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Began today, curing over 70 pounds of ham and bacon.

This the third pig we have processed. She was a 1-litter gilt (17 months old) and weighed close to 500 pounds with a hanging weight of 346. This post is about curing the hams and pork bellies.

We ordered the bellies and hams fresh from our packer, sporting our shiny new 'certified tamworth' lable.

I had the packer cut the bellies in half but they are displayed here pieced together on this 2x4 foot folding table. Each individual Skin-Off pork belly measured about 25x12 inches and were nearly three inches thick in some places, with the streaky layes of buttery fat and rosie red pork indicative of the breed. Both bellies together totaled 38 pounds.

I had the hams close trimmed, split into individual muscles and boned. 8 individual boneless muscles totaling 32 pound, the largest being 8 pounds and the smallest being 2.5 pounds.

For utter simplicity, I decided to go with a classic brown sugar rub with a little hickory powder. For the cure I mixed a batch for 75 pounds which included 30 ounces of salt, 45 ounces of brown sugar, 3 ounces of instacure #1 and 3 ounces of Hickory powder. I know I'll get some grief by some of our guys on the forum for adding hickory powder to my mix although I'm going to smoke it, but I tried it in some other cures and I liked the flavor.

This batch was a big bowl full. I mixed it by hand very carefully to disperse the instacure and avoid hot spots. Look at the pic below and see the concentration of pink in one area even after several minutes of stirring.

I put all the bellies in one meat lug and all the ham in another and applied the cure, put lids on them and put them in the fridge.

I’ll overhaul (shuffle them around) about every couple of days or so. The bellies will cure for 10 days and the ham for 20 days. More pics to follow.
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I'm impressed. It's been fun to follow your story and adventure and the work your putting into it shows.

I love your posts, so much so that I will create a Bacon, Ham, Curing sub forum so we can show a lot of your work and I'll move your posts there.

I hope I can ask you to look in and help anyone posting.

Thanks, can't wait to try your stuff!
Woo Hoo. Finally getting around to finishing up this post. Sorry to keep everyone hanging. So the Bellies and Hams went under cure. The bellies came out in 20 days and the hams in 30 days. Rinsed the bellies, hung on bacon hangers and let dry in the fridge for another 15 days. The Hams were rinsed and dried on a rack in then fridge over a tub to capture any moisture. sorry, no pics of them drying.

This drying after the cure is a very important for moisture loss and flavor concentration.

I then smoked the bellies overnight (12 hours) at 160ish in the FEC 100 using Hickory pellets to an internal temperature of 150-152. They then returned to the fridge for equalization, which lasted probably o9 days or so. I really did not want to leave them in that long, but was busy doing other things and wanted to do all my slicing at the same time.

Speaking of slicing. Lets talk about the bacon first.

It came out wonderful and with a very low moisture content. Neither the ham nor bacon were overly salty. The hickory powder added a depth to the flavor that I really like.

The bacon was overall very meaty for this big-a-animal, with soft fat.

I did lop off a lot of the ends and sides to square them up. After all, who needs 12-inch long slices.

The ham was an absolute work of art. Perfectly marbled. Best texture and a profound depth of taste that I've never experienced, even in some hi-dollar dry cured ham.

Smoked all night on the FEC 100 using pecan pellets running about 165ish degrees to an internal of 150ish, some a little more.

I had to cut one open on the smoker, just to have a little slice for breakfast.

Returned to the fridge to dry for five or so days then sliced.

By the way, on the slicing, I try to slice deli meat ham with the grain. This is a Peculiarity with my pigs. Tamworths have such short grain on the meat, that if you slice your meat too thin against the grain, it taste mealy. The texture is perfect when sliced with the grain. Again, it's not an issue with thicker cuts such as chops, but just with the thin deli meat type meats. I really don't notice it on the bacon either.

And packaged

By the way, the Vacmaster VP 215 is earning it's keep.

I don't think I'll get a chance to many pics this time but I just cured 96 pounds of belly, loin and ham from two of our different pigs. I'll post this later as I used the celery powder this time instead of the instacure.

As predicted by our good friends, we now have more pigs and pork than we know what to do with. 26 piglets on the ground and a herd of 9 breeding stock, two more of which are pregnant.

Here's a shot of some of our Tamworth's on their summer paddock, loving life here in NE Oklahoma. Our youngest boar RJ is flirting with a couple of young gilts - who knows, maybe more ham on the way sooner then we thinkSmiler

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Andy, please don't judge all Tamworth bacon by the batch you have. Remember, it was done at the processing plant and Vacuum-tumbled in a brine and actually gained weight as processed from all the moisture. I'm sorry I had to subject you to such inferior bacon, but it's all I had available at the time. it is the exact opposite of what good bacon should be, but you're right, they are the bacon hog.

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