Meekle’s Blog – An Insight into Downsizing

Home Cured Bacon
December 20, 2008, 6:07 pm
Filed under: Recipes

One of the best things in the world is to get up to a home cooked breakfast, knowing that you have restricted the amount of junk and chemicals going into you via additives, by making the food yourself from the word go.

Were you aware that the white scum that is left in your frying pan when cooking bacon is formed from a whole host of chemicals injected into the bacon to cure it and to hold water into the bacon making it look bigger and better value than it actually is? These chemicals are also used to “imprve the taste”

Loo at a commercial bacon and you will see all sorts of chemicals in the bacon including pottassium sorbate. This is used to force the bacon to hold more water. As soon as it starts to cook the water is released thus causing you once so large bacon rasher into a much smaller piece. The plus side is for the bacon producer, who sells you the bacon based on its weight – the more water it holds the heavier it is and the more he can charge you for it!

Anyways, how do you make your own bacon? Quite simply by getting a cut of pork (usually loin or belly) and adding salt. Having said that – although it will taste like bacon, it wont be as good looking as real bacon as when you cook pork cured in normal salt, it goes a grey colour when cooked – like an ordinary pork chop goes.

What you need is some proper curing salt. this is salt with an added chemical called Sodium Nitrite. this can be found naturally occurring in sea salt, but you can not guarantee how much is in each batch of salt, and the main reason we add it is to restrict the growth of the botulism bacteria and to help the bacon keep its pink colour.

Take your chosen piece of pork loin to cure, ideally with rind still on. Weigh it and measure out the right amount of cure mix. I use the basic bacon cure from Weschenfelder … f93ceec083 at the rate of 35g per kilo of pork. I make a sweet cure up for the black bacon using 35g of cure, 15g of granulated sugar (preferably silver spoon as its british) per kilo of pork.

I use the premade mix as it contains basically salt, with the addition of a small amount of sodium nitrite. this sounds bad, but it can be found naturally in sea salt.
Measure the thickest part of the loin to determine the cure time. 1 day per 1/2″ thickness, plus 1 day. So an average 2″ thick piece of pork would require 5 days to cure into bacon.

Once i have the right amount of cure out, i pierce the thick parts of the pork with a cocktail stick, to allow the cure to penetrate deeply. Apply the cure mix to every part of the loin, focussing 75% on the meat and 25% onto the rind (if retained)

Once you have rubbed in all the mix, place the pork into a plastic bag or a covered pyrex dish and keep in the refridgerator for the required time. Turn the pork over each day to ensure the even coating of the cure. You will notice after the first day some liquid has accumulated in the dish. Pour this off as it will discolour the rind.

Once the pork has cured for the prescribed time, remove from the dish and wash off any remaining cure. Dry it off with paper towels. At this point you have made basic sweet cure bacon. You can stop here if you like, wrap the bacon in muslin and hang to dry out either in the fridge or outside if it is colder than 4 degrees for a day or two. the longer you hang it the harder it becomes and therefore the more water you have driven out. This means less shrinkage in the pan.

If you want black bacon, once you have dried off the bacon, rub in a mix of spices at the rate of 1 and a half teaspoon per kilo of the following mix.

half tsp ground corriander
half tsp cinnamon
half teaspoon ginger

Once you have rubbed this all over the bacon, pour over some black treacle and massage into the bacon. Place in a clean pyrex dish and cure again in the fridge for a further 3 days, turning each day as before. Remove from fridge and wash off excess treacle.

You will now find that when you slice the bacon, you will have a black rind running all around the surface of the bacon, and the meat inside will have a dark ruby colour. It cooks beautifully without shrinkage and the taste is splendid.