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Smoking Bacon, Meats

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Mr A, Mar 31, 2013.

  1. Mr A

    Mr A Minister of Fire

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    Somehow I got the idea in my head to cure my own bacon. I had a Brinkman charcoal smoker. I only used it a few times, didn't have the patience at the time to get good at it. I just picked up a Brinkman electric smoker on Craigslist for $30 bucks. I was going to try and make a smoker from a steel barrel, or a refrigerator, but I settled on the $30 deal. I have some pork belly curing with Morton's Tender Quick, brown sugar, and chipotle chili peppers. I will probably use apple wood when it ready to smoke. Anyone have suggestions for good wood to smoke bacon? I read a few recipes calling for cherry wood. I have 3 cords of seasoned fruitless mulberry, oak, and some green almond wood. Can green wood be used in smoking food? I know it will smoke, but will it taste good? I have read some bacon recipes say hot smoke to 150 degrees, others say cold smoke. I think I could cold smoke in the brinkman electric by filling the water pan with ice? Thinking about making a cold smoke generator. I could cut a hole in the side, and use threaded pipe with a nut and washer on each side of the smoker wall. Something like this-

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  2. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Did someone say bacon? !!!Bacon bacon bacon!!!!

    We used to take old metal refers and make them into 2-stage smokers for salmon in summer. My family used to go to Campbell River in BC every summer and fish our brains out, then later I commercial fished out of Reedsport, OR when I was in HS. We never made bacon, but the smoked salmon was to die for.

    I use a pellet smoker (they are spendy, but I got an older Traeger for $200 on CL) and an offset Brinkmann wood smoker ($60 used on CL). I usually hot smoke on low heat, but usually only for about an hour (unless its salmon or jerky) and then I cook it in the oven the rest of the way. The reason for this is that most of the smoke sticks to cold meats and once they het warm and hot the smoke does not do much more to enhance the flavor (so why waste the wood and pellets?). I use cuttings from my apple trees as well as my flowering cherry trees to smoke in the Brinkmann. I also have lots of alder in my wood stacks that I use. I buy competition pellets that are 100% apple, maple, alder and cherry in the Traeger. I use apple for bacon and ham. Its the best for pork and pretty much any pork cuts wind up tasting like ham and/or bacon (depending on the fat content). I use alder for salmon, or a mix of apple and alder. Oak and mesquite are really strong and can make meat bitter if you use too much. It tends to get overused in my view. About the only meat I use oak and mesquite for is beef. Alder is good for chicken and turkey.

    Green wood is fine for smoking with, as it adds more moisture to the smoke (same effect as having a water pan in the smoker). As long as you can keep it burning. Mulberry is similar to apple and excellent for smoking. I would use that for making your bacon. Almond (and just about any nut wood) is good, along with just about any fruit wood and alder. I like alder the best, its light and the base-line for PNW smoking. My brother likes apple the best. BTW: avoid smoking with any conifer wood. It has too much resin and creates a lot of black pitch. You must have tons of alder there where you live. Try it, you will like it.
  3. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    I usually mix apple and shagbark hickory bark 75% apple and 25% bark...give or take.

    I make bacon by cold smoking. Fill a SS mixing bowl with wood...cover top with foil...poke a few holes...drill hole in bowl and heat as low as you can go with a propane plumbing torch. Works great!
  4. Mr A

    Mr A Minister of Fire

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    How long do you cold smoke per pound of bacon? If I understand your post correctly, the SS bowl is your smoke generator? Just get it going and place in your smoker? Do you refill the wood chips or is it done when the chips burn out? How big is your bowl, like 8"-10" or bigger? I put a thermometer on the lid of my Brinkmann. I could take out the electric element and just use charcoal also. There is no temperature control on the heat element. Thought about just using a electric skillet, they come with a heat control. Or getting an infinite switch at Grainger or from some old electric stove someone is throwing away, wire it right into the cord of the Brinkmann element
  5. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Yes, the SS bowl is the smoke generator. I use it, along with my Weber gas grill, for cold smoking. The bowl isn't very big...maybe 5" or so. It will make enough smoke for 2-3 hours which is usually plenty for cold smoking 5-7 lbs of bacon.

