Hey guys, I’m getting grief for my pork and beef belly prep and smoke. I dry brine liquids and spices for 7 days generally, rince my brines off, put my finishing things like rehydrated jalapeños, chipotle puree etc on and I run my smoker at 200° and pull the bellies at 145-150 to sit in frig to cool. What are your thoughts snd comments on this process? I’ve done it this way for 2 years now, no one’s gotten sick and I sell out of my bacon.
He’s saying minimum cure Time is 12-16 days and I shouldn’t run my out over 180° and pull at a 145°max. Thoughts?
In a bag, rotated every day, on even bellies 2" or less, 7 days is fine. Buckboard or Canadian you would probably want to go longer. The 200 degrees is a different matter. Meat safety is fine, but at 200 you have to be rendering fat making a mess in the smoker and potential fire hazard on top of extra product shrink. If you are not seeing this, you should probably recalibrate your thermometer in the cooking area, not just on the door. As a commercial you have to balance the shorter cooking time with the saleable product you scrape off the bottom of the smoker and through away.
Just a caution for all that folliws, It doesn’t really matter a ton what anyone here says now, you are COMMERCIAL and MUST comply with the USFDA FSIS listed methods for brining and curing. That inspectors opinion is now 99%, and everyone here is just 1% lol.
Inspectors use exact calculation methods spelled out in the USFDA FSIS Inspectors Handbook, which you are also supposed to use for your calculations. You can google and download it. There may be some differences on your requirements, as I kinda understand you may be selling to customers as a restaurant vs retail, and you may be under supervision of local health guy vs FSIS guy… but in general, compliance with the FSIS guidelines should ensure passage for anyone’s inspection.
For a flat shaped, 3" thick belly at the THICKEST PART (just a guess for the beef?), the cure1 takes 11.3 days to fully penetrate, then you add 20% to be sure… so, 13 to 14 days. Here is a website showing dry rub
cure penetration times, 3rd tab.
If the very thickest part is 2", it is just 5 days, plus 20% gives 6 days.
Anyways, you have to comply with your inspector and the gov mandated calculations, you can’t just wing it with your personal opinion and method, when selling to public. There is a reason almost all commercial bacon is injected and tumbled… 2 days vs possibly 13 days cure before smoke.
If I didn’t have that FSIS handbook almost memorized and wasn’t ready to show an inspector exact sentences that justified every step of my process, I wouldn’t even consider commercial production. That guy can shut you down, force a product recall, etc.
On the positive side, if your bellies are 2" thick max, then your 7 days works. And the 145 to 150 temp is plenty to achieve pathogen lethality per appendix A meat processing tables, 4 min internal temp of 145 is enough for log7 pathogen reduction. I agree that a lower temp would be better for fat and exterior of belly, and I also stop bacon at 145f max so it isn’t a “cooked” slab but still has some flex like bacon. But if 2" max thickness, I don’t see anything in your process that doesn’t comply.
Good luck, maybe you knew all this as I know it has been mentioned before in your threads, but hope it was helpful in any case!
P.s. your product looks great, and I sure wish I could try it! I’m rooting for you to make it through all these hurdles!!!
I will “circle back” on my thicknesses. Beef does tend to be in that thicker catagory, pork is pretty uniform. I’ll rethink my brine days for beef. I’ve not had any issues with a 200° smoker until my bellies hit 144-150 with fat rendering. Must be lucky I guess. I might back that temp down a little too.
Dave in AZ Well said! PaPaSmokes Normally I would tell someone that what someone else says doesn’t matter, if you like what you make keep making it that way (as long as it is safe) but as Dave says, different rules apply to you. For Bacon our temps don’t go above 180° The below is from https://meatgistics.waltons.com/topic/800/curing-bacon-for-smoking-cured-whole-muscle-meat-104
I stopped smoking my bacon up to 150 a few years back. It just seemed like bacon jerky to me because it was already cooked. Now I just cold smoke it for a few hours and that leaves it uncooked. Then I fry it the way bacon is supposed to be cooked. Sooooo much better and I do sell out.