Hello all, been a while since I posted, but have been lurking and cooking! I just picked up two Snake River Farms Kurobuta(Berkshire) pork bellies at about 9#s each. I know, I know pricey even on sale (50% off now), but I REALLY DON'T want to FUBAR these. I need some advice:
I want a brown sugar cure, rec cure recipe.
Hot or cold smoke.
Use my FEC100 or SM066, I have A-MAZE-N tube and tray pellet units for cold smoke to use in either.
I have better control at low temp on the SM066, 140-150 is iffy on the FEC for hot smoke.
The whole slabs would fit in the FEC better, but could cut in half for the SM066.

BTW, the SRF's Waygu Prime rib I smoked this past weekend in the FEC100 at 196 for 3 1/2 hrs was perfectly rare, tender, and very tasty (an understatement, lol Big Grin ). Take advantage of the sale for that rare treat!
Original Post
I have had great luck with bacon in my AQ. I use a simple cure I found on the forum. 1.1 grams of pink salt, 2.5 tsp kosher salt and 1-2 teaspoons brown sugar per pound of belly. Mix the cure, salt and sugar in a shaker,put the bellies in vac bags and sprinkle the measured mix on the bellies, both sides then seal the bags. I don't vac all the air out, just slightly. Put them in the fridge flipping them daily for a week. I have experimented with plain white sugar, maple sugar, brown sugar and turbinado sugar. Liked them all except the white. If you like it sweet add more. I use 1.5 tsp per pound. I have to cut my bellies in half, sometimes in 4's when they are huge. After curing I rinse them and hang them in the fridge for a few days them smoke them. Stick them on my bacon hooks and hang them from my jerky rods. I smoke them at 120 for a few hours then 160 till I get some good color. Let them hang for a few more days in the fridge before slicing.
Sorry for my late reply, I was busy doing, um....bacon!!!!. Just got 40 pounds of pork belly back from one of my Tamworths. Amazing stuff, I'm sure your bellies look great, post some pics. By the way, what did they cost per pound?

I smoke mine in then FEC 100, as this is all I have. As low as I can get it and as long as I can until internal temp of 150. I've also smoked them twice, letting them cool completely between smokes before. Now I have the Log slide on the FEC firepot and can add a little green hickory to the smoke.

Wilber, while your recipe has enough instacure in it, I wonder if it has enough salt in it.

Ruhulman says 2.5 percent salt is the ration for dry rub, but I use about 2 percent. He also says 2 teaspoons of pink salt to 5 pounds of meat, which is slightly more than Butcher Packer recommends at 4 ounces of pink salt for 100 pounds of meat. 5 teaspoons in a ounce so 1 teaspoon to every 5 pounds of meat. Ration for Pink Salt to pork is 1 teaspoon for 5 pounds, or just like Wilber said, if you do grams.

I have 8 different recipes for bacon so far, three of which use vegetable powder in the place of the instacure and two of which just use salt and no curing agent.

I like my bacon sweeter rather than saltier, so all of them use 1.5 times as much sugar, than salt. Note, with this much sugar, you have to simmer bacon slowly in the skillet, as very high heat will caramelize that much sugar. Nitrates are suppose to turn into very unhealthy compounds over 400 degrees anyway, so it's best this way.

If you don't like bacon as sweet, just lower the sugar ration, and if your worried about carmelization, substitute trubino for some of the brown sugar.

Morning Mike, You may not be interested in my method if you plan on using pink salt to cure. I have had excellent results using Tender Quick. Although I cold smoke for approx. three days, You could certainly hot smoke.

The following is my process.

Mr. T's Sugar Cured Bacon Recipe
Recipe: Per pound of bacon.
1 TBS Morton Tender Quick
1TBS brown sugar
1/4 tsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper

Process:
Cut skinless belly in half and place in separate 2 gallon zip bags. Apply measured cure by weight to each cut of bacon and massage in, afterwards place in cooler or fridge. Turn daily for the entire curing process.

