I just finished my latest charcuterie project: the curing and smoking of two pork bellies, total weight (pre-cure) of about 18lbs.
I dry-cure all the bellies I transform into bacon. It lessens the yield substantially but there is no comparison on the flavor of dry-cured pork vs wet-cured.
When you dry-cure 18lbs of pork your yield will end up being about 12lbs. I end up giving away about 90% of all the meat I produce. It’s gifted to friends of the website with the proviso that the recipients give honest feedback on the results.
Basking in the glory of folks who routinely tell me it’s the best bacon they’ve ever tasted is its own reward.
Five days into the curing process of my most recent project, I was called out of town. I had no way of flipping the bellies once a day so I resorted to placing the meat in the freezer, thereby interrupting the cure.
Once back in New Orleans, I re-started the cure by putting the bellies in the fridge for an additional five days. I cure every pork belly for 10 days. This is a bit longer than most folks but I like the extreme salt flavor that this period yields.
What was the result of the interruption?
The bacon, while good, is not as salty as previous projects. I do not know the science behind freezing pork bellies mid-cure. I do know that it reduced the “salty” flavor substantially. I know Christopher Kimball is a regular reader of the site so perhaps he can chime in with some knowledge?
My takeaway? If this interruption happened in the future I would re-salt the bellies using 50% volume of the original formula. Once again, this method is conjecture. There is a lot of science involved in curing meat and there are hundreds of factors that contribute to what the end product will taste like. I’m fortunate to have a hog farmer connection in New Orleans and I’m getting pork that is hand-raised, fed a high-level diet and humanely slaughtered.
It’s some of the best hog meat I’ve ever tasted.