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Old 11-26-2013, 09:24 AM   #1
dae06
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Default Smoking bellies to make Bacon

I have read a lot of different threads here about smoking bacon.

I am interested to know why some prefer cold smoking over hot smoking or vice versa. I understand hot smoking for the most part, I've been smoking meats for years and this is bascially the same as how I smoke most meats. This will take around 3-5 hours depending.



But, cold smoking on the other hand (which I am going to try) brings up another set of questions. I understand and have recipes for the curing process, so I am mostly concerned with the cold smoking process and the end results. Here are a couple of questions:
  1. Is there a taste difference when cold smoking compared to hot smoking?
  2. After cold smoking, what could happen if I didn't bring the internal temp to ~150 degrees; meaning, I colded smoked it at 90 degrees ambient and did nothing else to it. (can I still store the bacon and eat it later?)
  3. How long can I keep the bacon (refigerated or frozen)
  4. Any do's and don'ts suggestions and comments regarding cold smoking are all appreciated.
Thanks
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Old 11-26-2013, 09:44 AM   #2
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As long as you cure your bacon properly before you cold smoke it, it will be fine. You don't have to worry about a prolonged time period in the "danger zone" because the curing process has created an environment that is not conducive to the production of bacteria, molds, etc.

Your refrigerated bacon will keep for at least two weeks if it is properly cured (usually longer) and frozen bacon will keep very well for up to a year, especially if you don't slice it and leave it in whole pieces for slicing later.
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Old 11-26-2013, 09:46 AM   #3
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I have done cold smoked and hot smoked bacon.

I think the hot smoke has a better texture to the meat.
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Old 11-26-2013, 09:49 AM   #4
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Legendaryhog- In your opinon, if I cure with Koshar salt (brown sugar and 100% maple- 1 part of each) for 7 days flipping everyday, Is this a thorough cure?
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Old 11-26-2013, 09:55 AM   #5
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I have always used TQ or Pink Salt for curing bellies
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Old 11-26-2013, 09:58 AM   #6
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with bacon, you are looking to smoke the meat, not cook it. when you cold smoke you don't render out any of the fat. i smoke at sub 85* with a fruitwood. how much smoke you put on the meat is a personal taste. be sure you have your curing process down or things can get nasty. i use tq and salt, salt and brown sugar, salt, brown sugar and pepper, depends what kind of mood i'm in and what i have around. with salt/sugar i'm around 2/1.
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:01 AM   #7
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RichardF- So you don't bring yours up to the ~150 degrees? You cold smoke and are then done.
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:02 AM   #8
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I keep my heat low so the bacon never goes over 120 degrees but it stiffens the meat up and doesn't render any fat out.
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:21 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dae06 View Post
RichardF- So you don't bring yours up to the ~150 degrees? You cold smoke and are then done.
when i'm done smoking i've got a raw belly that's been cured and flavored with smoke. depending on what i'm going to do with it i either slice or chunk and throw it in a frying pan to cook just like bacon from the store.
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Old 11-26-2013, 12:40 PM   #10
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I find cold smoking works best done in bursts. I smoked my latest batch for 12 hours, rested uncovered in the fridge for 12 then gave it another 12 of smoke. Leaving it for a few days afterwards to rest and dry really helps the flavour penetrate the meat and the moisture loss makes slicing easier. The other benefit of cold smoking is that you don't lose any fat, but baking cold smoked bacon rather than frying is crucial IMHO, especially if it's thick cut
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Old 11-26-2013, 01:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
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I find cold smoking works best done in bursts. I smoked my latest batch for 12 hours, rested uncovered in the fridge for 12 then gave it another 12 of smoke. Leaving it for a few days afterwards to rest and dry really helps the flavour penetrate the meat and the moisture loss makes slicing easier. The other benefit of cold smoking is that you don't lose any fat, but baking cold smoked bacon rather than frying is crucial IMHO, especially if it's thick cut
I agree on the double smoke and cooling in between and having low moisture in the cured belly dry helps with the cold smoking process. after i've washed off the cure and before the cold smoke i dry the belly uncovered on a rack in the garage fridge until it develops a pellicle. baking or hot smoking before serving is one way to go, but it all comes down to personal taste.


if your reading this and thinking about doing a cure get good step-by-step instructions and follow them closely. any mistake in the process is an invitation to rapid bacteria growth and no, it's not the *good* bacteria.
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dae06 View Post
Legendaryhog- In your opinon, if I cure with Koshar salt (brown sugar and 100% maple- 1 part of each) for 7 days flipping everyday, Is this a thorough cure?
Well, not to avoid your question, but I'd have to say I don't know based on your info. It will depend upon the size of your belly, the amount of salt will vary accordingly. As well, usually the amount of time (days) is based on feel. Some bellies take a little longer than others, but you are basically looking for the belly to feel firm, like a slab of bacon you would buy in the store. The curing process will turn the belly from a floppy piece of pork into a firm textured piece.

Also, full disclosure I'm not a food safety expert, but if you are going to cold smoke, you probably want to add some nitrites or nitrates to your cure. You don't need much, but again, the amount will depend on the size of your belly.

To add nitrites (and/or nitrates) you can use Morton's Tender Quick or Cure #1 (also called Prague Powder #1, you can order off the internet). Or, if you want to go totally "natural" you can use celery powder or some other ingredient that nitrites/nitrates occur in naturally. The risk of getting something like botulism from your cold smoked bacon is probably incredibly, incredibly, low...but why fark with it?

Using Kosher salt is fine, I do it myself, some folks prefer sea salt. Adding brown sugar and/or maple syrup is fine. If this is your first time I would try using the Ruhlman recipe or another well established home bacon recipe and then adapt your recipe for your personal taste.
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Old 11-27-2013, 06:45 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichardF View Post
with bacon, you are looking to smoke the meat, not cook it. when you cold smoke you don't render out any of the fat. i smoke at sub 85* with a fruitwood. how much smoke you put on the meat is a personal taste. be sure you have your curing process down or things can get nasty. i use tq and salt, salt and brown sugar, salt, brown sugar and pepper, depends what kind of mood i'm in and what i have around. with salt/sugar i'm around 2/1.
Don't confuse smoking, curing, and salting they are not the same. Smoke does not cure meat it flavors it. To cure you need nitrates, nitrites, and salt. The N's change structure of the meat and the salt draws out the moisture. Stay with the basics.
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Old 11-27-2013, 08:39 AM   #14
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My plan is to use Kosher salt, Brown Sugar, 100% maple syrup and Pink salt (most likely DQ #1 curing salt) since I will be cooking this ~150 degrees and up before eating.

If I am reading things correctly, I could skip the Pink curing salts as long as I bring the bacon up to 150 degree internal temperature before eating. But I think; better safe than sorry.
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Old 11-27-2013, 08:45 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dae06 View Post
Legendaryhog- In your opinon, if I cure with Koshar salt (brown sugar and 100% maple- 1 part of each) for 7 days flipping everyday, Is this a thorough cure?
If you did not use pink salt (Prague powder #1) or tender quick, You shouldn't be cold smoking. The purpose of that curing salt is create an environment that bacteria can't survive in as you hold your meat in the "danger zone" between 40-140 for an extended period of time. Without using a little nitrite, cold smoked bacon could be a haven for botulism. You can still hot smoke though. I like the texture and flavor better from hot smoked anyway..
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