How Much Cure Per Pound of Bacon? A Comprehensive Guide

Making your own bacon at home can be an incredibly rewarding experience. With the right techniques, you can create bacon that is far superior to anything you can buy at the store. However, one of the most important aspects of curing bacon is using the proper ratios of curing salts. Using too much or too little cure can lead to unsafe or poor quality results. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at exactly how much cure per pound you need for perfect homemade bacon every time.

Why Curing Salts Are Essential

Before we get into the specific quantities, it helps to understand why curing salts are so crucial for bacon. There are two main types of curing salts used in bacon making:

  • Pink salt (curing salt #1) – Contains sodium nitrite which prevents bacterial growth, particularly botulism. It also gives bacon its characteristic pink color and unique flavor.

  • Regular salt (table salt, kosher salt, etc) – Helps extract moisture, adds flavor, and assists the penetration of nitrites.

Without these two salts used in proper ratios, your bacon could pose a serious food safety risk and likely won’t have the traditional bacon taste With the right amounts, you’ll get delicious properly preserved bacon every time

Recommended Ratios of Cure Per Pound

Most professional recipes and experts recommend the following ratios as a starting point for home cured bacon:

  • Pink curing salt: 0.25% of the weight of the meat
  • Regular salt: 2-2.75% of the weight of the meat

So for example if you are curing 5 lbs of pork belly. you would use

  • Pink curing salt: 0.25% x 5 lbs = 0.0125 lbs = 0.2 oz
  • Regular salt: 2% x 5 lbs = 0.1 lbs = 1.6 oz

These percentages can be adjusted based on personal taste, but the 0.25% pink salt is vital for safety and shouldn’t be reduced. Many people prefer closer to 2.5% regular salt for enhanced bacon flavor.

While some old recipes use amounts like “1 teaspoon of pink salt per 5 lbs of meat”, measuring by percentages rather than volume is much more precise. The density of salts can vary tremendously between types, so percentages are always better.

Calculating Cure Quantities

Figuring cure amounts by hand using percentages can be tricky. Luckily, there are some great calculators that can determine the right quantities in grams and ounces automatically. Here is one from that generates pink salt and regular salt amounts based on total meat weight:

[Screenshot of calculator tool]

This takes all the math out of curing and ensures perfect percentages every time. For convenience, you can also purchase pre-mixed cure packs that contain the pink salt and regular salt in the ideal 2.5% ratio, such as those from The Sausage Maker.

Wet Brining vs Dry Curing

In addition to the basic cure ratios, the other factor that affects total cure amounts is whether you are using a wet brine or dry curing method.

Wet Brining involves submerging the pork in a liquid brine solution which contains the curing salts as well as water, spices, and other ingredients. A good starting point is a 40% water to meat ratio for the brine (i.e. for 5 lbs of meat use 2 lbs of water). The salts are calculated based on the total weight of meat AND water.

Dry Curing coats the raw meat in the dry cure mixture without any liquid. The salts are calculated based only on the weight of the meat itself.

Wet brining tends to penetrate the meat more quickly and evenly. Dry curing takes longer but gives a more concentrated cure flavor. The choice comes down to personal preference.

Additional Tips for Proper Curing

To get the best and safest results from curing bacon at home:

  • Weigh ingredients carefully using a good digital scale. Don’t guess amounts.

  • Mix cure ingredients thoroughly before applying to meat.

  • Rub cure mix over all surfaces of the meat evenly.

  • Cure in the refrigerator between 34-40°F.

  • Cure pork for approximately 7 days per inch of thickness.

  • Turn and massage pork in the cure daily to distribute it.

  • Once cured, rinse off excess cure, pat dry, and rest overnight before smoking.

  • Hot smoke bacon to an internal temperature of at least 145°F.

  • Chill and slice bacon and enjoy!

Following these steps along with the right cure ratios will let you experience incredible homemade bacon with confidence. Precise curing proportions are truly the key to bacon success.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have some questions? Here are answers to some of the most common queries about bacon cures:

Can you use too much pink curing salt?

Yes, using too much pink salt can be dangerous due to the nitrite content. Never exceed recommended levels, as overconsumption of nitrites has been linked to cancer risks. Stick closely to the tested 0.25% ratio for safety.

What if I use too much or too little regular salt?

Too little regular salt may lead to spoilage or failure to adequately cure the meat. Too much can make the bacon unpleasantly salty. Try to stay in the 2-2.75% range for best flavor and preserving.

How do I know if the cure penetrated enough?

After curing, the pork should be an even, bright pink color all the way through. Cured meat should also be quite firm throughout when sliced. Rinse off any surface cure prior to checking color.

Can I reuse leftover brine?

For safety, leftover wet brine should be discarded after using. Reusing brine risks contamination and improper cure levels. Make fresh each time.

What meats besides pork can be cured?

The same curing principles apply to beef, chicken, fish, and other meats. Calculate cure amounts based on the specific meat’s weight and thickness.

Can I use a fancy flavored salt instead of regular salt?

You can substitute flavored salts like smoked salt, celery salt, or garlic salt for a portion of the regular salt in the cure. Avoid using specialty salt blends for more than 50% of the total salt amount.


When should you use Cure #1 and Cure #2 Q&A

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