Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Really Nice!

Making Bacon

Recommended Posts

Actually, to be honest, I didn't notice any great difference between using skin-on and skin-off bellies. At first I was disappointed to see that my hog had been skinned, but over the long haul it hasn't seemed to matter except with the hams. The bacon turned out great, and I don't think I made any adjustments to compensate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Actually, to be honest, I didn't notice any great difference between using skin-on and skin-off bellies. At first I was disappointed to see that my hog had been skinned, but over the long haul it hasn't seemed to matter except with the hams. The bacon turned out great, and I don't think I made any adjustments to compensate.

When it comes to the practical over the theoretical, I'll always go with the former. Thanks for doing the fieldwork Chris.

On the other hand, I know from your posts you have an extremely well controlled cooking set up. Perhaps the skin provides an error margin for the rest of us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Chris H -- though I can't tell you what effect the skin has in cooking since I remove it for use with beans, collards, and the like. Yum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks! I'll give it a try with a skinless piece of belly, unless my meat guy gets in some belly with skin by next week (not likely, but a few more days won't kill me).

The temperature of the oven will only be 200F, quite low, but if I wanted to take precautions against too much fat rendering out, could I put a few layers of aluminum foil on the top where the skin would be? I would only cover the top of the belly, itself, not the whole pan.

I can't lower my oven temperature because it goes from 100C down to 45C with nothing in between. (Japanese gas convection oven, but it keeps a pretty steady temperature) So I'm stuck with 100C (I know it's slightly more than 200F, but it's not so much more!). I do have a probe themometer, so I'm all set in terms of checking the internal temperature.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Be careful with aluminum foil and salt-cured meats. I once brined a brisket for pastrami. Since I couldn't smoke it right away, I put it on a sheet pan and covered it with foil. I came back two (maybe three) days later to perforated foil and little drops of aluminum on my beef. The sheet pan gave up some material, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Be careful with aluminum foil and salt-cured meats. I once brined a brisket for pastrami. Since I couldn't smoke it right away, I put it on a sheet pan and covered it with foil. I came back two (maybe three) days later to perforated foil and little drops of aluminum on my beef. The sheet pan gave up some material, too.

Perhaps I'll skip the aluminum foil and go with parchment or nothing at all! My pork belly will be a little on the lean side (judging by the picture), but maybe I'll just chance the fat rendering out. Or I could go on the opposite direction and get a super fatty pork belly, but then I'd have almost no meat!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Doesn't the heat in your oven come from the bottom? I don't know what your equipment situation is, but a stainless steel or chrome-plated rack in a sheet pan or over a rimmed cookie sheet would work.

Having said that, my usual procedure is to cold-smoke, then slow-roast in an oven at 225 F, finishing at 165 F. I've never experienced significant fat loss.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Doesn't the heat in your oven come from the bottom? I don't know what your equipment situation is, but a stainless steel or chrome-plated rack in a sheet pan or over a rimmed cookie sheet would work.

Having said that, my usual procedure is to cold-smoke, then slow-roast in an oven at 225 F, finishing at 165 F. I've never experienced significant fat loss.

Unfortunately, as with most small Japanese ovens, mine comes from the top (from the back corner, really, but closer to the top than the bottom). It's gas convection, so there's a fan blowing around in there, but when I've done things like roast chicken or turkey, the tops of large chickens or small turkeys (which almost reach the roof of my oven) always end up getting dark quickly.

I'll look around and see what I have that can do the job. I should be able to provide at least partial cover with some kind of pan or something hanging around.

I'd love to smoke my meat, but I have nowhere to smoke it! (teeny tiny balcony)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good luck, Rona! Let us know how it goes.

Now let's talk about my bacon issues.

I'm thinking Coca-Cola bacon. As a flavor profile, it's got a lot of promise: sugar, interesting herbs and spices as well as citrus notes. With some salt, it should be interesting. After all, people cook ham with Coke all the time, and it's great. But let's assume that I've had a great idea and move on to the particulars.

I'd like a brine that's 4% salt and 3% sugar. For 1.5 gallons of brine, I'd need about 2.5 quarts of Coca-Cola, diluted with 3.5 quarts of water (plus salt and whatever). It seemed pretty clear-cut, until I related my plan to a friend, who asked "What about the acid?"

The pH of Coke is about 2.5 -- roughly that of lemon or lime juice. Neither of us knew how the dilution (roughly 60%) would affect pH, though it would certainly be reduced. Still, I don't want to subject my belly to high levels of acid for three or four days. Who around here understands pH?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

pH is a relatively complicated animal: first off, it's a logarithmic scale, and second off, you potentially have to deal with buffering, etc. However, in this case you are starting with a relatively strong acid and you are not diluting it very much. If we just do a back-of-the-envelope calculation and assume that we only have to deal with the hydrogen ion concentration, then:


2.5 = -log10(A) --> A=0.003162

Diluting that concentration by 60% gives:


A=0.003162*.4=0.001265

And then converting that "concentration" back to pH gives


-log10(0.001265) = 2.9

So, not unexpectedly, for that very small amount of dilution, you still have a fairly acidic solution (pH=2.9). Of course we've made some approximations here, but I think this is close. Now the question is, what is three days in a pH=3 solution going to do to the texture of your belly?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a little queasy.

