View Full Version : Curing bacon

04-11-2005, 04:18 PM
I've got a source of fresh pork bellies when I want 'em. I haven't taken advantage of this yet, because I can't imagine being able to make my own bacon in the Itty Bitty Cook n' Carry. It's one of the reasons I've been hellbent on getting either a 'Dera or a BKSD - I have to believe that the vertical offset design is the way to go for smoking bacon.

Two of my goals for myself are to make my own bacon and make my own sausage from scratch.

What about the WSM, or the horizontal offsets? Anybody ever make bacon or sausage in these? Don't think you could hang sausage in the horizontal offsets. I could probably modify the WSM, but I'm concerned about the fact that it's not really indirect heat?

Should I hold out for the vertical offset?


PS. I read the thread on the CharGrill Quickset, and I'm really hopeful I'm not subjecting myself to analysis paralysis on this whole thing!!

04-11-2005, 04:28 PM
PS. I read the thread on the CharGrill Quickset, and I'm really hopeful I'm not subjecting myself to analysis paralysis on this whole thing!!

You're dealing with two different issues - really low temps for meat preservation and higher temps for BBQ - they ain't the same!

You could certainly hang bacon in a WSM and with a very small fire and plenty of water in the pan you could keep it cool enough. However, your talking days of smoke for traditional smoke cured bacon.

Look at the Bradley Smoker (about $349) - it's insulated, electric, and has a smoke generator (variation on a pellet pooper) - it can be thermostatically controlled down to 120 degrees or lower for cheeses and such.

Now these are just suggestions! The cookers most of us use are not really suitable for these really really long really low temp sessions that I think you are wanting. Our cookers are for BBQ.

Smoking and BBQ are NOT the same!

I could be wrong, and I'm sure every other sum bitch on this forum will chime it.

If you're wanting to "hot smoke" 'em then we can set you right up. Even the Bandera comes with sausage hangers.

04-11-2005, 04:46 PM
I can't comment on making bacon but sausage is another matter. Making sausage is not that difficult and you control the results. Assuming the pork bellies are lean enough, sausage making would be what I would do. Recipes are in the file section and information abounds on the Internet.

04-11-2005, 04:54 PM
Hi Mountain Seasoning (http://www.himtnjerky.com/) has seasoning kits for bacon that are supposed to be very good. Quite a few of the guys at the Cookshack forum use their Cookshack electric smokers for bacon. I have a boneless pork loin that I am going to make into canadian bacon soon. I just have to figure out if I want to do a dry cure or a wet cure. I've seen recipes for both.

04-11-2005, 05:08 PM
Don't know a thing about it but I know Alton Brown did a Good Eats episode on it. The episode was called "Scrap Iron Chef" and he made his cold smoker out of an old fridge. I'm not that handy so I didn't pay much attention but maybe you could fing the bittorrent for that episode and get some ideas...

04-11-2005, 05:10 PM
Here are the air times for that episode. Check your tv listings for correct time:

April 13, 2005 10:30 PM ET/PT
April 14, 2005 2:30 AM ET/PT
April 15, 2005 7:00 PM ET/PT

Here is the air time for the Sausage episode:

April 13, 2005 7:00 PM ET/PT

04-11-2005, 05:25 PM
Check www.theingredientstore.com for additional resources. Sausage making stuff, spices, etc.

If nothing else they have some added info.

04-11-2005, 06:36 PM
Here's another internet article from Smokey Hale. How to Make Bacon
"Hey Scott,

Are you sure you want to do this??? The best thing to do with a fresh pig is to teach her some manners.

I am going to tell you how. If you do it and ENJOY it, there are several S&M groups on the 'net that would like to meet you.

To answer first, your last question, "What is the best way," LET SOMEBODY ELSE DO IT!

Or, to quote one of your antecedents, Roger Bacon, "Do not let a pig hog your time." Curing bacon is a vacuum into which time is more greedily sucked than light into a black hole.

But, since you insist, here it is. I must advise that it is as easy to do 500 lbs as it is to do 5 lbs. If you do 500 lbs, eat some and don't die, send me some.

There are two parts to the process. First, you have to cure the bacon. (I guess that, technically, that is the second part since you must first bring home the bacon - even though it is not, stictly speaking, "bacon" at the time.) Second, you must smoke it.

