Bacon has gone bad - not properly cured?

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Bacon has gone bad - not properly cured?

Postby frenchian2 » Fri Jan 09, 2015 7:07 am

Hi, folks, can I ask for some help?

I've been making bacon for 5/6 years, and never had a problem till now. I use belly of pork, trimmed of bone, skin and excess fat. I dry cure it with a cure like Saucissons (21g salt, 10g sugar and 0.2g saltpetre per kilo). It gets one day per 1/2" in a ziplock bag in the fridge, turned daily. Then, it gets rinsed and left in the bottom of the fridge for another 2-4 days.

At this stage, I normally smoke it, but with this batch I had no time (had to go away over Xmas) so I got my butcher to slice it then vac-pack it. This went into the fridge. When I opened it yesterday, it was off - a very nasty smell from the bag.

I need to know why. Apart from the lack of amoking, it was exactly the same recipe and quantities as before. I've had it vac-packed before and it worked. I'm wondering if the curing didn't work properly (it drew much less liquid than usual - relevant?). Is the cure too old (I mixed this batch maybe 2 years ago)?

Any ideas and help will be appreciated.

Thanks
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Re: Bacon has gone bad - not properly cured?

Postby badjak » Mon Jan 12, 2015 10:44 am

I am not the best one to help, but since nobody replied yet I will give it a try.

The first thought that came to my mind was some contamination somewhere, maybe a dirty knife/slicer/container (after taking it out of the brine)?

Why do you keep your bacon for 2 days in the bottom of the fridge fridge after removing it from the brine ?
I would just leave it to dry for a bit before smoking, not 2 days though.
Since you have always done it, it probably has nothing to do with it going off, but just wondering.

I also brine a bit longer. Closer to a week than 3-4 days. did the bacon feel firm when you took it out of the brine?

Just some ideas, hope you can do something with it
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Re: Bacon has gone bad - not properly cured?

Postby wheels » Mon Jan 12, 2015 1:30 pm

Sorry, I missed this post. I don't know why this didn't work if it normally does. However, three observations:

  • I don't think that the amount of liquid it gave off is too relevant, although, and it's a long shot, I wonder whether it's indicative of meat that wasn't as fresh as you normally get and so was dryer to start with?
  • Saltpetre has to react with the meat to convert from nitrate to nitrite before it can do it's job. It likes temps around 5 - 8°C (preferably nearer 8°C) to do this. It can also take a while to start working. Recommended curing times for saltpetre based dry cures often have a minimum cure/mature time of 10 days.
  • Premixing the cure in bulk when it contains such a low percentage of saltpetre could have meant that very little got on to the meat due to uneven distribution of the saltpetre within the mix.
I hope this helps.

Phil
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Re: Bacon has gone bad - not properly cured?

Postby frenchian2 » Mon Jan 26, 2015 12:47 pm

Guys, sorry it's taken so long to respond, I wasn't notified that there were any replies.

@badjak - it was a dry cure but yes, post cure contamination is possible. I'm assuming the butcher's slicer was clean (I hope so!) so maybe I was a bit careless.

The reason I leave it for two days after curing is to allow the salt levels in the meat to stabilise. I read somewhere to do this (I think it was Krib's advice) when I first started. Also, the meat was in the (dry) cure for 5-6 days - I forgot to mention the 2 extra days in the calculation (again, Krib).

@wheels - bad meat is possible, but the meat came from my usual butcher, and I've never had a problem before.

Maybe the bottom of the fridge is slightly too cool, (but again, never had a problem before). What I might do is leave it out for 2-3 days, to help it get started, then into the fridge. Plus, give it a bit longer curing time once it's in the fridge.

Yes, an uneven distribution is possible, but as the mix callls for so little saltpetre, I need to do it in bulk if I'm to measure the saltpetre accurately - and I do mix it well. Guess I could buy a set of v-accurate scales (as used by people selling different white powder.......!)

Thanks, both for the help. Just off to smoke the replacement batch - will give it a good sniff before I start.

Cheers
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Re: Bacon has gone bad - not properly cured?

Postby wheels » Mon Jan 26, 2015 5:46 pm

Yes, that's a problem with saltpetre. Could you use cure #1 or even sel-nitrite (sp?) instead?

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Re: Bacon has gone bad - not properly cured?

Postby frenchian2 » Sat Jan 31, 2015 11:34 am

@Wheels

Well, I bought 250g of Saltpetre from the chemist 6 years ago, and I still have around 220g left! Seems a shame to waste it...

But yes, I guess it'd be safer to use Cure#1 - I'll order some.

Cheers
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