But let's try it with better numbers. I'd be diluting 2.5 quarts of Coke with 3.5 quarts of water. Contrary to my earlier numbers, that's not a 60% dilution, it's a 140% dilution. Please run that through your abacus.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Once you get your numbers down, I can get 2"x12" strips of skin-on pork belly very easily at my local Chinese market and would be willing to try this out alongside a standard cure to test texture through the process. Take one for the team, all that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, let's just do the dilution calculation straight up, no percentages (using the "concentration" of H+ calculated in the first step above, and again ignoring any buffering, etc.):


C1*V1 = C2*V2
---
(0.003162)*2.5 = C2*6.0
--
C2 = 0.001318
--
-log10(0.001318) = 2.9

I'm only giving you two significant digits here, and since it's a log scale the difference between a 60% dilution and a 140% dilution simply isn't that large. They both give approximately pH = 2.9. But it's not the same number if you carry a few more digits around.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Then this seems like a non-starter, unless I can neutralize at least some of the acid. Any ideas? Baking soda? Mentos?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't let you do that, Dave.

You can't just give up on this. The world demands an answer! Making your own seems kinda pointless, you would just be developing a fancy brine recipe. But if there were some way to make Coke work... now that...that would be something. The trouble with trying to neutralize the acid is that the reaction produces salts, and not necessarily of the NaCl variety. What kind(s) of acid are in Coke?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seeing as neroli oil is a buck a milliliter, I'm happy to entertain the current motion a bit longer.

Like most carbonated beverages, Coke contains carbonic acid -- so one question is: what happens to pH if you let the cola go flat?

Ingredients also include phosphoric acid (according to Snopes, 0.2 to 0.3 %) and maybe citric acid (Snopes says in lower concentrations than an orange).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I can't let you do that, Dave.

You can't just give up on this. The world demands an answer! Making your own seems kinda pointless, you would just be developing a fancy brine recipe. But if there were some way to make Coke work... now that...that would be something. The trouble with trying to neutralize the acid is that the reaction produces salts, and not necessarily of the NaCl variety. What kind(s) of acid are in Coke?

You've at least got phosphoric acid and citric acid.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Like most carbonated beverages, Coke contains carbonic acid -- so one question is: what happens to pH if you let the cola go flat?

What happens is --according to a cheap pH meter -- is the pH goes from a nominal 2.5 to about 4.3. That's still low, but my belly wasn't getting any younger.

So I calculated this recipe, settling on 4% salt and 3% sugar:

120 oz. water

76 oz. Coca-Cola

317 grams salt

27 grams pink salt

Consistent with Chris H's prediction, the pH barely budged -- maybe up a tick, but the scale on the meter isn't very precise.

I'll check it every 12 hours for mushiness and keep everyone posted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you can find a suitable outdoor enclosure, ( a large grill may work for small batches, or even an unused garbage can ), a hotplate with a cast iron skillet will smoke wood chips or sawdust and not give out much heat. Real smoke no oven!

bacon018.jpg

Since bacon is an uncooked product, once cured, I just let it smoke to a desired color rather than worry about the internal temperature.

bacon006.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got a wee bit of a problem with my bacon experiment.

Last Friday, I got my 1kg of side pork, so I promptly put together the ingredients for maple-cured bacon. I think it's from Charcuterie.

One 5 lb. piece of pork belly, rind on

2 ounces kosher salt

1/4 C. pure Maple syrup

2 t. pink salt (a curing salt, not the Hawain stuff)

1/4 C. Maple sugar (pricey, worth it)

I only had half the pork, so I thought I should halve the ingredients, and I used brown sugar instead of maple sugar. I also didn't use pink salt.

Now, I week later, my pork looks like it did when I started, and not a lot of water got sucked out of it. It's not really firm like I read it should be, but it's still kind of floppy like a non-cured piece of side pork.

Thinking back, I think I halved the salt, but then forgot to halve the rest of the ingredients. Oops. . .

so. . . .can I still save my pork? It doesn't seem to smell bad, so I don't think it's spoiled. Should I take it out and rub another ounce of kosher salt onto it? If I do that, should I pour out the liquid that's in the bag now (which includes some maple syrup)? And then how much longer should I leave it? Another week?

Or should I go ahead and bake it? I'm planning to bake at 100C until it reaches 147-150F (or whatever that is in Celsius).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've got a wee bit of a problem with my bacon experiment.

Last Friday, I got my 1kg of side pork, so I promptly put together the ingredients for maple-cured bacon.  I think it's from Charcuterie.

