How Long Do You Smoke Your Bacons & Hams?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Karen, Dec 28, 2003.

  1. Karen

    Karen Well-Known Member Supporter

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    How long do you smoke your bacons and hams? We are ready to go, but being our first time I'm not sure. I have read everything from 3 hours to 3 days for bacon to 2 days to 2 weeks for hams. How do you know when they have enough smoke anyway?
     
  2. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    Are you cold smoking or hot smoking?

    I've done it both ways. When cold smoking I usually leave them in for two or three days. If you are hot smoking, I leave them in until they get up to cooked temperature which varies depending on the cuts you are smoking.
     

  3. Karen

    Karen Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I will be cold smoking. You leave hams and bacon in for the same amount of time?
     
  4. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    Yup, and sausage too if you made it.
     
  5. Assuming you already have it cured then cold smoking can be done in as little as 3 hours. However the longer you cold smoke it the better the smoke will penetrate and the better it will taste. My grandparents cold smoked it everyday until it was ate up. They would go out to the smoke house and cut off what they needed for the day, rub a little curing salt back on the fresh cut and then build a small smoldering fire for more smoke. This was done until there was no more left to eat. So I guess there is really no minamum time frame.
     
  6. earthship

    earthship Well-Known Member

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    "How Long Do You Smoke Your Bacons & Hams?"

    Depends on the type of paper you use and how fat you roll them ;-) Happy New Year!
     
  7. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    You sure you don't go by Spaceship?
     
  8. Karen

    Karen Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm holding out starting to smoke an extra day in hopes for more responses! This is our first time and I have a husband who isn't too sure about all this anyway and will kill me if I ruin this meat!!! :haha: Help!!!
     
  9. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    Well then, I'll give you a bump. What are your concerns? The smoking part is about the most straight forward part of the whole process. What are you using for smoke? How did you brine it? How long has it been in the brine? What are you using for a smokehouse? What are you smoking besides hams and bacons? Do you have any specific questions? What, what?
     
  10. Karen

    Karen Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We are only smoking bacons, hams and picnics. They have been dry cured (your basic salt/sugar cure) for approx. 4 weeks. Our smokehouse is a very constructed large wooden box. We have a hole fire pit dug approx. 10 ft. from the smokehouse downhill with stovepipe running from the pit uphill to the smokehouse with an elbow joint going into the smokehouse from the bottom. We tested the smokehouse and we are good to go! Woohoo! We have smoke and temperature seems okay. We are using applewood to smoke with.

    My husband doesn't want to smoke any longer than necessary because we don't like a real "heavy" smoke flavor and we aren't sure how the wood will hold out. We will have to smoke the 4 bacons first, then the 4 hams, then the 4 picnics since we only have room for 4 items at time in the smokehouse. So we are trying to make the wood last. Just enough so they taste like bacon and ham! LOL! :rolleyes: The plan is to slice and freeze the bacon after smoking, freeze the picnics and hang and age the hams in the basement.
     
  11. People have been smoking meat since the discovery of fire. If your ancestors could do it, you can do it too!
    Basically there are two types of smoking techniques; hot and cold. Hot smoking is very simple and is nothing more than using heat/hot smoke to cook your food item. It is usually done at temperatures above 180F and can be done in just about anything including an electric smoker, a BBQ pit, a charcoal briquette/gas grill or over a camp fire on a spit. Usually the food is cooked low (185-350F) and slow (1+ hours). Smoke/cook food item till its done. Time varies per food item and cooking apparatus.
    Cold smoking is a different animal. Here you kind of “precook” the food item by soaking it in a brine solution/dry curing for a given number of days. The brine/dry cure basically dehydrates and denatures the proteins in the food item similar to cooking it but without the heat. The salt from the brine solution keeps the bacteria and molds away from your food item. After brining, you will basically wash the food item and let it dry for about a day or so then you give it a good dose of smoke to add flavor and some preservative qualities. Cold smoking can be done at any temp between 65-180F using anything that will hold smoke. I have seen smokers made from everything from barrels, cardboard boxes, refrigerators, to outhouses. All you really need is a heat source and a method to contain the smoke. How long you smoke your food item will depend on numerous factors including your smoking equipment, your smoking fuel, your heat source, the item being smoked and how much smoke flavor you like and the temperature of your smoke. My little book indicates that brine cured bacon should be cold smoked (75-85F) for at least 24 hours, more if you want a more intense smoke flavor. The same book indicates that dry or brine cured ham should be cold smoked (75-85F) for at least 48 hours. In a smoke shed/house where smoke intensity is less the ham can smoke for up to 30 days with intermittent smoking.
    Basically there are no hard rules for cold smoking meats. It is almost impossible to screw up. In a worse case scenario you will end up with too much or too little smoke flavor. Apple wood is excellent for smoking. It is very mild and adds an almost “sweet” flavor. It would be hard to over-smoke using apple but too much can impart a bitter taste. I prefer hickory but its flavor is very intense.
    If you are still having trouble see if you can find a smokehouse in you area that will give you a hand. Good luck.
     
