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Bacon for beginners


Hywel
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Hi there,

Sorry for the delay getting back. Busy day!

Thank you for all the replies. I took another look at the meat (didn't chuck it out immediately this morning) for a proper post mortem when I had more time. Took both out of the bags and rinsed thoroughly. My observations as follows:

- the one with maple syrup smelled the worst and felt the most 'tacky'/slimy. Also had the most discolouration. Possibly some of this could have been a by-product of the syrup flavour/texture?

- when rinsed the smell was far less pronounced. Could almost convince myself it's just maple-y.  But almost certainly background notes of something not quite right, though.

- juniper/bay cured one much less dubious. Slight discolouration. Quite pleasant notes of bay/juniper!

I've attached photos of the bacon out of bag and rinsed. I'm going to hang them for a couple of days, just to let nature take its course. Figured I'd still learn something watching how they developed over the next couple of days, even if it's to see what bacon going bad looks like and what signs to watch out for next time.

Someone asked about how well sealed the bags were. I don't have a vac pac but used the 'straw in the bag to suck out the last bit of air' method. I'd say there was hardly any air in there at all and good all round contact between meat and bag. Certainly no big air pockets. 

Thanks for all the recommendations for the kits. Will definitely check them out!

Thank you!

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Hi Hywel,  can I put my 2 cents in?? do another batch but stick to a basic salt & pepper cure.  with no vac-pac have you tried the "sous vide way"  of expelling almost all the air from the bag by lowering it into a pan of water??  

It is difficult to diagnose any problem from a photo,  but give it another go, keep it simple and it should,  will be ok. m0110.gif

 

Ice.

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  • 5 weeks later...
On 3/23/2019 at 4:32 PM, Raptor72 said:

That looks green . Can I make a suggestion buy one of wades bacon curing packs . It’s so simple and self explanatory to use. Get a decent vac pack machine . 

 

 

Edited by Justin
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I think that the different colours are just showing the different muscles in the meat - rather than it being green. I do agree that it is best to begin with a simple bacon cure with and then progress to the more fancy flavours once you have confidence in your method.

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Hi,

Sorry for the tardy reply. Thanks for the input and suggestions. This was a few weeks ago now. After a bit of prodding and sniffing I decided that it was indeed 'off' and the experiment had run its course, so I binned it. Not a great day, that. Lessons learned:

- the cures were too fancy. Going to perfect simpler recipes first.

- one recipe at a time, at least for now

- better fit of bag around meat. I used what I had last time (huge bags) without a vac pac. Possibly too much air. 

- 10 to 14 days in the bag pushes me out of my comfort zone. Can it really still be ok after that much time? (This is just a personal psychological barrier I need to overcome!)

Anyway, following the advice of the forum I purchased one of Wade's cures (thank you, Wade). Unfortunately I've been working away a lot and haven't had a chance to try it yet (I prefer to be home for the whole 10-14 days plus hanging/smoking time and that's just not been possible). However...

I did have enough time for a back to basics, rough and ready kitchen cupboard River Cottage recipe (Wade's package hadn't arrived when I started) and I wanted to get back on the horse immediately after my previous disaster. 

Recipe was 25% salt, 12.5% dark brown soft sugar (it was that or white granulated, the only thing I had in the cupboard) and 1.25% black pepper. I reduced the sugar content: it seemed too much. For 1.5kg ish of meat there was around 500g of cure mix in total. 20% to be rubbed into the meat on day 1 and the meat put in a pyrex or similar covered dish in fridge. No vac pac. Brine poured away and another 20% cure reapplied daily until it runs out on day 5. Rinse and hang on day 6. I then smoked it for about 30ish hours (in two sessions 24 hours apart). I did not add any Cure #1 following an earlier comment of Wade's about the alchemy of ensuring even application and safe dosage using this method.

I know it's not the method suggested on this forum but as I said, I wanted to go again quickly, was tight for time and hadn't received Wade's kit yet. Forgive me! My observations of this method as follows:

- the meat lost A LOT of moisture. At the end of 6 days it was as stiff as a board. Not necessarily a bad thing. I like the 'dryness' of it.

- no dubious smells or textures. Passes the 'sniff test' in a way the last batch definitely did not.

- taste test: happy with the sweetness. Despite reducing the amount of sugar suggested by the recipe it is still very much a sweet cure. I dread to think how much sweeter (in a bad way) it would have been with the full dose.

- OMG it's salty! Very much on the edge of what I can tolerate. You couldn't eat it in a bacon sandwich but it's fine as an ingredient in recipes.

- good level of smokiness coming through. I'll smoke future pieces of bacon using the same wood blend and time. 

- it's a nice pink colour when raw but when cooked goes to a (frankly unappetising) grey/brown. Doesn't affect flavour but doesn't look great.

-overall flavour profile: good sweetness, good smokiness, saltier than a salt mine (so consume in moderation).

So there you go. It's now in small packs in the freezer, to be defrosted for specific lardon-requiring recipes. Couple of pics attached. I think I have a run of a solid few weeks at home end of May/June so hope to break open Wade's cure and give that a go then. I think I'll try it with a loin when the time comes, tbc. 

Thanks again for all the help and advice. Comments welcome!

Hywel

 

 

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Well done. It looks good. The advice  I can give from my experience is wash several times after cure to get rid of saltiness. The dry for 2 or 3 days and then smoke it.

Lessons everytime and you can make the bacon you want evrry ti.e. suggest you invest in an  external vac machine. Lidl have one in stock right now. Got to be worth it and will be useful in many other ways too.

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