Example: A two inch side will require a minimum of 14 days in the cure. After the minimum cure time has been reached give it a quick rinse, pat dry then place on a meat hanger in the cooler or place on a rack in fridge for an additional two days for further equalization and pellicle formation.

A AMNPS containing pulverized pellets is then placed in a external smoke collector. This is what is normally used to create a very thin pale blue smoke. The bacon is then smoked to a desired color. It is normally in a continuous pale blue smoke for < > 72 hours and kept at a temperature below 72°. Using a different smoke generator or type of fuel will result in different times.

When smoking is complete the bacon is then placed back in the cooler for an additional 2 - 3 days for additional smoke equalization. After a total of 21 days it is ready for consumption or freezing.

The end result is nothing less than a sweet, medium smoke flavored, slice of ecstasy.

Cooking:
Due to the addition of nitrites it is recommended not to heat above 350°. For that reason, my preferred method is to bake anywhere from 200° for a couple hours to 325° for approximately 25 minutes or to the desired crispness.
Thanks all! Bill, the SRF's Kurobuta bellies worked out to be ~7.50 a #, I know I probably could have gotten them much cheaper (if I could get the local Asian market to not cut them first) locally. They are 9.5 and 9#'s each skin off. They are flash frozen and were hard as a rock when I got them. They are a very nice blend of fat to lean. I have been wanting to try their bellies.

Bill, I really appreciate your ratios! I was leaning toward your original post for my method, but now you made it a lot easier. I'm like you I want a more sweeter than salty bacon. I keep pink salt, and kosher salt.

I do have a few questions, I think I will use light as opposed to dark brown sugar, is this the right thought? What do you use? How long in the fridge with the cure, turning daily? Once the cure length us attained, do you soak in cold water to rinse to cut down saltiness and how long? From salmon and sausage I know I need for the bacon to dry and form pellicle before smoking. Do you get enough smoke from the FEC without additional smoke (ie, do I need to use my A-Maze-N tube to add additional smoke? I DO NOT want to ruin it with too much smoke. I once ruined a GREAT batch of homemade andouille by over smoking in my SM066, lol. Thanks!
Just a note on my recent experience. I found what look like decent bellies from Homestead Natural Meats in Iowa http://www.homesteadnaturalmeats.com/

They advertise skin-off pork belly, 9 - 11 lbs, at $69.99 with $9.99 flat-rate shipping (Fedex with dry ice, 2 days). Mine came frozen solid and weighed just about 14 lbs. That's about $5.70 a lb including shipping. Obviously their shipping weights vary, but I guess I got lucky!
Ok, I use dark brown, but have used lite, not much difference for my palette. Do the bellies have the skin on or off? A week in the fridge for bellies. If they are real thick (over 2 inches) go 10 days also if the skin is on, go a couple of days longer, as the cure only penetrates on the side w/o the skin. I never try to take skin off the bellies prior to smoking, as they come off real easy after smoking. For me, FEC is plenty of smoke, but if you enhance it with whatever method, it would be fine. I even added some hickory powder to one of my recipies and it really had a nice flavor.

After the meat is cured, rinse the bellies good in cold water. Then cut a small piece off and fry it up. If it's too salty, rinse/soak it some more until it's where you want it. After the rinse, I put mine on bacon hangers and hang in the fridge for at least 5 days, and have went 10. This drys them real good and even promotes moisture loss. I lose over 30 percent water weight in the curing process, which really enhances flavor.

Not a bad price on the bellies, Jay, you too!! I charge 6.00 per pound for mine, but have not figured out the dry ice shipping. I normally don't sell mine, as I like to eat them. I have two bellies off one of my pigs I just got back from the processor. Her hanging weight was 347. Both bellies together weighted 39 pounds and are over three inches thick in some places, without skin. That along with the 40 or so pounds of ham will keep me curing for the next few weeks. I'll do them in meat lugs and stack them in the fridge. The bellies will be done first, so I'll hang them then smoke and get them out of the way before I rinse the ham, as the ham will take longer to cure.

