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Discussion in 'Smoking Bacon' started by solaryellow, Nov 6, 2010.
Great Find Solaryellow..Looking forward to the bacon you'll be unveiling in ten days or so...
If I don't post any pics you will know I screwed it up.
Yummy, nice score... Get to it my friend!!!
I heard that you got them yesterday and I bet you will make them really yummO too. Now I would like to have the recipes from Dan also. I have to make a batch to take with me to New York. I too have stayed away from Whole Foods but I just not into the whole organic thingy anyway. But those bellies sure do look godd thou.
Hmm....I may just pay a vist to my local Whole Foods to see what they've got in the way of pork bellies and suasage casings...who knows...I may get lucky.
The meat department manager told me that it isn't an item they normally stock but they will order it in if a customer requests it. I asked him if I would have to buy it from them by the case and he said no, I could buy individual belly cryopacks which kinda shocked me. For what it's worth, when they told me they were trying to get rid of it I tried to get an additional discount. The manager told me his cost was $2.29/lbs so I took my 30 cents/lbs and ran with it. lol
I never would have guessed from what you texted me.
I apologize in advance for the lack of pictures. I was working by myself today and did want to keep wasting pairs of gloves just to take pics.
For the 14 and 12 lbs bellies I took Al's advice and used a very simple cure #1, brown sugar, kosher salt dry cure.
For the 8lbs belly I went with a dry cure using the same ingredients I normally use for buckboard bacon. That dry cure consisted of cure #1, maple sugar (run through my spice mill), kosher salt, a little bit of onion powder and a little bit of garlic powder.
I found 20 lbs and 10lbs ziploc bags at Target today so I am using those for the bellies while they cure. Those bags actually have handles built into them. It cracked me up.
Here are some pics I took after I had everything rubbed and in the massive ziploc bags.
Great Score S.Y.
Gonna be a whole lot of Bacon at your house.
Be prepared to never buy store Bacon again!
Now if you are going to do a real dry cure they need to be on racks so they don't sit in liquid. Keep them drained and dust every couple of days with more sugar and salt. A light wrap of saran wrap will help keep the air off of them. Look forward to the final product.
I respectfully have to disagree. I never drain my packages. Some of that juice is cure. We put the right amount of cure in the packages. It should stay in. After a couple days, there is more "juice" in there than there is at the end of the curing time. This means that the meat re-absorbed some of that juice (with cure) that should not be drained.
Important things in my book, when dry curing:
Weigh each amount of meat that will go in each package.
Weigh the proper amount of cure for each of those packages.
Be sure to include any cure that falls off before it goes into it's package, along with that piece.
Put packages in Fridge at 37˚/38˚ (no lower than 34˚---no higher than 40˚) for the right length of time.
Flip & massage each package every day, if you can.
They should lay flat, so that the bottom half lays in that juice (with cure). That way when you flip them, the other side will also get the benefit of the cure that is on the bottom of the package.
Do not drain anything from the packages until they are finished curing.
I keep them sealed through the whole process, not adding or removing anything. If you put the right amount in at the start, there is no reason to do so.
Do you consider what you are doing a dry cure? I may cheat a bit, allowing it to rest in the liquid for a day or two but I prefer to allow the bacon to stay drained. I dust the first time with 75 percent of the cure, salt and sugar mix. That first dusting/rub basically disappears into the green bacon. I dust/rub again with the remaining cure, sugar and salt mixture two days later concentrating on the meat side of the green bacon. These two dustings use up all the recommended amounts of cure, salt and sugar. The bacon is placed on racks and allow to drain. I dust lightly again with salt and sugar 2 or 3 days later. The excess cakes off and falls into the bottom of the pan. I will use a heavy coat of mainly sugar a couple of days before I intend to remove the green bacon from the curing container. Remember that the skin side doesn't take up cure very well. I keep the skin side down during the curing process. I also think the skin slows down the liquid draining out of the meat portion of the bacon.
