Author Topic: Can you cure Bacon without using Nitrates/Nitrites  (Read 7561 times)

Offline TassieSmoker

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Can you cure Bacon without using Nitrates/Nitrites
« on: December 04, 2010, 03:07:59 am »
Hi All,

First of all I would like to say what a fantastic forum and community of Bradley Smoker users, I am a recent convert to the famous Brand and as a consequence I am now a dealer for the Bradley's in my Bait & Tackle shop in Tasmania, Australia.......not only do I use one now I sell em too ;)

The Bradleys were brought to my attention quite a few years ago but were not readily available in Australia and having one sent over along with 240 volt converters made it financially quite ridiculous, however in the last year or so a company has seen the value of importing them and now Australia is being slowly converted Bradley style.......however BBQ'ing and Smoking is nothing new to us over here.

So far I have done a small amount of Fish (few different species), some Chicken (whole bird, wings and drumsticks), Duck, Quail and a bit of vegetable. My next big run will be some Beef Ribs, a Turkey for Christmas but my big goal is to do a Pork Loin and make some home cured and smoked Bacon.

Now in Australia we eat and call Bacon basically what you guys refer to as British Bacon so its cured and smoked then we slice it and cook it when we eat it......seems to be a few differences between the descriptions of bacon depending on what part of the world you are from so it has been a tad confusing for me to figure out some of the recipes.....but its all starting to make sense.

My big stumbling point is the cures used to prepare the Pork before the smoking process, here in Australia its proving very difficult to source the commercially produced cures that many of the recipes call for. I have seen some cure mixes that call for a product called "Pink Salt" and after some investigation I found that "Pink Salt" over here is readily available and as a matter of fact is produced as a raw ingredient right here in Australia......but unfortunately it is exactly as its says, its purely and simply just PINK salt.....normal natural salt just pink in colour so not really of any use to me.....quite commonly used in fancy restaurants as a pretty table salt.

My other big issue is the Nitrates/Nitrites used in the cures as there are a number of severe Migrane sufferers in the family and food additives/preservatives and Nitrates/Nitrites are a major contributor so I would like to avoid them if possible.

So.....my big question is.....is there a way to cure a Pork Loin to be smoked and turned into Bacon without using a cure "powder" or anything commercially produced containing Nitrates/Nitrites....???

I have searched about the forum and cant find anything definitive and have searched other internet sources with no luck so any help the members here can give would be greatly appreciated.

Once again Great Forum, Great Product and looking forward to be part of a great community.....Smokin' Down Under!!

Cheers
Jamie

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Offline FLBentRider

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Re: Can you cure Bacon without using Nitrates/Nitrites
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2010, 03:14:02 am »
Smoking down under. That's cool.

You can cure with only salt, no nitrites. This is a recipe -

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/scrap-iron-chefs-bacon-recipe/index.html

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Offline TassieSmoker

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Re: Can you cure Bacon without using Nitrates/Nitrites
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2010, 03:27:54 am »
Smoking down under. That's cool.

You can cure with only salt, no nitrites. This is a recipe -

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/scrap-iron-chefs-bacon-recipe/index.html



Mate.....you are a legend.....thankyou very much I am forever in your dept.

I will post up some results for everyone to check out over the next week or so.

Cheers
Smokin' Downunder..... ;)
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Offline Tenpoint5

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Re: Can you cure Bacon without using Nitrates/Nitrites
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2010, 06:23:20 am »
Tassie first off Welcome Aboard!! It is sure nice to see some more Friends from down under join the forum. If I am reading your post correctly. I am under the understanding you are wanting to make "Canadian Bacon" From the pork loin and not Bacon from the pork belly. This site might be of help to you, not knowing if you have Mortons available down under but you may be able to order it. The second link is to the tenderquick that you will see mentioned by a lot of folks when making Canadian Bacon. Hope this helps.

http://www.mortonsalt.com/products/meatcuring/

http://www.mortonsalt.com/products/meatcuring/tenderquick.html
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Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Can you cure Bacon without using Nitrates/Nitrites
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2010, 02:34:05 pm »
If nitrite and nitrate allergies run in your family, you shouldn't use celery powder to cure your meats. Whether you obtain nitrates or nitrites from organic source such as celery powder or chemically produce means, the end product will be the same.