Oh, by the way, the same pig yielded 62 individual 3/4 inch pork chops.
Ok, finally finished!! I used a combination of Chaplin Bill's and RichH methods. I used Bill's cure with minor tweaks for me and RichH's cold smoke technique. I REALLY don't see how you could do this if the outside temps are above the mid 70's. I started mine when the forecast said mid 70's and it hit a record high of 82 for the day in February. THEN the next day we had a freak Winter storm that gave us a coating of sleet and a little snow. The temps that day were in the upper 20's and was great for the cold smoke. I found out I like A-Maze-N brand 100% pellets for the AMP pellet tray over BBQ delight 100% flavor pellets. WHY? The A-Maze-N brand burns MUCH slower lasting a LOT longer. OK for the pics now.

The Snake River Farms 9.4# belly



The Slab cut in Half Ready for cure.



The Cure applied to one of the two pieces.



All wrapped up ready for the 11 day cure.



The 1 hour ice bath soak to remove excess salt. One change of water half way through.



After 3 days drying and forming pellicle in the Fridge.



Maple syrup rub before smoke.



Hung in the FEC100 ready to smoke, used BBQ delight first AMP tray, switched to A-MAZE-N next tray.



REAL cold smoking, freak Mississippi winter storm. Was 82* the day before.



Almost finished, after I took the slabs off, I allowed them to mellow for 5 days in the fridge.



Getting it all ready to freeze.



All finished!




Many Thanks to Chaplain Bill and RichH for their posts and inspiration!! I REALLY like the cold smoke method and the flavor of the bacon is spot on. I used Bill's cure recipe using brown sugar and added a little garlic powder and coarse ground black pepper. I also used a maple syrup rub.

I just took the 2nd slab off the smoker, it was about 5-6 days behind the first. I wanted to make sure I did not over smoke the first one before I smoked the 2nd.
That looks good! How long did you smoke for? What was the highest temp the smoker hit?

My first try at cold smoking a couple weeks ago, I went 18 hours with an Amazen tube smoker. A little too smokey for me. Next one, I think I'll try 12 hours.
GREAT report. Love the details and the photos.

Of course you know we have the same GrillZbo for our smoker.

Like the slicer/vacuum. I've wanted to pull the trigger for years on one, just making do with the small one I have.

Nice job.
Good job on the bacon, Mike, You will discover, we all do it a bit differently.

I was impressed with the added equalization time you gave it before packaging. It gives both the salt and smoke added time to distribute throughout the whole piece.

Thumbs up,

Tom
quote:
Originally posted by AndyJ:
That looks good! How long did you smoke for? What was the highest temp the smoker hit?

My first try at cold smoking a couple weeks ago, I went 18 hours with an Amazen tube smoker. A little too smokey for me. Next one, I think I'll try 12 hours.


Andy, the Amazon tube smoker puts out A LOT more smoke and burns faster than the 5x8 pellet tray (I have both). The first day we had an abnormally warm day. Forecast 74, it hit 82. I watched it rise to 90* before I put a tray of ice in. It cooled off that night and the next day, so no problem as I easily kept it in the 60-70 range with the AMP. I cold smoked for 24 hours. The trick I found is to let it mellow for several days in the fridge, I was worried at first that it was over smoked. I was amazed how much it had toned down after 5 days. The longer the mellow period the less intense the smoke profile (to a point). I REALLY do not see how you can cold smoke gpforbme the temps get out of the the low to mid 70's, lower is better.
quote:
Originally posted by SmokinOkie:
GREAT report. Love the details and the photos.

Of course you know we have the same GrillZbo for our smoker.

Like the slicer/vacuum. I've wanted to pull the trigger for years on one, just making do with the small one I have.

Nice job.


