Instructables

Homemade Bacon

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Picture of Homemade Bacon
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This instructable is to teach you how to make homemade bacon - completely from scratch. It's a really simple process that just requires patience and a bit of space in the fridge.

Bacon is made from pork belly, salt, sugar and seasonings. The salt, sugar and seasonings make up the bacon cure. The salt draws out the water in the meat and performs the actual curing and the sugar cuts the salty flavour so that the finished bacon is edible. The seasonings can be anything, in this recipe I use chili and garlic. I use a 1:1 ratio of salt to sugar but a 2:1 ratio can be used for saltier bacon.

Salt is important with bacon. Soduim nitrate (NaNO3), is usually used in a small percentage with a main salt, like sea, kosher or table salt, to cure meats. No-nitrate bacon can be made with just sea salt but there is a risk of bacterial infection. The nitrates kill the bacteria in the bacon helping it stay preserved for longer. Table salt can be used too, the main salt in the cure is really a matter of taste.

Image: Bacon and curing mix ready to cure in a baggie.
 
 
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Step 1: Making a Cure

Picture of Making a Cure
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To make the cure just mix your seasonings with the salt. Use a main salt with a small amount of Sodium nitrate or use an already blended curing salt. For my cure I mixed my seasonings with Morton's Tender Quick curing salt. I used about 40 ml or 6.5 tbsp cure for a little over a pound (618 g) pork belly. You only need enough cure to cover your bacon.

If you don't want chili garlic bacon, you can use almost anything. The possibilities are endless!

Chili and Garlic Bacon
618 g pork belly
18 ml (3 heaping tsp) Morton's Tender Quick curing salt
18 ml (3 heaping tsp) brown sugar
3 ml (1/2 tsp) mystery black chili powder
pinch black pepper
2 crushed cloves of garlic, including the skins

Note: I left the skins in because the cure gets rinsed off anyway and the skins contain LOTS of flavour. Yum!

Maple Bacon Cure
18 ml (3 heaping tsp) Morton's Tender Quick curing salt
18 ml (3 heaping tsp) maple syrup

Herby Cure
18 ml (3 heaping tsp) Morton's Tender Quick curing salt
18 ml (3 heaping tsp) brown sugar
15 ml (1 tbsp) chopped fresh rosemary
15 ml (1 tbsp) chopped fresh thyme
2 crushed cloves of garlic, including the skins


Images: The ingredients for the cure, The mixed and ready cure.
thallmark27 months ago
I'm preparing to smoke bacon for the first time. I really appreciate the thorough article you have written and the discussion between you and kizz246.

I do have a question, however. I am using the Morton's Tender Quick to cure the pork belly. The instructions state a 24-hour cure, but your article states 7-day curing period. Is the 7-days a must from a safety perspective or a flavor perspective?

Thank you, again, for your article. I look forward to using your method and enjoying the "fruits of my labor" with some AWESOME home-made bacon!!
mmorpgs1 year ago
Interesting post, I would say I'm surprised there are no comments, but I'm not surprised. Most people don't make their food any more, especially when it comes to charcuterie. I have found this out in other forums.

On your part about nitrates/nitrates, they are also used to keep the color of the meat, but not needed. I prefer to just use plain salt, which means less of a shelf life.

I am a bit skeptical about using aluminum in the smoking process, it may add free form aluminum to the finished product. When it comes to smoking, you can use the wood from any fruit tree, berry shrub, and fruit rinds if ya want as well.

If you have a cold smoker, you can do some cold smoke after the hot smoke to seal in the flavors and moisture better.

Just some FYI, maybe I do a bacon or ham post =D
kizz246 (author)  mmorpgs1 year ago
Thanks for the comments!
In addition, the nitrate does help to curb bacteria as it is poisonous to them which is why the meat without nitrate has a lower shelf life. Nitrate soaks into the meat and helps to stave off any microorganisms that may form. For me, keeping the meat red is a side effect! I drink alcohol, why not eat a small amount of nitrate? It won't kill me. A small amount of botulism might. Source: http://ruhlman.com/2011/02/meat-curing-safety-issues/

But there are many schools of thought on nitrate, And anyway, hot smoking the bacon kills off the bacteria. it's really a personal choice with cooked curing as long as you consume the cured goods within a week, everything should be OK. So, while I do agree with you in this instance that nitrates have no real effect past keeping it pink and maybe adding a day to the shelf life after cooking, in other applications not using nitrate could be dangerous.