    The propane torch stays on the whole time and puts out very little heat...you basically turn it down as low as it can go without going out.
  6. Mr A

    Mr A Minister of Fire

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    That is a good idea. I also found a method using a coffee can and a soldering iron. Drill hole in bottom of can, insert soldering iron, fill can with saw dust, plug it in. I haven't seen any smoking wood saw dust for sale, just chunks. I'm going to do some experimenting, maybe just fill the can with chunks and drop a hot coal on top, or bottom, whatever works best. Smoker never went over 200 degrees at night, smoking pork ribs. with fruitless mulberry. A lot people say the Brinkmann electric gets too hot, as it has no temp control on the heating coil. If I get that problem, I'll wire a infinite switch into the cord, or just put a cheapo electric skillet in place of the heating tray.
  7. Hearth Mistress

    Hearth Mistress Minister of Fire

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    I buy pork whole bellies, butcher them myself, cure and smoke, some but not all. I have found that I enjoy the non smoked, just cured version a little more. I have a really big propane/charcoal/smoker combo I bought from Tractor Supply but I still prefer to smoke in a Brinkmann charcoal/water smoker, aka, ECB, El Cheapo Brinkmann. A friend of my hubby's gave it to me, looks like a filing cabinet but works well. I never let the smoker temp get below 200 for long, since I don't cure with nitrates/nitrites, I fear bacteria - meat sitting for hours in a cold smoker = food poisoning!

    While you are prepping you smoker, Be sure to take your bellies out of the fridge and make sure they are dry so a pellicle, a layer of proteins that forms on the surface to aid in accepting smoke. I take mine out an hour or so before and put them on a cookie cooling rack.

    My latest wood chip experiment was with chicken and Jack Daniel chips, they chip up the barrels they age the whiskey in, let's just say YUM! But for my bacon, i use Apple or Pecan, especially if I cured with strong favors such as chipotle peppers.
  8. Mr A

    Mr A Minister of Fire

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    Do you have nitrite free recipe? I have some pecan I was planning to use to smoke some jalapenos. I might try pecan with the bacon, and smoke the peppers at the same time. Having peppers in the smoker with the bacon might pit more flavor in it.
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I tried smoking bacon, but couldn't keep it lit. ;)
  10. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    You had me at bacon.
  11. Mr A

    Mr A Minister of Fire

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    What were you smoking before you tried that?
  12. Mr A

    Mr A Minister of Fire

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    This is what i have come up with and have been testing it for the last 5 hours. 12oz coffee can. Drill three 1/4 inch holes in bottom in a triangular configuration. Drill one 1/2" hole near the bottom of can, on the side of it. Fill can with water soaked wood chunks. I started the burn on my gas grill, just placed the can on the side burner until lit. It flamed but I blew it out, and it smolder smoked for half hour, then the chunks ignited to flame. I threw some more water soaked chunks on top, put the flame out and still having a hot coal in the can. I just filled the can to the top after a few flare ups. It flares after an hour or two, maybe a tin foil cover would help? Put in some green jalepenos to experiment with, along with the coffee can smoke generator. Real chipotle requires vine ripened jalepeno smoked in pecan. I'm using mulberry, it's what I have

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  13. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    If you cover the can with foil and poke some holes in the top that should keep it from flaming up...and it will smoke a lot longer. You may need to add some holes to the bottom of your can to give it enough air to keep on smoldering.
  14. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    The recipe I use doesn't use any nitrates. Technically this isn't "real" bacon, but it tastes just as good.

    I usually have two hogs butchered/year. I have the bellies pre-sliced about medium thick (3/16" or so). I make a brine with 4 cups water, 1/4 cup kosher salt, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2-3 whole jalapenos and 1/2 head of garlic run thru the food processor. I usually double that for 5-7 lbs of bacon.

    Lay the bacon slices in a bowl in alternating directions (weave) cover with the brine and refrigerate for 3-4 hours. Dump the brine, stack up the slices on a rack, and let them sit uncovered in the fridge for another couple hours or more to dry. Put a drip pan under the rack. I usually do all this on day 1.

    The next day, usually early in the AM when it is still cool, I set the rack in the grill and get the cold smoke going for 2-3 hours. Then I bag it into ziplock bags and freeze until I'm ready to eat it.

