quote:Originally posted by Parcival:
Speaking of Bacon . . . anyone have thoughts about the safety of making bacon and cold smoking?
I check in on the website amazingribs.com often and the guy that runs that website very strongly cautions against home cooks making their own bacon. I'm assuming if you use an adequate amount of Prague powder, you are avoiding potential contamination, but has not been a theory I have felt confident testing
Sorry, but IMO and the opinion of many other smokers that I am in contact with, the guy that runs the amazingribs.com website doesn't know he's talking about. On many subjects.
I've made 100's of lbs. of bacon. Hot, warm, and cold smoked. Once the meat is cured, it is pretty durable. There will never be a problem, as long as you follow a few simple rules.
First off, make sure your bacon is thoroughly cured. You can do a straight salt cure, like in some of the charcuterie books I've read, but I wouldn't recommend it. Use Prague powder/pink salt (not Himalayan)/cure #1; it's all the same thing. (Morton's Tenderquick is something altogether different, having regular salt and other stuff already blended in. I don't care for it, and you can't use it as a substitute in brining formula calculations.)
For dry curing, the formula is .25% cure #1 and 2%-3% each salt and sugar, by weight of the meat. It will penetrate 1/4" per side, per day, plus two more days to make sure equilibrium is reached. Brining time should actually be 2+ weeks for the sugar to take effect. It is a large molecule and doesn't penetrate the meat as fast as salt. The meat will have a salty flavor with shorter curing times.
For wet curing (which is what I do, as it is as foolproof as you can get.)
Per gallon of cold water:
1 T. cure #1
1/3 c. to 1 cup sea salt ( I use just over 1/3 cup for low sodium bacon. If done properly, you won't miss the salt.)
1/2 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
Usually do 2 weeks, but I have let it go as long as 3 (when something else came up), and once equilibrium is reached, it will not absorb any more cure or salt.
As for the cold smoking, it is best done in cooler temps in the Fall or Spring, with the smoker between 40°F to 70°F. Any colder, and condensation will form on the meat and ruin the smoke. Any warmer, and you begin to change the texture of the finished product. I have cold smoked bacon for 8 hours a day, for 3 days, putting it back in the fridge each night. But I know some who smoke every day, up to a week. It depends on what kind of wood you're using as well. For my 3-day, I used a light peach wood. Truthfully, it could have gone a couple more days. But if you're using something heavier like hickory, you need to adjust accordingly. It's all a matter of personal preference.