Home Cured Bacon

20 Mar

I started another batch of bacon tonight. It will cure for a week and then I’ll cold smoke it.

This is the cure recipe I used, adapted from Michael Ruhlman’s:

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tsp pink curing salt
  • 1 T peppercorns
  • 2 T juniper berries
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 whole (blade) maces
  • 1/4 cup honey

Grind the spices in a spice grinder. Mix together spices and salts. Add honey and mix into a paste.

This should be enough cure for approximately 5-6 lbs of belly. The belly gets rubbed with the cure and then refrigerated for a week. I cut my belly into smaller sections and put each piece into its own zipper-top gallon freezer bag. When I did this before, I flipped each piece twice per day so that it would cure evenly. After curing, rinse and pat dry, and transfer to a wire rack in the refrigerator so that it will dry and form a pellicle. Cold smoke for anywhere from 2-6 hours, depending on how smokey you want it (I wanted mine super smokey, I think I did like 4 hours). I favor applewood.

Quick word on nitrites: I cut out nitrites years ago and have recently re-added them to my diet. First, when you buy “uncured” products they usually have celery juice, which is full of nitrites, so there’s that. Second, nitrites make bacon taste awesome. Third, although I eat absurd things all the time, there is a risk to making home cured bacon and using nitrites lessens that risk. The first time I made bacon, I made one batch with nitrites and one batch without. I did not like the batch without them, the bacon was an unpleasant color and didn’t taste as yummy. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on nitrites and have come to the conclusion that all together they are not as awful as I had believed. That said, I also don’t come from the perspective that YOU MUST USE NITRITES! It’s a decision you have to make for yourself, so read up on both sides of the argument and decide what’s best for you.

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