First things, first. You need a wooden, preferably oak, box, keg or barrel into which the amount of bacon which you intend to cure will neatly, but not loosely fit. (That sentence is not nearly as complicated as what follows.) A sturdy food grade (clean, clean and you, personally, know what was in it before) plastic box would also work.

For each 100 lbs of pork bellies (it is more dramatic and, perhaps, productive to speculate on them on the Chicago Board of Trade. Maybe not, but there never were any guarantees with attempts to cure pork either.) mix well:

5 lbs of non iodized salt. Sold as pickling salt or kosher salt. Use fine ground not ice cream type salt. All, I mean all, salt is sea salt. So don't buy, at extravagant prices, anything labeled, "sea salt." A no brainer!!

3 lbs of sugar. I recommend dark brown sugar.

3 oz. Saltpeter. (Potassium nitrate) ***an essential preservative which also fixes the bright red color - regardless of what ignorance you have read about it, it is safe and effective. Those who rail against it would never have been born (hmmm) if their parents had not had the benefit of it. Wasn't in the GI food either.*** --And as an bonus -- an essential constituent of black gunpowder.

Put a layer of the mixture in the bottom of the container. (Are you still sure you want to do this?)

Pack in layer of pork belly. Pound it flat. "Rub it in, rub it in!" Repeat with bellies and salt until you get a belly full or the meat runs out. Cover the top with a good layer of salt. Pack everything firmly. Get all the air out. You do not want to eat pig with the vapors.

Close the lid and have a drink. If you have easy access to a dependable psychologist, you may want to casually discuss your fixation.

It will take about 1 1/2 days per pound to cure. BUT, in about 7-10 days, depending upon the temperature, you will need to reverse the stack (top to bottom) and add any leftover mix. Drink some more. Check with the Doc again.

After everything is cured, except you, take out the pre-bacon, stick a hole in one corner, put a 3-4' strong cotton cord through and tie it off.

Now, hang the PB for about 2 weeks, in a 40-50 degree F., dry atmosphere and let them drip.

Wash with hot water and wipe clean, then cold smoke (embryionic, wannabee barbecuers please note) at 70-90 degrees for 10 - 15 days. White oak 80%, hickory 20%)

Don't worry about the mold. That is natural. Wipe it off.

Actually, the safety hazard is minute. Unless you have a "no knows nose" bad pork will reveal itself to you in irresistible fashion.

Now, how about let's corn some beef? That is the only sensible use for beef brisket.

Let me know if your or the bacon gets cured."


04-11-2005, 06:43 PM
Pssssssssssssssssssssssssstttttttttttttttttttttttt tt.....POOF!

Uh - that would be the sound of the wind getting knocked out my sails.

Somehow smoking a couple of fatties just got a whole lot more appealing. Thanks Robert :shock: :shock: :shock:

04-11-2005, 06:48 PM
I know the feeling Scott. I bought Smokey's book cause it had directions to make bacon. A friend of mine had just bought a house that had an old smoke house on the property, so we thought we'd try it. Then I read the book. I was discouraged, but was gonna try it. My friend said **** no. And that was the end of that.

Where in New Hampshire are you? The best bacon I ever had was served in Polly's Pancakes in Sugar Hill, NH, but they buy it from a smoke house in Vermont. If you are within 100 miles of Pollys - try it. Their pancakes are the best I ever had too. You won't be sorry.

04-11-2005, 06:53 PM
Maybe someday when I've got nothing better to do....time on my hands and money to burn. Oh - wait - that'll never happen!! OK - maybe just time on my hands!! This guy my parents know has a hog farm and will give me a hell of a deal on pork bellies. Seems a shame to let it pass. Didn;t realize it was quite so involved. Thanks for the article though - better to be forewarned.

04-11-2005, 07:09 PM
Nobody said it was easy!

And Smokey is entertaining and informational - he's also a bit of an *******! He enjoys making everything look difficult and impossible for modern man. I read his monthly column and enjoy it - I also use it, occassionally, as lining for a cat's litter box!

Go to a library and look for some Rodale books on canning and curing. Check around for old Mother Earth News magazines.

Yeah, making bacon, hams, sausage, etc. take time and effort. That's the way they saved food for later.

