How to limit bacon shrinkage during frying

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How to limit bacon shrinkage during frying

Postby beardedcook » Sat Sep 08, 2018 1:59 pm

Hi,
Beardedcook here, I have been making bacon using equilibrium brine for almost 2 years now.
Recently, one of my friend, whose restaurant I supplied complained to me that my bacon shrink much more during frying than bacon made by big factories in my country.

My methods is, after 7 days of brining, I leave the bacon uncovered in the fridge to form pellicle overnight. Then I let it adjust to room temperature for at least 1 hour. Then I hot smoke it for 6 hours until internal temperature of 65°C (150°F). After smoking, I let them cool down in air conditioned room until cool enough to the touch, wrap them and let them rest in the fridge overnight. The next day I slice my bacon at 2 mm (~1/13") slightly thicker than the standard of 1.56mm (1/16").

Anyone know why my bacon shrink more when pan fried? is there anything I can do during bacon making process to limit shrinkage during frying?

Thank You,
Beardedcook
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Re: How to limit bacon shrinkage during frying

Postby ComradeQ » Sat Sep 08, 2018 4:26 pm

When brining you are forcing liquid into the meat. When it cooks there is a level of liquid that will be released. Try dry curing instead, you will not have that problem at all with dry cured bacon.
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Re: How to limit bacon shrinkage during frying

Postby wheels » Sun Sep 09, 2018 12:09 am

Firstly, I don't see how 7 days brining can be an equilibrium brine. Maybe it's just the terminology you've used?

Before I comment further, please post more detail of the brining process.

Phil
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Re: How to limit bacon shrinkage during frying

Postby beardedcook » Sun Sep 09, 2018 1:43 am

ComradeQ wrote:When brining you are forcing liquid into the meat. When it cooks there is a level of liquid that will be released. Try dry curing instead, you will not have that problem at all with dry cured bacon.


Thank you for your reply ComradeQ,
Yes, I am aware of the extra liquid weight during brining. I was worried about it in the beginning. Each belly that I brine gained roughly 10-15% in liquid weight. However, once I let it rest in the fridge to form pellicle and smoking it for 6 hours, I lost about 32-33% of raw pork belly weight as purchased including skin waste (68-67% yield of skinless smoked bacon slab). I believe that is quite a reasonable yield for smoked bacon, or do you think it is too high?

The reason I use brining method instead of dry curing is because dry curing use excessive amount of dry cure to cure pork belly, only to take it away again once done curing by soaking it in water until it reach the desired saltiness. That is inefficient in my opinion. I tried to use the exact amount of dry cure before, but it can't penetrate deep enough even after 2 weeks in my fridge resulting in grey streak in the middle of the bacon. I don't dare to cure longer than 2 weeks because the quality of pork in my country is very poor compared to what I had when I was working in US. In my country pork slaughter are still done traditionally without refrigeration. Even though I buy straight from slaughter house, by the time I got my hand on the pork, it is already sitting at room temperature for at least 5-8 hours at ambient temperature of 30°C(86°F).

I'll test a small batch of bacon using dry cure as you suggested to see if the shrinkage are actually caused by water retention or something else.

Thank you for your advice.

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Re: How to limit bacon shrinkage during frying

Postby beardedcook » Sun Sep 09, 2018 2:04 am

wheels wrote:Firstly, I don't see how 7 days brining can be an equilibrium brine. Maybe it's just the terminology you've used?

Before I comment further, please post more detail of the brining process.

Phil


Hi Wheels,
Thank you for your reply.
It might be my own term. I don't follow the recipe posted here and there to a T. I use them as a guide to meet my preferred result.

My brining process is done by diluting the exact percentage of salt, sugar, pepper, curing salt in water, injecting 1/3 of the brine into the pork bellies, and let them sit in the rest of the brine to equalize for 1 week. So far, this methods give me consistent flavor.

