LOCATION: Recipes >> Preserving Meats >> Bacon 01
Get your pork - belly is good, as it has plenty of fat to absorb
flavour, although I literally use every piece except head and ham
(which are made into Brawn and ham respectively).
Cut the pork into manageable slabs - typically 3 or four inches
across I find useful. Punch a hole through one end and thread a
string/cord through each piece; tie the cord off so that each slab
of pork has a hanging-loop (for hanging the bacon up later!).
Prepare your brine, enough to immerse the pork; I use a recipe for
80 degree brine (whatever that means!) but I haven't it on me at
the moment. Certainly you would want a strong brine - the taste
of seawater (apologies if you are in Nebraska and never tasted
seawater!! :-). You may also add other flavourings as you would
like; Nick keeps his own bees and so has plaenty of honey to use.
This caramalises on cooking and leaves a beautiful sweet taste in
the mouth.... cloves also give a pleasant taste. Add a teaspoon
of saltpetre per gallon of brine.
Preferably put your brine in an earthenware pot, but I use a large
5 gallon (imperial) plastic bucket, then immerse the pork. Ensure
the pork is immersed at all times. A plate on the top, weighted
down with a suitable weight may help. Cover the container.
Turn the bacon daily, giving the brine a good stir each time.
Brine the bacon for anything between one and two weeks - the longer
the brining the saltier the bacon, but it is important to brine it
long enough to draw out the water in the pork (the whole point of
At this stage you will have green, or pickled, bacon. It may be
eaten like this if preferred. It is unlikely to preserve too well
however in this state, so keep it refrigerated and eat it soon, or
freeze it, after drying (see later).
Now comes the fun part. Build yourself a cold smoker (or buy one
- I believe they are available commercially in N. America for around
$300. Other contributors here may be able to help. I use an old
fridge with a hole in the side through which I pipe (vacuum cleaner
hose) the smoke in, and a hole in the top for a chimney. The smoke
comes from sawdust (don't use pine dust) smoldering on a metal
plate, supported over a HOTfire (well, heat source of some
description). A large oil can (2 gallon?) - cleaned!! - captures
the smoke, and leads it to the smoker via a vacuum cleaner hose.
Total outlay... oh..... #1 for the hose; the rest I found as people
were throwing them away. FWIW, this cold smoke can also be used as
a hot smoker.
Hang the bacon inside the smoker such that it is not touching each
other or the sides. Smoke for (say) four hours, but depending on
how much smoke is being produced. A small smoke source may require
substantially more. It is important to ensure the smoke is cool
- too warm and the fat in the pork may run, forming a film over
the meat preventing the smoke from penetrating it. This is why
the smoke is introduced via a pipe, to keep the smoker away from
the heat source.
After smoking hang in a cool, dry place where no flies can get to
the meat. After drying the bacon for several days, it should have
lost much of its moisture. Freeze it, or keep it in a cool, dry,
If you find the bacon too salty, soak it overnight prior to use;
I find this makes it far more palatable. Experiment with brine
strengths and timings... but remember the secret to success is
removing the moisture that otherwise (I assume) acts as a medium
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