I mix my cure using the lower amounts of Cure #1 found in some recipes but I use 15 to 20 percent more curing mixture to account for the cure lost in the drained liquid. I feel this is safe because I have found quite a range of how much cure #1 to use per lb of green bacon. At no time do I add more Cure # 1 to the green bacon then in the higher end recommendations. Remember some of this does drain off into the bottom of the pan.
The most important thing I have learned concerning bacon, recently, is to allow the bacon to rest for a day or two both before and after smoking
If I am understanding you correctly Al, you are letting the bacon sit for a day or two in the refrigerator after rinsing/soaking before smoking?
Absolutely, It gives the Pelical a chance to form and the bacon goes in the smoker firmer and drier. The flavors come together a bit. If smoking with the rind on, the bacon has to smoke longer. Letting the bacon sit in the fridge for a day or two after smoking, before serving, allows the sugars and smoke to develop. Its easier to remove the rind after smoking. You can fillet it off like you do a fish.
I always pat mine very dry after soaking & salt testing. Then put the pieces on the smoking racks in the fridge, supported on a clean bowl, so they don't touch anything. I leave them in the fridge over night. Then in the morning when I begin, I still put about 130˚ of heat on them without smoke to complete Pellicle formation.
I think I remember the post you linked. Don't remember why, but there were uncured spots on the surface at a few places. Probably before your second dose. Had they been laying in the initial juice, it would not have happened.
The point is, You are happy with your method, and many are happy with the method I use. Mine is easy for anyone to follow (not actually my method--but a method of many).
Your method I have never seen, and maybe great for you, but with all of the variables, I would not try to get others to follow it. Too much guesswork for me.
Variables just from this post:
75% of cure first time.
remaining cure 2 or 3 days later.
excess falls off into bottom of pan. (Don't know how much)
You keep one side down---the skin side. (the other side doesn't get to lay in the juice with cure in it at all).
You are adding extra cure 15% to 20 %--(guessing how much you drained off).
Then again you say "some" of this does drained off. (Some?)
So you start with 75%. Some fell off--don't know how much.
Then add in a few days--"the rest"--25%.
That's 100% so far, except we don't know how much fell off, or was drained.
Then more excess falls off into bottom of pan. How Much? "Some"
Then you add 15% to 20%. A Guess again.
I'm sure it sounds like I'm being a Smart %^&, but this is what I'm reading from your post.
I like to look at dry curing as a very exacting process, without room for "some", 15 to 20, or I don't knows allowed.
Then the simple dry cure method.
Like I said before respectfully:
If you put the exact amount of cure in the bag, with the exact amount of meat, for the exact amount of time, Then flip the packages every day (I buy it without the rind), so the cure can get to every part of the meat, and don't drain any of that working stuff at any time until it is finished curing, Then let it dry good to form a pellicle, there are no variables. There are no questions about how much fell off, or drained, and got dumped out in the middle of the process. No words like "Some" are used. Everything is based on very simple exacting amounts.
Only question I had for you Bear is if you called your method a dry cure? I was asking if allowing the bacon to sit in liquid in zip lock bags (if that is how you do it) can be called a dry cure. I am by no means telling you or anyone else how they should cure bacon. I am just reporting my experiences as I read and learn this hobby. The simplest, safest method is fine with me, but read my tag line "I love to play with my food". I do this because I am always trying to learn. I am also fascinated by some of the lost art of meat curing practiced by the old timers of yesteryear.
I do not think I am preaching any type of unsafe food practices. You of all people should know that from the previous conversations we have had. Maybe I got into more detail then you are comfortable with. My primary observation is that I "prefer" a drier, firmer bacon. I "prefer" to limit the amount of moisture my green bacon is exposed to in the curing process. My readings make me believe this is a safe way of preparing bacon that was practiced for many years by our grandfathers and their grandfathers. They would coat the bellies with salt, cure and sugar and hang them in the curing room. Dust and rub them every couple of days to make sure the green bacon was properly coated. Then smoke the bellies and store in a cool place till needed. This method of preparation was confirmed by the butcher I buy my meat from. She recanted to me how her grandfather used to dry cure bacon (very similar to the method I describe) when he first opened the store 60 years ago. They now use a wet cure method in the interest of costs and time.