My dad grew up as a sharcroppers son in south Georgia. Grew up HARD during the depression. He would not cure meat on a bet - he'd had to do it to survive. But you'd best believe he knew how to put together a smoke house, build a fire, etc. etc. etc. His teaching is one reason I'm not afraid to try just about anything - heck the worst that can happen is a fark up some meat - it's not like we're not going to eat.

Do some real research about curing meat before you decide it's not worth the time. Even if you never do it - you'll sure know how!

As a side to all you new guys: for some reason that latest crop of new members are looking for single line, one-way, answers to questions. We've got over 800 members and so over 800 ways of looking at your question. In a lot of cooking and especially in BBQ there often is NO right/one answer.

You've got to cook something to see if it works for you. After many hours (and lots of "ok" bbq) you'll KNOW when you got something right! After a while you don't carry the thermometer receiver around because you know how often you need to tend the fire or approximately when you need to think about foiling or taking the meat out.

You'll understand why we recommend the WSM if you want time to go see your kids soccer game!! Why we recommend the baffle and firegrate mod - and you'll pass that along to others - and these modifications are common sense - it's amazing how many cookers the same "rules" apply to.

Learn. If you've got access to pork try out a couple of sides of bacon. You can cure the sides without a barrel, for example. Build a true smoker from an old refrigerator or make a wooden box - old time smoke houses were often wood and could double up as a corn crib or whatever - wood walls, tin roof, dirt floor, smudge pot for smoke, etc. etc.

If you can find the Foxfire books from a school in Rabun County, GA - www.foxfire.org - check them out. Great reading from research done in Appalachia - covers music, food, myths, legends, etc. One volume (I forget which) deals a LOT with putting up foods - you probably won't want to do it the way they talk about - but talk about an education.

There's a heritage behind this thing we call BBQ. It isn't all steel cookers and select woods.

04-11-2005, 07:14 PM
Dave - go drink some coffee! :wink:

04-11-2005, 07:19 PM
Dave - go drink some coffee!

Sorry, already had my two cups for the day! :D

04-11-2005, 07:34 PM
Try these curing methods on for size:




04-11-2005, 07:43 PM
Dave - go drink some coffee!

Sorry, already had my two cups for the day! :D

Your other answer was funnier. :shock:

04-11-2005, 07:47 PM
Bravo Dave.

Fine post.

04-11-2005, 10:14 PM
Nice post, Dave... Not to pick on anyone, but I see this all the time. My daughter thinks that she should be an expert in anything she tries without effort. It might be a product of TV and the fast paced messaging we're subject to everywhere.

OK... Back on topic... Smokey's description of the process is probably overstated, but its based on fact. from what I've read on the 'net. But I don't think its necessary to go through the entire process to get decent results. I've exchanged messages with several folks who have made bacon at home. Most of the conversations were on the Cookshack forum, so, as expected, most of the folks I talked to are using Cookshack smokers, but any smoker that can cold smoke, or smoke at 150 degrees or so should work. I just finished coating a 3 lb boneless pork loin with a mix of Tenderquick and dark brown sugar to make canadian bacon. Its going to sit in my basement 'fridge for about a week, and then I'm going to smoke it in my Cookshack. I'll let you guys know how it turns out.

04-11-2005, 10:57 PM
Meet the bacons...

04-12-2005, 11:47 AM
Here's a link to the Good Eats Fan page transcript of the bacon making episode: http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/Season5/Bacon/BaconTranscript.htm and here's the recipe in plain english: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,1977,FOOD_9936_17624,00.html

If I read the transcript correctly, there was a total of 3 or 4 days from begining to cooked and eaten for the 5 pounds of pork belly.

04-12-2005, 03:53 PM
Here is a link to an old thread on buckboard butt bacon, might help you out.

04-12-2005, 04:05 PM
but maybe you could fing the bittorrent for that ...

Fing the bittorrent?

You got oatmeal on the keyboard there Mista

04-12-2005, 05:23 PM
I'm gonna go for it. Soon as I get a big enough smoker, I'll give this a shot. Thanks for the feedback everyone!! Dave - you're right. So what if it's time consuming and I might screw it up the first time...or the second time...it's the challenge that counts. I can read a million things on making my own bacon, but I can't taste what I don't actually DO! It'll be a few weeks before I go down this road, but I'll let you know how it works out. There's no shortcuts with this stuff. ANd the anticipation of this stuff is half the fun!! I'll keep you all posted.