Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

Making Bacon

Charcuterie

  • Please log in to reply
247 replies to this topic

#211 Chris Amirault

Chris Amirault
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 19,628 posts
  • Location:Rhode Island

Posted 01 December 2009 - 05:09 AM

You can absolutely substitute in one salt for another. Just aim for rough weight equivalents as best you can -- or, if someone here has Morton's handy, they can tell you how much 2 1/2 T weighs. (I'm a Diamond Crystal guy.)
Chris Amirault
camirault@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics Signatory
Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

#212 prasantrin

prasantrin
  • legacy participant
  • 5,468 posts

Posted 01 December 2009 - 05:11 AM

Thanks! I already looked it up in one of the many kosher salt topics. It's something like 1:1.5:2 table:morton's:diamond crystal. (Something like that. I can't remember off-hand, but I know where to find the info again!)

I should add, the ratio was for volume measurements, not weight.

Edited by prasantrin, 01 December 2009 - 05:12 AM.


#213 ElsieD

ElsieD
  • participating member
  • 844 posts
  • Location:Ottawa, Ontario

Posted 01 December 2009 - 07:22 AM

According to Ruhlman in his book "Charcuterie" 1 cup of Morton's Kosher Salt weighs almost 8 ounces. One cup of Diamond Kosher Crustal Kosher salt weighs 4.8 ounces. He suggests using weights. Foe example, in his recipe for Maple-Cured Smoked Bacon, he uses 2 ounces/50 grams kosher salt to cure a 5 pound slab of pork belly. Hope this helps.

#214 griddler

griddler
  • participating member
  • 9 posts

Posted 06 April 2010 - 06:49 AM

OK, so I plan on making bacon with pork belly (US style), Pork loin (Canadian style), heck, I may even try buckboard bacon (pork shoulder). My problem is that the recipes from different sources have very different instructions, especially when it comes to smoking.

My reference list includes:
Charcuterie By Ruhlman and Polcyn (150 degrees F, hot smoke)
Great sausage recipes and meat curing by Rytek Kutas (128 degrees F)
And the Charcuterie blog on this web site (< 90 degrees F, cold smoke)

Question 1. what temperature? I have a hot smoker and can build a cold smoker by adding tubing from the smoke stack to a separate box.

Question 2. how long to cure? It ranges from 48 hours (charcuterie text) to 7days (other blogs).

Question 3. When to remove the skin from the pork belly? (charcuterie text says right after the hot smoke when the fat is soft). Other blogs say trim it before the cure and cold smoke it.

On the upside I am thinking that homemade bacon must be a very forgiving procedure to have so many different approaches. On the other hand, I don’t want to waste time trying all the methods to see what is best.

Has anyone out there experimented with the different approaches?

#215 Chris Amirault

Chris Amirault
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 19,628 posts
  • Location:Rhode Island

Posted 12 April 2010 - 01:32 PM

Question 1. what temperature? I have a hot smoker and can build a cold smoker by adding tubing from the smoke stack to a separate box.


You can do either hotter or colder smoke, and adjust timing based on what you choose. It's a preference thing.

Question 2. how long to cure? It ranges from 48 hours (charcuterie text) to 7days (other blogs).


That's also tricky. You want to go by feel, eventually, but I lean toward 5-7 days, as I like a more cured profile. You do want to make sure that the cure gets into the meat, and I don't really think that can happen in only 48 hours.

Question 3. When to remove the skin from the pork belly? (charcuterie text says right after the hot smoke when the fat is soft). Other blogs say trim it before the cure and cold smoke it.


Broken record: up to you. I go for Ruhlman's approach and remove it after the hot smoke. (Then I use it all up: that stuff is gold.) I don't see the point of smoking it separately -- what's the reason?

On the upside I am thinking that homemade bacon must be a very forgiving procedure to have so many different approaches. On the other hand, I don’t want to waste time trying all the methods to see what is best.


