Dry Cured Bacon - 14 + 2 + 5 day equalization w/ Qview

Discussion in 'Bacon' started by waywardswede, Nov 14, 2013.

  1. I was intrigued by Mr T's thread and some PM's where we discussed the duration of dry curing bacon and the equalization of salt, and decided to experiment a bit myself based on that information.  The plan is to dry cure the bacon for 14 days, rinse and allow to equalize for 2 days, cold smoke for 2 days, then allow smoke to equalize for another 3 days for a total of 21 days.  Here is his original post on the subject:


    Here is my basic recipe, per pound of pork belly:

    1/2 oz Morton Tender Quick (approx 1 level TBS, but better to weigh it)

    1 TBS brown sugar

    1 TBS maple meat rub

    1 tsp garlic

    1 tsp fresh ground pepper

    On November 1st, after trimming the belly and cutting it to fit in 1 gallon ziplock bags, I ended up with 3 pieces at 3lb 3oz, 2lb 3oz, and 1lb 2oz.  While the weights were quite a bit different, the thickest part of all of the pieces were between 1 1/2 and 2 inches thick.  I carefully weighed the TQ on individual paper plates (1.6 oz, 1.1 oz, and .6 oz).  I rubbed in the TQ first, to make sure it was evenly distributed and well rubbed into the meat.  I made sure to do one piece at a time on a plate, so that any TQ that fell off would stay with that piece of meat.  After rubbing in the TQ if added the other ingredients based on weights, but wasn't as worried about getting those exactly right.

    Belly the way I received it from the butcher:

    TQ measured on paper plates.  I wrote the weight on the plate and kept them in order so as not to get confused.

    Rubbed in TQ first, then added other ingredients to each piece.

    They then went into 1 gallon heavy duty food storage bags, and into a refrigerator that maintains 36-38 degrees.  I pulled them out every day for the first week, then every other day after that to massage and flip over.  I was basically just making sure that any liquid was redistributed in the bags and that there weren't any place being missed.

    There was quite of bit of liquid after the first day, but this was mostly re-absorbed after a couple of days as the meat firmed up.

    This morning (November 14) I pulled the bacon out of the bags, rinsed and placed on racks back in the refrigerator to equalize for 2 days.

    Bacon rinsed and dried with paper towels

    Back into the refrigerator.  You can see some more belly in here that I had in Pop's brine for that same amount of time, most of that will be used for salt pork for Swedish pult later this month (I'll create a separate thread for that).  I also have a picnic ham still in the brine, I'll have updates on that on another thread I already started.

    The temp got up to about 40 degrees with me messing around with the door open, but that will drop back to where I want it in a bit.

    I'll be back on Saturday with some more Qview on the cold smoke.  Thanks for looking!
    woodcutter and disco like this.
  2. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You're a brining machine!! There is going to be some good eating at your house.
  3. Thanks, Todd, can never have too much stuff curing.  Our daughter is coming home from college over Thanksgiving and sent us a daily schedule of meals she wants.  We're going to have the picnic ham the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and my wife is already asking when I'm going to do the next one!  May be a bit premature, as this is the first one I've done and we haven't even tried it yet.  But it's looking good so far, keeping my fingers crossed!
  4. OK, time for an update.  I cold smoked the bacon on Saturday. I pulled the bacon out of the fridge on Friday night about 9:00 and set it up on the kitchen table with a fan on it for a couple of hours. Turned the fan off about 11:00 and let the bacon sit overnight to form a nice pellicle.

    Got started about 7:00 Saturday morning, it was a pretty mild day for November around here, temps in the mid 50's.  I got the AMNPS set up with hickory pellets in the SFB in the vertical offset.

    The smoker needs to be warmed up a bit before I get a natural draft going, when I first get the AMNPS going the smoke exits the upper air intake on the SFB, instead of flowing freely through the CC.

