Steps To Follow After The Wet Cure ? First Timer Here...

Discussion in 'Smoking Bacon' started by aahhyes68, Apr 22, 2014.

  1. aahhyes68

    aahhyes68 Newbie

    Hello everyone, great forum you have here !  I have a few questions and I'm sure the answers are out there but maybe you guys can give me the cliff notes... I just started a wet cure with Pop's real simple curing brine. I have six pieces of skin on belly soaking right now and they are all roughly 3# each, give or take and plan on them soaking close to 14 days. I chose 14 because everything I've read says the extra couple days won't hurt any. None of it is over 2" really..

    I've read a lot but am having a problem connecting what I've read to the actual process/product. Please feel free to correct me or point me in a different direction, add or subtract info, etc... I am here to learn...and I'm a little thick headed and would appreciate the help.. [​IMG]

    Let's say I'm at day 14 and I'm ready to proceed. I pull the meat out and dry it really well:

    1) Is this where I apply seasoning to the outside of the meat, pepper garlic powder, whatever (besides what it's brined in) ? 

    2) When does the skin get removed ? I've read before before smoking and after smoking.. ?

    3) I've also read it needs to go in the fridge uncovered 1-2 days to dry and I'm looking for a pellicle at this point, right ? From what I've gathered it is when the meat is rather tacky to the touch ? Can someone expand on this if necessary ?

     This is where things get really cloudy to me...the smoking options and how it applies to the cured meat and safety. Assuming the meat is now dry/has a pellicle:

     I want to smoke it, but I have a pellet grill. Lowest it will go is 150, but 170F is closer to actual. Pops's mentioned he likes to hot smoke his bacon to 145F (for safety) but my PG will get this bacon up to those temps in no time. Suggestions ?

     I also have smoke tubes so I have the ability to cold smoke the meat too and would like to have a nice smoked flavor... I've read there is a magic temp to keep the meat under ?? Suggestions ?

     Can the meat be cold smoked for "X" amount of time and then hot smoked to 145?

     As you can see I'm getting what I've read mixed up so I'm all ears. I have six chunks of meat to work with. Maybe I can finish them using three different methods ? I dunno...

    Sorry for the long winded post fellow smokers.... I figured I would throw all my questions out there and it gives me 14 days to figure it out, or better yet, time for you guys to straighten me out.

    Thanks everyone !

     Steve B. & Family [​IMG]
  2. Hi Steve. 14 days will be fine in the brine & yes you can add additional seasoning when you take it out.

    It's up to you whether you want to take the skin off before or after smoking - when I have skin-on bellies I like to smoke them with the skin on then use it to flavor soups & such. A lot of people like to take it off first & fry it up...

    I gave up long ago on using the fridge for a pellicle - I get much better results using a fan blowing on it for awhile than I ever did no matter how long the meat was in the fridge.

    I cold smoke all my bacon. I prefer to only cook my bacon once - right before I eat it. I cold smoke for 12 hours, rest in the fridge overnight, cold smoke for 12 hours, rest in the fridge 2 or 3 days then slice. If you hot smoke or "warm smoke" your bacon it changes the texture slightly & I do not like that nor do any of my family members.  A lot of members on here cold smoke their bacon.

    That being said there are also a lot of members who hot smoke or "warm smoke" their bacon & like it better that way. If you go that route be very careful with temps or you will render fat.

    Since you have several pieces of belly maybe try both ways & see which way you & your family prefer. Enjoy making your bacon just know that the store bought stuff will no longer satisfy you!  [​IMG]  
  3. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    You're forgetting a step.

    Make sure you thoroughly soak those bellies!  I started off soaking for an hour and changing the water a couple/few times.  However, now I soak for 3 hours and change the water fairly frequently, about every 20 minutes give or take.

    I think this really pulls the salt out.  I don't like overly salty bacon and the 3 hour soak has left me with less salt but with all of the flavor.

    I really recommend it.

    Before I put it in the fridge, my favorite way to spice up the bacon is with a load of cracked black pepper (CBP).  Put it on before you put it in the fridge to get a pelicle.

    Look around the bacon forum and you'll find a TON of ideas.

    I have the AMNPS and I cold smoke my bacon.  I don't like it to get much above 80 in the smoker, so I'll usually smoke starting in the evenings and going overnight.  I like 16 hours in the smoke.  My favorite wood is apple for bacon.
  4. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    Is it too late to take the skin off now?  That's my preference.
  5. aahhyes68

    aahhyes68 Newbie

     Thanks ! I'm really looking forward to it...but, it's my 13 yr old son that talked me into it..I'm glad he did.

    I just ground up a 9# butt this morning and mixed up four different breakfast sausages. I never thought of doing that either until I started searching around here...LOL. Bacon/00 Breakfast Sauage?sort=3&page=1

    Thank you for your time !

  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Steve, morning.....

    So you have about 18#'s if belly in Pops brine/cure mix..... How much water and salt did you mix up..... I want to calculate the % salt to see if you need to "soak" the salt out... 1 gal. water 8.35 pounds + 18 #'s bellies.... 26 or so pounds...

    One cup of granulated salt will have a weight of approximately 9.6 ounces. Whereas if the salt is kosher you will be looking at a weight from 5 to 7.5 ounces per cup. This is why in most cases salt is measured in weight for recipes as opposed to volume because of the huge variables involved.

    9.6 oz. / 26#'s x 16 = 2.3% salt by weight.... about normal for store bought
    5 oz. / 26#'s x 16 = 1.2% salt by weight..... a little light... I like about 1.7 - 2.0 %

    Depends on what amounts of water and salt you used.... Dave
  7. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    Love smokin' bacon.

