I just simply do not spend as much time on the new forum as I used to, and happened to be looking at it today.
I have settled on the EQ method for curing bacon. This is a method of making the brine that is done by the weight of the meat. The great part about this method is that once everything comes to equalibrum the meat will not get saltier during the cure. You can add spices to the basic cure to add to the flavor, Just remember that you have to compensate if what you add has salt, or sugar in it. You can adjust for the amount of sugar and salt in the calculator. We didn't like the 2% salt level that is the starting point in the calculator and thought it didn't have enough salt. We went to 2.5% and it was too salty. 2.25% is good for us. The calculator is here: http://diggingdogfarm.com/page2.html . You can do both a wet or dry brine, just remember that you have to add the weight of the water to the meat weight.
I cure for 14 days, and have gone as long as 21 days. We really like the basic cure with powdered Black Rifle Coffee Company "Just Black" coffee added to the cure. I have been working on this since 2015 and this is what works for us.
Mike - thanks for all the detail. I have never done my own bacon but I've always wanted to. This will be my go-to for when I get up the courage!
Jay: This isn't as hard as I thought it would be. I use my Vacuum sealer and a do a dry brine. Put the rub on the meat, stick it in a bag with a couple of ice cubes, suck out some of the air, and do a double seal on the bag. put it in the fridge, and rub and turn the bag every day. This cure works for regular bacon, buckboard bacon, and Canadian bacon. Just don't get in a hurry, and once you taste it you will never go back to store bought. Just remember that it easier to add salt then remove it once the bacon is cured.
Thanks Mike - I will try it when the weather warms up here (hopefully next week). If it's not a secret, what temp do you smoke at?
Jay: I cold smoke if at all possible. I will do 2 to 3 days of cold smoking for 8 hours. I let it rest in the fridge between this, and then let it sit in the fridge for a couple of days to mellow after it is done. Hot smoking I would stick to the low side of the temp settings 180 to 200 degrees. You need to get the bacon above 145 degrees internal temp, but still keep it low enough that you aren't rendering fat.
Thanks Mike. I've always been wary of cold smoking unless the product is kept "cold" i.e., under 40 degrees F, if you let it smoke for 8 hours. Maybe the dry cure helps preserve it, but I have my doubts. Plus, I don't really have a way to generate smoke in that environment. When I try it, I'll probably do the lowest smoke temp I can get in my AQ, and check frequently because I agree rendering fat would be bad.
When I do salmon, I set the smoker for 200 and it takes the fish about 80 - 90 minutes to get to 145 internal. I think I can keep the belly below 150 for a few hours at my lowest setting, but I will be experimenting, which after all is all the fun.
Jay: First off, you are smoking a cured product. You can let it get to 90 degrees and still do the cold smoke without a problem. I cold smoke in my AQ all the time. I do have the cold smoke baffle, but find it to be a pain. I use an A-
Wow Guys. I'm sorry, I've really neglected this forum. Remember you can always cut your rub with some brown sugar and it will pull down the effects of the salt a little.
The brine calculator that I use is all done by the weight of the belly. Calculator then gives you the right amount of cure, salt, and sugar for this belly. You can adjust the percentage of salt and sugar to get a more or less of a salty flavor. You can also do this with the sugar for a sweeter or less sweet flavor. I am only doing small amounts of bacon at 1 time for family use. The calculator is working great for me.