Dang Russ, I am speechless I can not believe you are leaving that AWSOME DECK, you inspired me to redo mine and yes I know about the grillzebo. I posted picks of my deck on your thread a couple years ago. I retired in the last year and I do understand! I truly hope you dont disappear on us! I had been wanting a good vac sealer and slicer forever and have been fighting with old substandard equipment so I finally said frack it and bought the good stuff and after using it I now wonder why I waited.
quote:
Originally posted by Chaplain Bill:
This looks perfect. I've got to get around too doing some old school cold smoking.


Bill, THANKS AGAIN for your posts and inspiration and most of ALL, for your Service! When are you gonna retire from the military?
quote:
Originally posted by Mr.T:
Good job on the bacon, Mike, You will discover, we all do it a bit differently.

I was impressed with the added equalization time you gave it before packaging. It gives both the salt and smoke added time to distribute throughout the whole piece.

Thumbs up,

Tom


Thanks Tom, if not for the great cooks sharing on this site none of what we do would be as easy!
Hey Mike, what great pics and obviously a great result! I'm a novice and still quite a way from cold-smoking bacon, but please tell us the makes and models of your slicer and vac system. I have always wanted a really good slicer and yours looks amazing. I have been wary of the "consumer" models on Amazon. etc. Also, I am increasingly frustrated with my little Foodsaver. Care to share? Thanks!
quote:
Originally posted by Jay1924:
Hey Mike, what great pics and obviously a great result! I'm a novice and still quite a way from cold-smoking bacon, but please tell us the makes and models of your slicer and vac system. I have always wanted a really good slicer and yours looks amazing. I have been wary of the "consumer" models on Amazon. etc. Also, I am increasingly frustrated with my little Foodsaver. Care to share? Thanks!


Jay,
For years I fought with a ~cheap Chef's Choice slicer and decided to bite the bullet and get a good slicer. I had tried to find a good Hobart or Berkel slicer on Craig's List (they are out there), i had found them but they were so heavy I could not move them by myself (100#'s plus). I researched and looked for one that was a 12" 1/2hp belt driven. There are several out there that are pricey but not over the top. Supera, Adventco, Omcan... The Berkel's and Hobarts in this size and weight were way more than I wanted to pay. I settled on the Supera MS-12V and I am VERY HAPPY! It is still heavy at 72.4 #'s, but I can move it by myself. They make one the MS-12 that is a close 2nd at 55#'s and about $200 less.
Mike - Thanks for the quick response. Your Supera slicer (or something very much like it) is definitely in my not-to-distant future. I would have a lot of uses for it. Your Vacmaster unit is quite a bit more than I need at this point, but it looks like a real joy to use. I've got some shopping to do!
quote:
Bill

quote:
When are you gonna retire from the military?


Mike, I just caught your question. I'm in NE Oklahoma and have been retired 15 months. I preach a few revivals and our family owns and operates Bacon Acres Farm in Jay, Oklahoma where we raise Purebred Tamworth Pigs and Pork.

https://www.facebook.com/pages...arm/1447360305549608

by the way, I have the VP 215 vacmaster, is your a 210 or 215? And what size bags did you use in your pic of your sliced bacon? Also, this may be overly technical, but share with us your 'trick' of getting all your slices nice and neat inside the Vac seal bag. Never can get mine that neat. Thanks.
quote:


by the way, I have the VP 215 vacmaster, is your a 210 or 215? And what size bags did you use in your pic of your sliced bacon? Also, this may be overly technical, but share with us your 'trick' of getting all your slices nice and neat inside the Vac seal bag. Never can get mine that neat. Thanks.


I have the VP215 as well. The "Trick" I use is parchment paper. I get a box from Sysco that I use to cook and bake with. Very Cheap lasts a VERY long time, but a LOT of paper lol. I cut the full sheet size in half and then in half again (1/4 sheet pan size) and then trim the quarters by about 2 inches so they fit into the 10x13 Vacmaster 4 mil bag. It is VERY easy to arrange on the parchment and then carefully slide the arranged bacon on the parchment into the bag.

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