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Really Nice!

Making Bacon

255 posts in this topic

Really Nice posted about his bacon makin' experience in Pork bellies in my future.

Notice the use of two smokers.

Alas, I have yet to make my own bacon. :sad:

However, I just found a really cheap smoker that I could easily convert to a cold smoker for only a $100! Now if only we could get rid of all this snow. :wacko:

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If you live in an apartment, like me, you can make cured but unsmoked bacon (like pancetta), which is not the same but delicious in its own way. Paul Bertolli's recipe for tesa in Cooking by Hand is a great starting point. Even if you have the smoking capabilities, this could be a good way to practice sourcing your pork bellies and curing meat.


Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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If you live in an apartment, like me, you can make cured but unsmoked bacon (like pancetta), which is not the same but delicious in its own way. Paul Bertolli's recipe for tesa in Cooking by Hand is a great starting point. Even if you have the smoking capabilities, this could be a good way to practice sourcing your pork bellies and curing meat.

Have you made the tesa recipe? 12 pounds seems like an awful lot. I wondered if the recipe could be cut in half or reduced further.

I'm also interested in making guanciale. There is a simple recipe in th Babbo cookbook, but it calls for 3 weeks of hanging in a cool, dry space. Any idea where to pull that off? I also live in an apartment. I could try to use a friend's garage or basement, but wondered about the safety of that . . .

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Hello Folks,

I suddenly realized that I have never prepared my own bacon so I would like to rectify this situation as soon as possible.

I plan to use a Niman pork belly slab that I ordered from the butcher (VerBrugge in Oakland CA!) earlier today.

I am told that you need your smoker to be under 80 degrees and that you should smoke the belly for 6 hours with no specified internal target temperature. However, another recipe said to smoke for 125 degrees for a while and then 150 degrees for a total of about 8 hours or until the center reaches 135 degrees. I am inclined to go with the under 80 recommendation because that’s what Alton Brown did, but since I’ve never done this I would appreciate some advice.

I am also hearing conflicting information about the curing. Some say to use molasses and sugar while others say to use mainly dextrose because it doesn’t burn as readily when you cook the bacon. I love maple syrup and molasses so I am planning to use one of these in my cure. Any thoughts on this?

Is curing the bacon for 3 days about right? Can I(should I) speed this along with a vacuum sealer(FoodSaver)?

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I use the methods on this site for cool-smoker bacon:

http://www.3men.com/bacon_making.htm

They use a commercial cure mix.

Alton Brown's cure recipe sounds good, it is a bit different than mine, but close.

I use brown sugar instead of molasses and I use more cracked black peppercorns and also add a few bay leaves and some mustard seed to the mix. Doesn't add all that much flavor but I like it.

I also cold-smoke for longer because that is the way I like my bacon. I smoke it with maple for 10 hours.

This site has a different method and also sells the cure mixes.

I use their method for curing sausages made from wild game.

http://www.askthemeatman.com/curing_&_smok...ons_at_home.htm


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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I work at a restaurant that makes their own panchetta. I have a reasonable grasp of the process, but I'm looking for more.

I would like to be able to make my own salami's, pepperoni, bacon, sausages etc. I am pretty familiar with making my own bacon and sausage, but it would be nice to see it in writing before I give my friends tricanosis(sp) or something.

Even a cookbook recommendation would be nice, I have the complete meat cookbook and a pretty extensive cookbook collection but this seems to be a skill that people don't like to share in books.

I also have access to curing salt and casings I just need the knowledge.

Thanks

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A dated but good starting point is the late Jane Grigson's "Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery" or "The Art of Making Sausages, Pates, and Other Charcuterie (aka 'The Art of Charcuterie')" - all of which, someone please correct me if I'm wrong, I think are different editions of the same book. The first is still in print and is available from Amazon last time I looked. The second sells for about $40 used if you can find it.

Also check out John Kinsella's "Professional Charcuterie : Sausage Making, Curing, Terrines, and Pâtés".

Just made my first fresh sausage this week.... much easier than I thought.


Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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In addition to Dave's excellent recommendations two recent books come to mind:

Bertolli's "Cooking by Hand" and

Aidells' "Complete Book of Pork".

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I would recommend Rytec Kutec's book on sausage making. This book has all the basics in curing, sausage making, pickleing and whatever. The good thing about it is, it has a host of recipes to get started with and the directions are quite simple to follow. When I first started making my own sausage and dry curing different products, I used his book and got a lot of good pointers. Since then I've changed recipes and came up with a few that have stuck with me for last 15+ years. You probably can find his book from www.sausagemaker.com, and any book supply center.

Polack

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I have a ham hanging in the shed even as we speak, but won't be able to vouch for it til May. I will keep you posted. :biggrin:


sparrowgrass

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Dan Gill is a rancher in the tidewater area of Virginia. He's a regular jack of all trades and a master of just about all of them. He's got a lot of information on Smoking and Curing Meats.


=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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I like the link to Dan Gill, was set to do a ham like this three weeks ago. Then I started to do some more reading and got scared by the lack of nitrates or nitrites.

They supposedly add flavour, colour, and safety from botulism. In addition, if erythorbate is added (or Ascorbic acid) then there is some freedom from nitrosamines being formed when the meat is cooked under high heat.

I bought a pork leg at a grocer for $22. I took the bone out.

So I soaked the fresh ham, bone out, well scored, in a solution of salt, maple syrup, nitrite, and erythorbate for two weeks.

Today I drained it and rubbed in a salt combo: pickling salt, demerarra sugar,

paprika, crushed bay leaves, and pepper. I'll keep rubbing it perodically, in my 35 degree basement, until early March. A lot of juice will come out.

Then I'll let it rest for three weeks, before slow smoking it in maple chips for a day.

It should hang after that, but I'll be sorely tempted to soak half of it water, and prepare it with red eye gravy.

I'll keep you posted on this one...

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Wow! sounds great!

But why did you take the bone out? personal preference or a different reason?

I make my own corned beef.I don't boil it, I have a dry rub mix , it also has saltpeter in it, let the well wrapped brisket sit in the fridge for a week, turning after 3 days and then baked.

I love smoked foods! I would love to do more then I do now. I swear by my caol BBQ, it's very versitile. I have seen a smoker I would love to get my hands on....but I'm afraid my wooden storage out in the back yard would very quickly be turned into "the smoke house" !! :laugh:


Edited by debler (log)

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Someone sent me an e-mail saying the photo server I was using was no longer functioning, and I can't edit the original, so here's a repeat of the post using ImageGullet.

------------------------

The basic summary: If you have two smokers and you love bacon, you have to try this. You'll make the best bacon you've ever had in your life.

1. Here are the packages of pork bellies. I was hoping to get larger pieces, but this is all they had. I bought it at a local Asian market for $2.89 a pound.

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2. This is the dry brine recipe. After three days there will be about 12 ounces of liquid in the bag.

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3. This is both the dry and wet brine recipes after three days. The wet brine pork got a lot of dark color (and flavor) from the molasses. I started brining both on Wednesday morning.

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4. You want to create a light skin on the pork. Set up a fan to blow air on it for about an hour to create the 'pellicle.'

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5. This is the wood. The original photo looks a lot better. But, that's Maple on the left, Apple on the right, and Hickory in the front. To describe them I'd say they look like rabbit droppings. I used 1.5 pounds of maple and apple each, and 3 pounds of Hickory. There was about 1/2 pound left at the end of 8 hours.

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6. This is the operation. It ain't pretty but it works beautifully. The traeger is on the right. It's a wood pellet auger-driven smoker system. I used painter's tape because I didn't want the sticky stuff that duct tape leaves behind. Unfortunately, it rained after I set up the operation the night before and it started falling apart. I taped the sides of the lid, as well as the pipeline, and the grease drain. I'm guessing about 75 percent of the smoke made it inside the Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) pictured on the left.

