Saturday, 16 October 2010

What do I do with 10 Kg of damp salt?

Today is day 10 of 10.

For the past week and a half a leg of pork has been sat in a box full of salt with a loosely fitting lid weighed down with a few house bricks.
Don't worry the inside is spotless.
I was quite apprehensive having never done this before and wondered what would await me under the salt. There was no smell just lots and lots of compressed, damp salt that needed to be excavated and put in a bucket. Lord knows what I can do with it although I'll be laughing if we have heavy frosts or snow and apparently it is a great weed deterrent if it is brushed in to the joints of block paving so I may give that a go.

After some careful digging I unearthed the ham.
It was then simply a matter of washing off the salt with lots of cold water and patting it dry with a paper towel. Once dry it is carefully washed in white wine vinegar and allowed to dry off. It is then double wrapped in muslin and hung in a cool drafty spot for 4 to 6 months to allow the air drying process to complete. I have hung mine out in the garage where I can keep an eye out for anything untoward.
Roll on February.
All being well it should be ready to eat some time between Valentine's day and Easter so its a case of fingers crossed and extreme patience.

Moving to something with a slightly shorter preparation time, I picked up a side of Pork today to be made in to bacon.  For the anatomically challenged I have managed to knock up a quick sketch showing the approximate location of a Side of Pork

Basically the "side" is a roughly square section of pork running from the spine to the mid line of the belly. It comprises loin from up by the spine which gives back bacon and the belly which gives us streaky. Funnily enough the meat between the belly and the loin give us "Middle Bacon". It looks like this in the flesh ....

This side weighed just over 7 Kg fresh or 15 and a half pounds in "old money". It will loose some weight during the curing process but should provide somewhere in the region of 13 to 14 lbs of bacon.

The great thing about curing a side is that the resultant rashers are very long and are back bacon at one end and run through middle to streaky at the other. So, where do we go from here ....

... The first thing to do is to cut it up in to three pieces that are more manageable to handle and obviously increase the surface area and therefore reduce the chance of the cure failing. Each piece is then thoroughly massaged with the cure mixture. This is basically 3 parts salt to one part brown sugar with added aromatics. I use black peppercorns, bay and coriander but there many other flavours that can be used.
The left end is back bacon, the right is streaky. Guess what the middle is called.
Once a few good handfuls of cure have been rubbed in the section of side is placed in a non-metallic box.
The remaining two pieces are given the same treatment and are stacked on top.
The box is covered and is placed in a refrigerator. Every day for the next five or six days the pork will be removed and any liquor poured off.  Each piece will be massaged with more cure and returned to the box.

By the end of the week I will have what is called Green Bacon which is "un-smoked" in Supermarket speak.


  1. Very much enjoying this series squire. Actually learning spmething and having to eat bacon now as well. Might one enquire as to the cost of a 'side' - roughly...

  2. Ah Mr Badman, I see lifehacker are doing something similar.... You're obviously a trend setter.

  3. Hello, "Nonny" - the side cost me £60 which comes out at about £8.30 per kilo or £3.80 per lb. There are no bones so no waste. Once cured you are looking at about 13 - 14 Lb of bacon so your bacon cost is about £4.50 per lb which is pretty good compared to commercial prices for traditional dry cured bacon. Incidentally - thanks for the comments as feedback is always appreciated.