Monday, 10 January 2011

Makin' bacon

The Shed, my friends, is open once more. Sad though we were to close over the festive period, there was one upside: The Shed makes the ideal environment for curing bits of pig.

Making your own bacon is so gratifyingly simple, I'm shocked and appalled it isn't strictly advised - particular denominations of faith schools aside - on every home economics syllabus in the land. I had this long, inspirational ranty call to action half-drunkenly bashed into a word document about how easy and empowering it is to Make Stuff, but it was probably a load of rubbish, and anyway it disappeared.

This isn't quite the Best Bacon Eva, but it's pretty close to very decent stuff from your local butcher, and far and above anything you can buy in a supermarket. Slicing is the tricksy bit, so either ask nicely next time you're buying produce from your friendly neighbourhood butcher, or make do with gratuitously fat slices. Shame, eh?

I didn't use saltpetre or nitrites and everything worked out pretty well, though I'd be eager to hear any advice people might have on this aspect. The recipe below is a basic common-or-garden cure which will show off decent quality pork very ably. I'm planning to experiment with various flavourful additions - maple, honey, spices etc - and again, would welcome any tips and recipes.

You will need
Whole pork loin or belly (the latter makes streaky), cut into two or three lumps
800g sea salt (no need for Malden)
250g light brown sugar
1tbsp ground black peppercorns (optional)
A large non-reactive container (big plastic boxes, the kind in which boyfriends keep records, are good)
A cold place
Three weeks

With a skewer, pierce the skin of the pork several times to help the cure penetrate. Put the pork into the container. Mix together the dry ingredients, and work 1/3 of this mixture into the pork. Cover the container, place in a cold, dry place and leave. After a day, drain off any liquid, and coat the pork in more of the cure. Repeat this process the following day. Leave the pork for 3 more days turning half way through, before rinsing off the salt, and patting the meat dry with kitchen towel. Wrap the meat in clean muslin, before hanging in a cool dry place for a minimum of two weeks.

Slice and eat! I had my cured porky chunks vac-packed after the hanging time, though apparently the pork will keep well in the muslin so long as it's in a cool, dry atmosphere.


  1. Ooh! Bacon!

    Any chance of trying your home-made stuff when we come to the Shed Supperclub on Saturday? :P

  2. I'm sure I can work it into the menu somehow...

  3. Sweet, looks very tasty! I'm brining some brisket for salt-beef at the mo but this could be next on the special-meat-to-do list.

  4. Yum yum yum! I wanna do it too!

  5. You are So Clever...
    I'm feeing spurred by my Great Pastrami Success, but I don't have a lovely shed to hang things in and I suspect my husband, lovely though he is, might not like bits o'meat hanging around in the bedroom :-)

  6. Ooh salt beef and pastrami makers! There's got to be scope for a Home Curers Meat Up (geddit?) to share the home made love. If it lasts long enough...

    I'm still a bit baffled as to why home curing stuff isn't more prevalent when it's so easy to do. All new-builds should have a curing cabinet as part of the plans!

  7. I have a bit of a fantasy that one day I will have a pantry where I will keep all my food stuffs best served in the cold but not in the fridge and thanks to this post I have no added "with hooks to hang curing bacon" to what it will contain.

    Amazing. I wish I could make some now or at least try some of yours!

  8. I'm pretty sure I never use the same ingredients twice, or for sure not in the same quantities. But I use juniper berries, bay leafs, thyme, rosemary, small amounts of cinnamon sticks, star anise... The list is endless. Experiment and enjoy....