Of course, "best" is in the mouth of the eater. :wink: Keep us posted!
Chris Amirault
camirault@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics Signatory
Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

#216 Blether

Blether
  • participating member
  • 1,728 posts
  • Location:Tokyo

Posted 13 April 2010 - 05:02 AM

I didn't remember the origin details till I referred back to my recipe just now, where I've noted "Erlandson sweet pickle with spicing based on Harvey/Kinsella and brining technique on Dubbs / Heberle".

In summary, I use an 80% brine and wet cure for 3.5 days. My taste is about middle-of-the-road.

As a Brit, I like 'green' or cold-smoked / raw unsmoked bacon. All the domestic-produced bacon I've ever found in this country is either hot-smoked, or if not smoked at all, then pre-cooked somehow. It never crisps up the way I like, but I've not bothered to nail down whether that's because of the pre-cooking, or because of something else. It goes dry and hard, but not crisp. (I can get imported green bacon that cooks the way I like it).

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.


#217 dougal

dougal
  • participating member
  • 1,279 posts
  • Location:England

Posted 13 April 2010 - 07:54 AM

... I use an 80% brine and ...



I see you've adopted Erlandson's terminology! :smile:

Maybe worth explaining that it means 80% of saturated with salt. Make a saturated brine (heat, dissolve what you can, cool, then filter) and take 4 measures of that to one of fresh water to make up the working brine. (Plus whatever flavourings, sweeteners, spices, etc.)

Edited by dougal, 13 April 2010 - 07:57 AM.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

#218 Blether

Blether
  • participating member
  • 1,728 posts
  • Location:Tokyo

Posted 13 April 2010 - 04:08 PM

I'm a dedicated follower of fashion.

Make a saturated brine (heat, dissolve what you can, cool, then filter) and take 4 measures of that to one of fresh water to make up the working brine. (Plus whatever flavourings, sweeteners, spices, etc.)


Interesting approach, that I've not heard before. I go by salt weight to volume of water. Another rule of thumb I've read but not tried is that an 80% brine is just strong enough to float a fresh raw spud.

Edited by Blether, 13 April 2010 - 04:09 PM.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.


#219 qrn

qrn
  • participating member
  • 748 posts

Posted 13 April 2010 - 07:28 PM

after wrestling with brines /rubs, and the final,finished salt levels, I use a dry cure amount based on the weight of the meat. My current finished salt level in bacon, is 3.5% in the finished meat , so, I weigh the meat and add an amount of cure that contains 3.5%(of the meat weight),in salt plus what ever else I want for flavor..,,Then I put the meat in a plastic bag , in the reefer and let it cure until all the cure is absorbed.. (well over a week),Bag needs to be rotated every day or so...In the end, the salt level is always right on, and is never wrong......(If using Insta cure#1 or 2 you need to take the salt weight in that, into consideration in your calculation as well)

For brines I calculate the total weight of the meat, the salt , the liquid, and other ingredients, and cure until the whole thing comes to equalibrium.(I made an excel worksheet to calculate that)..
Bud

#220 dougal

dougal
  • participating member
  • 1,279 posts
  • Location:England

Posted 14 April 2010 - 01:22 AM


Make a saturated brine (heat, dissolve what you can, cool, then filter) and take 4 measures of that to one of fresh water to make up the working brine. (Plus whatever flavourings, sweeteners, spices, etc.)


Interesting approach, that I've not heard before. I go by salt weight to volume of water. Another rule of thumb I've read but not tried is that an 80% brine is just strong enough to float a fresh raw spud.



I believe that the whole thinking behind Erlandson's speaking of "an xx% {of saturated} brine" is the assumption that working with a stock of saturated brine (and diluting it as appropriate) is an easy low-tech approach, which can be scaled as appropriate to production quantity, rather than getting fussed about grams per litre and precise quantities of brine - though careful weighing is the way I tend to go myself!

Potatoes should be more consistent hydrometers than eggs, whose density varies with freshness!




