Author Topic: Ham and bacon?  (Read 2622 times)

Offline Crystal

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Ham and bacon?
« on: July 09, 2012, 06:41:19 PM »
Hi guys, im back again!

My adventure into sausages has been FUN! we have universally decided asa family that we like our sausages skinless, so i save a bunch that way. Sometimes we put the meat through the machine and make thing sausages, sometimes i shape them by hand and we have fat (or lumpy) sausages! Cheese has been slow, i ran out of cultures so just ordered some now so i can get making for Christmas. The other thing ive always wanted to try was ham and bacon, and most accounts have stated its 'easy'. The problem i have is that all the recipes are contradictory! Most say a dry cure, using Sodium Nitrate (prague powder #1?) yet the powder states it is NOT to be used for dry curing! I dont have a smoker, and was hoping someone here has a very simple and basic process for ham and bacon that i can cook in a very slow oven? or even the BBQ?

Please, also try to use terms i will understand as a complete NOVICE... I dont want to mess it up!

By ham i am referring to the lunch meat style that is rolled and sliced.

And well, bacon is bacon!

Any help is really appreciated as ham is quite expensive here, ranging from $11/kg to $29/kg and upwards. When the cut of pork is roughly $6/kg...

Also, no one really clarifies WHERE to store the meat while its curing... is there a recommended temperature as with cheese?
I dont know what to put here...
Crystal ;-)


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Offline Tomer1

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Re: Ham and bacon?
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2012, 04:40:54 AM »
As fermentation is not involved, Id cure it in the fridge (4c).
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Offline iratherfly

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Re: Ham and bacon?
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2012, 10:00:24 PM »
Bacon, Pancetta, Speck, Lardon... same basic idea:

1. Cure in a closed bag in the fridge for 7-14 days (depends on thickness). The cure is better with nitrates/nitrites but it's not neccesary (better pathogen prevention, preserve red color of meat beautifully). If you don't have nitrites/nitrate (pague powder #1 or #2, or TenderQuick Salt) than you can use celery salt or something else with naturally occurring nitrates. The cure should contain sugar (Brown sugar is nice. Maple syrup makes incredible flavor). Also in the cure, include your spices: peppercorns, bay leafs, powdered onion and powdered or crushed garlic, juniper berries, thyme, spanish sweet paprika (or smoked paprika if you like) etc.

2. The next stage is to take it out of the bag and wash it thoroughly with clean cool water. No salt, spices or leafs should stay on it. Wipe it dry!

3. Put it on a tray on a rack, cover it lightly with cheesecloth to protect it from over-drying and getting refrigerator smells. Throw it in the fridge for 24 hours and turn it once in a while to it dries evenly. This is important - you are building a pellicle layer. A sort of skin membrane that develops on the exterior of the meat which will protect it from over-drying, give it texture and stand up for any smoking. Think of it as developing rind on cheese.

