Hi Morrit. I have a lot of experience making bacon, but so have a lot of people on here - some even from before I was born . Some on here prefer to immersion brine their bacon (and Pops low salt brine is a good one to try) however I have always preferred to use a dry cure. In my opinion it produces a better texture and also a better flavour - but taste can be a very personal thing
You can use either belly pork (streaky bacon) or pork loin (back bacon). To begin with pork loin is less fiddly and easier to slice. A little fat on it is good for flavour. Tastes vary however and the Americans often like things more saly and sweeter than we do here. I have found that a bacon with about 3-3.5% salt gives a good balance.
The cure required for each 1 Kg of bacon - Joints of about 1.5 Kg each are a good practical size so just multiply accordingly.
- Cure #1 (6.25% Nitrite) - 2.8g
- Salt (for 3%) - 27.2g
- Sugar (50% weight of salt gives a good balance) - 14g
- Flavourings - Fresh ground black pepper works well, as do bay, juniper, szechuan pepper. To begin with just use fresh ground black pepper at 5g/kg of meat.
When dry curing this way you are only adding a finite amount of cure and so, within reason, it is impossible to over cure. The technical bit of this is that you can only end up with a maximum residual amount of Nitrite of 175 Ppm (which is the EU maximum for commercial bacon) however in practice this will actually end up around 150 Ppm - so well within the limit.
This is a whole pork loin and will split nicely into 3 cure size chunks. Alternatively you can buy a smaller joint from the supermarket
Mix all of the cure ingredients well - if possible blitz them together in a spice or coffee grinder.
Once ground you need to make sure that you get it all out of the grinder
If you cannot grind then don't worry as it will all dissolve quite quickly as the brine is formed.
Rub over all surfaces of the meat, catching any that does not stick.
Place in ziplock plastic bag or vac pack bag and add in any remaining cure. Seal.
I vac pack mine but it works just as well in Ziplock bags - but try to get as much air out as you can
Place in fridge and turn daily. It will produce its own brine so by turning it daily the brine will be in contact with all surfaces of the meat. Do not pour off any of this brine during the curing period.
10 days is usually sufficient, however I leave mine for 14. Within reason you cannot over cure when dry curing.
This gives you an idea of the amount of brine that is produced by the cure extracting moisture from the pork. This is normal.
After 10-14 days unwrap and wash off all the cure under a cold tap. Pad dry with paper towel and then leave to dry for 24 hours in fridge before smoking. You can either do this on a rack or hang them on butchers hooks.
Cold smoke for 18-36 hours - depending on the smoke flavour you require. Oak and fruit woods are great but I usually use Hickory. If you want to smoke one and leave another green then just dont put one of them in the smoker at this stage.
Here they are in my cold smoker along with some fish I was smoking for a customer
After smoking leave to rest for 4-5 days in the fridge again before slicing. The fridge will smell wonderful for days.
Lastly slice and package. I slice mine immediately and freeze however you can leave the bacon joints whole and slice as you need
Edited by Wade - 10/21/15 at 10:27pm