Monday, November 15, 2010

Makin Bacon

We got our pig back in September with the knowledge that I was going to make our own bacon.  This is all brand new to me, so I was a bit apprehensive about the whole thing.  It turned out to be so easy!

I started with a 7 pound belly that I cut into 3 hunks.  Then made a mixture of 1/3 c kosher salt 1/3 c light brown sugar and 1/3 c maple syrup.  This is based on the book Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.  They use quite a bit of 'pink' salt which has nitrates.  I wanted to avoid those, so went with the above mixture.

This then got smeared all over the belly and placed in a 2 gallon zip top bag.  I placed it into  dish and put it into the fridge.  There it sat for 7 days, being turned daily, but otherwise ignored.

This morning I lit my new smoker for the first time and placed the bellies in.  I used hickory chips and think I'll use apple wood next time, but the smoke was quite nice.  The smoker never heated up as much as I wanted, so after about 1 1/2 hours, I pulled the bellies out and put them in a 200 degree oven for about 70 minutes until they got to 150 degrees.

They looked pretty good so I decided to try some, just to see how it turned out.


It was amazing!  This piece had virtually no fat, but had that classic bacon taste without any of the chemical taste to go with it.  This pig had a good life and I'm happy to make it all that it can be.

Lastly, I cut the slabs into halves and put them in freezer bags and stored away.  There is still another belly in the freezer for me to play with.  I think I'll try a slightly different brine and wood.  This is fun!  Next I want to try a ham as well.

Edited to add:  When I made this there was a note that I had made with the basic ingredients next to the instructions in the book.  I couldn't remember where I had seen them, but after searching blog posts discovered this post of the same name by Annette over at Sustainable Eats.  Apparently it stuck with me, but not enough to remember specifics.  Thanks Annette!

I'm also linking with Simple Lives Thursday.  Head on over and see the wonderful things people are up to.

18 comments:

meemsnyc said...

Oooh, I'm totally salivating!! My in-laws are raising our pig. The butcher makes our bacon for us, but maybe I should try making our own!
http://nycgardening.blogspot.com/2010/10/sweet-but-ohrotten.html

Thomas said...

Nice! I've always wanted to make my own bacon. Whoever invented it deserves a monument.

Diana said...

Wow, I've been fantasizing about making our own bacon forever now! I thought I had to rig up some way to hang it in our chimney or something. Lovely to hear you can do it in an oven/smoker combo - I will definitely try my hand at it as soon as I get/make a smoker!

The Mom said...

Meemsnyc, I'm so jealous that you get a pig raised by family!

Thomas, they should be honored forever and ever!

Diana, it really was incredibly easy.

Michaela Dunn Leeper said...

Does "pink" salt= r*dm*nd's "real"?

The Mom said...

Kayla, pink salt is the salt with nitrates in it. It's colored pink so that they don't get mixed up.

Michaela Dunn Leeper said...

OK, so it's NOT the Redmond's Real Salt (which is what I use, LOL). *whew*

Michaela Dunn Leeper said...

You're referring to curing salt=pink salt, I think.

The Mom said...

Yes, curing salt.

Lorie said...

I just bought some from a local farm. I can not wait to try...yours looks so good.

kitsapFG said...

Hurrah for you being brave and just diving in and giving it a go! It looks like it turned out beautifully. Something really satisfying about doing yet another thing for yourself that up til then someone else had done for you.

Leigh said...

What an interesting post! Thank you so much for this and all the details. We've been researching pigs, but it will probably be a couple of years down the road for that. Mostly because DH wants to do our own butchering.

The Mom said...

Lorie, there's nothing better!

Laura, I've been inspired by all the wonderful women out there. Especially you!

Leigh, I wish I could raise them ourselves. That would be even better.

Leigh Whannell, LMP said...

Thank you for posting this! I've been wanting to do this for awhile. I do have a question however. One of the reasons I want to make my own bacon is I need it sugar free. Could I still do this and just simply use salt? Do I need to them triple the salt or would that be too much? Thanks again!

Sustainable Eats said...

Heather thanks for remembering me! I actually bought a pack of bacon in between finishing ours and getting our next pig and we all could smell the chemicals as soon as it hit the pan. Even the kids commenting on it! I'll never buy bacon again. Isn't it so easy to make? So glad you tried it - and thanks for linking up to Simple Lives Thursday!

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Wow, Heather----this looks amazing!

Can you email me with info on where you got your pig? My Belly would like a ham and I am not sure where to get one.

As soon as my kitchen is done, I cannot WAIT to start cooking again. This post has me itching to cook up some of the local farm bacon I have in my freezer!

Natalie said...

Wow, great post. If you freeze the cured belly in large portions, how do you slice it when you are ready to use? And will you slice only what you need and refreeze the rest?

I am a novice who would love to try this one day soon! Thanks.

The Mom said...

Leigh, I'm sure you could use just salt. I'm just not sure how you would do that. You could probably do salt pork and just smoke it.

Annette, thanks!

Christina, sent an email to you.

Natalie, I cut it into 1 lb chunks and slice to order when we eat it. They are not pretty slices, but they are yummy!