Cured Whole Muscle Meat 104 - Bacon Basics
Cured Whole Muscle Meat 104 - Bacon Basics
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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.
1 Pork Belly
1 Bag of Dry Rub Bacon
Vacuum Sealer (Optional)
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.
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.
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.
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°
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.
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!
- 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
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