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Old 14th November 2010, 6:57 PM   #1
kodos78 Thread Starter
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Default Homemade bacon is better. (Pic heavy)

I've been a member for a long while, read the site and forum a lot and have never contributed. There were a couple of threads recently (here and here) that were so awesome I thought I had to share one of my favourite cooking exploits. It was time to make a first post.

I like bacon. You like bacon. Bacon you make yourself is tastier, cooks up better and it's just damn satisfying to cure your own meat. Dry curing bacon at home is really easy and pretty cheap too.


Ingredients and equipment:
Pork (at least 1kg).
Dry cure (explained below)
Flavouring (optional)
Liquid Smoke (optional)
Large zip lock bag
Sharp knife


The Pork.
The most important step in making your own bacon is to start with a great bit of pork. The best cut to use is the loin with belly attached and rind on but you can also make bacon from just the belly. This is called streaky bacon by the Brits and is most common in the US and Canada. I always use the loin however. Just ask a local butcher to cut you some and they'll almost always find something great for you.

This is one of the best bits of pork I've ever used. It has a nice round loin, and a really thick belly with solid amount of meat in it but still has enough fat to fry up well when we're all finished. The meat weighed 1.6kg fresh.





Dry cure.
This is a varying mixture of salt, sugar and a curing agent.

Salt itself could be a whole thread on its own but to keep things simple I always just use a plain old rock salt from the supermarket.

Sugar can be anything really, table sugar, brown sugar refined dextrose. All the options work well but you do get a different flavour from brown or raw sugars.

The curing agent I use is a no-name brand curing salt (sometimes called pink salt or cure #1). It's made up of 93%+ table salt (sodium chloride), 6.2% of the curing agent (sodium nitrite) with trace dextrose and anti-caking additives. This stuff can be really hard to find, I had to order mine internationally but if you're in a big city it should be somewhere nearby and a small packet will last you a very long time. The nitrite is actually the ingredient that will cause the meat in the bacon to turn the great reddish colour that you expect from cured pork and it does change the flavour of the meat significantly. It also inhibits the growth of the bacteria responsible for botulism - win! Using the nitrite salt is actually optional and there are good reasons why nitrite free bacon is becoming more popular. This is mostly because high nitrite diets are convincingly linked increased risks of stomach cancer, and given clean preparation and refrigeration the risk of actually growing something bad in bacon is negligible in modern times. There is no evidence that small amounts of nitrite in a diet is dangerous and moderation is key. I will use nitrite in this recipe.

The dry cure I use is a 1:14 ratio of curing salt:salt/sugar mixture. A total of 60g is a good amount to use for a 1.6-2.0 kilo piece of pork.

To make 60g of the mixture I'll use 4g of the curing salt, 40g of salt, 16g of sugar.

Based on preference any amount from none to half of the 14 in the 1:14 ratio can be sugar. A cure with zero sugar leads to really salty, harsh bacon and the little amount of sugar I used really just rounds the flavour off and makes an overall much better end product.

Grind up the salt and sugar so it is fine but not a powder:




And here is 4g of the curing salt before I added it to the other ingredients:




Big ziplock bag
It has to be large enough to fit the pork in it while staying flat. Test that it's airtight before using it. Any leaks will cost you and your fridge dearly.


Flavour awesomiser
Purely optional extra ingredient but one that can change the character of your bacon in a big way. Options include maple syrup (sweetness with a hint of flavour), fennel seeds, pepper, garlic (all different types of savoury, great flavour) or pretty much anything that you want to try.

Real maple syrup is by far my favourite thing to add to the bacon. It seems like an odd combination but it just works. I'll use about 50mL of it here.


Take the pork and wash it under cold running water then pat dry with paper towel.

Place the pork on a dry board or tray and cover all sides of the meat with all 60g of the curing mix.




It will pretty much all stick to the meat and cover it all over. It should look something like this:





Put the pork in the ziplock bag, add whatever you want for extra flavour (50mL of maple syrup which hasn't been added yet in this photo) then seal the bag.



Put the bag in the fridge and turn it over every morning and night for 7 days.
The meat will discolour a little bit and may even have a grey tinge to it. You will see a build up of free fluid in the bag, this is normal as the dry curing process draws some of the moisture from the meat. Most shop bought bacon is wet cured in a brine which means it retains fluid and weighs more when it is sold. All the extra fluid leeches out when it's cooked anyway so it's really just a way to sell less actual bacon for more monies!

At the end of the week take out the meat, wash it under cold water again and pat dry. This is what mine looked like at this stage:




Now the pork needs smoking for that perfect finish. If you have a BBQ that can smoke or a smoker you need to do it at very low temps (no more than 90c) for 3-4 hours. My BBQ can't be used to smoke properly right now so I cheated and added about 1/8 a teaspoon of liquid smoke (hickory) to the ziplock at the same time as the maple. Then I just roasted it in the oven for four hours at 90 degrees c. It's critical that none of the meat gets too hot during the roasting / smoking. If it does the fat will drip out of the meat and you'll get much drier bacon. When you finally come to fry the slices up the retained fat renders out into the pan and helps the meat brown / crisp up nicely.

Before:



And after. This it when it really starts to look good. Note the really small amount of fat that has dripped off the meat:




Once the meat is out you have a chance to remove the rind in one go if you choose to take it off. Just put it on a clean board with the rind up and use a knife to slice it of in a sheet. I did a shitty job here and cut into the fat in a couple of places so you can see the white on the rind from the extra fat I took off. Cutting off the rind becomes much, much more difficult once the meat cools. Some people prefer leaving the rind on and that's fine too.