One 5 lb. piece of pork belly, rind on

2 ounces kosher salt

1/4 C. pure Maple syrup

2 t. pink salt (a curing salt, not the Hawain stuff)

1/4 C. Maple sugar (pricey, worth it)

I only had half the pork, so I thought I should halve the ingredients, and I used brown sugar instead of maple sugar. I also didn't use pink salt.

Now, I week later, my pork looks like it did when I started, and not a lot of water got sucked out of it. It's not really firm like I read it should be, but it's still kind of floppy like a non-cured piece of side pork.

Thinking back, I think I halved the salt, but then forgot to halve the rest of the ingredients. Oops. . .

so. . . .can I still save my pork? It doesn't seem to smell bad, so I don't think it's spoiled. Should I take it out and rub another ounce of kosher salt onto it? If I do that, should I pour out the liquid that's in the bag now (which includes some maple syrup)? And then how much longer should I leave it? Another week?

Or should I go ahead and bake it? I'm planning to bake at 100C until it reaches 147-150F (or whatever that is in Celsius).

Well, let me take a shot at it

You have 2268 g of meat ... my % of salt for bacon is 3.75% that would be 80.6 g assuming you use pink salt. pink salt should be 5.922 g for 150 ppm...

your salt amount is 56.7 g.. a bit light... your pink salt is 12 g (6 g per tsp), twice as much as needed. If you take the excess salt added in the pink salt , your salt is probably about 60g. add another 20 g and it probably is "close enough for government work",,, the Pink salt is to much, and I will not offer an opinion as to what to do about that...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pink salt isn't a problem since even though the recipe calls for it, prasantrin didn't use it at all. I think the issue is going to be that the bacon will be very sweet. But, even bacon that is too sweet to eat plain has plenty of uses, so I wouldn't stress out about it. Make BLTs and use a very acidic mayonnaise, or chop it up and use it in a sauce (adjusting to taste, obviously).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks. I think my real question is. . .

Since I didn't use the appropriate amount of salt, will the side pork really be cured enough to make into bacon? Or am I just going to get some sweet side pork that won't make good bacon?

I think I'm going to go ahead and bake it after I rinse it and let it dry out a bit. I'd rather bake it as is, then leave it another week and potentially have it go bad. Pork is pork, after all!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Pink salt isn't a problem since even though the recipe calls for it, prasantrin didn't use it at all. I think the issue is going to be that the bacon will be very sweet. But, even bacon that is too sweet to eat plain has plenty of uses, so I wouldn't stress out about it. Make BLTs and use a very acidic mayonnaise, or chop it up and use it in a sauce (adjusting to taste, obviously).

Whoops! missed that he left it out!! sorry,,

Bud

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By yoboseyo
      Novice at meat-curer looking for advice. I'm making 2 pancettas this season.
       
      The first one I used the over-salting technique. What I didn't expect was that the salt would all turn into brine in a day, and I expected that I could scrape away the excess salt at the end. Instead, I left it on the brine for too long, and the result was too salty. The meat firmed up in 2 days so I should've taken it out then.
       
      For my second one, which is currently in the fridge, I used the equilibrium salting technique. I added about 100g salt for 3.5kg meat. The problem now is that it's not firming up seemingly at all! It has been 9 days in the fridge, and flipping it every day or 2. After 6 days, however, there was no pool of brine left. I put the meat in a folded over but unsealed bag. Did the brine evaporate or resoak into the meat?
       
      Any advice on how to continue would be appreciated.
    • By davidcross
      I made some Lonza and cured it for 2 weeks.
       
      In the drying chamber (70% humidity and 55F with gentle air flow) it's only been 4 days but it's already lost 30% of its pre-drying chamber weight. Normally that can take weeks.
       
      Is that normal, and is the meat ready?
       
      Thank you
    • By davidcross
      My first Guanciale is looking good. It smells clean, fresh, and is firming up nicely after about 3 weeks in the curing chamber at 65% humidity and 55F. First piece slices nicely and it seems great.
       
      I've a question…
       
      On the outside are some tiny white/straw-colored flecks (ignore darker flecks - this is some remaining Thyme from the cure).
       
      They do not penetrate the skin and I am not sure whether it's mold or salt coming out or fat or what.
       
      Thoughts? Likely safe?
       
      Thank you



    • By davidcross
      This is elk bresaola 3 weeks after hanging in the drying chamber, and losing weight as expected.
       
      The growth on the outside seems mainly green on the outside of the netting.
       
      Probably safe... or pitch it?
       
      And if safe, wash or spray with anything? Strip the netting off, or...?
       
      Thank you


    • By silverfux
      Hi! i am working at a restaurant in south africa where we are curing our own meet.
      We are having a problem with tiny little white bugs (they look almost like lice) that are inside our leg hams.
      Does anyone know what they are and how we should get rid of them.
      the picture attached is the damage they have done on one of our legs.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×