Back to Bacon Basics – drying…

After a week in the curing salts, it was clear that the pork belly wasn’t going to yield up any more than a teaspoon or two of liquid, so I called it a day.

As already mentioned, I used two different curing salts, Supracure and Laycock’s Dry Cure. In the pic, below Continue reading

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Back to bacon basics…

As my last attempt at making bacon was horribly salty (though nicely cured),  and, I eventually decided, unusable, I made two decisions:-

1. Ignore the reams of advice available online as too contradictory and, in many instances, plain wrong.

2. Use a commercially-available curing product, and simply follow the instructions.

Then, once I’ve mastered the basics, I can think about getting more creative.

To that end I’ve bought two 500g-ish portions of pork belly Continue reading

So, how does my home-cured bacon taste?

Salty!

To be honest, I can’t see how it could possibly be otherwise – the salt draws out water from the meat, and in return the meat absorbs salt, but before starting I read multiple reports from people who have cured bacon in the same way, and not one says, “Hey, it’s salty!”.

The question is – is it too salty? On its own, for many people these days, I’d say yes. In a roll, with a splash of HP, or a fried egg, probably not. Bad news for anyone watching their salt intake though.

Personally, it takes me back to the fifties, when bacon was routinely dry-cured, and routinely salty – that was when bacon got the bad rep as a causative agent in CHD that it’s been unable to shake off.

It does, I have to confess, fry beautifully, no white gunge, no spitting, it just sits there and sizzles.

All I can think of is that others Continue reading

Making Bacon – Stage 3: Slicing…

Finally, about a week late, I’ve sliced my bacon (once it had dried to my satisfaction – 3 days – I sealed it in a plastic bag and left it in the fridge until I felt well enough to slice it.

Note: When cut into, the meat should just have a faint whiff of raw bacon, and I think we all know how that smells. If it smells off, or even slightly strange (allowing for whatever you cured it in), bin it and start again. Don’t take chances.

The first thing I learned is that you need two parallel sides – the side that’s being sliced, and the side the pusher rests against, so you need a very sharp knife to trim it to shape (the piece you cut off won’t be wasted – slice it roughly with the knife and freeze separately for use as an ingredient in soups or whatever. Ditto with any small, raggedy slices (which are inevitable until you get the hang of it), and any other off-cuts.

I’d assumed, from the manual, that the Continue reading

Addendum to Making Bacon – Stage Two: Drying…

Addendum to Making Bacon – Stage Two: Drying…

 

Before curing the pork belly looks like this, as most of you probably know.

Pork belly

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 Continue reading

Making Bacon – Stage Two: Drying…

The pork has been sitting in its bath of now dissolved sea salt and molasses sugar for a week, and is just about ready.

It proved quite impossible to get any sort of consensus as to the most appropriate method so, in the end, I just thought sod it, and went with what felt right. The basics were always the same – cover the meat with the cure (as I said in Stage One, it’s impossible – it simply falls off), put it in a plastic bag in the fridge, and turn it every day – other than that, there was no agreement.

When I made the panceta a few weeks ago, I was surprised at Continue reading

Making Bacon – Stage One: The Cure…

Ending the old year on a high(ish) note, making bacon. Or, at least, starting the process, which will end in a week to 10 days.

First drawback was the coarse sea salt I ordered – it’s so coarse you could gravel a bloody drive with it! And so hard I can’t crush it. Utterly useless.

Luckily, I had just enough Continue reading

More thoughts on home-made bacon…

Well, after spending a few days researching home-made bacon online, two things have become absolutely clear – many people simply haven’t got a clue, and of those who know what they’re talking about, no two agree.

So, OK, I do know how to cure bacon – I did it with the panceta last week – and frankly, any fool can throw salt all over a slab of pork, leave it for a week and get bacon. It might not be the best bacon, but bacon is what it will be – so it’s not hard, then.

The reason I’m collecting information is so that I can pick other people’s brains, create a synthesis of the best websites and, based on that, come up with a process that will produce the best bacon I possibly can.

One thing that struck me is that Continue reading

Coming soon – making home-made bacon…

High-quality, dry-cured, streaky bacon retails for around £25 a kilo. I can buy a kilo of organic, free-range, pork belly for £10. The ingredients needed to cure it, most of which I have – salt, molasses sugar (or maple syrup, which I don’t have), black pepper and maybe a few herbs – will cost very little, a couple of pounds at most, even if I have to buy maple syrup**. The main ingredient – time – is free.

**This has a remarkably short shelf life, surprisingly – just 4 weeks from opening, so don’t get carried away and buy more than you can use.

So, making my own will cost me less than Continue reading