How do you know when you've cured the bacon long enough?

Discussion in 'Smoking Bacon' started by simple, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. simple

    simple Smoke Blower

    I've been reading and reading, and since I don't want to do anybody in, I'm being really cautious about this first batch of bacon.  I cured it using bearcarver's notes in his signature.  Today has been 4 days.  The belly was pretty thin--just a shade over an inch at it's thickest.  If it's a day per 1/2 inch then add 2 days for good measure, it should be ready to go in the cold smoker tomorrow.

    But how do I know the bacon is ready??  It doesn't look any different. I got very little moisture out of it--a lot less than I've seen in pictures on smoking forums I've been looking at.  What does a cured bacon look/smell/feel like?  Is there anyway to tell that it is actually ready?  I"m just a little leery about the whole thing.  It's only a two pound piece, so it's not going to break the bank if it hasn't worked.  I just don't want to make anybody sick.

    Can anybody help me out here?
  2. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Send a PM to Bear..

  3. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Good choice to use a small piece to practice on.

    I go 10 days on my bacon

    Some guys go less and some go more

    My bacon seems to "Firm Up in about 7 days

    I also cheat and add a couple oz. of water for moisture in the bag.

    Make sure you rinse it off well, and do a test fry to check saltiness.

    Smoke for 6 hours and check.  I oversmoked my first bacon and got a little gun shy.  I check at 6 hours and then keep going.

    Some guys smoke all the way up to 20 hours, but I think it's personal preference and how smokey you want it to taste.  Also, the wood you choose to smoke with will make a difference.  Hickory will have a little more "Bite" than Apple or Maple.

  4. jak757

    jak757 Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    I go 7-10, and have gone up to 13.  I've heard it said that you can't over cure, but you can under cure.  Like Todd said, just check for saltiness, and soak as needed.

    Also like Todd said, the bacon will get firm by around 7 days.  If yours has been curing for 4 days, I'd give it a few more.  Relax, be patient.  And get ready for some great bacon.  I remember how nervous I was with my first was so good I can't buy pre-packaged bacon anymore, my family just won't stand for it.

    Good luck -- let us know how it turns out.
  5. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Like they said, you can't over cure meat unless you let it go for a month or so then the meat starts to break down. I always let it go a couple of extra days longer than I think is necessary. 
  6. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'm not sure what Bears recipe is but you are correct with your time frame, 1/2 inch per day plus 2.

    I guess there is no way to really tell if it's cured, but this is the steadfast rule that's been used for a long time so if your cure mix was right and you applied it properly it's cured. But if you have doubts go a day or two longer.

    It won't appear much different on the outside, but will be redder inside if you cut it open.

    Don't worry about it not giving off any juices, I've done a bunch of bellies that never leaked any fluids.

    As far as looking smelling feeling different the only thing I can think of is it will be firmer, less bendable, but some will be firmer then others.

    The first one is always alittle nerve racking but I'm sure it will be fine,.
  7. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I know it's painstaking waiting for it, but like the old saying goes, ... "fageddaboutit!"  Just ignore the fact that you're curing the best tasting, most succulent, smokey-delicousness-ly cured-and-smoked-piece-of-heaven you ever wrapped your lips around for over a week ...  that's all!

    (makin' ya drool now?)
  8. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I share your pain.  Waiting can be so frustrating but we're promised that we'll never look back after the first one.  I've still got 3 days to go on a programmed 10 days and still might go a couple days longer, just to be sure.  But then I'm doing BBB, not belly.
  9. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I go 10 days on mine. [​IMG]

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