Now you let it cool to room temperature before you slice it. If you cut into it warm it'll loose a lot of moisture and that's really bad. I usually cut mine about twice as thick as shop-bought bacon.

Here's the first few slices:



And the fully sliced up bacon. The small chunky bits at the bottom are called lardons, they're just cubed bacon. Lardons are amazing. Fry them up really hot and fast so they go crispy on the outside but stay chewy in the middle. Add them to soups, baked beans or whatever for a burst of salty, porky awesome.




I lay the finished slices out on baking paper then put them in a plastic bag in the freezer. It'll keep for 6 months easily if it's sealed well. The lardons just get thrown in a bag together and frozen.

I got some of the bacon out this morning, fried it up a little crispy, threw it on a stack of pancakes, covered it in maple syrup and added a few strawberries. Breakfast on the balcony:




Full credit to Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn for their book Charcuterie that got me started on this kind of thing.
http://www.amazon.com/Charcuterie-Cr...9721203&sr=8-1.
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Old 14th November 2010, 7:16 PM   #2
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This thread is awesome

I really need to find somewhere to buy some pink salt.
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Old 14th November 2010, 7:29 PM   #3
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Umm Bacon with strawberry pancakes?! Not sure about the maple syrup but damn it looks good.

Btw goth, U can get pink salt with nitrite from asian grocers. The stuff's supposedly a precursor to carcinogens, but what the hell, it makes the meat taste so good.
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Old 14th November 2010, 7:36 PM   #4
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God Bless this thread
God Bless Bacon

I must make this NOW!!
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Old 14th November 2010, 7:58 PM   #5
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You dont need to add the sodium nitrite if you are eating it fresh. At this point all its doing is giving you the pink colour you are used to seeing in bacon. You can make a batch up without it but the colour of the meat will be greyish.

Good basic recipe though. I do like a bit of maple added to my bacon. Sweet and salty is like heaven in your mouth
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Old 14th November 2010, 8:55 PM   #6
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I think bacon on pancakes is an American thing.
My ex mother-in-law came from the US and used to have bacon on her pancakes.

I've tried it and I think bacon on pancakes tastes disgusting, but awesome pics and thanks for the tutorial OP!
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Old 14th November 2010, 9:07 PM   #7
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I live in the middle of nowhere, so getting the curing agent ordered in is the way I'm going to have to go as well.

Do you remember where you got yours from?
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Old 14th November 2010, 9:08 PM   #8
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LOL I saw all the meat and then scrolled down to halfway on the last picture and saw the red drinks I was like wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhat
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Old 14th November 2010, 10:21 PM   #9
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mmmm..... sizzling big

lol @ hungry cat
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Old 14th November 2010, 10:43 PM   #10
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Way cool.

Do you know anything about making corned beef? I've got some large lumps of beef in the freezer, and I really want to make them into corned beef.

I rang a local butchers wholesaler, and they sold me a 20kg bag of flossy salt, and a 2.7kg bag of "Californian ham and bacon cure", but the instructions to use these ingredients are severly lacking.

Apparently the Cure makes 45 litres of brine, but how much salt do I put in? Further to that, 5 litres of brine would be more than enough, because the lumps of beef that I've got are only 2kg or so each (I need just enough brine to cover the meat).

Any clues?
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Old 14th November 2010, 10:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoJoker View Post
LOL I saw all the meat and then scrolled down to halfway on the last picture and saw the red drinks I was like wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhat
Bacon milkshake!!
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Old 14th November 2010, 10:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoJoker View Post
LOL I saw all the meat and then scrolled down to halfway on the last picture and saw the red drinks I was like wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhat
Same.. I thought someone had finally done it..
someone had made that giant leap..
and the world would know the awesomeness of..

the..

bacon milkshake.

tremble before it's awesomeness.


Ninja edit:..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goth View Post
Bacon milkshake!!

No way.. to much coincidence..
the bacon milkshake is meant to be !!

.
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Putting the wet stuff on the red stuff.. here.
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Old 14th November 2010, 11:25 PM   #13
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its not too much of a leap
http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/11/09/jones-soda-baco/
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Old 15th November 2010, 8:20 AM   #14
kodos78 Thread Starter
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A few general replies:

The nitrite is entirely optional. It does change the colour of the meat a lot and non-nitrite bacon really does have a grey tinge that will turn people off unless they know what to expect. There is a definite flavour difference as well but both types of bacon can be delicious.

The drinks in the last pic are strawberry and marshmallow smoothies - just something we like and had the ingredients handy.

If you haven't tried pancakes with bacon and maple you really have to. It's one of those weird salty/sweet combinations that for some reason just works. Everyone I know that has tried it, loved it and pretty much all of those thought they'd hate it beforehand... The berries in the pic just make the meal feel a bit lighter and fresher.



rickbishop: I've never done any wet curing in brine so I can't give specific advice. I do know someone that used to salt whole pigs on their farm in brine. To get the salt mixture right they'd just add more salt to the brine until the pig floated. More than that I can't say.
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Old 15th November 2010, 8:26 AM   #15
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Bacon on pancakes is a standard at a lot of cafes now! On French toast too. Add maple syrup and it's flavour heaven
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