    Technically this isn't cured (nitrate cured anyway) so the shelf life isn't as high. Pre-slicing cuts down on the brining time dramatically. Hands down the best bacon I've ever had.
  15. Brokenwing

    Brokenwing Feeling the Heat

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    I cure and smoke bacon as well as sausage. The best way I have found is using Todds amazen smoker. fill it up with dust and it burns for hours. Gives you a nice even smoke, and once the bacon is dry and the pellicle forms, the smoke sticks nicely. I am a member at the smokingmeatforum, and a lot of members have this and love it! Before I found this I used a can and what a pain in the butt it was!

    http://www.amazenproducts.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=12

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  16. Mr A

    Mr A Minister of Fire

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    How long does it take to get a pellicle? After 7 days, I took the bacon out of the ziplock bag, rinsed it and soaked it for 2 hours. Pat dry and let it sit in the fridge all day, about 12 hours now. I dont see anything . Is a pellicle visible, or you just know it's there after a day in the fridge?
  17. Brokenwing

    Brokenwing Feeling the Heat

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    I went over to the fourm to see if I could find a good post for you to read! I found this thread which should really help you out!. When I was getting the pellicle to form on bacon before I smoked it, I just sat it in front of a fan for 2 to 3 hours! After 12 hours sitting in the fridge you should be fine to go ahead and smoke it, All your doing is drying out the surface of the bacon, so the smoke will stick better to the bacon!


    http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/122052/pellicle

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  18. Mr A

    Mr A Minister of Fire

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    That amazen smoke generator looks like it would pretty easy to make your own. Maybe out of some stucco lathe, or a piece of stay-form but it is galvanized, so probably not. what guage metal would you say it is made of.
  19. Hearth Mistress

    Hearth Mistress Minister of Fire

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    You don't have to re-create the wheel. You can get a charcoal Brinkmann water smoker for about $70 at Walmart and use rib racks, like $10 instead of the hanging contraptions. Prefer this over all my other set ups ;)



    image.jpg image.jpg
  20. Brokenwing

    Brokenwing Feeling the Heat

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    When you are curing bacon, you do not want to even turn the smoker on, It is a cold smoke. So no reason to invent the wheel, he has a smoker which will work fine, and what ever smoke device he chooses, and he is good to go. No reason to spend money. Heck you could take a cardboard box and smoke bacon in it, all you need is a cold chamber and a little smoke. the amazen smoker is made from stainless steel I would say! Also no reason to spend money on bacon hangers or ribs racks, punch a hole throught the bacon, thread some butcher twine through the bacon and hang it off a dowel rod. Not saying your way is the wrong way, but when smoking and curing meats, we are doing it cheaper then what the grocery store sells by the pound, so I do my best to keep the price down!
  21. Mr A

    Mr A Minister of Fire

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    Bacon is done. I used the coffee can and apple chips for a cold smoke. It came out too smoky. My first time. I had the smoke going like the pics above. I read on the smokingmeatforum, you really don't need that much, just a light wisp of smoke.
  22. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Yup, otherwise your meat is going to taste like an ashtray. Hard to get it right on the first try.
  23. Hearth Mistress

    Hearth Mistress Minister of Fire

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    My bacon has never, ever tasted like an ash tray in any of the variety of smokers I use. Not sure what your methods are but we obviously are doing things very different. I use the traditional Charcuterie methods taught to me by the owner of PorcSalt (google him-great guy) which hot smokes. I can't comment on cold smoke methods as I don't chance meat sitting in a smoker around 100 degrees for a few hours which can be prime temps for food borne illness and bacteria. I hot smoke between 150-200 for only a few hours until the slab of bellies are about 140. Then, once cool, I cut it into a few chunks, throw them in my vacuum sealer and into the freezer they go. when we want it, we thaw slightly to thaw, slice, cook and eat. I have found that we prefer it not smoked, just cured which is often referred to "english style" bacon anyway. It's "french style" that is cured then hot smoked for hours above 200 degrees but even doing that, it was still really good bacon, never an ash tray ;)
    StihlHead and Brokenwing like this.
  24. Brokenwing

    Brokenwing Feeling the Heat

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    I will have to look that up, I have not hot smoked bacon! My grandfather was a hog farmer, so cold smoking is all that I know about!
  25. Brokenwing

    Brokenwing Feeling the Heat

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    Yup TBS, thin blue smoke, if it is pouring out like a house on fire thick and white, this is no good! But hey it is your first try, you will get it!

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