Many cured goods that market themselves as nitrate free actually do contain nitrate in the form of celery salt, which contains naturally occurring nitrates. They can market as nitrate free since nitrate isn't an added ingredient. Source: http://www.agroecology.org/documents/Joji/leafnitrate.pdf (Just ctrl+F celery on that bad boy)
Whew, what a relief to talk to someone who knows what they're eating. In most "bacon appreciation" conversations I get involved in, 99% of the time no one knows how to make it or what cut of the pig it comes from.

Nitrates aside, glad you know your stuff! What other charcuterie do you do?
kizz246 (author)  mmorpgs1 year ago
None yet, I went to college for culinary arts and got my certificate and got half my red seal, but then switched professions (it's more fun at home!) and there we made sausages and bacon, gravlax, and the whole lot of it except hams. I just have a small apartment and not a whole lot of space to hang meats and the like, so for now it's just bacon and salt pork. I'm hoping to get a Cuisinart mixer soon with a sausage attachment and open up the possibilities some more. :)

Do you have a favorite cure?
Hey there, sorry for taking so long to respond... The cure of more of a concept than a recipe. I generally stick with 30g salt per 1kg boneless meat. From there I decide if I want sugar or any other flavors. I do not wash/rinse the meat after the brine, and put it into the hot smoker, then out for a cooldown and rub, and into wax paper, newspaper, and the ref =D
kizz246 (author)  mmorpgs1 year ago
A cure to suit every taste on any day! I like it. :)
I love the look of this - it's similar to a recipe for gravlax I made a while ago.

However, without the smoking (which obviously gives it an amazing flavour), does it still taste alright? Obviously I could use liquid smoke, but if it tastes nice without, I'm happy to try...
kizz246 (author)  jacquelinekvz2 years ago
I didn't smoke the first one I made and it was still delicious! It was the herby flavoured one. Just bake it in the oven until it's the good pork temp. (71? I forget, my thermometer just says pork on it.)

I forgot about it for a few days and cured it for 10 days by accident so it was way too salty to just fry up, oops! I put it in an unsalted split pea soup and it was awesome! This bacon will be way meatier than anything in the store but the most expensive stuff.
bacon... BACON... BAACOON!!!!
kizz246 (author)  papercrafter4082 years ago
Mmmmm
The title was misleading. I really thought you'd start with "How to pick and raise a pig..." :-D

Good ible. I've always wondered how difficult this would be, but never put enough brain power into doing it.
kizz246 (author)  somewhiteguy2 years ago
It's even easier than pie!
Galahir9502 years ago
2 questions, can you use turkey instead of pork, and can you use a 1:2 ratio for Salt to Sugar?
kizz246 (author)  Galahir9502 years ago
I'm sure you could try turkey! I haven't myself but it sounds tasty. The only thing to worry about is the fat content letting your "bacon" get a bit dry. I saw a blog post somewhere for duck prosciutto where the skin of the breasts was left on to help with that.

You can definitely use a 1:2 ratio if you want, but that's the lowest I would go.
FoolishSage2 years ago
This looks really good! I realise salting/smoking are used to preserve meat but how long is this homemade bacon good?
kizz246 (author)  FoolishSage2 years ago
I'm not sure, honestly. I think it varies based on the quality of the meat, the type of salt you use (nitrates last longer) and how long you smoke it. I've never left it around long enough to go bad, but I'd say eat it within 7-10 days of finishing making it.

And if it does smell bad before the week is up just toss it. Our noses are pretty amazing things!
Yum! Love bacon!
kizz246 (author)  Penolopy Bulnick2 years ago
Me too! :)