I tried to shorten the brining time because of the reason I mentioned above on ComradeQ's comment reply, because the quality of pork in my country is very poor. If I left raw pork in my fridge for about 2 days, it will start to rot. I even set my fridge to 0°C (32°F) to make my pork last longer to no avail. Though it will last for maximum of 2 weeks in brine or cure, more than that and the brine will turn slimy and give off flavor in the pork.

I hope this can help you understand my problem.

Thank you.
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Re: How to limit bacon shrinkage during frying

Postby wheels » Sun Sep 09, 2018 2:26 pm

beardedcook wrote:
wheels wrote:Firstly, I don't see how 7 days brining can be an equilibrium brine. Maybe it's just the terminology you've used?

Before I comment further, please post more detail of the brining process.

Phil


Hi Wheels,
Thank you for your reply.
It might be my own term. I don't follow the recipe posted here and there to a T. I use them as a guide to meet my preferred result.

My brining process is done by diluting the exact percentage of salt, sugar, pepper, curing salt in water, injecting 1/3 of the brine into the pork bellies, and let them sit in the rest of the brine to equalize for 1 week. So far, this methods give me consistent flavor.

I tried to shorten the brining time because of the reason I mentioned above on ComradeQ's comment reply, because the quality of pork in my country is very poor. If I left raw pork in my fridge for about 2 days, it will start to rot. I even set my fridge to 0°C (32°F) to make my pork last longer to no avail. Though it will last for maximum of 2 weeks in brine or cure, more than that and the brine will turn slimy and give off flavor in the pork.

I hope this can help you understand my problem.

Thank you.
Beardedcook


OK I understand now. It's an injected brine calculated as an EQ brine. I know it may seem like I'm being an old fuss pot, but can you post a typical cure for you. Weight of meat, weight of water, sugar, & curing salt. % nitrite & nitrate in curing salt. Amount injected & time in brine.

I have a few ideas as to what the issue(s) may be, but want to be as sure as I can.

Phil
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Re: How to limit bacon shrinkage during frying

Postby NCPaul » Sun Sep 09, 2018 3:26 pm

Here is a combination cure I like to use on pork loins that should work on bellies as well.

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=12166
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Re: How to limit bacon shrinkage during frying

Postby beardedcook » Mon Sep 10, 2018 5:10 am

wheels wrote:
OK I understand now. It's an injected brine calculated as an EQ brine. I know it may seem like I'm being an old fuss pot, but can you post a typical cure for you. Weight of meat, weight of water, sugar, & curing salt. % nitrite & nitrate in curing salt. Amount injected & time in brine.

I have a few ideas as to what the issue(s) may be, but want to be as sure as I can.

Phil


Wheels,

Here is my current recipe
Pork Belly 18.14kg (40#)
Water 7.559kg (16.6#)
Salt 578.33gr (1.27#)
Brown Sugar 514gr (1.13#)
Black Pepper 29.75gr (1.05 oz)
Pure USP grade Sodium Nitrite @180ppm 4.63gr (0.16oz)

After I make the brine I separate 1/3 of the total brine and inject them into pork bellies and the rest to submerge the pork belly. It is then brined for one week to let the brine equalize.

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Re: How to limit bacon shrinkage during frying

Postby beardedcook » Mon Sep 10, 2018 5:20 am

NCPaul wrote:Here is a combination cure I like to use on pork loins that should work on bellies as well.

http://forum.sausagemaking.org/viewtopi ... =4&t=12166


NCPaul,

Thank you for sharing your recipe, that sounds great! I will try your recipe on a family gathering next week. I try not to change my current recipe too much because the flavor profile is already established and known by my regulars.

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Re: How to limit bacon shrinkage during frying

Postby wheels » Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:35 pm

Thanks for posting that BeardedCook. It's an interesting brine. You correctly state that it will give 180ppm nitrite at equilibrium. Also, around 2% salt and sugar (2.15% and 1.91%). But that's at equilibrium, which will be quite a way off for 18lb cured for 7 days. As the brine is weak, it only contributes 1% salt and 85ppm nitrite from your 16% injection.

