BACON: List of Curing, Temperature and Times
A few people have been asking lately on times and temps for curing and smoking BACON. I guess not all of us started with BuckBoardBacon and don't have directions, so I thought I would make a reference post so we can point our friends to it when this question is asked again. This will be the slimmed down version from BBB and HiMountain.
Preparation and applying cure.
Best meat size should be 3 to 31/2 inches thick or less.
Measure the amount of cure according to the weight of meat that will be cured.
This amount should be with the directions from where you have bought the cure. Use ONLY that amount, like I said THIS IS NOT A BUTT RUB HERE. More is not better.
Apply cure thoroughly over the meat (use it all), including any cavities, sides, or what have you.
Take your time and rub it in well.
Place meat in a non-metallic pan and cover.
I use a semi-throw-away plastic containers (Zip-Lock brand) I buy at WalleyWorld, the large ones fit a butt just right.
EDIT If you use Butcher-Packer Cures, here is what it brakes down to:
Note: This is the amount I use for dry rub, you can see why folks question me about the amount. I have had no problems with this amount; the meat comes out nice and pink with that iridescent type shine to it. Also, the scale I use measures only in 1/10 of pound.
I usually measure them in 2 and 5lb baggies, with this combo I can basically fit any weight.
- 1lb .32oz or .02lb
- 2lb .66oz or .04125lb
- 3lb 1.0oz or .0625lb
- 5lb 1.6oz or .1lb
- 10lb 3.2oz or .2lb
Your temp of the fridge should be about 40deg. Much colder than that it might stop the curing process.
Just an note here: I have edited these temps as I was reminded by someone that the danger zones for meats by the FDA is the 40's. He also stated that he keeps his fridge between 35-38 and has had no problems with the process stopping. I know there are plenty of directions out there that state the higher temps. I believe I might try a cooler temp to see what happens.
BBB says 10 days and turning the meat half way through.
If you like a bit of more intense taste, I regularly cure mine for up to 21 days and have excellent results especially if you are using a much milder type cure (maple sugar or brown sugar). During this time the meat will start giving off some fluid, depending on your meat, this could be a lot. Leave it in the container, no need to drain.
Preparation for smoking:
After it has cured rinse the meat well and let soak for two hours. Let the meat stand at room temperature for 1 hr.
This is where some of us have screwed up. Rinse the meat WELL, when you think you are done, do it again. Unless you want really salty meat skip this and you probably won't want to make bacon again.
Smoking times and temps:
Put meat in smoker and bring up the heat to 150 degrees and cook for 45 minutes WITHOUT SMOKE.
After 45 minutes raise the temp of the smoker 200 degrees and let the smoke roll.
Smoke till an internal temp of 140deg.
This usually takes 2-4 hrs, depending. AT THAT POINTturn off the heat and let stand IN THE SMOKER for 1 hour.
A few words about internal temperature.
I have started smoking mine to a internal temp between 153 and 155 deg. It has been stated that Canada law say that everything (like this) must be done till a temp of 150deg. At 151 or 152 all meat is suppose to be safe to eat with out any more cooking. So with that in mind, choose your tempertures and cook or (re-cook) at you own liking.
The reason I bring this up is because when you first see your bacon it kind of looks like cured ham and you will want to eat just like that. I wanted to smoke it long enough so I can do this.
Cuts of meat:
Of course this will be a personal thing here. These are my thoughts. I started off using butts. They were fine and they do yield a great product; however, my suggestion is to go to a good meat market and choose your meat.
A great cut of meat really makes a difference here.
It seems when I purchase the ones in the cryovac that comes two to a package are too marbled and fatty for my liking when it comes to bacon making.
Some one on the forum here suggested using a pork loin, so I did. I can get a whole one at Sam's for about $20.00 and that gives me three large pieces to work with.
I like the way the loin comes out, it's a lot leaner and you almost have to add a touch of oil in the pan if you are going to fry it.
The bottom line is the loin is easier to handle, you don't have to de-bone it; it is easy to make sandwiches with. Plus cuts of about 3/8 inch make a great steak for the grill.
Last but not least, I just like the flavor of a cured pork loin better.
Some others use pork belly to make real looking bacon, I would like to try this some day.
Hope this helps. Have FUN!