Thursday, December 27, 2012

Smoking Bacon And Making Water

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and I wish the same for New Years.

I have lived in North Texas for forty one years and I can now say I have seen two White Christmases. We had some really bad storms come through followed by a bunch of snow that has completely shut down this part of the country.

I finally get to go back to work tomorrow, but sitting around these last few days has been, well, boring. I have done what I could, but other than that my main job has been to keep wood in the house and the fire going.

With deep freezes on a homestead, problems can occur even with the best plan laid out. You still have to go out twice to three times a day to break ice so the animals can get water. The sewer sprinklers still freezes and you have to conserve water use. You still have to drip water in the sinks so your pipes won't freeze and break and the list goes on and on. Add in Christmas and the kids down the road get a new 4-wheeler and want to run through your yard and now you have many more problems.

 Christmas Eve I started early by cold smoking my own bacon. I have waited all summer to do this and that day was the day to do it.
The pork belly has been curing in the icebox for the past seven days and I had perfect weather to get it smoked.
I used Hickory to flavor the meat for four hours at a low temp then took the smoked pork in the house to slice up as bacon. When it was all done, the summer pig made twelve pounds of the best tasting bacon you ever had.
I can tell you this, if you haven't had home made bacon before you need too. It is so much better than that store bought crap.
Next is the hams but that takes a little longer to do.  

While the bacon was on the cold smoker I went ahead and set up the Bio Sand Filter. I know I said I would not do this until the spring, but I do not have any patience and needed to get it out of my shop anyway.   
 After 150 pounds of pee gravel and 500 pounds of sand, I had water. I ran through about 20 gallons of water and it turned pretty and clear.
I won't be able to start using it until the spring, but at least it is out of the shop.






Other than that it has been just fixing one thing after another. The solar heater in the shop had it up in the sixties while the sun was out yesterday, but today the sun has been overcast and it stayed cold in there so not much work has been done in the shop.
One a good note, the kids got me a really nice framing nail gun for Christmas that I really did need so I am excited about that. I am getting ready to get started on the little condos for them, but first I need to find the money to buy a generator so I can go down to our old house on the farm and start disassembling it so I can use that lumber to build the condos. I just can't afford one right now.

That's all I got for now. I wish you all a great new years. It looks like new years dinner is on me this time so I am sure we will have a house full.     

17 comments:

  1. I would love to learn to make my own bacon! Any way I could talk you into writing a "how to" post?

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  2. I tried to smoke bacon once but couldn't get it lit.

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    1. It wasn't dry enough then Sunny, I use tobacco leaves to roll it up with. It burns a little at first but you get used to it.

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  3. I'd like to know how to home make bacon, too!
    And you just might be able to barter some of that bacon for a good used generator.
    You make me hungry and I just had breakfast!
    A blessed New Year to you all!

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    1. Thanks LindaG, That will be my next post then.

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  4. I have to agree. Home cured bacon tastes incredibly good. We smoked ours in plum wood and it is wonderful.

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    1. Becky, I have never used plum. I have only used Hickory and sometimes Apple. I didn't know how plum would taste but now I might try it next time. How think do you slice yours?

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    2. We use plum a lot because our plum tree died. It has a nice, slightly sweet taste.
      I have a cheap little slicer that I bought at the thrift store that slices up my bacon just fine.

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    3. I understand Becky, I have a hand-me-down slicer as well but it still taste the same.

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  5. Haven't made our own bacon yet, but our processor does a pretty good job and you're right, it beats the supermarket crud.

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  6. I buy from a local butcher who packs his own meat. Maybe he is not just a butcher. He has hiw own facility. It seems his bacon does not have water in his. It is delicious. It is great to buy local. However, he buys animals from others, so I am not sure if even he knows how it was fed. Great post.

    Do you put sulfites/sulfatites in your bacon?

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  7. Replies
    1. PP, That is the way our local butcher is. He buys his from a feed lot and I don't know what they feed the animals and neither does he. So, I grow my own.

      Sodium Nitrite (aka pink salt, which is sold under the name name Prague Powder #1 is by regulation 93.75% sodium and 6.25% nitrite.
      It kills bacteria that cause botulism in smoked meat.
      The advantage of using the cure is flavor. It makes bacon taste like bacon and not like ribs, it makes ham taste like ham and not like a roast.

      It does need to be handled with care because it’s toxic if you ingest it directly. About a teaspoon would kill you is swallowed, but the bottom line is, don’t be afraid of it, but keep it well identified, and use it only as a recipe calls for.

      In the amounts called for in curing meat, and in the amount we commonly eat, it is not harmful in any meaningful way. Used properly, it’s beneficial. It’s an anti-microbial agent, and it creates great flavors and color.

      Many think of sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate to be harmful chemical additives and have heard that they can be carcinogenic in certain situations. Here is my position on these issues,

      Nitrates and Nitrites are naturally occurring chemicals that our bodies rely on for a number of reasons. Green vegetables such as spinach and celery are loaded with them. Of all the nitrite in our bodies, as much as 93% of it comes from the nitrate in vegetables. Our bodies naturally convert nitrate into nitrite, which works as a powerful antibacterial agent, particularly in an acidic environment (such as in our stomachs).
      Current studies conclude that large quantities to water can do serious damage, but that the quantities added to food do not. As one study put it, “Since 93% of ingested nitrite comes from normal metabolic sources, if nitrite caused cancers or was a reproductive toxicant, it would imply that humans have a major design flaw.”

      And The American Medical Association reports that as of 2004, “given the current FDA and USDA regulations on the use of nitrites, the risk of developing cancer as a result of consumption of nitrites-containing food is negligible.”

      I also look at it this way, if you don't like what I put into my meat, then don't eat it.

      (some of the information gained here was found at http://ruhlman.com/2011/02/meat-curing-safety-issues/)

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  8. thanks for sharing..

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