For bacon, I've actually tended to go with the method qrn describes.
Weigh everything carefully. Close it in a bag with the pork (and a tablespoon or so of water to help spread stuff around). Put the bag in the fridge and leave it there for about a week -- while turning the bag over (and squishing its contents) whenever the fridge is opened and a hand is free. Eventually rinse off whatever cure residues and dry for a day or two (ideally hanging) in the fridge. Proper bacon isn't cooked until the time of eating!

I'd just comment that 3.5% of the starting meat weight is quite salty ...
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

#221 abadoozy

abadoozy
  • participating member
  • 243 posts
  • Location:da UP, eh

Posted 31 March 2012 - 10:25 AM

I'm following Ruhlman's Maple Bacon recipe in Charcuterie, and the recipe seems to indicate that the pork belly should give off a fair bit of liquid while it sits for a week in the salt/maple syrup rub. It's been a week, and though the pork belly seems to be firming up, it hasn't given off any liquid to speak of.

Should I be worried? I've never done bacon before.

For the record, this was pork belly from a free-range happy pig, not store-bought, if it matters.

#222 ChrisTaylor

ChrisTaylor
  • host
  • 2,118 posts
  • Location:Melbourne

Posted 31 March 2012 - 03:08 PM

How much salt/sugar did you use? Are you sure the sugar/salt isn't just absorbing it? Too, er, does the container have a leak?

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between


#223 Todd in Chicago

Todd in Chicago
  • participating member
  • 148 posts

Posted 31 March 2012 - 03:16 PM

I've made bacon from Michaels book also and my pork belly gave up less than 1/2 cup of liquid - not much at all.

Todd in Chicago

P.S. Bacon tasted great!

#224 abadoozy

abadoozy
  • participating member
  • 243 posts
  • Location:da UP, eh

Posted 31 March 2012 - 05:08 PM

No leak, it's in a big ziploc, and the ziploc is in a pan, so any leaks would show up in the pan. Salt/Maple Syrup was about 1/4 cup each, and a couple teaspoons of pink salt, for 5# of pork belly.

Good to hear, Todd! I'm not so worried now.

#225 nickrey

nickrey
  • society donor
  • 2,254 posts
  • Location:Sydney, Australia

Posted 31 March 2012 - 05:14 PM

My bacon releases very little liquid as well. The cure still penetrates.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog


#226 qrn

qrn
  • participating member
  • 748 posts

Posted 31 March 2012 - 06:40 PM

No leak, it's in a big ziploc, and the ziploc is in a pan, so any leaks would show up in the pan. Salt/Maple Syrup was about 1/4 cup each, and a couple teaspoons of pink salt, for 5# of pork belly.

Good to hear, Todd! I'm not so worried now.

I do mine in a bag as well,and dont get much usually either,stillcomes out great...(I put the bag on a shelf in the reefer,however)
Bud

#227 Rico

Rico
  • participating member
  • 271 posts
  • Location:Dallas

Posted 08 July 2013 - 08:05 AM

Reviving this thread; I know bacon is *so* 2009, but I might just be a slow learner. And I still like it. This is my fourth belly to cure, and its the first one I've been really happy with - that is to say, the first one I'm convinced beats most of the store-bought brands out there. Red pepper and bourbon were the highlights of the cure, and it was applewood smoked (a thick smoke) for four hours. It's summer here in Dallas, so the smoking was done at about 100 degrees, despite my best efforts to keep the chamber cool. No worse for the wear, as far as I can tell. 

 

photo.jpg

 


 

 






 


Edited by Rico, 08 July 2013 - 08:05 AM.

  • judiu, glennbech, Blether and 1 other like this

#228 DiggingDogFarm

DiggingDogFarm
  • participating member
  • 1,068 posts
  • Location:Finger Lakes Region of New York State

Posted 08 July 2013 - 08:20 AM

It looks good.

 

 

 

~Martin


~Martin
 
Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist and contrarian who questions everything!
 