4. Finish:
  • For American style bacon, you will smoke the thing in a cold smoker. If you have one, I don't need to tell you how to use it. I don't think you can go wrong here with either Applewood, Cherry, Mesquite, Hickory, Oak or Maple.
  • English style bacon, is the fastest and easiest: Just cook it VERY LOW (75°C/170°F) on a rack with drip tray to catch any rendered fat. Cook it so it holds a center temp of 140°F/60°C for a couple of hours! Cool thoroughly before slicing.
  • For Pancetta and Speck it's even easier: Start by weighing the piece and record this weight. (Important!) Now all you have to do it hang it to dry-cure and leave it alone! I pierce a piece of cheesecloth and pass it through the meat hanging twine so that it drops on the meat and protects it from dust but is very loose and air can move about.  How do you know it's ready?  Easy! Remember the weight you recorded earlier? Weight your meat every few days. When it weighs 65% of its original weight (loss of 35%) your Pancetta is ready! Proper drying rate should give you a great Pancetta in 15 days (+/- 7). Knowing this, you can weigh your Pancetta periodically to find out if you are on target ot whether or not you should go dryer or more moist environment. If only cheese was so easy!
  • Duck Pancetta - do the same thing as regular Pancetta but with duck breasts (skin on! you want it to crisp when fried!)
  • For Lomo and Lonzino (Spanish and Italian style dry-cured loin respectively), cure it only 2 days (loins are soft, moist and lean. No need to over-cure). Once you wash and dry it, toss some more pimenton (Spanish paprika) onto it. If you can find it, get pimenton where the box reads "Agri-dulce" (semi-smoked, semi sweet) so you get this robust smoked Spanish flavor without any actual smoking on your part... Dry cure it like the Pancetta. It may be ready in 7-10 days but if you have time, I would try to dry cure 3 weeks. The texture will be much better and the flavor deeper. Lonzino is typically a bit more spicy rather than smoky so use hot paprika. You can also replace the paprika with Herbes de Provence and cracked pepper to make it French-Provencal style Saucisson-sec. (dry sausage. Traditionally made of ground meat but this works very well - see photo below).
  • Bresola is like Lomo but made of beef and larger. Can be made spicy too.
Note about dry-aging:
You want to hang it in a cool room (50°F-60°F/10°C-17°C) and unlike cheese, this needs to be ventilated. If you have a ceiling fan you can turn it on to its lowest setting. You can also place a fan somewhere in the room for circulation. Just don't aim it directly at the meat: It will fly dust all over it which will stick to its moist and oily skin. Moreover, you may dry the outside too quickly (rendering it thick, hard, dense and dry like a jerky). When you do that, it will lock lots of moisture inside and the interior will end up too moist, soft, and under-cured.  It's the meat-curing version of slip skin in cheese making!
Prevent that by checking your meat periodically. If it is getting dry and tough but has a lot of give from the inside when you press it - reduce air circulation + place it in a more humid place + give it a few more days to dry-cure.  If you catch this issue early enough, moisture will shift and reconstitute the dry areas; it will recover (at least partially). Humidity in the room is okay, but not cheese humidity; normal humid day is fine.

Salinity and drying speed are the two places where you have the most chances of failure. Focus on that when you learn to make it. Follow formulas on the packaging of your curing salt.

For the Ham/Jamon/Jambon like product, use a wet cure and cook it the same way you would a British style bacon (longer time because these are thick pieces of meat!) it will be great.  Your initial cure time (before washing it off) may be a lot shorter than what you need tor Pancetta/Saucisson-sec/Lomo style meats.

Here are some things I made earlier this spring using these methods:

Offline Crystal

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Re: Ham and bacon?
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2012, 02:53:26 AM »
I read through debi's site and it said cream of tartar could be used instead of the cure? Didnt say how much to use though? Since im doing all this to attempt to avoid the migranes (one recent one put me in hospital) avoiding nitrates sounds good. Plus, anything i make wont me stored long, we'll eat it in a week! So, im thinking english bacon, it seems closest to what we get here, and the ham i was thinking of getting a rolled roast and using that since its the right shape for sandwhiches! I will keep you updated but as im about to go camping i wont start till next week!

Thanks so much for replying, i was really confused by all the different methods around! And yours look soooooo good!
I dont know what to put here...
Crystal ;-)

Offline iratherfly

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Re: Ham and bacon?
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2012, 11:20:46 AM »
Yes, really simple: Wet cure wash off cure refrigerate for a day smoke, cook, or dry
That's all there's to it! That's quite a lot of cured meat variety before you go into any culturing / fermentation / salami / sausage stuffing / natural rinds and other advanced chacruterie madness.

A word about Nitrates/Nitrites:
They are used for three reasons: 1). Pathogen control (mainly botulism) 2). Keeping your meat pink and pretty  3). Preventing rancidity of fat.
Cream of tartar wouldn't replace the pathogen and rancidity control or properties of nitrites/nitrates; It will only take care of the pretty color.
While Nitrites/Nitrates boast a scary scientific-sounding name, make no mistake about it; they are all over your diet already as they are naturally occuring in fruits and vegetables (especially in greens such as celery, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower etc), as well as the meat of animals who consume greens.  They are safe to consume and have been used for meat curing probably since the time of the Roman Empire!

