Friday, 23 January 2015

Curing the Bacon Part 2

The recipe I am starting with does not use Saltpetre which is traditionally used to keep the colour of the meat more pink and which helps inhibit any nasties - but because there are some concerns about nitrates and the addition thereof for the time being I am not going there for the present we shall see how we get on.

This is more an experiment for me in the basics of how to dry cure meat and to find my way through trial and error around this unknown quantity and to see if it produces a bacon that will suit our palate as OH is a firm fan of Streaky bacon.  At worst it will be too salty in which case I believe I can soak the bacon in water and then dry and wrap in muslin again or alternatively use it as lardons. Also from what I have read the longer the bacon is in the cure the saltier the product will be so from a start it would seem that we will have to go for a happy medium. I have seen recipes where the meat is left in the cure for up to two weeks.  This particular recipe is based over five days. The other reason I have chosen this particular recipe is because it addresses the problem of saltiness - I personally do not get on well with over-salted food so this was a prime factor for me and at the end of the day I do not really want to ruin the meat if I can help it.

 In reality my interest really lays with Charcuterie  and I would quite like to have a go at Bresaloa and curing my own ham but being as dry curing seems to be a common theme that runs through a lot of recipes, this is where I have chosen to start and in all honesty it will score me brownie points with OH if it works out okay.  My father always told me that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, so being a dutiful daughter.....

In reality I have read lots of instructions from various books and websites as well as using this recipe as a tutor and now the time has come to put the theory into practice. This bacon will apparently keep in the fridge for up to two weeks and then can be frozen sliced in quantities suitable to your family so that pleases my waste not want not philiosophy.  I have a meat slicer in any event but apparently it is difficult to obtain nice thin rashers without a slicer but the instructions advocate the use of a nice sharp achieve medium to thick rashers.

Cleanliness is next to godliness with this sort of preserve so the utmost caution must be given to keeping the product at correct temperatures.  May I suggest that you read several resources covering this subject before attempting to cure your own bacon and that common sense prevails at all times.  I have suggested some posts below.

On my preliminary requirements list I mentioned a box or boxes that would fit in my fridge but I have seen people use lock bags in the fridge as well as Freezer boxes with the added bonus of being able to put in and replenish the freezer blocks to keep the meat nicely chilled during the curing process.  So there is a lot to take in.

Streaky bacon is traditionally made with pork bellies and I intend to use one whole pork belly possibly cut in two or three depending on the size of the belly in the first place.  Collar is frequently used I believe to create long back bacon as well as pork loin which is used to create back bacon.

This particular recipe is taken from Diana Henry's Salt Sugar and Smoke.

Makes 1.9kg (4lb 3 1/2 oz)

In addition to the list of ingredients given in Part one of Curing the bacon you are going to need the main ingredient which is the meat.

2kg (4lb 8oz) thick piece of boned pork belly with the rind on


Bone out your bellies first, getting out the ribs intact so that they can be used in a separate meal.

 For the Cure

21lb 4oz /550g coarse  Salt I used Sea Salt

3 Bay Leaves chopped

15 Juniper Berries crushed

6oz/175g Soft Light Brown Sugar 

Crush all the ingredients for the cure in a food processor or pestle and mortar.  Lay the pork on a very clean kitchen surface and rub about two thirds of the cure all over it (you will not need it all at this stage.

Put into a non reactive container (I use a big plastic box) and cover that will go into my fridge easily.  Refrigerate it needs to be kept at about 5 degrees C/41 degrees F and store the left over cure mix in the fridge also.

After 4 hours there will be liquid showing seeping out of the pork. Take the pork out of the box and pour off the liquid and rub the pork with more of the cure.  Do the same again on Day 3 using up all the cure. Leave alone for the fourth and fifth day.  The bacon should now be ready and the meat should feel firm.

Rinse off the excess salt and dry the belly.  Wrap in muslin and put it on a tray in the refrigerator.  It will dry out a little more and mature over the next few days.  Cut pieces off as you need them.  It will keep well for about two weeks and you can also freeze it (or portions of it).  If you find that the bacon is too salty when you first cook it then soak the whole belly overnight in water, dry and then rewrap in muslin and keep as before.


Dry curing bacon  - the Accidental Smallholder: 

If you look around the Cottage smallholder you will find several different recipes.

and the site that really interests me

Me  - I am looking forward to pay day so that I can play but no doubt some of you will get there before me  - let me know how it goes.

I hope this helps



Well we have played today and prepared two joints of streaky bacon from one belly.  It is currently curing in the fridge and should be ready by the end of the week.  I just hope it turns out alright.  We have four flat joints out of the other belly for roasting  which are currently residing in the freezer and then will simply serve with veggies which is a slightly different way of serving them which should result in tasty meat with deep rich crackling.

Catch up soon.


Further update

We are very pleased with the bacon.

I think the pictures speak for themselves

We have prepared one piece for the freezer and have seven bags of 8 pieces of bacon and two bags of lardons.  There is no point in wasting anything and the lardons are ideal for adding a bit of flavour to another dish i.e. starting some soup off or a stew or casserole.  I bought liver yesterday so may well do a liver and bacon casserole.

The other piece is in the fridge and will probably be processed a little later.  It tastes really good too.  The only thing is because the skin has been cured with the salt the rind becomes very hard.  We have just taken the rind off and it cooks beautifully.  We are very blessed.  Will probably do some back bacon next from loin joints but I really want to have a go at some Salami and some Chorizo as well as making some individual pork pies and some proper pork pies.  

Its not always cheap doing things like this but I am a foodie at the end of the day and we prefer food with lots starting to sort myself out and am now pre-planning and budgeting for doing a particular project or projects each month.  So you cannot always do everything but that does not mean you have to miss out and you can have some things the choice is down to you as to what you have a go at. Good eating often does not come down to just what you can get from the shop or supermarket but what you actually do with it.

I hope this has spurred you on to have a go and do it yourself the process is not as complicated as you think it is and I have really enjoyed doing this so much so I see it being repeated again and again and again.



  1. Thank you so much.. I must try this.. xo

  2. You are welcome Faye and welcome to my blog. I love your blog too. Will pop up some other options a bit later on have recipes for Maple cured bacon and honey cured bacon as well.

    Take care




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