The 15 to 20 percent figures are just for the sake of discussion and are possible confusing. The point being that with published recipes for cures using various amounts of Cure 1 in relation to Salt and Sugar I feel that you have a save zone to "play in". I use the lower recommended proportions of cure to salt and sugar, but I use more of the mix over the first two dustings. This results, from my experience, in a saltier, sweeter bacon with an amount of absorbed Cure #1 that, I can only guess, falls into safe guidelines. Further I suspect that you cannot guarantee just how much cure is absorbed by the curing bacon if you discard the free liquids produced during your curing procedure.
I am not trying to convince you to change the way you like to cure bacon. I do ask that if after understanding the process I describe that you think what I am doing is unsafe please bring it to my attention and open for discussion with the other members of the forum.
Great, You got most of my point.
I figure you have done it this way a time or two, and personally I'm real glad you're still here, because you can discuss this stuff without getting pizzed.
I consider the way I do it to be a "Dry Cure", because I don't add one drop of liquid. The only liquid that is in the bags is from the Tender Quick & Brown sugar melting & drawing juices out of the meat. Most of it is re-absorbed by the end of the curing time. Dry cure will not move through meat at all. That liquid is the only transportation into the center of the meat that the cure has!
My other point is:
I don't care if people use the method I use, but I like to see people who are first starting to cure Bacon use either the one I use, or one of the Cure #1 methods (dry or wet) that have exacting values of how much cure goes in. Once they get the chance to enjoy a couple of batches of Bacon that way, if they're not happy, they can try doing things like you do, if they want. I have seen others drain their bags too, and I disagree with that entirely too (see above in Red).
I have read that some shake the raw Bacon off, before putting it in the bag, and they don't put the cure that fell off in the bag with that particular piece. I disagree with that, because if you are going to leave out, the cure that fell off before it went into the bag, why measure the cure you're gonna use in the first place?
See my point?
I like to see people doing their first Bacon, and I think the reason so many are doing Bacon is the fact that there are some methods & directions on this forum that are easy to follow safely. I like to think I got a lot of guys started because I make it easy & fool-proof (exactly what I needed my first time).
All of the step by steps in my signature are real easy to follow, and I get PMs from a lot of guys thanking me for making it easy. That makes me feel great.
I do that for myself too, because once I get it perfected, I like to use my own easy "step by steps".
Thanks for the great conversation Hu >Al
Just to clarify a point.
Laying the green bacon skin side down on a rack allows the cure to draw moisture from the meat side of the bacon. The skin and saran wrap act as a shield preventing the meat from drying out too rapidly. The cure has the opportunity to move through the meat. Where does that first dusting go if no moisture is developed and the cure disappears? I contend that it is absorbed into the meat as the salt draws out the surface moisture and then the moisture is reabsorbed. Very similar to what you describe except that I do not encourage the bacon to sit in a puddle of moisture. Look at curing a Virginia, country style ham. No moisture added, just thickly covered in salt, sugar and cure and allowed to sit in a covered pan of salt.
I am not trying to supplant your position as the resident bacon authority. Just trying to share some things that I have learned. The method I use is definitely more work and neophyte bacon makers would be better served using a fast, easy recipe the first time or two. As they become a bit more experienced and maybe adventuresome it is good that they learn alternative ways of "playing with their food". Similar to previous long discussions the two of us have had we are arguing very minor points of a, to me at least, very interesting topic.
It has been very interesting.
It is nice to have all of this information in one place for someone new to reference. Lots of good info in this thread.