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7. This is a closer look at the link to the WSM. It fell apart shortly after I took this photo. Painter's tape doesn't hold well on wet surfaces. I ended up using clear packing tape, but I still couldn't get a good connection as too much smoke was escaping. I decided to cut the end of the pipeline in 8 places, about 1.5 inches deep.

I then folded back each cut and applied tape to the 8 newly created 'wings.' Sorry, but I didn't take a photo of the new connection. The tape held firm and the new connection reduced the amount of escaping smoke.

Also, the WSM has three vents in the bottom, one vent on top. The vent connecting to the pipeline was wide open, the other two on the bottom were completely closed. The vent on the top was initially wide open to create a draft, and after about 30 minutes I closed it halfway.

The WSM is a water smoker, meaning it has a basin in the middle to hold the water. Remove this so it doesn't interfere with the smoke. Leave the charcoal basin in the bottom to prevent smoke from leaking out or to prevent the draft from getting too strong.

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8. This is the bacon as it sat in the WSM. The temperature inside never got over 100F. The day started out cloudy and cool (60F). Towards the afternoon it became sunny and warmed up to about 90F. I started the Traeger on high; about 450F for about 10 minutes. This produced a lot of smoke. I turned it down to medium (300F) for 20 minutes; then on low (150F) for 7 hours. Finally, it went back to medium for the last 30 minutes. Total smoking time: 8 hours.

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9. This is the WSM as I opened the lid after smoking the pork bellies for 8 hours. There's a lot of smoke and the bacon looked lean. I placed it all in the freezer to harden for about an hour before slicing it on a Braun slicer.

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10. This is the cooked bacon. I think this particular piece was originally about 12 ounces and it gave me twelve good slices and a couple not so good. The Braun slicer was on setting 2, or about 1/4 inch thick. I baked it at 425F for 15 minutes. It looked better than the photo shows.

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11. Time to assemble my ultimate sandwich, the Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato. I made bread while the bacon was smoking, made homemade mayonnaise, got a tomato from a neighbor's garden, and for the first time, I'm using homemade bacon. I couldn't find any local iceberg lettuce so I had to go with store bought.

The remaining bacon was sliced and vacuumed sealed.

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12. And here it is. The best BLT I've ever had in my life. So naturally you need one heck of a fine wine to go with it: Lafite Rothschild, 1976. You can't see it, but the wine had a beautiful red brick rim.

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Conclusion: Okay, we know I'm not a photographer. :biggrin: I'd like to say I'll never buy store bought bacon again. If I'm in a pinch and unprepared, I'll have to buy it. But, with a little bit of planning, you too can have some fantastic bacon in just four days.

----------------

Addendum: This post originated in the Pacific Northwest forum as a quest to find pork bellies, hence the initial discussion for a local purveyor. It is now rightfully placed in Adventures in Eating. This was the only time I made bacon like this. I sold the house soon after this test and now live in a condo that does not allow for bbqs, smokers, etc. :shock:

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Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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Wow! sounds great!

But why did you take the bone out? personal preference or a different reason?

I make my own corned beef.I don't boil it, I have a dry rub mix , it also has saltpeter in it, let the well wrapped brisket sit in the fridge for a week, turning after 3 days and then baked.

I love smoked foods! I would love to do more then I do now. I swear by my caol BBQ, it's very versitile. I have seen a smoker I would love to get my hands on....but I'm afraid my wooden storage out in the back yard would very quickly be turned into "the smoke house" !! :laugh:

I had a limited amount of solution, and found that with the bone out I could easily cover the leg in a food safe plastic bucket.

I roasted the bones, and let my dog work on them for a half day.

I have seen photos posted in threads here using a Weber for mild smoking. The coals or wood are off to one side, and completely burned out . Offsetting the lid will keep the temperature down, too.

My leg is probably too large for the Weber, so I'll use a horizontal barrel shaped BBQ-smoker. I have used this for smoked salmon, and achieved a cold smoke by opening the lid 2" and making sure there was no fresh blue-black smoke going through.

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Progress report:

My ham is still under the salt rub.

After I took it out of the brine, I put a pork loin rib end, and let it brine for 2 weeks.

