Makin' Bacon!

Chris A.
Chris A. Posts: 27 ✭✭✭
edited November 2020 in Pigs

O my gosh ... have you tried making your own bacon??? I finally tried it because I have had several pork bellies from butchering our Kune Kune pigs, sitting in my freezer waiting for me to get on the ball and make bacon. I found an incredibly simple way to make delicious bacon without all the "junk" and I wanted to share it with you.

This is the recipe I used ...

5 pounds of fresh pork belly from your grocery store, the pork guy at your farmers market, or from a local butcher shop

2 ounces (1/4 cup) Morton or Diamond Crystal coarse kosher salt

2 teaspoons pink curing salt # 1 (I didn't have this so I used Himalayan pink salt)

4 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper (I used white pepper because the black does not agree with me)

4 bay leaves, crumbled

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 cup brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup (or sweetener of your choice ... I had moreno sugar on hand at the time)

5 cloves of garlic smashed with the flat side of a chef's knife

2 tablespoons juniper berries, lightly crushed (optional)

5-10 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)

Put your belly in a 2 gallon zip lock bag, or on a sheet tray, or in a plastic container. Rub the salt and spice mixture all over the belly. close the bag or cover with plastic wrap and stick it in the refrigerator for seven days (get your hands in there and give the spices another good rubbing around midway through)

After seven days take it out of the fridge, rinse off all the seasonings under cold water and pat it dry.

Put it on a sheet tray and put in the oven (put it on a rack on the sheet tray if you have one) and put the oven on to 200 degrees F. If you want to preheat the oven, that is fine too. Leave it in the oven for 90 minutes (or, if you want to measure the internal temperature, until it reaches 150 Degrees F).

Let it cool and refrigerate it until you are ready to cook it. But, I know ... you won't be able to wait!! So, cut off a piece and cook it. Taste it, savor it! Congratulations!! It is bacon!!

If you don't have five pounds of belly, either guesstimate salt based on the above, or if you have a scale, multiply the weight of the belly in ounces or grams by .025 and that's how many ounces or grams of salt you should use.

Because we have Kune pigs, there is a lot of fat and it took a little getting used to. Now, however, I love it and am so grateful for bacon without all the unhealthy things in it.



  • nksunshine27
    nksunshine27 Posts: 343 ✭✭✭

    sounds good but i'm curious how long it with last with out the pink curing salt because pink Himalayan salt isn't the same the pink cure salt has nitrates in it to ward off spoilage. let me know if you don't eat it all soon, LOL how long it last

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,519 admin

    @Pat Wonderful recipe! An herbal brown sugar bacon. Tasty! I would have never thought to add herbs to the bacon making process. That is interesting, for sure.

    We will have to try this recipe. We've been using pork belly as side pork. This will give us something new!

    What is in the Morton or Diamond salts? Is it pure salt or are additives in them?

    It is good that you didn't use the pink curing salt, as it contains sodium nitrite & red dye (thus the pink color). Neither are any good for your body (nor brain) nor necessary and both contribute to the sustaining of the red color of the cooked meat. Not sure if the curing salt in this case also contains MSG? We try to avoid nitrites whenever possible...and also added MSG.

    In general, people will say that nitrites are there to kill bacteria. My husband looked into ingredients at one point (to pursue sausage making as a business.) It is interesting what is in foods & what it's true purpose is. In this case, it is mainly to preserve red color, which is an unnatural expectation in fully cooked meat. Most people today would turn up their noses at meat that looks not pink/red after cooking. Meat should be frozen anyway, making the killing of bacteria idea irrelevant. It is required by govt. for shelf life when meats are kept refrigerated not frozen. We never add extra stuff like that to our home processed meats.

    The himalayan salt is a different thing altogether...except that it is salt. In bygone days, heavy salt was enough to preserve meats. No nitrites were required then...but then some foods were excessively salty. Now, we can use salt alone & freeze the meat to keep all throughout the year.

    We have not made bacon, but have done farmer sausage (real salt & sugar only)...a family heirloom recipe, and can get hams done without the curing salts if we request it.

    @nksunshine27 They should not have issues with it lasting if the meat is eaten soon or frozen for later.

    Come to think of it, native populations used certain herbs to keep flies off & preserve meat. They didn't have freezers, 😏 or cold wells. The herb types...I just can't recall them at the moment. @torey Do you know? If I am not mistaken, I think thyme is supposed to have some of these preservative properties. Would juniper berries possibly have some?