The brine is also only 26°, around 7%, safe-ish but higher would be better.

For injection, I'd be tempted to use a brine calculated to give the final result you want from the injection alone. However, NCPaul's suggestion of a combination cure has much to recommend it. I'd try that next, but wouldn't rule out re-visiting a dry cure process. There's no reason for it not to work, other than something like PSE pork

Do you know about PSE pork? (Pale, Soft, Exudative) - https://www.scribd.com/document/339259200/PSE-PORK It's a long shot, but I'd not rule it out. It would certainly explain a lot of the issues that you're having.

Now this next bit may seem as if I'm being funny: I'm not. But it's not poor pork, but poor handling of the pork (during? and) post slaughter that means it only keeps two days. Is there a way you can get the pork direct from slaughter?

I hope this helps
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Re: How to limit bacon shrinkage during frying

Postby NCPaul » Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:27 pm

I agree with wheels that the pork with only a couple of days of shelf life is your real problem. I would try to get better pork to work with if possible. Your failure with dry curing implies to me that there was a significant population of spoilage bacteria at the start.
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Re: How to limit bacon shrinkage during frying

Postby beardedcook » Sun Nov 11, 2018 4:54 am

Wheels,

I'm sorry about my very late response. I have been occupied by my work these past few months.
I managed to solve the problem with the shrinkage of my bacon during cooking. After raiding the grocery stores for competition products and comparing them with mine, I have come to the conclusion that the problem lays with the thickness of my bacon slice. All of the other competitions slices their bacon around 3mm (1/9"). After slicing my bacon to the same thickness, I can't see any significant difference in shrinkage after cooking.

Wheels wrote:...You correctly state that it will give 180ppm nitrite at equilibrium. Also, around 2% salt and sugar (2.15% and 1.91%). But that's at equilibrium, which will be quite a way off for 18lb cured for 7 days. As the brine is weak, it only contributes 1% salt and 85ppm nitrite from your 16% injection.

The brine is also only 26°, around 7%, safe-ish but higher would be better.

I am interested in your formula on calculating the brine strength, and why you consider the brine I use weak and would only contribute 1% salt and 85ppm nitrite. I use 33% injection, not 16%. I would also like to correct you on the weight of the pork, it is 18 Kilograms, which is around 40# instead of 18#.

Wheels wrote:...For injection, I'd be tempted to use a brine calculated to give the final result you want from the injection alone...

Can you please explain the reason why you prefer this?

Wheels wrote:...Do you know about PSE pork?...But it's not poor pork, but poor handling of the pork (during? and) post slaughter that means it only keeps two days. Is there a way you can get the pork direct from slaughter?...

I agree with you completely, that was a poor choice of words I used. Yes, I am aware of PSE and have seen quite often coming with the stock I ordered. As I have mentioned the slaughter house in my country still slaughter animal traditionally. When I visited the slaughter house, eventhough I didn't see the killing personally, I suspect they still kill hog by bleeding them without incapacitating them first, because I heard the squeals constantly from the slaughter room while I was there. I am aware that high stress might contribute to PSE.

In the beginning I was complaining and returning shipments when I get mishandled pork, but with time I started to realize that it is impossible for me to be too picky, because in the end I won't get enough pork for my company to function if I keep doing that. There would also no benefit of getting the ire of these butchers by constantly complaining and returning items. They have a lot of customers who won't complain, but I only have them as my source of pork. I have already been refused service by some of these butchers, and can't afford to loose more vendors. So I learned to compromise.
Sorry for turning this forum into an outlet to my work problem.