    Simple solution is to get a couple of briquettes fired up, just enough to warm up the CC enough to get a draft going.  It doesn't take much, and with all of the vents full open not much heat is generated.

    In a few minutes I have the TBS flowing the way I want it.

    Apparently, I didn't take any photos of the bacon in the smoker, could have sworn I did.  Anyway, after I got it set up I took my son and went with some friends for a little target practice with the 12 gauge and the.44, and brought the .22 for the kids to plink with.  I got back to the house about 3:00, and lit another 1/2 load of hickory in the AMNPS.  Cleaned the guns and had some dinner, then pulled the bacon.  Temperature in the smoker stayed in the 50 degree range every time I looked at it.

    The three smaller pieces on the left are pieces I trimmed up and put in Pop's brine, the larger pieces are dry cured.  We did a small sample test, and the bacon from Pop's brine definitely is sweeter, and didn't seem to take as much smoke.  Unfortunately the pieces I cut for testing had a lot of fat in them, so it probably wasn't the best test.  I've got these back in the fridge now for another 4 days for the smoke to equalize, and will be cutting and packing on Thursday.

    Be back then with the final money shots, thanks for looking!
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2013
  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Swede, morning.... Great job on the bacon....  I think the most important part is the equalization/homogenizing of the ingredients...  exactly like you did....   uniform flavors etc...   I'm interested in your comparison of wet/dry curing.... 

  6. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Did you notice a texture difference between the brine and dry cure?
  7. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi Swede,

    I'm really interested in how you like the dry cure vs. wet cure. I used to dry cure all of my bacon using 2.4% salt (as calculated using belly weight), and the dry cured always came out too salty for my taste. I switched over to using Pop's brine recipe also using 2.4% salt (works out to about 1/2 cup salt per gallon of water) and the bacon saltiness is perfect now. I'm excited to see what you think.

    Thanks for a great post!
  8. Dave, thanks, I'm hoping for the best.  We'll definitely be doing a comparison, but I think it will be inconclusive.  Tastes are so subjective, my wife typically likes things a bit sweeter, and I definitely like the saltier side of things.  I have a feeling we'll be coming up with a split decision in our house, but I'll be sharing some with my folks and other family, will try to keep score.
    Hey cf, when I was cutting it the dry cure was definitely firmer than the brined.  The pieces I fried up weren't a good test, as there was just too much fat in them.  Overall the side was pretty fatty, I may be losing some to scrap as I cut it up.  I will be doing a better comparison later this week when I slice, I'll let you know then on the texture.
  9. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  10. Hi Clarissa, I'll let you know on the comparison.  I'm probably not a good test, as I have a real weakness for salt.  I would put salt on pancakes if it were up to me.  I'm the one that looks for the saltiest pretzels I can find, then wets my finger to get any crystals that are in the bottom of the bowl after they're gone.  My wife and parents are probably more sensible testers, I'll be using their opinions as a guide.

    I just put the bacon in with the picnic I have curing (PM'd Pop to make sure it was OK to do that), I used 1/2 cup of sea salt in that.  I bought a hydrometer when I started in this, I have to get used to using it to get a better baseline. 

    BTW, I'm watching your post on the duck prosciutto and was blown away by everything you're doing there.  You're operating at a whole different level girl, I looked at that and thought "Wow, maybe someday I'll be able to do something like that...."  Thanks for chiming in here!
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2013
  11. Oh, man, that looks good!  Could I still do that now that this is cured and smoked, or should I put it in the queue for next time?
  12. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It will taste more like Chinese BBQ bacon than pork.....  I think that would be a good thing....    Kind of like bacon shots...... 

  13. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi David,

    Thank you! But believe me, after reading about the dry curing and brining that you are already doing, you'd find duck prosciutto to be a piece of cake! Especially this time of year, where you probably have a garage or something similar that is running around the right temp and humidity. A regular refrigerator would also work in a pinch, although you might get a little case hardening.

