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Hand sliced homemade bacon

How to Cure and Smoke Homemade Bacon

Maura
Comprehensive guide to curing and smoking homemade bacon
Prep Time 10 d
Total Time 10 d
Course Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, Pantry
Cuisine American
Servings 9
Calories 582 kcal

Equipment

  • Accurate digital kitchen scale (to 0.1 or 0.01g)
  • 1-2 gallon freezer bags (2 gallon for 4 lb or larger pieces of belly) or vacuum sealer
  • Smoker, grill, or oven
  • Butane torch if using pellet smoker
  • Hickory, apple, cherry or blend of wood chips (to hot smoke) or pellets (to cold smoke)
  • Slicing knife or electric meat slicer

Ingredients
  

  • pork belly
  • curing salt (6.25% nitrite) cure #1, prague powder, instacure #1 (see note)
  • salt preferably kosher
  • sugar white, brown, or maple
  • water optional for wet cure
  • optional seasonings use your imagination!

Instructions
 

  • Weigh pork belly (in grams) and divide into 2-4 pound (1-2 kg) pieces if desired.
  • Decide if using wet (safest/easiest) or dry EQ cure, and enter weight of each individual pork belly portion into cure calculator. Salt and sugar may be adjusted if desired, and additional seasonings may be added. If this is your first batch, I'd recommend leaving the percentages as written and keeping it simple.
  • Weigh each cure ingredient into a small bowl, using the "tare" function on your scale. Mix well. Distribute over entire surface of pork belly and massage in. Place pork belly with cure into freezer bag and seal (or use vacuum sealer).
  • Place belly portions into refrigerator. Cure for approximately 10 days (1 day per 1/4" of thickness of pork bellies, plus 2 days for safety). May be left in cure longer, but not more than 21 days. Approximately every 2 days, flip bellies and massage.
  • After 10+ days, remove bellies from cure. Slice off a few slices with your slicing knife and fry to check salt level. This is not strictly necessary with an EQ cure once you find your preferred level of salt, but is a good idea for your first few batches. If the bacon seems too salty for your tastes, soak it in cold water for an hour or two, changing the water every 30 minutes. Cut off another slice, cook, and taste again.
  • FOR HOT SMOKING (safest option), load hickory, apple, or cherry chips into chip feeder and heat smoker to approximately 175°F and place bacon on grates (or hang with bacon hooks). If using a grill, smoke with a chimney over indirect heat at the lowest temperature you can maintain (under 200°F if possible). To use your oven, brush bacon with liquid smoke and bake at the lowest temperature your oven will maintain (175-200°F). Monitor the internal temperature of the bacon, and remove once it reaches 145°F. Refrigerate bacon.
  • FOR COLD SMOKING, fill pellet smoker with hickory, apple, or cherry pellets. Light one end with a butane torch, and let burn for 10 minutes. Blow out flame. Place smoldering pellet smoker and bacon into smoker (or on grate of charcoal grill) with all vents open and smoker off. Monitor the temperature of the smoker and maintain under 86°F. Smoke for no more than 6 hours, then refrigerate overnight. This may be repeated if desired.
  • After overnight rest, place bacon into freezer for 1-2 hours. Slice to desired thickness. If hand slicing, you may sandwich bacon between two cutting boards to assist with slicing in a straight line. Portion into freezer bags or vacuum seal, and freeze what you won't use in the next 1-2 weeks. Cook as desired.

Notes

**Cure at your own risk. Mismeasurements and improper temperature regulation can lead to serious illness or death. Using a wet brine and hot smoking to an internal temperature of 145F is recommended for safety. This is especially important if anyone very young, very old, pregnant, or immunocompromised will be eating your bacon, as they are more susceptible to food-borne illnesses.
**Curing salt is mandatory, and often not found in grocery stores. It is NOT pink Himalayan salt. It can be ordered from amazon or procured from butchers or outdoor stores. It must contain 6.25% nitrite, and no nitrates. Curing salt should always be precisely weighed and never eyeballed.
**Morton's Tender Quick is not the same as curing salt. I do not recommend using it for bacon due to its nitrate content. If you must use MTQ or any other pre-blended cure, follow package directions and do not use these cure calculators. 
**The easiest way to smoke bacon is to use a smoker, but it is not mandatory. Bacon can be hot smoked on a grill or even in an oven (if you don't mind the flavor of liquid smoke). 
**Bacon can be cold smoked at your own risk if you are confident that your cure was measured and applied correctly, and you are confident that you can maintain a low temperature inside of your smoker or grill (under 86F). The smoker or grill will not be heated, and will just be used as a chamber for smoke from a smoldering pellet smoker. The text above also has instructions and links to make a cold smoking chamber from a cardboard box. 
 
Keyword bacon recipe, Cured pork belly, Homemade bacon, How to cure bacon, How to make bacon