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    @Pat I agree! Looks like an awesome recipe. Big fan of maple so that's what I would use.

    @Laurie Sage is highly antibacterial and generally goes with pork so that would be a good one to use along with thyme. Oregano and rosemary are both antibacterial and would be nice depending on your taste buds.

    This is my information on Juniper: Extracts of Juniper have been shown to exhibit antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiseptic properties against strains of E. coli, Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Candida and Cryptococcus.

    That sounds like juniper would take care of some of the bacteria that might form on meat. I like the taste of juniper so this is a great component of the recipe, in my opinion

    Not sure how much this would extend shelf life over pink curing salt or any other method. It would be a good experiment. Maybe @Pat would be so kind as to try this with a bit of her bacon. Put it in the fridge at the same time as some store-bought or otherwise cured bacon and see which one sours first.

    Instead of the oven you could use a smoker. That also adds to the preservation.

    @Laurie You mentioned the old-fashioned way of curing ham & bacon. with heavy salt.The first time that we did all of the butchering of our own pigs included curing, so we got a recipe book and followed all the instructions, right down to building quite the smoke house. Turns out it was a very old recipe book and we cured this pork the old fashioned way. We had to boil the hams in water with a potato before baking and the bacon got used in cooking like salt pork. It would have kept forever, it was so salty! :)

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,519 admin

    @Pat I would like to second the experiment.

    I should have added that smoking was often part of the intense salt cure as torey mentioned. 🤦‍♀️ Maple syrup would make awesome tasting bacon.

    @torey Thanks for the information. I thought there was more to the herbs used!

  • Jannajo
    Jannajo Posts: 173 ✭✭✭

    Dogs have very small intestines, bacon is fine (to pass through quickly) but not for mankind IMHO....clogs the arteries, stays in colon for abt a week, been three years now I do not touch the much trouble to make this fat? Huh?

  • Karin
    Karin Posts: 272 ✭✭✭

    Pat how do you find the flavour of your Kune Kune? We had pork from one, and it was fine, although fatty (of course, but that doesn't bother us), although I did think some of the meat tasted a little fishy, so wondered if the Kune Kune had eaten fish.

    I got a recipe from the free range pork farm near us for making bacon, but mislaid it. The butcher did say it was important to use a tenderiser or something similar to pierce the belly and allow the flavours in. Have you used one?

    I've got several pork bellies waiting in the freezer for me to get around to making bacon, we have a smoker too, so it would be smoked not done in the oven. Have you tried that way?

  • Karin
    Karin Posts: 272 ✭✭✭

    @2majomix bacon doesn't clog the arteries and meat is digested in the stomach and small intestine, if your enzymes are up-to-scratch. There shouldn't be any meat residue sitting in your colon for weeks, unless your digestive system is not working at all.

  • Chris A.
    Chris A. Posts: 27 ✭✭✭

    Laurie ... Morton/Diamond Salt is just salt with an anticaking agent in it. I am not sure but I probably could have used a tenderizer rather than the Himalayan pink salt, but the bacon tastes great and lasts forever in the fridge. First off I left it in the fridge way longer than I should have and 2nd it didn't get cut up as soon as it should have, and third, when I have taken it out of the freezer to use after having cured it with the above recipe, it sits in the fridge sometimes for a couple of weeks or more before I get around to cooking all of it and it is just fine. Has not spoiled in the least. so I am pretty happy with it.

    K Martin ... My Kune meat did not taste fishy, so perhaps your pigs got some in their feed. I tried to keep mine grass fed with a little fruit on the side and sometimes veggies out of the garden like squash, broccoli ect. When I did not have fresh grass available for them to graze they were given fodder.

    As far as the herbs, most of them used have one or more of the following properties ... strong antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal properties.

    In the old days they didn't have all the "stuff" that is put in our modern food chain and both the meat and the people seemed to do just fine.

  • Sisterz
    Sisterz Posts: 1 ✭✭✭

    Bacon can also be made with just a salt rub following the instructions of the first post. Then just smoked slowly all day. You just have to make sure the wood is good (maple is one of the best to smoke with) and that it does not get to hot. Then you have to "bloom" the bacon by cooling it quickly before freezing. If it's too salty you can wash/soak it in water for a bit and it will reduce the salt significantly. I've heard of tansy leaves to wrap and preserve meat especially from rodents.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    A caution using Tansy. It is part of the Asteraceae family so may cause ragweed allergies in some individuals. Also anyone who is pregnant should avoid Tansy.