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Offline KyNola

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Re: Can you cure Bacon without using Nitrates/Nitrites
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2010, 02:42:05 pm »
I removed two posts referencing celery powder from this thread based on Hab's post.

Sorry Tassie.

Perhaps Habs can provide you info on curing without nitrites/nitrates.

Offline ArnieM

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Re: Can you cure Bacon without using Nitrates/Nitrites
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2010, 06:49:52 pm »
I hope BuyLowSellHigh shows up here to add his wisdom.

Curing in the old days was done with salt.  It takes longer than using sodium nitrite and the mead doesn't come out as red.

My butcher doesn't use chemicals.  He'd typically use a 50/50 mix of Kosher salt and brown sugar and pour off any liquid twice a day.  But, that's for pork belly - American bacon.  :D  The end result is fairly dry bacon that fries up nicely.

For Canadian style, boneless pork loin, it would be about a day per inch of thickness.  In either case, you'll cook it to 150-155 so it's safe.

Just my opinion.

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Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Can you cure Bacon without using Nitrates/Nitrites
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2010, 02:03:19 am »
I removed two posts referencing celery powder from this thread based on Hab's post.

Sorry Tassie.

Perhaps Habs can provide you info on curing without nitrites/nitrates.

There was nothing wrong with your posts, and I was not challenging anything you posted. It was that he mentioned the allergies so celery powder or the Morton cures would not be a good substitute for what he is looking for. FLB has posted a good link, with the necessary information. When someone has posted the information a member is looking for I generally will not add to the discussion.

Jammie;

Dry curing with salt is a lengthy process, and I don't think that is what you are looking for. The best option is wet curing with salt, you will not get the flavor associated with meats cured with nitrites. When you use salt as a cure in a pickle you want the solution to be at least 10% salt; that is about 1 pound of salt per gallon of liquid. It is best to use pickling salt because it dissolves much faster. Just keep in mind that the refrigeration life will not be as long as if you cured it with a nitrite.

Sorry for any drama.



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Offline TassieSmoker

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Re: Can you cure Bacon without using Nitrates/Nitrites
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2010, 03:28:02 am »
Thanks 10.5 glad to be here, but in answer to your question what we call bacon over here is different to Canadian Bacon.

From the research I have done basically American bacon and Australian bacon is the same however we use the pork belly and the loin together and don't usually use it as two separate cuts......like in the pic below......its what we call a "middle rasher" so its the belly and the loin together (best of both world hey ;D)


We have a Bacon cut called "short cut" bacon which is the bacon slice above with the thinner fattier section removed or whats sometimes called "streaky bacon" and only the nice round meaty bit left which is the loin section on the cut.
I have a nice piece of loin so will be doing a short cut, not as much fat so a little healthier.....thats my defense anyway.

The Canadian Bacon is almost the same as what we call a ham.....sort of although usually we do a leg ham and its carved straight off the bone.

We are pretty lucky here in the fact that we have butchers pretty well in every town and more often than not a lot of product is slaughtered locally as well, so high quality fresh cuts of meat are easy to come by. I have a local farm only 15 minutes down the road that slaughter and sell straight from the farm and its some of the best quality Beef you will come across.....some nice Beef Ribs is on the cards very soon, hoping I can find a good recipe here somewhere ;).

The link supplied gives a very easy to follow wet brine which I find much more desirable to a dry brine at this stage, a little more experience with the dry brining processes is in order yet before I feel totally comfortable with it.

I am planing on doing some smoking demonstrations with the Bradley's at my shop soon too so am keen to get a few processes down to a fine art to impress the punters with some home smoked product.

Cheers all and thanks for the responses.
Smokin Down Under

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Offline FLBentRider

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Re: Can you cure Bacon without using Nitrates/Nitrites
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2010, 03:58:54 am »
That Australian bacon looks good.

