Cold Smoking Bacon

Asked January 17, 2019, 4:51 PM EST

I am curing a 5 pound pork bacon using 1 tsp of #1 Prague cure, salt, maple sugar, pepper, etc. I would like to cold smoke the bacon. I've read that the smokehouse should be no higher than 100-110 degrees (F) and preferably around 75 degrees. My question is how low can the temperature be and still smoke properly? And, what is the optimal temperature (or range of temperatures) to get the best results?

Marion County Oregon

1 Response

Unfortunately, we don't have clear, complete information on cold-smoking bacon.

One of our faculty in the agriculture dept. suggested this resource. It is long, but should have a lot of good information to glean regarding microbial issues and prevention in the “Critical Limits” section.

They did note this: Smoking pork at 75 F for an extended period of time (> 6 hrs) is high risk for Staph aureus toxin accumulation. That should factor in to your program. At OSU, they do not cold smoke bacon, but attain the lethality requirement in Appendix A of the reference above. They noted product dwell time in the temperature ranges you specify might be a concern for pathogenic growth and enterotoxin release

Some additional suggestions:

"From a quality standpoint, the bacon should absorb smoke in those temperature ranges. For optimal smoke uptake, it might be beneficial if they have the ability to humidify their smokehouse and create a condensate on the exterior of the product. We typically shoot for a ~45% relative humidity reading, though that might be difficult to do in small scale, home processing smokehouses. A tray of water placed in the smokehouse would be a good start. There is a no “too low” temp necessarily to smoke, other than being frozen of course. We generally begin smoking our bellies when they are ~38-40 F internal, so as long as their bellies are not frozen (<28 F), they should be okay for the product to absorb the smoke. Once proteins begin to denature due to heat application, around 130 F, the effect of smoke on the product (color, flavor) begins to diminish, but it does not look like they are going that high in the smokehouse, so that shouldn’t be a concern."

You may be able to gain some additional insights from a business that is smoking meats in your area. If they are selling to the public they will be an inspected facility which should include a review of their smoking practices.