people take the IT to various temps lower than 145F BUT UNDERSTAND that if you do so then you must cook the bacon before eating it. Going to 145F makes life easy for your first time around and no one should get sick at all even if they eat the bacon right out of the fridge.

    That is quite a few steps but it is basically a fool proof guide for your first bacon smoke.
    Here is a very detailed account of me using a store bought cure and seasoning and my experience doing my first bacon It should help you out :)


    Best of luck!
    Ishi, richorn and KrisUpInSmoke like this.
  5. richorn

    richorn Fire Starter SMF Premier Member

    Quoted to follow! Great post. Thanks!
  6. busmania

    busmania Smoke Blower

    Thanks all. Sunny, I was trying not to be confused too much. I did search but it’s overwhelming.

    Tallbm, that is a great breakdown and that is what I will try first. My pink salt is pink curing salt #1, not Himalayan salt.

    Now my next question. How do I keep the temps so low on my offset? Are temps that low even possible in the summer? I don’t have any fancy contraptions to put pellets in for a slow burn. Maybe I’ll try a super small fire with a chunk of ice in the chamber. And I assume because the meat is cured, these low cooking temps are safe?
  7. TomKnollRFV

    TomKnollRFV Master of the Pit Group Lead

    The cure keeps it safe for the low temps Busmania; as for the temp control...I can't even truly offer any thing there. I use an electric Smoker and the AMNPS. Some thing you might want to consider getting.
  8. 73saint

    73saint Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    You don’t have to smoke with heat. Plenty of folks cold smoke their bacon and cook it before eating.

    I use zero heat, only ambient temps. Here is some hickory I pulled off my offset tonight after 24hrs of smoke.
    All you have to do once it’s cured is put an amazen tube or similar full of pellets in your firebox and you are good to go.
  9. tallbm

    tallbm Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    With an offset I'm not sure what to tell you. I know some guys have reported starting at 120F with success.
    I'm in TX so starting at 100F is basically jut putting them meat in the smoker these days hahaha.

    Maybe a stick burner can lend some advice. I can only speculate that you would start small and then just build it up as you go by adding some more wood/charcoal and such. What I described was a hot smoke like you hinted at wanting to do. As mentioned by 73sait you could simply "cold" smoke and not add much real heat just apply smoke. In that case you would need to cook the bacon for sure before eating it.

    Looks like you get to experiment a bit and figure out what your smoker can do. If you can walk the temp up like I mentioned then you could also tackle sausage so it would be a good exercise to see/learn what you and your setup can do :)
  10. David Leopold

    David Leopold Fire Starter

    I would most certainly recommend trying out one of Discos recipes as a first go. Even if you get a pork loin for Canadian bacon, or a shoulder roast for buckboard, his recipe is the same (for the dry cure ingredients) and the method as well. Very simple and great results to get you past the initial overwhelming stage.

    I made my first back bacon loin maybe a month and half ago and now have had a new one curing in fridge almost non stop!!

    Cure #1 like others have said. Prague powder 1, same thing. Many names for it. If in doubt list the ingredients to these guys and they’ll tell you if you have the right stuff. After that it’s nothing more than weighing accurate meat weight and cure salt weight and then some kosher salt and brown sugar.

    Then the HARDEST part, waiting!!!