We also just finished smoking and slicing the bellies from our latest experiment: a blended curing technique where we started the bellies by wet curing them for five days then finished them by dry-curing them for five days.
How did we accomplish this?
We’re always experimenting with different facets of the cure. Nearly two weeks ago we picked up a big sack of bellies from our go-to hog farmer and immediately realized we’d nearly bitten off more than we could chew.
There simply was not enough fridge space for all that meat and the normal array of groceries we like to keep cold. Solution? Start eating the Hell out of all the food in the fridge but in the meantime put the bellies in the cure then mummify them in plastic wrap and stack them like cordwood in every available spot in the refrigerator.
At the five day mark we’d whittled down the foodstuffs in the fridge so we unwrapped the pork and placed it in some big stainless steel work tubs. After five more days had passed we washed the meat thoroughly (to remove some of the cure-otherwise the flesh would be unbearably salty) and built a fire on our old smoker in the backyard.
After two hours we wrestled the pork off the smoker and sliced off a couple planks to see how the experiment worked out. The bacon is not nearly as salty as our normal version. We weighed the bellies and had only 10% of yield loss whereas our normal dry-curing method robs us of 30%.
Would we use this method again? Yes, the technique is valid particularly if you’re pinched for space in your fridge. Dry-curing pork requires plenty room for the meat to breathe. Wet-curing is a snap and you can shove the pork into any available place in your cooler without regard for air circulating around the flesh.