Originally Posted by Ezra
A friend of mine and I have harvested a pig that we have been raising. This is our first time butchering a whole hog. We are to cure/smoke/preserve the bacon and hams, but need help/suggestions.
I see a lot of bacon recipes on the internet. Many of these recipes use insta cure, is this necessary, or is any salt mixture recipe enough to cure the meat?
The hams I'm not entirely sure what to do with. I figured i would smoke them, is a cure necessary before smoking? We plan of smoking/curing them, then dividing them up and freezing to have them as needed.
Also I don't have a smoke house, but an offset and a Weber smokey mountain. How would I cold smoke with either of these for the bacon?
Any help wold be greatly appreciated.
You certainly don't "need" a curing salt, but, if you're expecting a certain texture or color, you won't get it with out it.
I would highly recommend vacuum sealing the bacon in a salt sugar mixture for the cureing process if you don't plan on using a curing salt, as air is your enemy.
A book that I highly recommend if you take the no cureing salt approach is "The Whole Hog Cookbook" by Libbie Summers.
As far as smoking the meat, if your temps don't stay below 40*, you'll either have to use a curing salt to prevent bacteria growth, or hot smoke the meat to 80% cooked or more. The local butcher here does it the hot smoke way so he can avoid the use of chemicals. I think that a bigger reason he does it that way is to avoid the curing process itself as it slows down production for him. The down side to not using a curing salt is that the meat won't last as long before it spoils...if it's around that long that is.
So, to answer your question, it can be done both ways, it just depends on how you want to get there.