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My first "true" bacon project

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AK1 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 December 2014 at 20:03
Sounds quite interesting Ron. Your method is quite different from mine. I look forward to hearing how they turn out. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BriCan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 December 2014 at 21:59
Originally posted by TasunkaWitko TasunkaWitko wrote:

.*


Finally, I'll inspect the bacon in order to see if it has the qualities that I am looking for, and may let it continue to mature, if it looks as though I'll be able to. Once it reaches what I guess to be the right point, I'll package and freeze it.


I do hope you try it before said packaging and freezing LOL



Quote *The above plan is subject to advice from experienced folks, so please, feel free to offer advice and suggestions if you see any flaws; for instance, should I indeed cut the 6-pound slab in half, or does it matter? Would the Black Forest spice mixture be better off without the white sugar, since I will also be dusting with maple sugar, or does it matter? About what density of smoke should I be looking for in my enclosure, which will be either a Big Chief smoker or my Brinkmann 40-inch off-set, or does it matter as long as the smoke is clean-burning?


First things first .... stick with plan A Big smile I am doing about a 100 lbs a week .. and believe me its 'not' sweet


Second part .... I am not used to your smokers so cannot speak for them .. all I can say is so long as the smoke is what is classed as 'a thin blue smoke' then you are good ... depending on how heavy you like the smoke flavour depends on how many times and how long .. at present I am doing four smokes of about seven to eight hours a smoke .. resting overnight in the kitchen (room temperature) between smokes




Quote Time to get going on this - wish me luck!



I think so .. LOL .. as for luck .. as others have said your good to go  .. Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 December 2014 at 23:27
Hi, BriCan, and thanks for the advice - your post reinforces my instincts, so I'll stick to it....

I've got freshly-ground spices for the Black Forest mix ready to go, along with the sugars and the cure. The pork belly is thawing in the refrigerator I should be beginning tomorrow or Sunday, depending on how the day goes.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BriCan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 December 2014 at 23:56
Looking forward to your results Big smile

Ready for smoking 




After the first smoke 




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 December 2014 at 13:08
Alright - a little behind schedule, but I am moving along with this. 

The pork belly is thawed and I just finished making the Black Forest spice mix as per BriCan's formula above. The only wrinkle in the plan was that I was about 30 grams short on the white pepper, so I needed to make up the difference with ground black pepper.

The result was incredibly good! Many of the German recipes I have seen call for these spices, and this mixture does indeed seem to capture the essence of the region. I am guessing that - with some salt - it would make a very good mix for fresh sausages. Add some cure and smoke, and I think I would be very pleased with the results!

I have some things to take care of now, but should be able to move forward with the project later today - more as it happens....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 December 2014 at 19:12

Well, my Black Forest Maple Bacon project is officially in motion! Thumbs Up


Things went "almost" according to plan; there were a couple of minor wrinkles, but I am happy to say that they were completely manageable. For starters, here's a photo of my 6-pound slab of pork belly:



My meat lady did a great job - this slab was exactly 6 pounds, according to my digital kitchen scale!


My original plan was to divide it into two 3-pound slabs, but I could quickly see that there really wasn't a way to do this so that they would fit into the ZipLock-style bags that I had. Based on this circumstance, I divided the slab into four slabs, each of which were 1.5 pounds:   



The resulting slabs were a little smaller than I had planned, but no worries - the end product will be just fine, and I am flexible, as long as the fundamentals are followed.


For dry-brining whole cuts of meat, the amount of TQ needed per pound is one tablespoon. Since the slabs were all hovering within an ounce or two of 1.5 pounds, I rounded my measurements up a little and used 1 tablespoon plus two teaspoons (1.66 tablespoons) per slab. A little extra, perhaps, but not by any significant amount in any way, shape or form.


I also gave each slab a dusting of BriCan's Black Forest spice mixture (recipe/formula in my post above); and of course a dusting of maple sugar. Due to the nature of my work area, I wasn't able to shake these on the way I had planned, so what I did was measure a tablespoon of each (Black Forest spice mix and maple sugar) and sprinkled them on each side of each 1.5-pound slab while it was in the ZipLock bag. This seemed to work just fine; the results will tell me if I need to make any adjustments next time.


