Bacon, that versatile piece of meat that is created through the curing of pork belly. It’s like the duct tape of the food world! You can do so much with bacon, you can pan fry it, bake it, roast it, deep-fry it in batter or even dip it in chocolate! You can wrap it around chicken, turkey, beef or heck, even another piece of bacon!
It’s delicious. I think every man out there salivates at the smell of a cooked smoked piece of bacon. For whatever reason, it reaches into the primordial instincts programmed into our stomachs and minds and tells our brains: Yes, this is the aroma of delicious bacon and yes, you want to eat me.
I like bacon, that’s why today, I went ahead and made my own batch of bacon!
Making homemade bacon is actually a lot easier than I originally thought and you should try it too!
The method I used was the dry curing method on the Youtube method above. I had done quite the extensive research and wanted to find either saltpeter or pink salt (a form of curing agent, not Himalayan pink salt) before I was going to attempt my first batch of homemade bacon.
I spent weeks looking for some place in Calgary that had saltpeter or pink salt but to no avail. Fortunately, I was able to find some packages of nitre granules at Lucky’s Supermarket and it piqued my interest. I quickly googled it and found out that nitre granules are the same thing as saltpeter! WOOT! So I bought myself a few packages at $0.58/bag (great deal!) and bought myself a decent sized pork belly from the butcher and proceeded with my homemade bacon!
1 Pork Belly (mine was about 2 1/2 lbs)
Note: You will also need a pan or tupperware of some sort to store the pork belly in the refrigerator.
The Pork Belly
In choosing the pork belly, I opted for a piece that was about 2 1/2 lbs and had a good meat-to-fat ratio. Obviously if you have a piece of pork belly that has more fat, that will influence the flavour of the bacon once it is done curing.
Also, it is wise to choose a pork belly cut that still has the rind on it as you can use the rind for soups, salads or other dishes after having completed the smoking or baking process.
Step 1: Put a healthy rubbing of the saltpeter onto the pork belly
This was the package of saltpeter that I bought, it originally came in a granulated form and I had to break the little granules into its powdered form.
Please note the ‘warning’ on the bottom of the package: “Not For Food”
Heed this warning. Saltpeter is used as a preservative, it is not to be used as a seasoning agent. After the curing process for the bacon is done, we will be vigorously washing off our salt mixture from the bacon.
Once you have given the pork belly a healthy rub of the saltpeter (make sure you get it into every nook and cranny – that means on all sides of the pork belly and all surfaces), it should look something like this:
Step 2. Rub On the Brown Sugar
I used about a cup of the brown sugar and rubbed it generously onto all of the sides of the pork belly. The rule of thumb is, the more you rub onto the pork belly, the sweeter the bacon will taste.
At this point, I started noticing that the saltpeter was already beginning to pull moisture out of the pork belly! It was pretty crazy how fast this process was going.
After you have generously rubbed on the brown sugar, you should be left with a product like this:
Step 3. Rub on the Table Salt or the Kosher Salt
This step is the final coating on the pork belly to seal in the saltpeter and the brown sugar. Please note that I am using a lot of salt – this is the norm.
Make sure you rub the salt onto every surface of the pork belly!
Once you are done this, it should resemble something like this (the moisture was really coming out of the pork belly at this point):
After this, put the lid onto the tupperware and put the pork belly into the fridge and let it start to sweat out the moisture from the belly.
Typically this process takes about 7-10 days; however, according to the Youtube video, it only takes a matter of hours to make bacon because of the amount of saltpeter we used. Hopefully this process works – I will make a second post to update on the process tomorrow!