Nitrates/Nitrites' nasty reputation comes from their toxicity if consumed at ENORMOUS quantities.
To put it in proportion: nitrites are no more than 0.6% of your curing salt. If your product's final salinity is 3% and oh, say you have a serious craving for it and binge on 100g at once: You are consuming 0.6% of 3% of 100g = 18mg of the stuff. It takes 4.5g of nitrite to poison an adult human. 18mg is 1/250th of that! (or in other words, you will need to eat 25kg of cured meat all at once to get poisoned. If you can consume that much, I think other things will kill you first).
You also might have heard that it is carcinogenic which is a gross inaccurate exaggeration: Under some pH/heat conditions it may indirectly contribute to a process (that depends on presence of other substances), which may potentially produce Nitrosamine; a toxin linked to some types of gastric cancer. This is true also about cheese, beer, pickles and even fish.
In the grand scheme of things, it is far better to have this insignificant amount in your food than botulism, e.coli, salmonella etc.

Prague powder, pink salt, #1, #2, TenderQuick... whatever curing product you find out there - ALL have nitrates.  Sometimes you will see cured meat products in a health store or fancy supermarket that say "No Nitrates Added!" or "uncured bacon" - rest assure, in the ingredient list you will find some natural nitrate/nitrite-producing agent such as Celery salt/juice. True, they haven't added it to the product, but it's still there (what a marketing scam!).

HAVING SAID THAT.... you can certainly just use kosher salt + sugar + optional cream of tartar. It will do the trick, though it won't control botulism as effectively.

Debi has helped me a lot when I got started on chacruterie curing; If I remember correctly most of her stuff is wet-cured and smoked; not so much dry curing. She is extremely knowledgeable! Have you visited her website?

I say, if you are going for vacation for a week - cure the stuff in the bags in the fridge right now!  By the time you return it will already be done with step #1 and you will just have to wash the cure off, put in the fridge for a day and the next day bake it and it's done!
« Last Edit: July 11, 2012, 12:25:13 PM by iratherfly »


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Offline Crystal

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Re: Ham and bacon?
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2012, 04:46:25 PM »
We have had the conversation about nitrates/nitrites before... the thought of being in an emergency waiting room in the middle of the night for 3 hrs waiting for a nurse to give me two pain tablets isnt enticing... then i ended up back there the next day but not in the waiting room... no one can tell me for certain that it is or isnt nitrates that give me a migrane, yet sausages give me a migrane, christmas ham... some bacon. I understand botulism isnt enticing either (rock and hard place huh?).

Ok, i think ill try without the prague powder, if its satisfactory then im ok with it. I will just make small amounts so that they arent being kept for long.

I have been t debi's site many times and am the proud downloader of just about every download available! Its only that most of her recipes are for american versions which i have no clue what they should taste like! Plus, with kids, anything too spicy or unusual probably wont go down too well. I do have my eye on a few things i want to test out of hers though ;-)

Ohc and i didnt want to start while we were away cos our ppwer gets a bit sketchy, it goes off from time to time...
I dont know what to put here...
Crystal ;-)

Offline jerseyknollfarm

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Re: Ham and bacon?
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2012, 08:49:15 PM »
I use this recipe for the cure for my bacon:
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup coarsely ground black pepper
4 oz of sea salt
4 tsp prague powder (optional)

I put the side in a shallow restaurant style pan and rub the cure all over the meat.  Cover and let it sit in the refrigerator for 7 days.  I do flip it every couple of days.

Rinse all the cure and place on a sheet pan to allow the surface to air dry for 24 hours.  Flip after 12 hours.

I then smoke it will apple and hickory wood until it is 160*

Offline iratherfly

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Re: Ham and bacon?
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2012, 02:15:36 AM »
Sounds very similar to my formula... though I wish I had a smoker!

Offline Kaiser Soze

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Re: Ham and bacon?
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2012, 07:26:05 PM »
Bacon can easily be made without nitrites, without fear of botulism. Whole muscle cuts (such as pancetta, bacon, etc) do not require nitrite/nitrate rich curing salts for microbial protection, but instead are used for the characteristic ham/bacon colour and flavour. C. Botulinum can exist on the outside of whole cuts of meat, however this is an oxygen rich environment. For CB to grow and produce the fatal toxin, they need an anaerobic environment. If you cure whole cuts, that environment isn't available and botulism is not a risk. Once you grind the meat for salami or dry cured sausage, however, those CB bacteria are then transferred to the inside of the sausage to an anaerobic environment and there can be some chance of botulism poisoning.

I use nitrites most of the time, but I can certainly understand why you would want to try avoiding them given your migraine situation.

