Bringing home the bacon

Bacon, as everyone knows, is basically meat candy. So who wouldn’t want to make their own. As it turns out it is remarkably easy to do, although getting the correct ingredients takes a little effort, especially here.

A pile of saltAlthough it technically is possible to make bacon with just ordinary salt, that isn’t how it should be done. Real bacon (as with other preserved meats) should contain a special salt—sodium nitrite. As well as preventing you from dying from food poisoning it also gives the meat the correct colour and flavour. After procrastinating for a while I eventually found somewhere that had what I was looking for and could ship here. In the end I got both a ready prepared bacon curing mix as well as the basic Prague Powder #1. I figured I’d save shipping costs and get it all at once. The Prague powder needs mixed with other salts and spices and is good if you want to start from scratch yourself.

Ready salted bellyThe rest is easy. As it turns out you don’t get true pork belly here since they don’t cut the pig like that. But you can get boneless ribs, and those are actually better. In the US it would be called back bacon and is usually meatier. And the price is a grand total of about 7€/kg.

All you do is cover the meat in a sprinkling of the prepared cure (for the mix it is about 30g/kg of meat).

Sealed for briningAnd then you stick it in a well sealed bag and put it in the fridge for a few days. For the amount I had it was about 5 days. Basically it will stew in its own juices and just needs flipped over every couple of days.

Ready for smokingYou could stop there. But bacon wouldn’t be complete without being smoked. So next up was a gentle smoking at about 120°C until the meat reaches 65°C internally. Smoking on the gas BBQ isn’t the solution for a perfectionist, but it is definitely the most convenient and it works pretty well. In the end it took about 3 hours of smoking using a mixture of hickory and apple wood chips.

Tasty tasty baconThe result at least looked good, and it tasted pretty fine straight from the BBQ.

But the real test came the next morning.

Bacon breakfast

Next time maple syrup flavoured bacon.

2 thoughts on “Bringing home the bacon

  1. That’s certainly one good way of making bacon. Though you don’t actually need nitrates. Non-iodised salt and brown sugar does the trick with a decent smoking. Back bacon certainly does have more meat than streaky but they’re used for different things so one isn’t better than the other really. This is a good book.

    It’s hard to go back to the shop stuff after a while eh.

    • Congratulations, you are now my first non-spam comment.

      Curing with normal salt is a little more unreliable from the preservation point of view. But if you are hot smoking and eating quite quickly it probably doesn’t matter. The taste is supposed to be a bit different though. It is nitrites as well, nitrates are different :-). Nitrates (Prague powder/cure #2) are for hams and break down over time to nitrites.

      Speaking of books, I got this one,

      The shop stuff here is terrible. It never fries, it just boils in its own juices.

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