#229 furzzy

furzzy
  • society donor
  • 175 posts

Posted 15 July 2013 - 05:50 AM

RICO Thank you for bumping this thread! I'd probably never have found it otherwise... Just bought hubby a Big Green Egg & he's a "Smokin' Fool" now. I can't wait to try bacon.

#230 MasteringTheFlame

MasteringTheFlame
  • participating member
  • 23 posts

Posted 15 July 2013 - 04:03 PM

Rico, that looks great, I absolutely love bacon. Red pepper and bourbon in the cure sounds really good.



#231 glennbech

glennbech
  • participating member
  • 350 posts
  • Location:Oslo

Posted 13 December 2013 - 04:14 PM

Hi,

 

I have tried the bacon recipe from the Charcuterie book a couple of times now; and find the 7 day salting to produce a too salty product. Have anyone else experienced this. I guess the correct timing depends on thickness of the belly and temperature? How do you know when to stop the process? 



#232 DiggingDogFarm

DiggingDogFarm
  • participating member
  • 1,068 posts
  • Location:Finger Lakes Region of New York State

Posted 13 December 2013 - 04:50 PM

Use a reasonable percentage of salt (and sugar if desired) and cure until the salt, sugar and cure #1 have distributed well throughout the belly.

2% salt is a good place to start.

I cure for 7 days per inch of total thickness.

 

 

Here's a calculator on my website that makes it easy....the salt in the cure#1 is accounted for in the total salt percentage.


~Martin
 
Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist and contrarian who questions everything!
 


#233 Okanagancook

Okanagancook
  • participating member
  • 331 posts
  • Location:Naramata overlooking Lake Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada

Posted 14 December 2013 - 10:41 AM

We've made this recipe a few times and the first time we made it, we found it to be too salty also. Another key is to really, really wash the salt off well before cooking/smoking. This made a big difference for us.

#234 glennbech

glennbech
  • participating member
  • 350 posts
  • Location:Oslo

Posted 15 March 2014 - 01:39 PM

I am starting to nail this bacon thing now; and I have found the key to be practice. Go wonder. For me, the results have become far better after I realized that curing time depends on thickness of the belly. A lot of recipes do not mention this and recommend a given number of days. That does not work! Skinny pigs; less curing time. I have also worked in hanging/drying into my process. I hang my bacon after curing, before smoking for at least 24 hours to develop a surface that the smoke will stick to. This is usually recommended in recipes. I also hang the bacon after smoking for at 24-48 hours before consumption or packaging. I feel that this firms up the belly a bit.

 

Here is my process;

 

- Dredge salting; rub dry cure into the meat, shake of excess

- Mild vacum packaging ( I stop the vacum sealer mid-process) - I have found this to work very vell, And I feel that it is very hygienic and clean.  

- I keep the bellies in the fridge and try to weight them down a bit. I rotate and flip the bags every day. 

- After I am happy with firmness - I use meat hooks to hang the bellies for at least 24 hours

- I hot smoke to 60 degrees C in my Weber BBQ. 

- I hang the bacon for another 24-48 hours. 

 

Right now I have perfect conditions for curing and salting. Outside temperatures between 4-12 degrees C. So, more projects coming up :)

 

Here is from my last batch after smoking, and hanging for 48 hours - my best bacon so far!

 

bacon.jpg


Edited by glennbech, 15 March 2014 - 01:56 PM.

  • gfweb and Steve Irby like this

#235 ChrisTaylor

ChrisTaylor
  • host
  • 2,118 posts
  • Location:Melbourne

Posted 02 July 2014 - 02:47 AM

Does vac sealing the meat with the cure speed up the curing process significantly? For instance, I have a recipe that says to cure the pork belly for 7-10 days. The recipe assumes you're loosely packing the pork in salt and then wrapping it in a towel and placing it in a box. Would vac sealing the meat and cure speed this process up? If so, by how much?

