Home cured bacon

If you follow a keto way of life then unless you are vegetarian at some point you will want bacon and lots of it. The longer I follow a keto lifestyle the more I think about the quality of food that I want to eat and with that I will try to make my own wherever possible and what I have found is that most things are very achievable. I have been making my own bacon now for about 18 months and everyone who tries it is blown away by the taste and the texture and how it reminds them of the product we ate as children. This is dry cured and so does not contain water and so it does not leave that horrible white scum in the frying  pan. I just buy my pork when it is on offer as I am happy with this country’s welfare standards, you of course are free to get organic /free range/ rare breed pork as you see fit.

To make back bacon you will need a loin of pork, if you buy it from the supermarket it will only contain the main part of the meat, if you want the streaky tail part then I would suggest you ask your butcher for the specific cut of pork, you can also use belly of pork of you want to make streaky bacon.
I make my bacon in bulk as it saves time and because I like it smoked it makes sense to fill the smoker with meat.
You will need to purchase a cure. I bought mine from butcher sundries on Amazon  sorry my label has faded.

You will notice that the cure contains sugar and salt and some additives. I am happy to use this cure because it prevents all the nasty things that can occur when you can cure your own meat,the nitrites prevent botulism and other toxins from forming and as you use so little of the cure I am also not worried about the tiny amount of sugar that will be spread over the whole joint of meat.

you will need something to keep your meat in while it cures, typically 5 days. A Ziploc bag is ideal or if you are lucky enough to own a vacuum sealer they work extremely well.
Hold the joint of pork up to the Ziploc bag to gage if you need to cut the joint into smaller joints. the meat should fit easily into the bag .
Cut the joints up as necessary. here I have cut each joint into 2 and also trimmed off the end to make a pork chop for tonights dinner
It is very important to weigh each joint of pork and to note the weights down to work out how much cure is needed. I found that I did not have quite enough cure for all 4 joints so I decided to trim the joints and make chops for dinner.
This is my calculation for the cure needed for each joint of pork. Do not be tempted to add more because it doesn’t look enough you will get very salty bacon if you do.
Once you start to put the cure on you have to work quite quickly so you need to be organised, especially if you are curing more than 1 joint. I have taken the ziploc bag, and a piece of greasproof paper and written the weight on it and the amount of cure I need for that joint. remember the amount of cure is different for each joint according to its weight.I have also weighted out the right amount of cure in a small pot.
Spread the cure on a clean surface,I have a glass work top saver That keeps everything in one place and can be put in the dishwasher afterwards.
Place the meat onto the cure.
Roll the meat over in the cure.
Make sure the cure touches every part of the meat especially work it into all the little nooks and crannys
Don’t forget to do the ends
It should have a white crust all over it when you are finished.
The cure will start to draw the moisture out of the meat immediately so place it in the Ziploc bag as quickly as possible
Lable the bag so you know when it was done.
Place the joints in their bags in the fridge, its best to place them in a roasting tin or on a tray with a lip incase they leak.
You will need to turn the bacon over so set a reminder. you need to leave it for 5 days.
As you turn the meat over you will notice that liquid is coming out of the meat, this is good this is the salt drawing out the excess moisture
You will also notice that the texture has changes in the beginning it was quite squidgy and now it is much firmer
This is the amount of liquid you can expect to see after 5 days.
For the next bit you will need a grill pan or in my case a baking tray with a cake rack on top of it.
At the end of curing time its important to rince off the remains of the cure under a running tap.
Pat the joint dry with some kitchen paper.
Place the dry joint onto the wire rack.
Repeat with all the joints and make sure they are not touching and have space around them for air to circulate. you now need then to finish drying by leaving them overnight. ideally uncovered in a cool place, but I usually put another cake rack over the top and cover with a piece of muslin cloth and leave it in a back bedroom or in the summer I put it back in the fridge.The next day the bacon will have a slightly tacky feel to it this is what the smoke will stick to.

 

Congratulations you have now made green bacon, you can slice it as thin or thickly as you like before frying or grilling. in the next part I am going to smoke the bacon before I put it into the freezer.

Before you can smoke the meat, you will need to purchase on of these, a smoker maze and your choice of wood dust,this time I chose maple, in the past I have used Apple wood The smoker maze makes sure the wood burns slowly and doesn’t jump accross to the next bit,but works its way around in order.
Place the maze into the centre of your smoker and light it, using the tea light provided in the kit, when you are sure the wood has started to burn, remove the tea light and add the meat.
A few years ago,before we decided to follow the keto WOE we bought a pizza oven, it doesn’t get a lot of use now but it does make a wonderful cold smoker for my bacon, but don’t worry you can smoke your meat in a cardboard box and get excellent results.
I have used 2 cake racks to give some space above the maze to make sure as much of the meat comes into contact with the meat. close the door and leave the it for 8 hours in the smoke, this should be the approximate burning time of the maze, it you want to you can also add a lump of cheddar into the smoke to infuse it for about an hour,to create smoked cheese.
After 8 hours in the smoker its ready to slice. I would recommed putting the joints into the freezer for about a hour before slicing as this will firm them up a bit.
Of cource you can slice the bacon with a sharp knife but with this quantity its better with a slicer, I bought this one from Argos years ago,its rubbish and I keep promising myself a new one. you have to fiddle with the thickness to get something that is thick enough but not too thick. It also has a tendancy to cut bits off and not like to cut other bits which can be frustrating.
Overall the slices are ok and all the odd bits I chop up to make lardons to add to recipes
So after I cut up all the slices I cling film them into packs of 6
Then I bag up the sliced packs and label them for the freezer. At this point I will also vacuum seal some for use this week.

 

So how much did it cost? I got 20 x 6 rashers (120) and a bag of lardon bits for £20 of meat, not including the chops I cut off at the beginning and not including the cure or the smoking equipment so that’s about £1 a pack for very superior bacon Its a bit of a faff but not difficult and you do not have to smoke it,but you do have to cook it, cold smoking just adds flavour.

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