Monday, May 23, 2016

Making Bacon - Part 1

Bacon is a cured meat, which complicates how it's made (and raises the bar a bit for failure:  botulism)

It's easy, but that doesn't mean you can take liberties, or be inexact.  I'm following the directions from

The key to curing meats is two-fold:  salt, and nitrates.  Nitrates are what make the meat pink, instead of a brown-ish gray.  And why bacon, ham, and pastrami all taste (and look) different from their origins as pork belly, hindquarter, and ribeye, respectively.

So where to get the nitrates?  Amazon to the rescue, as a source for "pink curing salts", aka "Prague powder #1".

The process itself is really easy.  Gather your ingredients:

1 pound of pork belly
pink curing salt
kosher salt
brown sugar,
distilled water (not shown).

(I'm not giving ratios here, go read the link above, and read all the warnings a few times on how this can go badly if you're not careful)

 Measure it all out:

The pink curing salts are fascinating.  Although the color is a little too candy-like.  My 5yo daughter was very interested in it.  But 1tsp of potassium nitrate can be deadly (this is only about 2.5% of that)

Then put all the ingredients together in a big ziploc.

Adding in the distilled water, and then mix that all up thoroughly (breaking up any clumps of sugar)

Then add the pork, sealing it up and pushing out all the air.  Smush it around really well, and make sure that the pork is thoroughly coated in the brine.  Then put in the fridge (in a pan in case it leaks).

And now comes the hard part.  We wait a week before the next step:  hot smoking the meat.