Cured Whole Muscle Meat 104 - Bacon Basics

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    Fresh Sausage

    Cured Whole Muscle Meat 104 - Bacon Basics

    Attend this entry-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!

    Bacon Hanger
    Smoking Bacon

    What Is Bacon?

    Generally, Bacon is the Belly of a Pig that has been cured and smoked. Bacon is cured using nitrites and for commercial processors, the USDA has limited the amount of ingoing nitrates to 200 parts per million for dry rubbed bacon and 120 ppm for pickled or injected bacon.

    Meat Block

    1 Pork Belly
    1 Bag of Dry Rub Bacon

    Equipment

    Vacuum Sealer (Optional)

    Process

    Dry Rubbed Bacon is the classic way to make bacon. In this process, the outside of the belly is coated in a bacon cure and we rely upon osmosis to bring the cure to the center of the meat and ensure that the entire belly is cured. We normally coat all sides of the bacon but the fat cap generally will not allow the cure to pass through so this is more of a taste thing than a requirement.

    Curing

    After the belly has been rubbed it should be placed in a cooler for 5-7 days to allow the cure to penetrate fully. Some people prefer turning the belly over every day but this is not truly necessary since as we said before, the fat cap will not pass the cure through but if you want to feel free to flip it daily. Place the belly in a large vacuum seal bag and seal it if you want, you can also wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or just put it in an airtight container. The bacon is going to excrete some water during this portion, this isn’t anything to worry about.

    Pre-Smoking Rinse

    Once the 5-7 days have passed you need to rinse it before you smoke it, skip this step at your own peril as without rinsing it you are going to get a very salty bacon. I like to let fresh water run through a meat lug for 20 minutes but if you want to save on water you can fill up a lug, let it sit for 20 minutes and then dump that water, refill it with clean water and let it sit for another 20 minutes. If you skip the rinsing process you will end up with bacon that is too salty to be enjoyable. Even if you like salty bacon you should still rinse it, even if you only rinse it for 10 minutes.

    Note

    Now, go ahead and hang it on your 9" bacon hanger, making sure to leave a few inches above the tines to secure the belly and make sure it doesn’t rip off. Now it’s time to fire up your smoker and cook it. To ensure that you have a safe product you should cook it until it is 138° internal temperature.

    Thermal Processing & Smoking

    Stage 1 - 120° for an hour with no smoke
    Stage 2 - 135° for an hour with smoke
    Stage 3 - 150° for an hour with smoke
    Stage 4 - 165° for an hour with smoke
    Stage 5 - 180° with no smoke until internal temperature reaches 138°

    Cooling

    Once the Bacon has reached 138° remove it from your smoker and put the bacon in an ice bath for 20 minutes to stop the cooking process. Let the bacon cool for 1-2 hours at room temperature before moving it to the fridge or freezer for packaging or slicing.

    Wrap up

    When done right homemade bacon can be a delicious addition to any meal or even a meal on its own. Being able to make your own homemade bacon is a good way to learn the smoking and curing process as it is fairly easy to do and at the end, you have a large amount of delicious, homemade bacon!

    Additional Tips

    • A good slicer is going to save you a lot of grief if you like your bacon sliced thin for cooking
    • If you Belly is too big to fit on your slicer you will need to cut it in half to get it to fit on the carriage

    Watch WaltonsTV: Bacon Basics

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  • Regular Contributors

    So I don’t have a smoker (YET) and only have gas grill. Would it make much different to smoke via the grill with something like a smoke bomb or smoker tube? I realize I’d have to babysit the temp more.

    Also, what difference does laying the belly horizontal vs vertical make?

  • Team Blue Regular Contributors Traeger Power User Veteran Sous Vide Canning

    Ridley Acres A smoke tube or maze will put out just as much smoke, you just won’t have any high temperature to deal with. They put out minimal heat. All my bacon goes horizontal in my Traeger since there is no room to hang it in either the hot or cold chambers. I smoke my bacon in the cold side of my smoker and it generally doesn’t go above 120 degree’s during the smoke.

  • Team Blue Cast Iron Sous Vide Canning Dry Cured Sausage Masterbuilt Military Veterans Power User Regular Contributors

    Ridley Acres my first very low budget cold smoker was a 55 gal drum in the upright position. I drilled two holes at the top across from each other and ran a piece of rebar to hang my ham, bacon, and other meats. I then cut a 1"-1 1/2" hole in the top and covered it with 1/8" hardware cloth. At the very bottom on the side I cut a hole big enough to insert aluminum dryer venting and inserted it cutting it and splitting it to hold it in the drum. Next I ran the venting for 25’ to a hole I dug in the ground (fire box) and lined with brick, no mortar and covered it with a small piece of steel plate. I ran a 2" piece of pipe angled into the side of the fire box for limited air intake. The aluminum venting came out opposite from the air intake pipe. All the ribs and 25’ of aluminum venting complexly cooled the smoke to ambient temp it worked like a charm and smoked many delicacies. The only thing I bought was the dryer venting.

  • Team Blue Cast Iron Sous Vide Canning Dry Cured Sausage Masterbuilt Military Veterans Power User Regular Contributors

    Ridley Acres you can also buy a small cast iron smoker box that sits on top of flame to burn wood chips.

  • Team Blue Big Green Egg Masterbuilt Canning Kamado Joes Regular Contributors Power User

    mrobisr that is genius 👏

  • Yearling

    I have your Dry Rub Bacon Cure and want to use it on a pork loin for like canadine bacon. What would be the amount I use per pound. I use 4oz for 5lbs on pork belly. Would this be the same amount I use on the pork loin. Thank you very much for your help. I love your products.

  • Team Orange Masterbuilt Big Green Egg Dry Cured Sausage Sous Vide Canning Power User

    Ranger Mike I have never done a CB that way, usually put it in a solution. I would suspect that you would use the same amount of cure to weight with appropriate time for the cure to penetrate the thickness of the meat you are curing.

  • Referenced by  PapaSop PapaSop 

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