 

If you cure your meat in a vac bag, do you occasionally open/drain/reseal/replace the bag? Or do you just leave the liquid sitting in the bag for the entire duration of the cure?


Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between


#236 nickrey

nickrey
  • society donor
  • 2,254 posts
  • Location:Sydney, Australia

Posted 02 July 2014 - 05:19 AM

I forgot my piece of vacuum sealed bacon leaving it in the (dry) cure for five weeks. The meat threw little to no water in the bag. I sliced a bit off and fried it to test for saltiness. As it was a bit too salty, I put the whole piece in water overnight to draw out some of the salt. I then dried the meat off with paper towels and warm smoked as usual. It was probably the best bacon I've ever made.


Edited by nickrey, 02 July 2014 - 05:19 AM.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog


#237 quiet1

quiet1
  • participating member
  • 129 posts

Posted 02 July 2014 - 08:46 PM

For some reason making my own bacon never occurred to me, but it sounds doable.

I'd be interested to hear if anyone has found a recipe they really like that doesn't include nitrates or nitrites. Most of the commercial products I've tried that leave those out have been less than exciting (either they leave out everything else that gives flavor too, or they get overly complicated with extra ingredients and you end up with a product that doesn't taste even remotely like bacon.) Annoyingly, nitrates and nitrites in foods make me wheeze so I would prefer to avoid or at least minimize the amounts used if I'm going to make my own. But I don't want to waste time and money on something that isn't tasty, either. :)

(Since it isn't actually an allergic reaction, my current solution is just to limit cured products in my diet and when I have them, they have to be extra tasty to make up for the annoyance of wheezing and coughing after. So that remains an option, but it would be nice to have a bacon-like product I could have more often without sounding like a sick dog for an hour after eating.)

#238 DiggingDogFarm

DiggingDogFarm
  • participating member
  • 1,068 posts
  • Location:Finger Lakes Region of New York State

Posted 03 July 2014 - 06:24 AM

Does vac sealing the meat with the cure speed up the curing process significantly? For instance, I have a recipe that says to cure the pork belly for 7-10 days. The recipe assumes you're loosely packing the pork in salt and then wrapping it in a towel and placing it in a box. Would vac sealing the meat and cure speed this process up? If so, by how much?

 

If you cure your meat in a vac bag, do you occasionally open/drain/reseal/replace the bag? Or do you just leave the liquid sitting in the bag for the entire duration of the cure?

 

 

 

If the meat is held under sufficient vacuum it will speed the curing process (tumbling under vacuum speeds curing even more), simply sealing it won't make an appreciable difference.

The speed of the cure depends on a lot of different variables...the concentration of the cure...temperature....vacuum level...thickness and composition of the piece of meat being cured, etc.


~Martin
 
Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist and contrarian who questions everything!
 


#239 ChrisTaylor

ChrisTaylor
  • host
  • 2,118 posts
  • Location:Melbourne

Posted 03 July 2014 - 01:34 PM

If the meat is held under sufficient vacuum it will speed the curing process (tumbling under vacuum speeds curing even more), simply sealing it won't make an appreciable difference.

The speed of the cure depends on a lot of different variables...the concentration of the cure...temperature....vacuum level...thickness and composition of the piece of meat being cured, etc.

 

It's under vacuum.

 

What am I 'looking for' to determine if a piece is ready for smoking? The meat still has a bit of give to it but, I mean, we're talking bacon intended for breakfast rashers here, not a dry-cured ham.


Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between


#240 nickrey

nickrey
  • society donor
  • 2,254 posts
  • Location:Sydney, Australia

Posted 03 July 2014 - 03:15 PM

It's under vacuum.

 

What am I 'looking for' to determine if a piece is ready for smoking? The meat still has a bit of give to it but, I mean, we're talking bacon intended for breakfast rashers here, not a dry-cured ham.

Best way I can describe it is that if it feels like a well done steak it's ready.


  • ChrisTaylor likes this

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Charcuterie