Dry Curing Bacon at Home
Short / tldr; version:
Three days in to my very first dry cure and my pork belly is not giving up much/any liquid. Do I have a problem?
Looking for any guidance here. I had been looking to make some bacon at home for a while and I finally got a cheapy electric smoker, so I took the plunge and picked up a 13lb Mangalitsa belly from a local heirloom pork farm. The guy said it is about 75% to 80% fat and makes for some incredible bacon.
I picked up the Charcuterie book by Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn, some pink salt and giant ziploc bags. Everything else I had already.
I followed the base cure recipe ratios which is salt, sugar & pink salt and made up a 1/2 batch.
8 Oz Kosher Salt
4 Oz Sugar
1 Oz Pink Salt
I then split the belly into 3 un-equal cuts, put each into a ziploc and poured in about 1/4 cup (30 grams) of dry cure per the Charcuterie recipe and rubbed in the cure. The bigger belly actually got about 50 grams total since it was a little larger than the 3-5 lb range that the book referred to.
Here is what I had:
#1) -- 7 Lbs - Base Cure only (30 grams plus another 20)
#2) -- 4 Lbs - Base Cure plus 1/2 cup brown sugar
#3) -- 3 Lbs - Base Cure plus Pancetta style seasoning (garlic, juniper, bay, pepper, etc...)
I started this all Monday at about 5pm. It is now Thursday at about 11am.
The only belly with any amount of liquid is the #2 (Brown Sugar) and it's not much. The other 2 are moist, but by no means even sloppy wet. They are all in a fridge I keep sodas and beer in that says it's about 38 degrees F.
I also just now added about another 10 grams of dry cure to each and rubbed it in.
My guess is that this pork belly is so high fat, that there just is not much liquid to give up. The brown sugar one that is giving up some liquid happened to be the middle of the belly and was the leanest section.
I am planning to cure out to 7 days.
I just don't want to get botulism poisoning here. Does anyone have any hands-on advice where they have seen something like this (lack of liquid from curing)? Every dry cure recipe I have seen talks about this copious amount of liquid that will come out the first 2 - 3 days and from what I can tell, this is part of the overhauling process where by it makes its own brine essentially in the ziploc to make sure the cure is always in contact with the meat. This is why I just added the additional 10g of cure to help make sure there was cure in contact with the whole thing.
I attached a couple photos. First one is the whole belly. The second one is from cut #2 with Brown Sugar added that is giving up some liquid.
Thanks in advance!
I've cured several pork bellies, some approaching 70% fat. I've never had the copious amounts of liquid that many recipes refer to, and I've used the Ruhlman and Polcyn book. 1 3 lb belly gave up about 1/4 cup liquid after about 7 days. Maybe a 1/3 cup, but by no means a prodigious amount. At first, I too questioned my method, but after doing it several times with several batches of pink salt, I figured that what I'm doing is OK - and I'm still standing.
To be honest, I gave up on making bacon because I don't have a cold smoker, and realized I can't get that typical bacon flavor without cold smoking. Instead, I'm putting pork bellies to good use by braising them.
Personally, if you're following Ruhlman and Polcyn, don't worry about it. I was getting the exact same results as you, and my meat cured through just fine.