  12. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    Seems pretty easy...divide your available wood into three equal piles and smoke for as long as one pile lasts. You might consider making the ham pile somewhat bigger since you just going age them, the smoke will help with that and help discourage pests.

    I've never really noticed much of a difference between smoking for a half day or several days. You might get a bit more fly ash on it the longer you leave it in. We just happen to be blessed with lots of Birch and I love tending smoking meat.

    The only time I tried dry curing was a disaster on a rather large scale. I was doing four hogs at once and they ended up getting bone soured. I've used brine curing ever since and it is way easier and never had any loss that way.

    Dry curing just doesn't really taste like ham to me, too salty.
     
  13. Karen

    Karen Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well, it's good to know I can't mess up much past this point. That was the main concern. I didn't want to get all this way to end up messing it all up in the smoking. Apparently the worst is behind us! LOL!

    I used the dry cure because we like "country ham/bacon" and don't have an extra refrigerator for all that meat and it was my understanding that with a brine cure you must refrigerate it. Boy if you don't think I was nervous with the dry cure! For the life of me I just couldn't seem to believe you can keep pork for all that time and it not go bad. Yeah, I know the salt thing, etc. and people have been doing it for years before refrigeration -- but it is a minor miracle to me! Hey, I still can't get over how you take cabbage and salt and put it in a crock and let it sit in a humid basement in the middle of summer and you get sauerkraut that doesn't kill you -- and it actually tastes good! Another miracle! LOL!

    Anyway, so far the hams & bacons have survived the cure. They smell good anyway! Just like ham! I'm telling you, it's a miracle!!!!!
     
  14. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    Imagine how many of our ancestors died figuring this stuff out?

    Back when I worked in a small meat processing place down the road, after Christmas was when folks started bringing in their extra meat to have different products made, sausage, jerky or what ever. It's what kept the business hopping through the winter. One March, I had an individual bring in two deer hams that had been hanging in his shed all winter. These things were green with fuzzy mold and I couln't believe that he wanted us to make sausage out of it. I was surprised to find that after slicing all the mold off the meat was all red, and smelled just fine underneath the green rind!

    Bet you can't wait to get that smoking done so you can taste your wares. I hope you'll report back on your results.
     
  15. Karen

    Karen Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Woohoo!!! We've got bacon!!! We smoked the bacon for about 18 hours and it is wonderful! We did find we ended up curing it a little too long because it is quite salty, but I fryed some up this morning and I soaked the bacon strips in some cold water for a few minutes and dried them good before frying and they were excellent! My husband is so thrilled!!! They are all sliced, packaged and in the freezer.

    Hams are in the smokehouse now. I'll give you a report in a couple of days!
     
  16. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    Isn't smoking fun! Can't wait for the ham update.

    Your hams will probably be even saltier than the bacon, because of the large amount of salt you have to use along the bone and on the outside. To me it's too salty to just eat by itself, but it is a wonderful addition to beans or peas.

    Hopefully, next time you'll have more freezer space and can give brine curing a try. If you are used to the more conventional taste of hams you get in the store, you'll be happier.
     
  17. cowgirlone

    cowgirlone Well-Known Member

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    Hi Karen, I just found this thread, sounds like you are doing great!
    One thing to remember....when dry curing you need to let the salt equalize before you smoke the ham. Soak the ham in water for an hour, dry, wrap and keep below 60 degrees for at least 14 days (depending on the size of the ham) to equalize the salt content. If you are doing a whole ham, it could sit for up to 20 days.
    When ready to smoke, make sure the ham is wiped dry, any moisture will make the smoke streak.
    I like to smoke my hams longer than my bacon, just my preference. You are doing great!!!
     
  18. Karen

    Karen Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Oops, didn't do that! The books all forgot to meantion that part! It makes sense as I think about it and appreciate the info. Well, it has been a good experience and next time we will know. Gosh, you would think we were having a baby or something! We have been so careful and so nervous! LOL! :haha: :haha: The smell of the smokehouse is worth all the effort!!!
     
  19. cowgirlone

    cowgirlone Well-Known Member

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    I bet your hams will taste great anyway!! :D
    The way I learned is you let the salt equalize when dry curing, but if you do a brine cure or combination cure (dry rub AND injection) you don't need to do this.

    I think I can smell your smokehouse now!! YUMMMMMMMMMM! :D
     
  20. Karen

    Karen Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It think we have ham!!! It looks like ham any way and oh my gosh do they smell wonderful. If they end up not tasting so good I might just hang them up as air freshners....LOL!

    We smoked them for 2 1/2 days and they are a nice mahagony color. I can't wait to cook one and see what we have! We just have the 4 picnics to do, but have to get more wood first. Thanks again everyone for your help. I still can't believe how easy it is and keep wondering why everyone doesn't do this. If we can do it, anyone can!