Wet Cured Smoked Bacon
If you have more than one belly, it is best to cure them in separate containers. However, if you are stacking them, you need to overhaul daily. In this case, overhauling means removing the bellies from the brine, stirring the brine, and rotating bellies from top to bottom, before replacing them in the brine. Personally I would not stack more than two.
Salt is important for the curing action. You could reduce the salt, but generally you should increase the curing times. A wet cure is referred to as a pickle. Sugar is not needed and, when it is added, it is referred to as a sweet pickle. Note that sugar does take the sharpness off the salt. If you want a sweeter bacon, you can add more sugar.
When using a wet cure, it is generally faster than a dry cure. With belly bacon, you generally will wet cure 4 – 5 days, as to generally 7 days with a dry cure. As I mentioned in the other thread, I was surprised to discover that most tasso ham recipes only called for several hours of curing.
4 quarts water; divided
1 cup pickling salt (10 ounces)
1/4 cup brown sugar; packed
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 ounces Pink Salt (aka InstaCure #1, Prague Powder #1; Modern Cure #1; T.C.M.)
To this you can add bay leaves, garlic, whole peppercorns etc.
In a 3 – 4 quart non-reactive saucepan add 2 quarts of water. Add all ingredients except the cure. Bring to a boil and simmer; stirring constantly until all the salt and sugar is dissolved.
Add 2 quarts of ice water and allow to cool down. You can cool the brine faster by adding 2 pounds of ice instead of the ice water. After the mixture has cooled, add the pink salt, and stir until it is fully dissolved. Before using the pickle, it has to be between 38 (3.3C) degrees F – 40 (4.4 C) degrees F.
Prior to smoking, slice a small piece and fry it. If it is too salty, soak it on cold water for an hour, changing the water once during that time.
Depending on the size of the container, and making sure you do not pack the meat in, this will cure up to 16 lbs of meat or bacon. It doesn’t matter if you are curing 5 lbs or 1 6lbs. With this amount of brine; you will get the same results, though it will be a waste of supplies if you use this amount for a small piece of meat.
The general rule is that you need at least 50% weight in brine equal to the green weight of the meat/fat. For example, if you want to cure 8 lbs of bacon or other meat, you will need at least 4 lbs of brine prior to adding the other ingredients.
Four pounds of water (and/or other liquids) equals 2 quarts. If you reduce the liquid in the recipe, you also must reduce all the other ingredients proportionately – that includes the cure.