Sunday, 7 November 2010

Done and Dusted

After smoking the 4 flitches of bacon yesterday I left them in the fridge overnight. I suppose, at this point, it is worth mentioning that smoking doesn't only add flavour but also has preservative effects. Many of the chemical compounds released during the smoking process are antibacterial or antioxidant. Smoking therefore reduces the amount of bacteria in the meat and also slows down the process by which the fats in the meat can become rancid

By way of a recap the original side was cut in to 3 flitches to make handling during curing more straightforward. After curing the 3 flitches were divided again to make 6 in total. Two of these were left as "green" unsmoked bacon and were massaged in black treacle and maple syrup and left for just under a week in the fridge. They were sliced and frozen just over a week ago. We tested them before freezing and can report that both were fantastic. The Black Bacon is an amazing colour and the sweetness of the treacle combined well with the salty flavour of the cure.

The remaining 4 flitches were wrapped in muslin and hung in the garage for a couple of weeks. This is a necessary stage as the meat has to develop a pellicle on the surface which allows the smoke particles to adhere more easily to the meat.

The bacon was smoked yesterday and all that remained to be done was slicing and packing.

The original side weighed just over about 15 lbs. Approximately 3+ lbs of weight is lost as a result of water removed by the process.  I have therefore ended up with about 12 lbs of dry cured, hand cut bacon*. The original cost of the side was £60 so the Lb weight is £5.00 or thereabouts. I know I haven't costed my time but I guess that this is no more than 3 hours in total and the cure and smoking sawdust were either free or a couple of pounds at most.

It tastes great and because it is dry cured, there is none of the  white scum and water that oozes from commercial wet cured bacon during cooking.

I appreciate that a full side of pork is a large investment but, if your interest has been piqued, why not give it a try on a smaller scale. A piece of belly pork will cost a few pounds and will give fantastic streaky bacon or beautiful cubes of pancetta to add authentic flavour to any Italian pasta dish. I appreciate that smoking may not be achievable for everyone but it isn't mandatory.

Go on, give it a try.**
* Plus a few lardons or pancetta
** I'm more than happy to answer any questions via the Journal


  1. Wow, lookin' good there. Used to smoke a deer ham each year and still make jerky. Haven't had home cured bacon in a coon's age.

  2. Hi EcoRover, Welcome to The Journal. Thanks for commenting. We love Jerky and would be really interested in any recipe/method you would be willing to share. I have to visit the US next week and was informed to "Bring back jerky" by the family :-)