Newbie bacon curing questions...

Discussion in 'Bacon' started by mikeinmo, Aug 26, 2014.

  1. Hi all! Have a couple questions regarding a batch of bacon (my first!) I've got curing. Lurked in the SMF a bit over the past 5 or 6 years, but figure now was a good to join. This is my first post.

    Am in the early days of my first bacon cure. Have a copy of Marianski's book and followed his recipe for dry cured bacon using 3% salt. Bought a 13 pound belly (skinned), and cut it into 3 slabs based on space constraints. Weighed each slab, proportioned cure mixes for each slab, and applied about half of the cure to each slab. Have each slab in a 2 gallon ziplock with most of the air evacuated, and they have been residing in my bacon crisping drawer in the refrigerator since Sunday evening. I have a couple questions I hope someone can answer for me:

    In looking at the bacon wiki on this site, I see a 3 part application of cure at 3 or 4 day intervals is standard. I apparently missed that part in Marianski's book, and applied 1/2 the cure mixture initially. Was planning on applying the second half of the cure mixture in 5 or 6 days. Should I do this earlier, or delay it a day or 2?

    I used kosher salt in my cure mixture (I have an electronic scale and weighed everything to 0.1 gram accuracy). Noticed the kosher salt is much coarser than the #1 cure, and had some concerns about the cure being uniformly distributed throughout the mixture. Is this typically an issue, or should I just crack a beer and dream about the 13 pounds of bacon that is soon grace my presence?

    Thanks in advance!

    Mike in Missouri

    PS: Don't forget - this Saturday August 30th is International Bacon Day!
  2. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member


    It doesn't make any difference.  Follow Marianski.  Applying 1/2 twice or 1/3 three times both work fine
  3. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    If you read enough books about dry curing bacon you will find just about every combination of technique you can image.  Important thing is that you don't use more cure then calculated.  The 5 day time frame should be fine.

    Good Luck
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Which Marianski recipe are you using.... which page #.... "home production of Quality meats and sausage".... page 515....

    Usually multiple rubs with a divided cure/rub mix is done when dry curing 519 under application day 1,3 and 6.....

    Is your cure #1 mixed at 108/120 or 180/200 Ppm for the bacon....

    Not trying to be a pain, but, sounds like you are mixing 2 different recipes...
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2014
  5. Dave: I used the proportions in the table on page 516 of Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausage for dry cure, rind off Namely 13.6 gr. salt, 1.45gr. Cure #1 - plus 6.8 gr. sugar per pound of belly (200 ppm nitrite).

    No one commented on my kosher salt question yet. Just curious if the bigger salt crystals are a problem in term of keeping the mixture uniformly mixed, or if I worry to mc.


  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Excellent choice on the recipe.... Salt crystal size is not a big deal.... just a small deal... there could be some segregation... whether by particle size or density, segregation is always present.... as long as you are aware it "could" happen, and take some sort of steps to negate that condition, you are good to go....

    Mike..... Keeping the cure homogenized with the salt... I mix all the dry stuff together... salt, sugar and cure... spices if needed... I use Morton's Pickling salt... it's close to table salt... weigh all the ingredients, combine, stir or shake... apply to the meat randomly to achieve a good coverage... The ingredients absorb in all directions.... sideways... directly inward.... outward... and it all becomes pretty uniform....

    I have read somewhere..... Morton's pickling and kosher salts are the same chemically... crystal size is the only difference...
  7. Good to know - thanks! I figure I've got about a week and a half to figure out how to cold smoke it now. Full plate on my end, so may have to settle with a "warm smoke". Have a pellet smoker, but believe the lowest setting is 150 degrees. We'll have to see.