I may try to locate that cut, I may have to but the whole pig!
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Offline TassieSmoker

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Re: Can you cure Bacon without using Nitrates/Nitrites
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2010, 04:38:56 am »
That Australian bacon looks good.

I may try to locate that cut, I may have to but the whole pig!

Mate.....Pig, its a magical animal ;D
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Offline BuyLowSellHigh

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Re: Can you cure Bacon without using Nitrates/Nitrites
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2010, 04:50:14 am »
Tassie, first welcome to the forums. Hope you become a regular.

Curing without the addition of nitrates/nitrites, including the "natural sources" (like celery powder) can be done. But, there are some caveats.  For home applications we don't have the benefit of analytical controls that the regulated processors use, so I feel it is best to keep it on the safe side.

First, to "fully cure" for preservation, as in ancient times, requires a salt level that is pretty unpalatable -- 15% sodium chloride (salt) in the free water of the meat.  Meats cured to that level of salt need to be well soaked to remove the salt before they are cooked and consumed.  That's generally not very practical in our modern world.

The more common alternative is to cure to 3.5 - 5 % salt content in the free water phase, then fully cook the product to a food safe temperature.  The cooking can be done immediately after the curing, as in smoking, or the cured product can be stored just as if it were fresh meat and cooked at a later date, as is done for what some here in the states commonly call "salt pork".  What's important to remember is that at the lower salt levels the meat needs to be treated just as if it were fresh meat as the salt levels are too low to afford adequate protection against pathogenic bacteria.

If you want to smoke meat that is free of nitrites/nitrates then it can be safely approached as hot smoking at a temperature of 180 °F and above.  Some will even push that lower temperature to 225 °F. Basically you're cooking it as if it were untreated raw meat, to an appropriate food safe temperature.  Afterwards it is then stored as cooked meat.

The Alton Brown scrap iron chef bacon is popular but personally causes me modest concern because of the cold smoking after a lower salt/sugar cure that probably doesn't reach full equilibrium.  When I worked through the math on that recipe I come out with an equilibrium salt concentration of about 4.8% salt (raw pork belly is about 40 % water). His simple immersion soak time of 3 days is probably insufficient to achieve equilibrium -- 7 days per inch, replacing the solution after 7 days, would make me comfortable. An alternative would be to pump the belly (inject) in an attempt to saturate it with the brine, then immerse it to reach equilibrium.  If done that way 5-7 days should be sufficient.  It is probably helped by the amount of sugar in the recipe (sugar, molasses and apple cider).  If I remember that episode correctly it was quite chilly, like under 40 °F, when he smoked it and his smoke was I believe quite cold by our general use of 90 °F as the upper limit for cold smoking. So long as the meat temp can be held to 40 °F or below during smoking, it should be okay.

One other option that I have seen used is to brine cure as in the scrap iron chef recipe and add liquid smoke to the brine at a rate of 1 tsp per pound of meat, then treat the meat as simple brine treated raw pork, cooking normally as for raw pork.
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Offline squirtthecat

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Re: Can you cure Bacon without using Nitrates/Nitrites
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2010, 06:43:15 am »

Welcome Tassie!

Quote
.its what we call a "middle rasher" so its the belly and the loin together

I want some of that!!
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Offline KyNola

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Re: Can you cure Bacon without using Nitrates/Nitrites
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2010, 07:28:25 am »
I removed two posts referencing celery powder from this thread based on Hab's post.

Sorry Tassie.

Perhaps Habs can provide you info on curing without nitrites/nitrates.

There was nothing wrong with your posts, and I was not challenging anything you posted.

Sorry for any drama.
Habs, I think you misinterpreted my intent.  I deleted my posts because when it comes to curing I'll yield to your expertise.  You have much more education and experience in curing than me.  I didn't know if an organic nitrite would have the same allergic reaction as a chemically produced nitrite.  Now I do. Thanks for clearing that up.

Offline NePaSmoKer

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Re: Can you cure Bacon without using Nitrates/Nitrites
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2010, 09:42:01 am »
AHHHHH Just smoke it

Cave man ate non cured meats, indians ate non cured smoked meat, cowboys ate salted buffalo jerky.

Use just plain old salt,pepper.




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