    Another thing I like to do is to plastic wrap the belly after I smoke it.  I'll leave it in the fridge for 2 to 3 days before slicing.  I think it mellows out the smoke some.
  8. aahhyes68

    aahhyes68 Newbie

    I'm not a fan of too much salt either. I'll soak them. I see you do do the fridge/pellicle thing. What is your method for getting good results here ?

    CBP was my plan from the get go... Love CBP !  I made a few smoke tubes and was planning to use apple chips and pellets for smoke. 80 huh ?

    I'm going to try a couple dry runs and see what temps I get in the smoker. Ambients are about 60 right now so I think 80 will be tough to stay under.

    I'll try frozen two liter bottles to see if that helps. Thanks.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2014
  9. aahhyes68

    aahhyes68 Newbie

    Ugh.... I guess I should have asked all these questions before I started to brine...doh! The good news is I have six more chunks just like these six in

    the freezer. I'll try that for the next batch. Thanks.
  10. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    I have good luck creating a pellicle in the fridge.  I will let it sit overnight at a minimum.  Usually, it's around 12 to 14 hours.  You're looking for a dry, kinda sticky texture.  Leave it open with room to breathe.  I always put mine on a separate wire rack.
  11. aahhyes68

    aahhyes68 Newbie

    Thanks Dave !  Pops has two recipe's that he suggests, the reg that calls for 1c. of sugar,salt,brown sugar and his LS blend that calls for1/2c. of sugar,salt,browns sugar. I split it

    right down the middle and did 3/4c. of each. I did use sea salt as we don't have reg old table salt in the house, iodized or not.


    ETA: I made two gals to cover the meat.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2014
  12. aahhyes68

    aahhyes68 Newbie

     I've read that here also, thanks for the reminder !  I cold smoked cheese last week and vac packed it. I was told to let it sit for a month...don't know if I'll be able to hold out or not...<sigh>
  13. Hey Steve I wasn't thinking about the salt level I've done it so many times that I know exactly how much to add to get the result I want without having to spend more time soaking out extra salt. The best way to go about it is to soak it for an hour or 2 then slice off a piece or 2 & fry it up. If it's still too salty soak it some more & do another fry test. Once it has the salt level you want you're done soaking. You can also slice up a potato & put in your water to absorb salt & speed up the soaking process.

    As for the skin - don't worry about it as you can remove it anytime you want to. I just let it on & use the smoked skin to flavor stuff but as I said earlier a lot of people like to fry it up before. Try it both ways as you said & see which way you prefer.

    For the pellicle you want a firm, tacky surface & since I started using a fan I get a much better pellicle in 2 - 3 hours than I ever did in any fridge & it also saves even more time for me  [​IMG]

    With the meat cured you will have no problems giving it 12 hours or more cold smoke at a time then wrapping overnight in the fridge & giving it more cold smoke the next day. Since you have several pieces you could try a few different times of smoke & see what you like best. I always go at least 24 hours but that's my preference - some go more some go less. I also usually use hickory but sometimes I mix in some apple & once in a while just use all apple. That's something else for you to play around with & see what you like best too. You have a lot of fun ahead of you!  [​IMG]    I'm with Mfreel as I also try not to let my smoker temp get over 80...

    However you do it though as I said in my first post make sure you rest the bacon for a few days in the fridge once you're done smoking before you slice it all up - it gets much better after this rest!

    The main thing is to have fun & enjoy the learning process - make sure you take good notes so you know what to do/not do in the future. Welcome to your new addiction!  [​IMG]  
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2014
    joshpiper likes this.
  14. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Now you have about 36 #'s bellies and water.. = 16,344 grams... 1.5 cups salt...... 14.4 oz. salt x 28.35 = 408 gms. salt

    16344+408 = 16,752 total grams..... 408 / 16752 = 2.4 % salt....

    I figure sea salt and table salt about the same..... BUT some sea salts are very dense.... sooooooooo..... weigh everything from now on, to make your recipes repeatable....
  15. zztop

    zztop Newbie

    Great thread Steve.  I'm looking to do bacon in the next 2 weeks and had all the same questions as you.  I was good with using Pops brine but wasn't sure on what I should do afterwards, ie soaking, when to remove the skin, drying times,  to hot or cold smoke and for how long.
  16. chad martinell

    chad martinell Fire Starter

    When I hot smoked mine in the pellet smoker I would go out every 10-20 minutes and open the door to let some of the heat out, then close it back up and let it smoke. My smoker was running at about 200-225 degrees in the evening. The fat started to get translucent on the bottom (fat cap on bottom), but never really rendered. When done (about 2-3 hours) I found that the edge of the fat cap had changed so that when cooked it makes a super-hard edge to the bacon. I just cut it off before cooking now.

    I don't have the option of cold smoking, but I may have to look into some customization to add that option to my Traeger Jr.

    Oh, I didn't wait for a pellicle on my first batch, but the second batch is coming out of the cure today, and I'm not smoking it until tomorrow, so I'll be waiting for that this time!
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014
  17. aahhyes68

    aahhyes68 Newbie

    I copied a design from a very popular smoke tube many use. I bought a 48" piece of 2" perforated, SS muffler from Amazon. I make two 14" tubes and two, 9" tubes.

    I cut slices on one end and bent them over, the other end is open. Light the pellets/chips and close to lid to the smoker. Alas, cold smoke. Final cost was $42 for everything.

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