[USA] Makin' Bacon

ssorllih
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Post by ssorllih » Fri Oct 04, 2013 14:30

We seem to get two argument about brining times; Days per inch of thickness and days per pound. But a five pound bacon slab is much different than a five pound loin.
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Post by el Ducko » Fri Oct 04, 2013 15:53

Looks like the amount of meat (as opposed to fat) exposed to the brine would be a big factor in how fast brine penetrates. Brine doesn't really penetrate fat, as several people (seems like you, too, Ross) have pointed out. By that line of reasoning, a loin (almost 100% meat exposed) ought to go much faster.

How would you quantify that? I guess having separate guidelines for different cuts is good, but it still gets passed on as "rules of thumb." Maybe we ought to collect those rules, huh?

I built a great spreadsheet for brining, but it turned out to be almost useless. You had to estimate how much brine the meat would take up. With no data, you had to assume 10% uptake. (You can use stitch pumping to lock this in, to an extent.) But worse, it had no way of dealing with the time to do it. (...precisely your point.) Bacon sure takes up less than 10%, and takes its own sweet (pun) time doing it.

So, should we collect some rules of thumb? Surely this has been done. ...anybody got a list? (I could sure use it about now.)
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Post by ssorllih » Fri Oct 04, 2013 16:14

If someone were inclined to possibly waste some meat a whole loin would/could serve as a test piece. Divide the loin into pieces of equal length. Then make longitudinal cuts to divide a section into slabs of uniform thickness and with another section make transverse cuts to make cross section pieces approximately equal in weight to the longitudinal slabs. Use center cut sections in both samples. This would allow a determination of the salt migration across the muscle versus along the muscle. I don't much agree about the idea of the fat being a barrier to the cure because there is considerable water in the fat and it is the water that carries the cure. Evidence; the taste of bacon fat or ham fat as compared to fresh fat.
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Post by el Ducko » Fri Oct 04, 2013 20:31

Hey! I like this! ...good experimental design, Ross.

How should the salt content be measured? Do you think we can we approximate it by weighing the pieces? ...and what about the period of time during which there's exudate at the same time as pickup? Maybe if we weigh the meat and then the bag+liquid, we can get a good handle on it.

I'd be interested in replicating the experiment with you, if you want. "Inquiring minds want to know." At the very least, we should get some decent ham out of this!
:mrgreen:

P.S. I hope you're right about fat not being a barrier. You have much more experience in this than I. I guess I'll find out pretty soon on this current slab of pork belly!
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Post by ssorllih » Fri Oct 04, 2013 21:13

When we cook meat cured with sodium nitrite we get the distinct color change. using a 2% salt/cure schedule and limiting the time to less than complete cure expectations and then cooking perhaps we would see a gradient in the color. We could take a full section and inject solution and cook after a short dwell period and observe the migration of the solution.
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Post by ssorllih » Mon Oct 07, 2013 18:16

Ten days curing and preparing to smoke. This is the state of the exudate in the slabs started sept 27. Image
Image
Tied to sticks.Image
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Post by el Ducko » Mon Oct 07, 2013 22:33

Mine did the same thing, Ross- - generated some exudate, then took it back up. This morning, I opened the bag, washed off the slab, dried it, and hung it in my smoker. It's about 8 hours into hickory smoke at the moment I plan on smoking until about midnight, letting the smoke die out, then starting in again tomorrow morning for most of the day. Following that, I'll try the "wrap in plastic, refrigerate, and wait a few days for the bloom" business. Pictures to follow.

This is my first attempt at bacon. Hope it turns out well. Thanks for the help.
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Post by ssorllih » Tue Oct 08, 2013 14:38

I put the smoker together this morning and have a fire going to warm it up and dry it. The bacon is hanging and drying in front of a fan. Now down to the wood shed for a bucket full of hickory.
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Post by ssorllih » Wed Oct 09, 2013 20:53

It looks like bacon Image
Image
It is a little sooty but the taste is good.
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Post by crustyo44 » Thu Oct 10, 2013 09:35

Ross,
That (Bacon) looks great to me, I like darker smokey colours. Usually what I do is cutting the pieces nice and square and use the off-cuts in a pea soup to be fondly remembered.
When you make bacon and eggs next, leave the front and backdoor open, your neighbours will be extremely jealous.
Cheers Mate,
Jan.
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Post by el Ducko » Thu Oct 10, 2013 16:56

The "Sons-Of-Bees" bacon came out pretty good. Considering this was my first pork belly, I'm pleased.
Image
"Did someone say 'Smoker' ? Say the secret woid and divide-a-hunnud-dollahs. "
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After 10 days of brining, followed by 18 hours of hickory smoke, this baby came out at 3 AM.
...yawn.
Then it was wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for 2-1/2 days, to mellow.
And this morning...
Image
...we fried some up. Those cautionary tales about cooking sugar-laden meats are true- - it turned black pretty fast, even when cooked on lowest flame. I'll have to try that baking method next. But it was tasty! That hickory-smoked flavor really came through.
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Post by ssorllih » Thu Oct 10, 2013 18:48

It looks like success.
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Post by Chuckwagon » Fri Oct 11, 2013 09:13

Magnafique' Duk!
Did you soak it to eliminate some of salt? Are you going to try less heat with a real black skillet? Enquiring minds want to ....
Nice goin' Duckster! I'd like to come over to your house for BLT's but it's hunting season and I just might get carried away! :roll:

Best Wishes,
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Post by Butterbean » Fri Oct 11, 2013 21:04

ssorllih wrote:We seem to get two argument about brining times; Days per inch of thickness and days per pound. But a five pound bacon slab is much different than a five pound loin.
I've done it a lot of different ways but I am coming to the conclusion that I need to just stick with what I was taught and keep my brine consistent rather than trying all sorts of different recipes which causes me to get confused. What I am doing now is just going back to what I was taught and learning the brine to cut of meat timing.

The way I was taught to make bacon is to prepare a 70 degree brine, add your extras to it like molasses or whatever then put the bellies in the brine after it cools. After a day, overhaul the meat and leave for a total of 3 days. Pull the bellies out and rinse with water or soak for a few minutes to get the excess off. Let hang for a day then put in the smokehouse. 90% of my bacon is made this way and it is pretty respectable.

Here are some I made last week. Bellies in the brine tank.

Image

Wait three days - to the hour. Into smoker. Remove at internal temp of 135F. Cool in fridge then slice.


Image

Thicker cuts like loins need five days and its best to dilute brine to about half strength and inject before putting in the tank. Hams and stuff will go longer. On thicker cuts its best to let them hand a spell so they can equalize else you can get those pesky silver dollar sized non cured spots in the meat.

I'm not saying this brine strength is the magic one for everyone but it serves me well. I am saying that I think it is helpful to stick with one brine and keep records of how long it takes to cure each cut of meat. JMO
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Post by ssorllih » Fri Oct 11, 2013 22:43

Bean like so many things in life there are many ways to do a job and sooner or later we all find a way that works for us. When we do we should stick with it. For somebody just starting the best we can do is explain what we know works and do our best to baffle them with all of the options. :lol: :shock:
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