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  1. #1
    NicoleP's Avatar
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    I need help curing my own bacon

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    I recently found pork belly at my local whole foods for real cheap and want to see what I can do with it in the smoker. Most of the recipes I see have a lot of sugar. I am sure you can use only salt but that would be too salty for my taste. Anyone have an experience with this? Any help would be great. I am especially interested in using cinnamon as I have heard that itís really good.

    I found this video here, but there is a butt load of sugar. I wonder how much of it would be absorbed by the bacon? I have no clue.

    How to Make Homemade Cured and Smoked Bacon - YouTube

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    ssn679doc's Avatar
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    curing bacon is really easy... there are many methods, I prefer the dry rub method. You can use Morton's Quick cure, and the directions are on the bag. The amount of sugar in the cure is not alot, and it is used to cut the harshness of the salt. Once you salt the meat and let it sit in the fridge for about 14 days, you soak the meat to pull some of the salt out, put it back in the fridge for a couple of days to "equalize" then you can smoke the meat. I learned how to do this process from Stanley Marinaski's book "Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages". It's not hard.. it just takes time. He covers several other methods for curing bacon in his book (injection, brining etc). He covers the "why" of how meats are cured pretty thoroughly, and is a good education in that regard all by itself.

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    NicoleP's Avatar
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    Thank you for the info. I will take a look at the book you mentioned and for now may try the Mortons Quick cure. I'm not in a rush as the pork belly is frozen. Do you use a regular smoker or electric? I was given an electric one for Christmas and really want to try the bacon out.

    If this turns out good I doubt I will be buying anymore bacon from the store. Pork belly is really cheap too so it works all the way around. I am kind of wondering what it would taste like if I just cut off a slice and fried it.

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    eKatherine's Avatar
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    You will need to cold smoke it if you want it to come out like real bacon. Hot smoking cooks a piece of meat. You want it raw.

    It is possible to construct a cold smoke chamber from an old refrigerator. You could drill a hole in each side, put the smoke box on one side and draw the smoke through to the other. The refrigeration unit will chill the chamber so the meat does not get warm.

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    NicoleP's Avatar
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    You know I never even though about it being cooked but I get what you are saying. Most of the bacon we get from the store is not cooked for long if at all. I guess most is just injected with chemicals and sent on its way. I don't have anywhere to put an old fridge but if I did I would try this method.

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    ssn679doc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NicoleP View Post
    Thank you for the info. I will take a look at the book you mentioned and for now may try the Mortons Quick cure. I'm not in a rush as the pork belly is frozen. Do you use a regular smoker or electric? I was given an electric one for Christmas and really want to try the bacon out.

    If this turns out good I doubt I will be buying anymore bacon from the store. Pork belly is really cheap too so it works all the way around. I am kind of wondering what it would taste like if I just cut off a slice and fried it.
    An electric smoker may get too hot. (if there is a thermostat, you may be able to control the temp) I live on a small farm and I have the room, so I built a small smokehouse out of concrete blocks and can do either hot or cold smoke.

    Fried uncured pork belly is pretty good... not as salty or smoky as bacon. You may want to look in to making canadian bacon as well. It is a leaner cut of pork (like loin) that is cured and not smoked.

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    Smoking really only adds flavor (yummy yummy flavor) to the bacon-you can get away with just curing it and then eating.

    I do something really, really simple: I use a dry rub: salt, spices (rosemary, garlic,sage, garlic, there are so many combinations!), and pepper. Toss it all in a ziplock baggie, add the pork belly, toss the bag around so the rub covers the bacon, put in the fridge. As the salt draws the water out the rub will become liquidy. Every 24 hours flip the bag over so the rub covers a new side of the bacon. Let it sit till the pork belly becomes hard, about 3-4 days (you'll notice a difference in texture when you press it). Take out of bag, rinse rub off and pat dry. You're done! Or ready to smoke.

    I use a Big Chief smoker but I really have to watch the temp. It helps if I smoke during winter, at night, when its really cold, to help keep the temp down.

    It is important to use something like Morton's Quik Cure or Prague Powder or some other curing salt. I know some people are against the nitrates/nitrites* so you could look for a natural cure which usually has something like celery salt (which has nitrates/nitrites but they are natural...or something) in it. I have tried curing with just salt and...yeah I don't recommend it. I mean, it tasted fine and no one got sick but it looked rotten.


    *I can never remember if its nitrate or nitrite.
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    Oh! I've had good luck with honey and maple syrup instead of sugar.
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    NicoleP's Avatar
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    I appreciate all the responses. This will be the first thing I have ever smoked, it I even do it at all. What primal/paleo meats are good smoked? Beef brisket? I have this nice big brand new smoker and don't know what to do with it. I am so lost. LOL

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaylee99 View Post
    Oh! I've had good luck with honey and maple syrup instead of sugar.
    I like the taste of maple bacon but the smell drives me crazy. It seems to stay in the house for days and I can't stand a syrup smell. I have never tried maple bacon that wasn't franken food so maybe homemade would be better and the smell would not gross me out.

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    Kaylee99's Avatar
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    I only used about 1/2 a cup for about 5 pounds of pork belly. Be sure and use real maple syrup (makes a big difference). I like the Grade B stuff better than Grade A-I think it just tastes better. Most of it washes off when you rinse the rub off so it isn't too strong, but it is there. I'm not a big lover of maple bacon but my hubby loves it so I make a batch occasionally.

    I think honey does a much better job of giving it a sweet taste without being overwhelming. I've also heard of using coconut sugar but I haven't tried it yet.
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