Making bacon is a fairly simple process, which can be done without a smoker, still with good results.

The basic starting point is the dry cure - generally salt (around 2-2.5% weight of pork, depending how salty you like your bacon), pepper and sugar. You can use different types of pepper (mountain pepper berry, black pepper, green pepper, white pepper) and sugar (white, brown, honey, maple syrup) to vary the flavours. You can also add aromatics (garlic, bay, thyme, paprika, liquid smoke) to add a depth of flavour.

I cure in a ziplock bag to prevent mess. Rub the dry cure into the pork belly all over and stick this in a zip lock bag for around a week to 10 days in the fridge. Due to the fact that you're using a specific amount of salt (based on the weight of the meat), there's no issue with over-curing, so it's better to err on the side of caution and go 10 days, but it may be ready in less, dependant on the size of the belly. During the course of the curing process, liquid will be drawn from the belly and the meat will start to harden up. If you remember, try flipping the belly over each day, and you can even massage it to ensure that the cure works its way into the muscle fibres.

Once you've cured the belly, remove it from the ziplock bag and rinse the cure off. You don't need to get it totally washed off, just rinse it to get the majority off. Some of the cure can still remain to add a bit of flavour on the outside. Once this has been done, pat dry with paper towels, then put the belly on a wire rack and pop it back in the fridge to dry out a little. If you're planning on smoking it, you want the belly to form a pellicle, which is a sticky layer on the outside of the meat. This gives the smoke flavour something to adhere to, however if you're not smoking the belly, just lkeave it long enough for the belly to be pretty dry.

At this point, you have bacon that you can slice and fry, however you might want to cook your bacon. Keep your bacon on a wire rack and put it in the oven. Turn the oven to 100*C/210*F and leave it in there for around 1.5-2 hours, depending again on how thick your belly is. You want to cook it to an internal temperature of 68*C/154*F. During the process, you can glaze it with something sweet like maple syrup, but it will still be delicious without.

After you've cooked it, let it cool and then slice it. It's easier to slice once it's been cooked in the oven, and easier still if you get it really cold before slicing (i.e. almost freezing!). You can pack slices into freezer bags and freeze it.

I have a post on my blog about it which goes into a bit more detail.

Really, with a nice cure and possibly a bit of liquid smoke (if you want), you could make a great bacon that would taste wayyyy better than anything that you buy in the shop. No need for nitrites or nitrates.

Offline dttorun

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Re: Ham and bacon?
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2012, 10:36:42 AM »
I've been enjoying my delicious smoked salmon. Thanks to you guys now I have to deal with bacon as well...
Tan


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Offline Al Lewis

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Re: Ham and bacon?
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2012, 07:27:18 PM »
Just finished this dry cure side bacon.  I also cure my own hams and do a lot of smoking/indirect heat bar-b-que.  Be happy to share any of my recipes if it will help anyone.

Offline bbracken677

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Re: Ham and bacon?
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2012, 07:43:44 PM »
When you smoke salmon....

Which end do you light?


Just kidding...what is your favorite bbq sauce recipe? Or rub, if you use that.

Offline Al Lewis

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Re: Ham and bacon?
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2012, 08:20:47 PM »
Here's my recipe for my dry rub.

DRY RUB

1 cup tomato powder
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup Chipotle chili powder
1 Tblspn jalapeño powder
1 Tblspn smoked paprika
1 Tblspn molasses powder
1 Tblspn  dry mustard
1 Tblspn  garlic powder
1 Tblspn onion powder
1 Tblspn cayenne pepper
1 Tblspn Italian seasoning mix
1 Tblspn file powder
1 Tblspn Kosher salt
1 Tspn white pepper
1 Tspn Worcestershire powder

« Last Edit: November 26, 2012, 09:22:53 PM by Al Lewis »

Offline Al Lewis

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Re: Ham and bacon?
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2012, 09:26:44 PM »
I use pure maple syrup and brown sugar on the salmon and Mortons Sugar Cure on my bacon and hams.  I use to mix my own cure for hams using pink salt, coarse salt, brown sugar but recently found a local source for the Mortons.

Offline bbracken677

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Re: Ham and bacon?
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2012, 07:47:30 AM »
Thanks...I have to confess I have never seen tomato powder or worcestershire powder available. The rest I have...I assume the file' is gumbo file'.