Thanks for the link, "Bob K". Let`s have a look at what it says about the bacon recipe. It's always good to be cautious.

LIMITS: Page 28 (page 33 of PDF)

Pumped and/or Massaged Bacon (rind-off): An amount of 120 ppm sodium nitrite (or 148 ppm potassium nitrite), ingoing, is required in pumped and/or massaged bacon, except that 100 ppm sodium nitrite (or 123 ppm potassium nitrite) is permitted with an appropriate partial quality control program, and except that 40 - 80 ppm sodium nitrite (or 49 - 99 ppm potassium nitrite) is permitted if sugar and a lactic acid starter culture are used.

Immersion Cured Bacon (rind-off): A maximum of 120 ppm of nitrite or equivalent of potassium nitrite (148 ppm) can be used in immersion cured bacon. Note: the calculation method for nitrite in immersion cured bacon is the same as that for nitrite in other immersion cured products. Refer to pages 21-24.

Dry Cured Bacon (rind-off): A maximum of 200 ppm of nitrite or equivalent of potassium nitrite (246 ppm) can be used in dry cured bacon. Note: the calculation method for nitrite in dry cured bacon is the same as that for nitrite in other dry cured products. Refer to pages 24-27.

So, for starters, is this a massaged, immersion-cured, or dry cured recipe? Well... it`s a bit of all three. Let`s look at them all, starting here with the dry cure calculation specified.

Nitrite in Dry Cure Products: page 25 (page 30 of PDF)

(# cure) * (% nitrite in mix) * 1,000,000 / (green weight of meat) = ppm

Note that this assumes 100% absorption of the dry rub, as well as 100% retention of liquid exudate. Any material left on the surface and subsequently washed off, any material dissolved in the exudate and discarded, as well as any material extracted during the washing process, are not included in the calculations. To do the calculations correctly, those items should be subtracted.

* (Accounting for them is not easily done, so the FSIS equation assumes that they are retained.)*
If all the nitrite is retained, as is assumed with dry curing, RedZed`s calculations are good. As I mentioned, this comes out to

(72 gm cure #1)/ [(25# bacon) * 454 gm/#) ] * (0.0625 frac. nitrite in cure #1) * (10**6 conversion frac to ppm)

= 397 ppm, which, yes, exceeds the 200 ppm recommendation.

However, having made this recipe a couple of times, I have yet to see the entire amount of solids absorbed by the bacon, even with exudate present. As I mentioned, the recipe says

Quote:

Place the slabs belly-side up for two days while the salt draws moisture from the meat and a brine develops. By the third day, if the brine has not quite covered the meat, add a little water - up to two quarts if necessary.

And, further down, goes on to say

Quote:

...wash the bacon well and scrub away all the surface salt and sticky maple or honey residue. It is important NOT to soak the bacon at this point.

I added two notes, there:

(1) Exudate develops on my bacon each time I make it by this recipe, and

(2) I always wash off the surface residue, which is a substantial amount even when exudate is present. I find the result less salty this way, so it is definitely removing SOMEthing.

In the batches that I`ve made, I`ve not needed to add water, but I HAVE washed everything off. Therefore, not all added ingredients remain with the bacon. I also reason that the percent pickup, discussed below, is considerably lower for mostly-fat bacon than for regular meats.

But let`s use the FSIS equations for immersion cured bacon, since those are the rules. To do that, we`ll look at three equations specified by the FSIS.

Nitrite in Immersed Products:

The first method assumes that the meat or poultry absorbs not more than the level of

nitrite in the cover pickle. Hence, the calculation for nitrite is based on the green weight

of the meat or poultry (as is the case with pumped products), but uses percent pick-up as

the percent pump. The percent pick-up is the total amount of cover pickle absorbed by

the meat or poultry. It is used in the calculation for immersion cured products in the same

way percent pump is used in the (previous) calculation for pumped products.

Here, I should note that Percent Pump or Percent Pickup is typically set by the amount which is expected to be retained by the meat,

usually 10% to 14% for lean meat. This is not often used for bacon calculations, due to the low percentage of lean meat making up the green weight. This means that percent pickup is lower. An assumed level of

3% to 5% seems to work adequately. However, for sake of argument, let`s look at the 14% number first, as a worst case.

Immersed...Method One, page 22 (page 30 of PDF)

(# nitrite) * (% pickup) * 1,000,000 / (# pickle) = ppm

Using recipe numbers and the 120 ppm limit specified by FSIS gives

(72 gm cure #1) / (454 gm/lb) * (0.0625 nitrite in cure #1) * (0.14 frac pickup) * 1,000,000 / (# pickle)

= (120 ppm limit)

Solving for the "Pounds of Pickle" in our recipe gives, as a limit,

(72) / (454) * (0.14) * (0.0625) * 1,000,000 / (120) = 11.6 lbs pickle.

But wait! The recipe calls for 2 quarts of water or 4.16 lbs. Using the original equation to calculate ppm gives

(72 gm) / (454 gm/#) * (0.14) * (0.0625) * 1,000,000 / [ (72/454) + (4.16 lb water) ] = 321 ppm, which is still over the limit.

The problem: do you believe that 14% uptake amount or not? Commercially-packed hams often admit to "up to 14% liquid added..." You never see this on commercially-produced bacon. If you use my figures of 3% to 5% for bacon, the concentration becomes 69 ppm to 115 ppm, well within limits, perhaps a bit low.

Who is right? Note that FSIS does NOT specify a value for % pickup, but only hints at it.

Immersed... Method Two

The second method assumes that the submerged meat, meat byproduct, or poultry and the cover pickle act as a single system. Over time, the ingredients in the pickle, such as nitrite and salt, migrate into the meat, meat byproduct, and poultry until levels in the tissue and in the pickle are balanced. This system is actually very complex and dynamic, with components in constant motion, but it will reach and maintain a state of equilibrium. Therefore, the calculation for ingoing nitrite is based on the green weight of the meat block, using the percent added as a relevant amount.

* (# nitrite) * 1,000,000 / [ (green weight of meat) + (# pickle) ] = ppm*
(72 gm) / (454 gm/#) * (0.0625 nitrite) * 1,000,000 / { [ (25# green wt) + [ (72/454) + (4.16 lb water) ] }

= 338 ppm, which is over the limit. Note that this equation assumes that the system reaches equilibrium, which in the case of a week or two of curing, is not the case. This calculation is, therefore, the limiting case of long-term curing. It ignores the percent pickup. If this were actually the case, 25 lbs. of ham would pick up the same amount as 25 lbs. of bacon, which is clearly wrong.

**Conclusions: **
(1) If you don`t like the recipe, don`t use it. If you do use it, follow the instructions and wash the bacon before slicing and using or packaging it.

(2) When interpreting or using FSIS instructions, this recipe, or any of many others, remember that none is a complete source of detail. Follow the rules and recipe, and sure, question both, but use good judgment.

Best regards,

el Ducko

Chief Waterfowl Officer

SausagesWest.com