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Feb 27, 2011 07:44 AM

Homemade Bacon question?

Looking to make some bacon.. wondering what kind of curing salt is better then others..

Anyone recommend one?

also.. how do you cure your bacon? what do you use to enhance flavor?


also do i use belly with skin on? or should i cut that off?

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  1. I use curing salt I get from The Spice House, It's always worked fine for basic cures I've done like bacon, pastrami, etc. In addition to curing salt, Kosher Salt and sugar I add brown sugar, maple syrup and garlic. Skin is left on until after the belly is cured and smoked but is easiest to remove when still warm, not long after it's been smoked.

    2 Replies
    1. re: csweeny

      Isn't Kosher salted bacon an oxymoron? Just kidding...

      1. I use an 8-4-1 cure...8 oz kosher salt, 4 oz sugar, 1 oz pink salt. This is from Ruhlman's Charcuterie. We make all kinds of bacon using rubs, BBQ, savory, sweet, etc and usually smoke the bacon after it's been cured. I've tried it with the skin on and off and I prefer the skin off since we smoke it and get better flavor penetration.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Den

          hmmm so you would recommen removing the skin before curing it ?

          is this how it is traditionally made?

          thank you

          1. re: lestblight

            I leave the skin on. That smokey brined skin is so good as a flavor agent in creamy white beans. I think you have to try both ways and decide for yourself. They are both good, for different reasons.

            1. re: lestblight

              I prefer skin off. It may be fine for beans and stews, but it turns rather chewy and not very crisp when pan fried or broiled. It's a pain to remove without a band saw, but if you can get your butcher to separate it for you, keep the skin and make chicharones if you have the time (very labor intensive).

              And curing salt (pink salt) is a standard formulation, so I would not worry about who you buy it from. is where I get mine.

          2. I use pink Himalayan salt. We smoke ours at about 220 for less than three hours ( usually mesquite wood cuz' that's what we have ).

            As far as enhancing the flavor, I run w/ what we have - lots of crushed peppercorns, garlic, bay leaf. I know there's some sugar involved but we've cut back on that. We always leave the skin on and slice it off later.


            This is the site that got us started. Homemade bacon is so decadent we usually make it for the holidays only.

            13 Replies
            1. re: JerryMe

              got my bacon in the fridge now.

              question on after the curing process..

              so i wash off salt and let air dry for 12-18 hrs?

              after that can i wait to smoke it?

              maybe 5 days?or do i have to smoke it immediately?


              1. re: lestblight

                ruhlman recently commented on this very thing. he says once its cured, its fine to wait:


                edit: noticed someone posted this exact thing above. damn you collapsed posts! still, it answers the question and ruhlman is a reliable authority on curing

              2. re: JerryMe

                FYI "pink salt" and "pink Himalayan salt" are quite different. "Pink salt" is a mixture of sodium chloride (table salt) and sodium nitrite. The nitrites are added to help preserve the meat.

                Pink Himalayan salt will not act as a preservative (except in the way that regular salt does). It's a mixture of salt and iron compounds that colour it.

                1. re: Indirect Heat

                  had a thought.. i purchased 8 pounds of belly.. skin off at whole foods ( only had it this way)

                  They were sliced into 7 peices about a1.5 inch thick.

                  Will this still need a 7 day cure?

                  Since there is more surface area i imagine the meat will get cured quicker?

                  this will also shorten my smoke time as well right?

                  1. re: lestblight

                    It will cure faster, but hard to say how much faster. Rather than shorten the cure time I would use less of the cure mixture than the recipe calls for. I find the Ruhlman/Polcyn recipe produces bacon a bit too salty for my taste, so I use about 35 grams of cure mix instead of 50 grams per 5 lbs.

                    The right amount of smoke is a matter of taste and depends as much on your smoker and the wood as the time. I would worry more about drying out the smaller chunks of belly than over-smoking. To avoid this you could assemble the pieces back into a slab (no space between pieces) and smoke as usual.