    My grandfather used to smoke and cure hams, bacon, jerky, fish, etc - tasty stuff. Unfortunately I was only about 9 years old when he stopped, so wasn't old enough to fully appreciate it or ask questions. Wish I could go back in time now!
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Mike..... take the belly out and rinse and dry..... put in front of a fan for a couple hours to form the pellicle.... dry, partially sticky surface... the drier the better.... put in the smoker with no heat... for 4 to 48 hours... (Bride likes a 4 hour smoke) some folks say smoke on, smoke off... the old fashioned way... smoke one day, no smoke the next.... that's supposed to let the smoke penetrate the meat better for long term storage without refrigeration... If the weather is below 50 degrees, no need to refer during the no smoke period.... or so it says somewhere.... let it rest in the refer for a few days.... partially freeze to slice... my bacon likes 3-4 hours in the freezer before I slice it.... I prefer my smoker to be below 70 ish degrees to cold smoke bacon.... sure comes out better than store bought.... Time for an AMNPS from Todd..... I think he has a sale going on this labor day weekend..... I got a notice on facebook about his sale...
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2014
  9. May have to forgo the smoke this round. We're having high temps in the 90's, I'm slammed at work and my weekends have been booked for me :) Good info to have - I will check it out thoroughly!
  10. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you find the time, you can smoke at night and refer during the day.... from 9PM til 9AM should be cool enough...
  11. I ordered 2 of the Amazen tube smokers Friday, and should have them in a few days - more than soon enough to cold smoke my first batch. I took the three slabs out yesterday (7 days into the cure) and applied the second half of the rub. In general the meaty portions of the slabs are now kind of dirty mahogany brown - though there was an area on one of the slabs where the meat was much more red. The area in question consisted of 3 places where there were very thin layers of meat right above a fat layer. Thinking they cured very quickly. Did a light sprinkle of cure mixture on the bottom and sides of the slabs, rubbed it in, and then really went to town with the rest of the cure mixture on the meaty side of the slabs.

    After 1 week, I was expecting the meat to be a little more reddish/pinkish than it was. Does this sound normal, or am I still worrying too much? Thinking in 10 days I'll have enough time to do the cold smoking, so the cure mix should have ample time to work. Will post pics when the through curing and again after smoking.

  12. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Meat color change usually doesn't occur, until the meat gets to about 130ish degrees...
  13. stlmyke

    stlmyke Fire Starter

    Welcome to the site. Im in Fenton so if you need any local help let me know. I'm getting ready to do 4 more bellies as my neighbors are requesting.
  14. Well it has been a couple weeks now, and I owe you all an update. I finished curing and rinsed the slabs on 9/12/14 after about 17 days. Cut a hunk off and fried it up. Thought it was just a tad salty. So the next morning  soaked the slabs in ice water for about 1.5 hours, and then blotted dry and the air dried for about 2 hours. Cold smoked them for about 8.5 hours using pecan pellets in an Amazen pellet smoker, let them meld overnight in the refrigerator, and then vacupacked them. Here are a couple pics for you:

    Air drying on the counter:

    Just loaded in the smoker:

    After about 3 hours:

    All done and resting:

    Packaged up and hanging out in the frig:

    Lessons learned:

    1. Marianski's recipe for 3% salt is actually about 3.2% salt, as he doesn't allow for the salt contained in the cure mixture. I think I'd prefer just a little less salt, and will adjust accordingly next time.

    2. I bought 2 of the pellet smokers, and loaded them full of pellets. When the first burned out, the second was ready to go. This was perhaps too heavy of a smoke stream - outer slices of the bacon taste a bit like a campfire. Will load them half full next time and maybe set up a baffle in my smoker. Middle slices are tasty! Thinking a slightly longer and less intense cold smoke would do the trick.

    3. I gave out quite a few samples to friends and co-workers. They are of the general opinion that I need more practice - and that I need to distribute more samples!

    Overall, I'd rate this batch a huge success, and am ready to do it again - once we chew our way through several pounds of bacon!

    stlmyke likes this.
  15. Looks great, thanks for the detailed post, I'm sure it will help alot of folks.
  16. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Beautiful color Mike!!![​IMG]

    Looks like you did Great!![​IMG]

    I use the 5 X 8 AMNPS in my MES 40. The Tubes put out too heavy a smoke for me in that little smoker.

  17. mark bacon

    mark bacon Fire Starter

    Try a little longer soak with a water change in between.  As far as the smoke , as the others on here have said, if you let it rest a bit 3-4 days after smoking, it tones down.

    I took a piece of HVAC vent, drilled a bunch of holes in it, and that acts to further diffuse the smoke so it is not so concentrated in one are or under 1 piece of meat.

Share This Page