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dan_fash 04-20-2013 10:45 PM

First time makin' Bacon
Ok, lots of reading, and Internet searches about how to prep my first pork bellies for bacon. As many opinions as I found, you'd think I was searching for brisket ideas. So I'm on a bacon journey...I found local pork bellies at an Asian market. They had already been cut down to 2 pound slabs, but I'll take what I can get. Any at $2.29/lb, I'm not in too deep. I had the butcher remove the skin, not really knowing if that was the right thing to do. One slab ended up pretty thin at one end, not sure how that will affect cure and smoke.
3 x 2 lb slabs, and I'm off. I know there is debate on the use if curing (pink) salts, but I saw a post that made it final in my mind. It said "without curing salt, you have salted pork, but not cured bacon." I know we won't all agree, but it's my bacon, so I chose to go with the curing salts. (Blah blah nitrates, nitrites, got it, I'm a nurse, I understand). All my salt below is mixture of 1 tsp Morton's Tender Quick per cup of Morton's Kosher.
So, wet cure, or Dry??? Well, 3 slabs, lets try both. One belly in brine with salts, brown sugar, molasses. Vacuumed sealed canister. Fridge for 3 days. Why three days?? Well, many many reviews of 7 day (oft recommended) cure say WAY to salty. A few resources said 1 day/lb. and I bought the bellies Friday with Monday as my available day to smoke.
Next belly, honey rub, with coarse black pepper pressed in, followed by generous coat of salts. Vac-packed for three days. Plan to crust top with coarse pepper after rinse and pellicule (sp?) formation.
Final was also a dry cure, with equal parts salts and brown sugar. Vac-packed. Simple.
So, tomorrow is Sunday, Monday is Smoke Day. Vertical Water smoker (propane fired). Fresh apple wood chips, and planning on smoke between 175-210 until internal temp of 150, then to the fridge to cool (and call my name) until the fats re-organize themselves.
Pics and results to follow.

IamMadMan 04-20-2013 11:16 PM

Great plan on the 3 bacon cures.

I always remove or have the skin removed, it hinders curing and smoking.

I'm a firm believer in the use of cure #1. It only takes getting sick one time to make you a believer in bacterial inhibitors. .

landarc 04-20-2013 11:20 PM

Sounds like an excellent adventure. I suspect they will all be...bacon

SmokyWoodturner 04-21-2013 07:16 AM

Yum Yum You,re going to like the results of your experiment-I guaronteeeee as Justin Wilson use to say. I agree with the curing, too.

code3rrt 04-21-2013 07:20 AM

Looking forward to the results.


Smoking Westy 04-21-2013 07:26 AM

I don't think it'll be cured in 3 days if you do a dry cure, go 5-7. Wet curing or brining will speed up the process but I much prefer the dry cure (easier to do larger quantities).

The only time I've had to do a fresh water soak due to saltiness was the time I did the wet brine. I found following Rulman's basic cure recipe, I never need a fresh water soak, it's perfect every time.

Friday night I started a batch myself - basic cure, fresh cracked pepper, jalapeño dust and a bit of fresh maple syrup. Should be smoking next weekend!

Don't forget to rinse after curing and let the pellicle form, I usually let them set overnight in the fridge on cookie cooking racks so airflow can reach all sides of the belly.

Once you make your own, you won't eat the store bought stuff!

dan_fash 04-21-2013 09:04 AM

[QUOTE=Smoking Westy;2454959]I don't think it'll be cured in 3 days if you do a dry cure, go 5-7. Wet curing or brining will speed up the process but I much prefer the dry cure (easier to do larger quantities).

How do I know if it is actually cured, or if it needs more time? Is this all a trial and error, or is there a way to know?

Smoking Westy 04-21-2013 09:26 AM

You will feel it firming up as it cures. Make sure you flip it each day as well, it'll help distribute the cure.

This last batch of bellies that I got and not as thick as usual but I'm still planning on 6 days of curing.

Teamfour 04-21-2013 09:43 AM

I just smoked 10 lbs yesterday. This is the second time making bacon for me. Both times I have let the dry cure go 9 days. Results have been amazing both times.

dan_fash 04-21-2013 08:13 PM

With the small cut, only 2 lbs each, I'm hoping the 3.5 days in cure will be enough. I'd hold out for longer, but I'm a nurse, working 12 hour shifts, and will be working tues-sunday. long stretch, and that puts me at 8-9 days for 2 lbs of belly sitting in a LOT of salt.
On another note, after browsing the site re bacon, I've decided that I'll take the little bit of store bought bacon that I have left sitting in the fridge, and make some pig candy tomorrow while the new bacon smokes.... I'd never heard of it, but excited to try it out.

Porcine Perfection 04-21-2013 08:17 PM

Subscribed to this thread with my first pork belly in the freezer.

Crazy Harry 04-21-2013 08:26 PM

you'll never buy bacon again

Smoking Westy 04-22-2013 10:04 AM

Keep us posted on how it turns out!

Until there here are some pictures of my last batch to drool over...:hungry:

Teamfour 04-22-2013 10:16 AM

Here is my bacon from this past weekend:

dan_fash 04-23-2013 11:48 AM

Horribly disappointed Brethern. Bacon was almost in-edible salty. Wife actually sain "give it to the dog". :((

3 day cure, both dry and brine. Only 3 days. Well rinsed, even scrubbed.

3ish hour smoke, and now 6 lbs of almost worthless bacon. What did I do wrong??

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