The Cure

Last night I made my cure for the BACON! I skinned the bellies as well. I will not post pictures as it was rather gross, and extremely difficult. The nipples did not help matters (yes nipples). For some reason the phrase "it puts the lotion on..." kept popping into my head. Anyways the bellies are in the brine, in a cooler, with bags of ice, which I will have to change out about every 12 hours. Next step
"the pellicle".


Building the Smoker

Way back when I first got into smoking meats, and before I decided to invest in a real smoker, I built the Alton brown Trash can Smoker. It worked so well I immediately purchased a real smoker. In preparation for smoking my BACON!, I converted it into a cold smoker. I went to Home Depot and purchased a second garbage can for $22.00. I had a long length of thin aluminum dryer tubing (never used) and some other parts. First thing I did was attach the Aluminum tubing and reducer to the new trash can at the bottom using pop rivets and duct tape on the inside.
I Attached the ducting with a large hose clamp. Attached a computer power supply fan to the top of the can on the opposite side.
The finished can looks like this.
I attached the other side of the hose to the old smoker and duct taped it in place.
I will be using a hot plate to generate the heat for the smoke. As a test I powered on the fan, lit some paper towels and put them in the old smoker. In a few seconds smoke came out. and after traveling through the long tube it was cooled by the outside air. Here is the results.
Unfortunately I do not have the meat ready to smoke yet, so I will start curing it this Wednesday and smoke it on the weekend.


The Once and Future BACON!

Well..... After a long absence, I finally have something to blog about.


I have been wanting to make my own BACON! for a while now, but I had to wait till the outside temperatures were low enough for cold smoking. That means I have a narrow windows of opportunity over the next month or so. Cold smoking requires temperatures of 70 degrees or less. Today I went to Hobe Meats at 6044 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ and picked up 2 whole pork bellies (frozen, skin on). They were $4.99 per pound. Total was over $100.00 (if your gonna make BACON!, make a lot). I will be using the Alton Brown Cure for this, and will probably smoke them next week (once I build my cold smoker). Stay tuned.


Hardware Review: Optimate Pro-S

The Optimate Pro-S is a battery charger/de-sulfator, made by Tecmate. The model I purchased came from www.batteryxpress.com and is the older version. The difference between the 2 is in the styling and the new model lets you choose the type of battery connected to it.

I purchased this battery charger because I have a growing collection of sealed lead acid batteries removed from uninterruptable power supplies. Many of them are completely dead but some may be just sulfated.

The unit claims to be able to recover a battery with as low a voltage as .8. It is primarily designed for "power sport" Lead acid batteries, used in ATV's, and motorcycles, but will work on any 12 volt lead acid battery.

Once I received the unit I selected some batteries, including one that had .5 volts. I expected the one with only .5 volts to fail but would try it anyways. As expected the .5 volt battery did not even register with the charger. I attached the battery to a standard charger which did not see it either. So I tricked the regular charger by jumpering a good battery to the bad battery while it was on the charger. This started it charging. Once it got to about five volts I hooked it to the Optimate. Interestingly enough it did not do a desulfate which is strange for a battery of this age (I later found out why). I left it on the charger for 24 hours but it was a no go.

I decided to just try batteries with at least 12 volts. It took a call to the manufacturer and some experimenting, as the instructions are written kind of like a run on sentence in a computer program. Here is what I found. If the charger is turned on when connected to the battery (manual says to do this) it does not check if the battery is sulfated even though the manual says that is the first thing it will do, however if the charger is connected to the battery after it is turned on it will test for sulfation. It appears that this is a bug in it's programming. The newer unit is supposed to be better behaved. The unit is supposed to indicate if a battery is good, ok, or bad using 3 lights, Green, Yellow, and Red. With combinations of the Green and yellow light for readings in between good and ok. I was never getting an indication of whether the batteries were any good. Just to test I hooked it to a known good battery and left it overnight. In the morning it registered good. So I started trying other batteries. I quickly found 2 other batteries that were good and I didn't know it.

I also found that If you repeatedly desulfate a battery you can revive it. Case in point I have 5 batteries that would not register as good, bad, or in between. I found that if I cycle though the batteries, letting each battery rest after its desulfating cycle, over time the resting voltage slowly climbs up. This worked so well that a battery I found that had a date code of July 1996 was brought back to good condition. Only testing will tell if it really is good, but the results were surprising.

I have also ran it on several of my car batteries, to see if they are still good, and they all are. I probably should have paid extra for the newer version, but once I got the kinks worked out, I am quite happy with the unit.

Update 5-6-10 None of the sealed lead acid batteries I tested, were revived enough to be used in a ups again. They could be used for other purposes but the UPS's would reject them.

Update 6-24-2012 From further research and testing it appears that the claim of reviving totally dead batteries is not possible. As my experiments showed.