    But anyway, looks like you are definitely keeping yourself plenty busy with the projects you already have going on! I hope you have a great visit with your daughter!

  14. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Nice looking bellies!
  15. bigtrain74

    bigtrain74 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Fabulous work!
  16. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I also did a comparison but I did it with Canadian Bacon. I am really interested in our take on belly bacon both ways.

  17. OK, final notes.

    Placed the bacon in the freezer for 2 hours when I got home from work to firm up a bit before slicing.  I don't have a slicer, so I'm still doing this the old fashion way, one slice at a time.  Here is the Pop's brine:

    And here is the dry cure, there was a lot more than this but I just showed the one board here.  It has a deeper color, it isn't just the photo:

    Now, I've been PM'ing Mr T 59874 a bit on this, and in his last note he mentioned that cooking bacon cured with nitrite at temperatures in excess of 350 isn't recommended, so he's been baking his at lower temperatures:
    I thought I would give this a shot, so I placed a few strips on a rack in a baking sheet in the oven at 325° for about 35 minutes, Pop's brine on the left and dry cure on the right:

    So, here's my opinion and comparison, for what it's worth:
    • On the taste we had a split decision, as predicted.  My son and I both liked the dry cure better, my wife the wet brined.  The bacon done in Pop's brine definitely had a 'sweeter' flavor, but certainly not overpowering or even pronounced.  I think it only tasted that way because we were comparing to the dry cure, which did not have the same 'sweetness'.  Neither one was salty, but in a direct comparison the dry cure tasted 'saltier' than the brined.  In either case, both were very good.  There is a high end privately owned breakfast restaurant in our area that offers their own 'thick sliced bacon'.  You get 4 pieces on a plate for about $4-$5 (they have 3 locations with different prices), and it's well known to be the best bacon around.  Both of these are better than that.
    • The dry cure seemed to absorb more smoke.  Again not overpowering, I wrote in my own notes that this was about the perfect amount of smoke, but I think we might like a little less than some folks here on the forum.  If I was just doing Pop's brine I might be tempted to give it a few more hours, but the dry cure was about perfect.  The kitchen had a wonderful aroma when slicing this up.
    • The texture was just a little different, the dry cure crisped up a bit sooner than the brined.  Again, I think only noticeable in a direct comparison, if you were just cooking the brined you would just cook it a few minutes longer and not think anything about it.  When slicing the dry cure was definitely firmer.
    My only disappointment was in the belly itself, it was very fatty.  The next time I will definitely take more time trimming before hand.  I ended up with at least 2 pounds of just fat I cut off, but I did this after curing and smoking, so I have a bag of cured / smoked fat in the freezer, not at all sure what I can do with this (if anything).  Even my son, who would eat butter by the spoonful if we let him, said the bacon was really good but there was too much fat in it, and that he liked the Canadian bacon better because of that.

    Other observations are that I need a slicer and a vacuum sealer.  And my lovely wife said that she is officially 'bacon-ed out', and doesn't want to see another piece of bacon until at least after the holidays.

  18. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    This was a very interesting post. I did a side by side with dry cure and wet cure and my wife preferred the wet and I preferred the dry (it must be something genetic). However, as with you, the differences were minor and both were very good. 

    I really enjoyed your take on it.

  19. Disco

    Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it.  I do this for myself as much as anything else, as I'm trying to figure this out as I go along.  I'm thinking that I'm going to start working with Cure #1 instead of TQ so that I can get finer control over the ingredients.  Plus the fact that TQ has both nitrite and nitrate bothers me a bit, as I'm sure that in these short-duration cures the nitrate is not getting sufficient time to convert.

    I also added your blog to my reader, good work over there.
  20. iowa josh83

    iowa josh83 Smoke Blower

    Thoughts on using the trimmed & cured pork fat

    If you have a grinder and some venison we like to grind bacon fat into a deer burger when we are planning to make hamburger patties. Or you could grind it and add it to some lean beef too.

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