I smoke it yesterday, for 4.5 hrs. Turned out good but salty.

I'll give you a taste test tomorow

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Well the house is no longer as I sold it and moved into a condominium. I'm stuck sharing two Weber barbecues with 180 other units. I shall not be denied my right to homemade bacon (U.S. Constitution Article IV, Section 5. No person shall be denied the right to make homemade bacon.) So I made bacon using a Weber barbecue.

Steps 1 through 4 are the same as above. This time I brined the pork belly in 1/2 cup salt, 1/8 cup maple syrup, some cracked pepper, and some dry mustard.

Here's the MEP list for making bacon with a barbecue: 2 metal ramekins, towel, wood chips (in this case, hickory), plastic wrap, aluminum foil, tongs, 2 pot holders 1 metal wire rack, 6-inch 1/3 hotel pan. (The pot holders were unnecessary, but should be available just in case...)

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Here's the barbecue 'pit'. So sad...

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Before starting, get your MEP together because you're going to have to work fast. Unroll the foil and plastic wrap. Place the hotel pan on top of a long piece of plastic wrap. You'll need enough unrolled to wrap the top as well. Place the two metal ramekins in the 6-inch 1/3 hotel pan. You'll dump the wood in between these two ramekins and then place the bacon on the wire rack on top of the ramekins. In this setup, I'm using the ramekins to gain some elevation between the wood and the bacon.

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Make an envelope out of the foil and place the wood chips inside. It doesn't have to be airtight. And in fact, you probably don't because you want to quickly open the envelope to dump the wood into the hotel pan. Also, you'll need some air inside because you're going to get as close to burning the wood as you can. Place the foil envelope in the barbecue as close to the flame as possible. Move the grate to the side, if you can. Use the tongs to turn the envelope every 2 or 3 minutes to help ensure an even burning. It took me about 10 minutes to get the wood to an "all black with red amber edges" stage.

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After the wood has charred well enough and there's red ambers on the edges, dump the wood into the hotel pan, insert the bacon on the wire rack (balance it on top of the two metal ramekins), and wrap the plastic over the pan to trap the smoke.

gallery_6987_347_317.jpg

Place the foil over the wrapped pan and use a towel to seal. It should be air tight. Crimp the foil hanging over the edge as tight and close to the lip of the edge as possible. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

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After 24 hours, open the package, remove the bacon and discard the wood. I prefer thick-sliced bacon; this is a little more than an 1/8-inch thick. The slicer is too big for the condo storage so I don’t have it handy. Using a serrated knife for slicing was very easy. If you prefer thinner bacon I think you'll need to use a slicer.

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Bake on a sheet pan in a 325°F oven for 16 to 20 minutes. Yum!

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For some reason, cooked bacon doesn't photograph very well.

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Drink!

I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward. --John Mortimera

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Over here, you'll note that Chris has a mess of bellies that need to be used up. I'd hope that he would not do all of them in Lop Yuk, but do some of them in a more traditional cure. Over on the Charcuterie topic, a mess of us have been making bacon.

As an aside, at our most recent trip to The cabin, we stopped at F & D Meats in Virginia, and had some rathter odd bacons. First up was the brown sugar and cinnamon, next up the cajun.

The first slice of the brown sugar and cinnamon was divine, every bit after that was cloying. We decided that cinnamon bacon is better either eaten simply by slice, or it would make a wonderful addition to a salad, or something.

The cajun, on the other hand, in a BLT, was beyond belief. Sublime, with the hint of cajun combining perfectly with mayo and tomato and some crisp iceberg.

Let's give Chris some ideas beyond just Lop Yuk.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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I'm going to smoke some bacon tomorrow my my back-door neighbors smoker (yes, the trusty kettle will feel neglected, but I think I might be dual smoker smoking, and stick a butt piece on the latter). Anyway, his smoker will hold at about 90-100 degrees. Do I still take the bacon to an internal of 150? Help!


