Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Bacon Day

I love bacon.

We don't have a local butchers. The supermarkets are within the same travelling distance of the butchers we know of, and the stuff available at the supermarkets is wafer thin and boils rather than fries. Yuk.

The advantage of the butcher is you can specify what you want, for example, thick slices, the part of the pig you'd like it from, how it's cured, ect. The downside? Nowadays, for that kind of service you pay a premium. Fair enough. But if you factor in bus fares/petrol? Nah. Forget it.

So one day, I decided if I wanted 'custom' bacon, I'd make my own.

Part of the reason is that like a lot of cured meats are soaked in a combination of salt and sodium nitrite. Nitrite's are an important part of the preserving process because they reduce the risk of food poisoning. More, in mass produced bacon, it's actually injected with salt, water and nitrites and colouring.

If you like to home cure, you can buy the mixes of salt and preservatives and colouring to do it just like your local supermarket does. Or gawd help us - the butcher.

Since I take a chemical mix of toxic tablets, I'd rather not. End of. So I needed a solution.


As always, at your own risk.

As you may be aware, I'm careful to avoid anything that might get in the way of prescribed medication. So I tend to use herbal methods - not be confused with homoeopathic, which I think is a load of crock.

This is the method I use. Buy a decent boneless belly pork joint, about 3-5 lb's. That'll be 1.5 kilo's and up. You may have to divide it into two - depending how long you need your rashes.

Grab a pan, any pan, and fill it with water. If you're using tap water, the idea is to bring it to the boil to boil off the chlorine. You'll need a measuring jug nearby.

When the water comes to the boil, throw in a tablespoon each of cloves, chines star anise, and mixed herbs. Dried is fine. If you have it, honey.

The basic end mix you're looking far is 3 parts salt, 1 part sugar (feel free to use brown) diluted with 4 times that amount with water.

Doesn't sound very exact, does it? That's basically because what you're looking for is just enough to cover the pork. Don't skimp on the salt - that's your main preservative.

After the spices - which are antibiotics, have boiled for half an hour, sieve the resulting liquid into a jug, and take you maths from there. Allow to cool.

Put your pork into a large bowl or bucket, top up with boiled cooled water. Now leave it for 24 hours.

You could, if you wished, slice and eat it now :) - freezing or chilling the remainder.


Step two. Drain and pat dry. Despite anything you might read on the internet, Table salt can work just fine, as long as you're freezing the rest. I use ground sea salt.

Again, this is a matter of personal preference and judgement. You need enough salt to rub it in all over. I like to add a little brown sugar, herbs, and honey. Honey, you might have noticed never goes off, because it's an antibiotic.

Put the pork in the fridge on a rack, in a container - the idea being to raise the pork so that the salt leaches out the fluid. If you don't have a rack, preferably non metallic, shove a plastic utensil or two underneath to raise it.

Every two days, for a week, drain and clean the containers and put it back, each time turning it and sprinkling with more salt.

After a week, rinse thoroughly, slice, and freeze that you don't need immediately.


You can cut it as thick as you want. It won't be full of water. You can adjust the flavour as you need. If it's too salty, just soak it in water for half an hour.

You can smoke it -errrr... apply flavoured smoke to it, a very American thing, which is out of the scope of this post, or hang it in a cool dark place to dry it.

I have the advantage of having a frost free fridge/freezer. Which can often be a pain, but in this case helps take the moister out and helps the preservation.


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