Here are the bags with the cure, spice mixture and maple sugar:



I then placed them in a baking dish before putting them in the refrigerator to cure:



The generally-accepted and safe curing time for TQ when dry-brining whole cuts of meat is 1 day per quarter-inch of thickness, measured from the center out. At its thickest point, the pork belly was a little over 1.5 inches, so my plan is simply to cure as for 2 inches, which would be 14 days. This also falls in line with when I'll be able to work with the bacon again, so the timing is good. I will, of course, flip and rotate the slabs each evening during the curing process, in order to ensure even curing throughout the meat. I've never cured belly bacon before, so I am interested in seeing if the layers of fat have any effect on the curing time and rate.


I think things are proceeding quite well, according to plan and adjusted for my circumstances, curing agent etc., but if anything seems "off," let me know, please!


Thanks -


Ron

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 December 2014 at 02:21
Looking good Ron...now comes the hard part....waiting.
Any idea how long you will smoke them?
Go ahead...play with your food!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 December 2014 at 07:11
G'morning, Dave - 

I'm going to try to give them a healthy dose of cold smoke - I won't be able to run the smoke continuously, but there's no reason why I can't use the AMNPS to go 10 or 12 hours at a time. I'm thinking of a minimum of three such sessions - possibly one or two more. The fact that the slabs are smaller than normal surely comes into play, as does the density of the smoke due to the enclosure used. If I can put the AMNPS in the firebox of my Brinkmann, and the bacon in the smoking chamber, I think it will be much less dense than if I would use my Big Chief, and therefore allow more smoking sessions.

As for waiting - I'll take it one day at a time! Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Percebes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 December 2014 at 08:53
My comprehension skills are slow today- Was going to ask about smoke type, but finally read again and was happy to see the Maple smoke.Embarrassed
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 December 2014 at 10:21
Lookin' good so far Ron.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 December 2014 at 20:25
Murray, my current plan is for maple smoke, simply because I'm using the maple sugar in the cure - but I'm pretty flexible!

I neglected to mention it above, but I will, of course, flip and rotate the slabs each evening during the curing process, in order to ensure even curing throughout the meat. I've never cured belly bacon before, so I am interested in seeing if the layers of fat have any effect on the curing time and rate.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BriCan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 December 2014 at 00:10
I am using a Maple blend ... of maple, beach and birch ... normally I would have some softwood as well but seeing that I have only just relocated (work wise) I do not have any so I toss in a medium handful of juniper berries 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 December 2014 at 17:31
Today marked some progress on my first "true" bacon project. After curing 14 days (longer than necessary, but compatible with my schedule), I brought the bacon out of the refrigerator, rinsed it off in cold water patted it dry with paper towels:


The slabs of bacon retained the aroma of the Black Forest spice mixture that I made, giving them a nice, old-world quality. The earthy, subtle tone of the maple sugar was indeed present without being over-bearing.

After allowing the bacon to air-dry for a little over two hours, I gave the "meat side" a good dusting with maple sugar. The slabs are each 1.5 pounds - give or take a couple of ounces - and a generous tablespoon of maple sugar on each slab seemed to be just the right amount of coverage. Here, you can see that I started with the bottom-right slab, then worked my way clock-wise to the top-right slab:


I am truly impressed with this maple sugar, which is not overly-sweet at all, but rather has a deep, rich, caramelised quality that I think is going to produce some amazing results.

Next, I put each slab into a ZipLock-type bag and returned them to the refrigerator, where they will remain for one week, absorbing the maple sugar while the salt content of the meat equalises:


I am pretty sure that I am on the right track and can't wait to see what the outcome will be. My current plan is to cold-smoke these slabs of bacon next week, using my AMNPS to provide a steady stream of maple smoke that will work its way deep into the meat. After that, I will allow the bacon to dry and air-cure for a yet-to-be-determined length of time, depending on temperature, humidity etc.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote BriCan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 December 2014 at 19:30
The colour is looking good .... I cannot wait to see the results of the smoking and then the final; after the aging/maturing

Impressed Thumbs Up

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 December 2014 at 23:38
Many thanks, BriCan - I'm thinking this will indeed be excellent. The only thing I would do differently next time would be to run a loop of kitchen twine through them (before curing) in order to have a way to hang them.

