Help me figure out why my bacon sucks

Discussion in 'Pork' started by vivid, May 11, 2016.

  1. vivid

    vivid Fire Starter

    My second attempt at bacon and first attempt using my own dry rub has failed IMO.  Here's the basic recipe I used:

    I bought 13 lbs of pork belly from the market, cut up into two slabs.  I estimated about 6.5 pounds for each belly which gave me about 3.5 tsp of cure.  Along with that I had about 6 tsp of kosher salt, 1 cup of brown sugar, and some other seasonings that I decided to try:  Some crunched up bay leafs, juniper berries, pepper, and some roasted garlic seasoning.  I did not put in the distilled water, as I was going for a dry cure which is what I made previously using a pre-mixed rub.

    After a day or so, quite a bit of liquid was pulled out of the belly and seemed to disolve all of the seasonings.  Really the only thing left that I could see were the juniper berries and bits of the bay leafs.

    Anyway, cut to today after I smoked both bellies until they hit 150.  I fry them up this morning and it's kind of tasteless.  It isn't BAD by any means, it just tastes like uncured pork side.  The smoke didn't really add a whole lot to it either (I used applewood).

    Did I use too much cure and should I be worried about botulism?  Should I switch to the wet cure method instead of dry cure?
  2. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    I prefer a dry cure, too.  How long did you cure it?  What kind of cure did you use?  Your spice mix sounds fine but I'm wondering where your salt is coming from, too.
  3. vivid

    vivid Fire Starter

    I cured it for seven days.  Used the pink #1 curing salt.  3.5 tsp of it per 6~ish pound belly.
  4. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    How long in the smoke?
  5. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    6 tsp of salt doesn't sound like a lot to balance with a cup of brown sugar.
  6. vivid

    vivid Fire Starter

    It smoked for a little over 2 hours until it hit 150 internal temp
  7. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    Might be an issue there.  Not enough smoke.  I cold smoke bacon so I'm not going to be much help.  Normally, I cold smoke 12-16 hours.
  8. slipaway

    slipaway Meat Mopper

    I make bacon and here are a few comments.

    With 6 TBS kosher salt and then the pink salt you certainly have enough salt.

    There will be a lot of moisture in the bag - just keep turning it over every day.

    I let it sit in the fridge for 12 - 14 days. Almost cannot over cure the belly.

    I take it out and put it in cold water for an hour to get off all the residual salt.

    Then I cut a piece and fry it to make sure the salt is where I want it. If still too salty - rinse again. 

    Smoke it using maple or hickory or oak. I put maple sugar on mine before I smoke it and then use mostly maple. Only smoking it up to 150- (which is the right temp) does not keep it long on the smoker so it can take a little heavier wood. I try to keep my smoker in the 225 - 250 range. (And, yes it is an offset wood burner...)

    After it cools to room temp., I then let it sit in the fridge for a day to firm up.

    The next day I get out the slicer and start slicing, and cooking, and eating, and slicing , and cooking, and eating - well, you get the idea.....

    Don't know if there is much in my rambling that can help but my bacon has been anything but bland.....

    Keep trying andf let us know how you make out.

    Good luck
  9. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    For starters your cure amount is too high. 1 teaspoon per 5#. It is best if you are going to use a dry cure to weigh everything that you add. Meat, cure spices. You need a good digital scale that goes to 1/10, or 1/100 of a gram.

    Then throw away the recipe you have and use this calculator to determine the amount of salt, sugar, and cure you need.

    Cure for 7-14 days. If you have more than one slab try one with no other seasonings. Add seasonings to the other slab. Do this after the cure and before forming the pellicle. Let the slabs air dry for at least 2 days bit preferably 5 in the fridge.

    Then smoke. I prefer to cold smoke bacon. I smoke 6-8 hours over multiple days. Usually a total of 18-24 hours smoking. Then I allow the bacon to rest another 5 days in the fridge before slicing and packaging.

    Currently my favorite and my friends favorite is to dust the bacon with white pepper and garlic prior to smoking. Then smoke using cob for the smoke.
    Last edited: May 11, 2016
  10. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  11. 3.5 tsp of cure is way more than you need for 6 lbs. 1.2 is all you needed for 6 lbs. 1/2 tsp per 5 pounds of meat is the general rule for dry curing. 6 tsp of salt seems very low. Should be about 3 tablespoons. Not real sure that bay leaves and juniper are right for bacon. I could be wrong though.
  12. vivid

    vivid Fire Starter

    All good information.  Thank you guys for chiming in.  So, we've determined that I used WAY too much curing salt.  Should I be worried about eating this bacon now?  Everything I've read says it's dangerous to use too much.  I ate two slices this morning and feel fine but I'm wondering if I should throw it out to be safe.  I may cry a little (a lot) if I do..

    Next time I'll add more kosher salt as well.

    As for the other seasonings, the last batch of bacon I did was a kit that I got from Tenderbelly, and the pre-mixed cure they sent had juniper berries in it, so we were trying to match that as closely as possible.  Unfortunately I think they quit selling it too so we can't even buy it anymore :(  I'll try the suggestion of making one with no additional spices beyond the cure and one with some experimental spices.  

    Lastly, my smoker isn't setup to do cold smoking, so hot smoking at around 225 is all I can do at the moment.  It would be nice to have crispy bacon but cold smoking is probably beyond my skillset and equipment at the moment.
  13. vivid

    vivid Fire Starter

    Bump.  Can anyone tell me if I should be throwing this bacon out or is it still safe to eat?
  14. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The cure is more than 3x level commonly recommended here. Will it make you sick after eating it? Unlikely. However nitrite in meat is a concern for long term effects, particularly since this is bacon (which you will fry). Your call (I would not eat it).
  15. smokesontuesday

    smokesontuesday Smoking Fanatic

    I wouldn't eat it. That's a lot of cure. Throwing out some bad bacon is much cheaper than going to the hospital.

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