Sincerely,
BeardedCook
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Re: How to limit bacon shrinkage during frying

Postby wheels » Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:47 pm

beardedcook wrote:Wheels,

I'm sorry about my very late response. I have been occupied by my work these past few months.
I managed to solve the problem with the shrinkage of my bacon during cooking. After raiding the grocery stores for competition products and comparing them with mine, I have come to the conclusion that the problem lays with the thickness of my bacon slice. All of the other competitions slices their bacon around 3mm (1/9"). After slicing my bacon to the same thickness, I can't see any significant difference in shrinkage after cooking.

I'm glad that you've got it sorted

Wheels wrote:...You correctly state that it will give 180ppm nitrite at equilibrium. Also, around 2% salt and sugar (2.15% and 1.91%). But that's at equilibrium, which will be quite a way off for 18lb cured for 7 days. As the brine is weak, it only contributes 1% salt and 85ppm nitrite from your 16% injection.

The brine is also only 26°, around 7%, safe-ish but higher would be better.

I am interested in your formula on calculating the brine strength, and why you consider the brine I use weak and would only contribute 1% salt and 85ppm nitrite. I use 33% injection, not 16%. I would also like to correct you on the weight of the pork, it is 18 Kilograms, which is around 40# instead of 18#.

Brine strength % is (salt / (salt + liquid))*100.
Brine degrees is brine % / 0.2639.
100° brine is 26.39% salt.
Brines above 8% are preferred for safe curing and I would choose to go higher considering your circumstances.
Injection % is in relation to the meat weight. You've injected one third of the brine, but this amount is 16% of the meat weight. Hence it's a 16% pump/injection.
Your meat is 18kg (the lb was a typo); Brine is 8685g; One third is 2895g of the total brine liquid (8685.71/3); 2895 / 18000 * 100 = 16%.
As your brine is 6.7% salt, the 2895g that you inject will contain 193g salt, which in turn as a percentage of the meat's weight is 1.06%. The ppm nitrite is calculated similarly but expressed as PPM rather than a percentage.


Wheels wrote:...For injection, I'd be tempted to use a brine calculated to give the final result you want from the injection alone...

Can you please explain the reason why you prefer this?

Simply because injection brines are calculated using the method for injection brines; immersion brines are calculated using the method for immersion brines.

Wheels wrote:...Do you know about PSE pork?...But it's not poor pork, but poor handling of the pork (during? and) post slaughter that means it only keeps two days. Is there a way you can get the pork direct from slaughter?...

I agree with you completely, that was a poor choice of words I used. Yes, I am aware of PSE and have seen quite often coming with the stock I ordered. As I have mentioned the slaughter house in my country still slaughter animal traditionally. When I visited the slaughter house, eventhough I didn't see the killing personally, I suspect they still kill hog by bleeding them without incapacitating them first, because I heard the squeals constantly from the slaughter room while I was there. I am aware that high stress might contribute to PSE.

In the beginning I was complaining and returning shipments when I get mishandled pork, but with time I started to realize that it is impossible for me to be too picky, because in the end I won't get enough pork for my company to function if I keep doing that. There would also no benefit of getting the ire of these butchers by constantly complaining and returning items. They have a lot of customers who won't complain, but I only have them as my source of pork. I have already been refused service by some of these butchers, and can't afford to loose more vendors. So I learned to compromise.
Sorry for turning this forum into an outlet to my work problem.

Sincerely,
BeardedCook


I can see that this would be a problem and that there's little you can do about it.

My suggestion, other than use a dry cure, would be to use a 10% injection cure (for ease of injection), calculated as such, followed by a short period of equalisation in the injection brine. You should get far less problems doing this.

I hope this helps.

The calculations I do are based on those in the FDA Meat Inspectors' Handbook:
https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/conne ... OD=AJPERES

Phil
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Re: How to limit bacon shrinkage during frying

Postby beardedcook » Wed Nov 14, 2018 2:25 pm

Wheels,
Thank you very much! I was not aware of this document eventhough I had checked USDA website for many operation standards and maximum allowed nitrite and nitrate concentrations before.
I will test it out and update you as soon as possible.
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