Bellies can be smoked, sweet cured or salted and then frozen to about -15°C (5°f). While frozen, the bellies width and height are pressed to define their dimensions before slicing.
Pendulum slicers are dependent on pre-defined dimensions to deliver uniformed weights to the cooking system. When length and width are defined, then the thickness of slices produces the uniformed weight.
Depending on numerous factors, salt content and method of slicing, bellies are sometimes tempered during 16 to 32 hours before slicing to allow the temperature to equilibrate. Normal temperature for slicing with pendulum slicer is about -6 to -9°C (21 to 16°F).
Slicing at higher temperatures cause variations in thickness, weight and cooking result. Slicing at too low temperature cause the bacon to curl, move and potentially end-up on top of each other while they are cooked.
Slicer’s lay down individual slices in rows with a defined distance between them. The distance between rows is determined by the belt-speed and how many rows the slicer cut per minute. The rows of sliced bacon and the distance between them form an organised pattern which must be maintained through the process to prevent bacons from moving and causing marriage during the thermal process.
A Liquid Dipper can be installed between the slicer and the Belt Grill to submerge bacon slices functional liquids before cooking. Functional liquids can contain smoke, caramel, nitrite, etc. to enhance colour, texture, taste, shelf-life, etc.
Belt Grill’s (also called Contact Fryer’s and Teflon Contact Cookers) are highly effective systems for cooking of regular and crispy bacon. Their conductive surfaces and Teflon belts apply 260°C (500°F) direct heat to both sides of the bacon slices simultaneously.
In short, Belt Grill’s govern the dwell time, cooking temperatures and the distance between conductive surfaces below and above the sliced bacon. Two horizontal Teflonbelts convey the sliced rows of bacon between two Teflon belts according to a defined dwell time.
The precise distance between the heated surface must correlate with the thickness of the slices. The distance is vital for uniformed conduction across and along the entire cooking zone. Variations in distance between conductive surfaces, or variations in the bacon thickness may cause colour and weight loss to fluctuate.
Fat and drippings are collected them to be transferred to IBC (Intermediate Bulk Containers) for further use.
A Fat Remover (also called Fat Blower or Air Knife) may be incorporated at the end of ConDuo Belt Grill’s to remove excess surface-fat from the cooked slices before low temperature preservation.
Impingement and cryogenic freezers are commonly used to reduce the temperature of cooked bacon. The thin slices crust-freezes in under a minute, partly due the low water content after losing 45 to 70 percent of fat and water during the cooking process.
The crust-frozen slices will rapidly gain temperature after freezing as they are exposed to positive surface and ambient temperatures. Maintaining the organised pattern, from slicing through the cooking and freezing processes may ease the after-coming packing.
Crispy bacon in particular is fragile. Their uniformed cooked-weight comes from known dimensions and uniformed slicing-thickness, producing a uniformed start weight, weight loss and thereby a known cooked-weight. Such bacon can therefore be counted by piece to final packing weight.
Regular bacon can be weighted by a multi-head-weight before bagging in a VFFS machine.