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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I smoked bacon yesterday, using my neighbor's cabinet style smoker, and I was able to keep the heat very low (like barely 80 degrees F). It was an interesting experiment as I was burning on a home improvement project, helping a friend (over the phone) help with funeral details, and tending the smoke, but I have a beautiful product. I was too tired tonight to even cook some up, but tomorrow or the next day, when it is cooked, I have the feeling everyone here is going to be drooling, and just want to run out and get a belly, cure it and smoke it.

I will say at the beginning that this is not a fab belly, it's not a Niman thing, or even a farmer's market heirloom pig belly. It was at the market (actually, there were two of them) at $.89/lb. For that, I can donate a little pink salt, some brown sugar, some kosher salt, a bit o' charcoal, and get the teen to chip up some cherry wood.

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Oh, best of all, a friend called lamenting the demise of her bread machine, so we traded my used-once bread machine for her once-used Krups meat slicer! (We call it home shopping.) Makes slicing bacon so easy...


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Double-smoked Pepper Bacon, step-by-step

Ratios from M. Ruhlman and B. Polcyn, Charcuterie, first edition

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For this batch of bacon (my third) I am using a half of a Niman Ranch pork belly, skin left on, cured using a recipe based on the one found in Charcuterie. I am making a savory bacon this time around, so no maple syrup, and two bay leaves and a healthy dose of black pepper added. This is all ground up in the spice grinder and applied to the belly. I then wrapped the belly in plastic wrap, put it in a 2-gallon Ziploc bag, and put in the the bottom of my fridge for seven days, turning it over each day to redistribute the brine. On the last day I took it out, rinsed it off, and put in on a rack in the fridge to develop a pellicle for better smoking.

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I smoked the bacon in two stages: first, a cold-smoke for about 6 hours, using hickory. I was smoking some sausage at the same time, since the smoking chamber is plenty big for both. The smoker is right outside the door to my deck, so I run a thermometer inside to keep track of the smoker temp. It was about 50 degrees F outside, which is about the temperature the cold-smoking chamber maintained throughout.

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The next day I smoked the belly again, this time hot, over mesquite (because I ran out of hickory!).

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The next step is to remove the skin, which is best done when the bacon is still very hot out of the smoker. I used a paring knife to get it started, but if you do it while the belly is still piping hot, the skin should just pull right off. Of course, this will hurt since it's still hot, but sometimes we have to make sacrifices for bacon :biggrin: . It is worth it...

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Next, after cooling the bacon in the fridge overnight, I sliced the bacon on my Hobart 110 and packaged it up. I like to use the Reynolds Handi-vac system for this. If you pre-wrap the slices in plastic wrap before vacuum sealing them, you can put two meals worth of bacon in one bag and freeze it. When you want one, it is easy to remove just one since the plastic wrap keeps them separate in the freezer. You can use fewer bags this way.

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Finally, a taste-test is required before packing up for the night... :biggrin: . This is very smokey, savory bacon, perfect for BLTs, which is its intended use. Man, I love bacon. :wub:


Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Very nice. Love the Hobart and the picture of you hugging your bacon on your website!

http://chrishennes.com/Welcome.html

Nice pictures too. What sort of camera and lighting are you using?


My soup looked like an above ground pool in a bad neighborhood.

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Chris- lovely bacon, but what did you do with that piece of skin? Have been thinking about it since you posted.

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Nice pictures too. What sort of camera and lighting are you using?

It's a low-end DSLR with an external flash pointed at the ceiling for most of the shots, using various relatively short apertures.

Chris- lovely bacon, but what did you do with that piece of skin? Have been thinking about it since you posted.

That skin is destined for a pot of beans later this week. Believe me, it didn't get thrown away, it is beautiful!


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Have been smoking my home cured bacon mostly with applewood, as I had to take down an apple tree, but am curious about trying cob smoking.

If you've ever tried it I'd be interested in your input. Since the corn season here in eastern PA is coming soon...

I use a side-firebox Char-Broil smoker to hot smoke my bacon. TIA!


I'd rather be making cheese; growing beets or smoking briskets.

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