Addendum to Making Bacon – Stage Two: Drying…
Before curing the pork belly looks like this, as most of you probably know.
Pic courtesy of Wikipedia.
The cure, a mix of sea salt, black pepper, and molasses sugar extracts water from the meat, the process causing the meat to firm up and darken and, inevitably, shrink. In this case, the molasses sugar also contributed to the darkening process.
After 7 days in the cure, it was removed, washed, and soaked in cold water for 15 minutes to remove a little of the salt (removing too much rather defeats the object of curing).
After soaking it’s thoroughly dried, and set on a wire rack to be dried in my fridge (ignore the state of the tray the wire rack is sitting on, the meat doesn’t touch it – it’s just to catch any drips). At this stage it should smell of very little, just a faint whiff of raw bacon.
This is the meat sitting in the fridge after a few hours. As you can see, it’s visibly dryer than it was.
In the background are two jars of rendered lard, the orange one from a batch of very fatty panceta, the other from belly pork.
The drying should take two or three days for small pieces like these, after which it will be ready for slicing and packaging for the freezer, covered in the final post in a few days. Ideally, it should have been in one piece, but for no good reason there was a deep slash in the meat, right through to the skin, which meant it had to be cut in two. Thanks Waitrose.