                    1. re: Zeldog

                      I agree that the Ruhlman recipes are a bit heavy on the salt. Another thing I would recommend is a quick soak in cold water (20-30 min) after washing off the cure. The surface is the saltiest part, and you are going to have alot more surface. The end slices of the pancetta i made from the ruhlman book were SOO salty. My second attempt the quick soak made a more uniform seasoning.

                      when the meat gets stiffer like a leather belt or something it will be finished curing, hard to say how long it will take but less than a week. Just check it every day.

                    2. re: lestblight

                      Curing is more about feel than time anyway although bacon is a little easier because you're going to cook it after curing. So, with smaller pieces they'll release their liquid and firm up more quickly. Smoking time is really just a function of the temp you smoke at, we use 225 and shoot for an internal temp of around 150.

                      1. re: Den

                        so i made some bacon.

                        and here are the results.

                        I used the following Ruhlman recipe : (For 5 pounds)

                        2 ounces (1/4 cup Morton or Diamond Crystal coarse kosher) salt

                        2 teaspoons pink curing salt #1 (I use this DQ Cure from Butcher-Packer, $2)

                        4 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

                        4 bay leaves, crumbled

                        1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

                        1/4 cup brown sugar or honey or maple syrup

                        5 cloves of garlic, smashed with the flat side of a chef’s knife

                        2 tablespoons juniper berries, lightly crushed (optional)

                        5 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)

                        I found that mine were too salty.. too intense a flavor. even after soaking a little.

                        This could have been because my belly was cut in strips.

                        What do you recommend i change this salt to?

                        Also.. it doesnt matter the salt if its a small coarse or larger if i go by weight - correct?

                        I also smoked this with a few coals and some moist apple wood and ice..

                        Kept it at 90-100 degrees. for 2 hours, ran short on time.

                        Also if you have any seasonings that you prefer. let me know. would like to try some other combos.

                        Do you smoke it skin side up or down ? rotate it?

                        What do you use your skin for after you cut it?

                        and is dextrose necesarry?

                        Thanks for the help!

                        1. re: lestblight

                          You should rinse the salt off before you smoke it, that will reduce the saltiness.

                          I smoke it skin side up. I use the skin for making stock. The dextrose isn't necessary, but changes the way the liquid comes out of the meat. You want to keep it in there (it alters how the osmosis happens).

                          1. re: lestblight

                            Glad it worked!
                            I, too, started with the Rhulman/Polcyn and I dig it! As others have said, the intensity of the flavor is probably largely due to the surface area:volume ratio... go find yourself another source (or call WF in advance) and you'll get results more to your liking!
                            As for my newest batch of bacon, I think I've found my favorite combo
                            5# slab, skin on (I peel after smoking, cut the skin into 1 " strips, put them in a baggie in the freezer and use in beans, greens and other things that end in "een")
                            40g kosher, 6g pink
                            25g Succanat (light brown cane sugar)
                            1 Tblsp Maple sugar
                            1T Savory
                            1T Thyme
                            1T Corriander
                            1T Black pepper
                            1T Hungarian paprika/mustard/garlic powder/onion powder (my rib rub)
                            2 dollops of molasses
                            1 dollop of maple syrup, grade b

                            Cure in a foodsaver bag, flipping every day

                            smoke with applewood with a pinch of mesquite on hickory coals

                            Tastes bold and sweet!

                            1. re: lunchbox

                              I rinsed it btu still too sweet.

                              I will get a full pound slab of bacon next time and reduce salt to 40 grams.

                              This should help. Should i also reduce my pink salt as well?

                              Has anyone experimented with the other recipes in his book ?

                              I would like to try the pancetta.. but i wonder if it is also very salty.


                              1. re: lestblight

                                I don't find his bacon recipe too salty, but then I use kosher salt. I think I have made all of the sausage recipes and enjoy all of them. Haven't done the pancetta yet though it is one of his least complex recipes.

                  2. Here is my method. It works well, but I don't smoke as I don't have a smoker.