I've got some dried juniper berries and plan to add a few to the smoke, which will most likey be maple. Due to the smaller size of the slabs (1.5 pounds each), would you say that reduced smoking and/or hanging times would be a good idea? 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 December 2014 at 18:20
Originally posted by TasunkaWitko TasunkaWitko wrote:

Many thanks, BriCan - I'm thinking this will indeed be excellent. The only thing I would do differently next time would be to run a loop of kitchen twine through them (before curing) in order to have a way to hang them.



  That's a good idea, Tas...thanks.  Rather than piercing the twine through the belly...I think I may try to tie one vertical one horizontal tie around the whole thing would do.

  If you want to sanitize the twine you can always use your sanitizer from the home brew kit.  Some, like StarSan are no rinse

   Have a great Christmas night all!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BriCan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 December 2014 at 23:09
Originally posted by TasunkaWitko TasunkaWitko wrote:

Many thanks, BriCan - I'm thinking this will indeed be excellent. The only thing I would do differently next time would be to run a loop of kitchen twine through them (before curing) in order to have a way to hang them.


As these are small Ermm pieces ?? then use a metal coat hanger (cut the bottom out  -- bend sides into L shape) should work 

Quote I've got some dried juniper berries and plan to add a few to the smoke, which will most likey be maple. Due to the smaller size of the slabs (1.5 pounds each), would you say that reduced smoking and/or hanging times would be a good idea? 


No.

Stick with the plan ...

Make notes (likes/dislikes)

I do full (6 - 10 lbs each) bellies  ... 3 - 4 day smoke ... aging/maturing ... minimum 4 days but will go 7 days

I do my Schinken (2 lbs each) the same

HTH

 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 December 2014 at 07:11
Originally posted by BriCan BriCan wrote:

I am using a Maple blend ... of maple, beach and birch ... normally I would have some softwood as well but seeing that I have only just relocated (work wise) I do not have any so I toss in a medium handful of juniper berries 

    BriCan, What type of soft woods?  What are you looking to add with them?

  
Enjoy The Food!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 December 2014 at 12:02
Quick post:

Very busy day (so much for taking time off to "relax"), but I am going to get this bacon started with (cold) smoking today. 

I don't have any metal coat hangers, so I just decided to tie the slabs in a fashion similar to what Dan suggests. 

I had intended to use maple, but the local place only has hickory, oak, cherry, pecan, mesquite and apple available. After some consideration, I chose apple, just narrowly edging out oak.

I'll let the slabs dry for a for a few hours to develop a pellicle, then smoke overnight using my AMNPS; naturally, temps are in the tens below zero Fahrenheit, so it will indeed be a "cold" smoke....

More as it happens - advice or comments are always welcome.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 December 2014 at 10:58
Update - a couple of minor things have changed since my previous post above. 

First, for the actual smoking, there was no reason to tie/hang the slabs as they were able to simply lie flat on the top rack of the Big Chief Smokehouse that I am using as an enclosure for my AMNPS. I will, however, tie them as described above for hanging as they dry and age.

Also, when I got all of my smoking equipment out, I discovered that I did in fact have a pound of maple pellets, as well as maybe a quarter-pound of oak pellets. Since these alone weren't enough for the smoking that I planned to do, I mixed them with an equal amount of the apple pellets that I bought, and set up my first smoking session.

I'm not sure exactly how long the smoker ran, since it went over-night, but it was a slow burn on a fully-loaded AMNPS, so I am guessing it was at least 10 hours, possibly 12. 

This morning, I filled the smoker again and began at 10:00 a.m. I'll see about keeping track of the time that it runs. I am estimating that I'll have 20 to 24 total hours of smoke by the time this second run is finished. The Big Chief is a small enclosure, compared to a dedicated smokehouse or shed; because of this, the smoke is more concentrated, so I am guessing that this amount of time will be more than adequate for a deep, penetrating smoke flavour. 

Once the smoking is finished, I will hang the bacon in our front porch, which is sealed off for the winter but still quite chilly. The conditions there are cold and dry, so after two or three days of aging, I'll sample the bacon on Saturday or Sunday and see how it is; with any luck, my work will result in some very nice product.

More as it happens, etc. &c.....
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