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Makin' Bacon

By November 15, 2014 , , , ,

Often there's a product that you like and are used to getting it in the butchers or supermarket, its easily accessible and you don't really think any more about what goes into making it. When that product becomes no longer easily available and you have moved to a country whereby streaky bacon seems to consist of over salted wafer thin strips, you start to think, can I make this myself?

Before I embarked on my bacon journey many years ago I thought essentially that curing my own bacon would be time consuming, laborious and just plain difficult. I was wrong!

So after much googling, speaking with friends who have also indulged and a bit of online research, I found that this magic product is the result of salt (you can also use saltpetre) and the pork product of choice. 
In this case I use 30g salt to every kilo of bacon, I also add 5 - 10g of sugar for added flavour. 
You can add herbs, spices, maple syrup, treacle, honey etc... all depending on your taste, but this is how I make traditional Irish style bacon.

Before starting, make sure your work surface is well scrubbed down and that your hands are clean. I can't stress this enough as you need to ensure the meat does not get contaminated. You can also use food prep gloves too. 

1kg bacon
30g salt (or nitrate cure/ prague cure if using)
10g sugar 

Take 1 slab of bacon, in this case belly pork.

You can remove the skin or leave it on its up to you, I remove the skin so I can make crackling.

Add the salt and sugar cure ensuring the bacon is well covered and the cure is rubbed well into the meat.

If using additional cures such as maple syrup, treacle or honey, I add these after I have added the initial salt cure.

Place in a plastic freezer bag preferably zip lock or one that closes sufficiently so that no liquid runs out and leave in the fridge for 7 days.  
Ensure you keep turning it, every day to ensure the liquid and cure is distributed into the meat. 
You can also cure it by vacuum packing it and leave it in the fridge for the same amount of time, no need to keep turning it.

Once the cure has taken, take the bacon out of the bag or vacuum pack and rinse well, dry the meat and then place back in the fridge in an opened dish or baking tray for 3 days uncovered, to allow it to dry out. 
Once dry you can cold or hot smoke if you wish. I cold smoke using a cold smoke generator placed on the platesetter  of my big green egg. Up to you which types of wood dust you want to use, my favourites are apple, hickory and pecan. The longer you smoke, the heavier the flavour so it is up to you. 
Then you are good to go with your own home cured bacon, you can either slice by hand or with a meat slicer.

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  1. Have you made bacon using pork butt?

    1. Not as yet, but the curing process shouldn't differ from cut to cut of meat. Shoulder like pork belly will have a higher fat content than other cuts, but you've also got a lot of sinew as it's a "working" piece of meat, so probably not the best cut to cure if you want breakfast bacon. If you want to cure it and then poach it afterwards like a traditional Irish bacon or English gammon ham then you could do that. Almost like a "pulled" bacon.

  2. Hi there, can I use pink salt as the cure?