Bacon. Reading or hearing that one word can make many people drool. There is just something about bacon that makes everything better. But store bacon can be so disappointing. Those packages of thinly sliced, mostly fat, strips of meat are bacon (I guess) but honestly, I prefer a nice butcher block bacon with a little more meat to it. We have started trying to source our meat from more ethical sources then those found in store bought meat, so when our pig was butchered, we decided to try our hand at making our own bacon. Not only was it easy to do, but the taste and quality, well, store bacon is history in our house.
So how does one make bacon? Well after doing some research and doing it ourselves, I am here to tell you how…. Or at least how we make bacon. We started with the belly of the pig that we got back from the butcher and a container of maple ham cure we purchased from The Sausage Maker website. They required no minimum order and have free shipping! We like free.
After trimming the fat off the ends of our belly, we cut it in half (so it would fit into zip lock bags.) We then rubbed the soon to be bacon down on both sides with the maple ham cure we had bought. The meat was then put into zip lock bags and spent the next week in our refrigerator. We flipped the packs over every day.
After a week the meat was removed from the bags and “scrubbed” down to remove the cure. Then we leeched the meat over night in water to help remove more of the salt. Then it was back in the fridge, this time uncovered for another 24 hours. This was to allow the meat to dry so it would be more receptive to being smoked. We then smoked the meat for about 4 hours using indirect heat. We were smoking the meat, not trying to cook it, so the temperature never went over 150 degrees. We used Hickory wood when we smoked our meat but you could use whatever wood you like.
After pulling the meat from the smoker we popped it back in the fridge for a bit. Why? Well to help it firm back up, making it easier to cut. We cut the bacon with a knife so not all the pieces were perfectly the same but I think that is the beauty of doing it yourself. It was nice to have the control over how thick the slices were. Remember, I said I liked butcher block style bacon. We divided up the meat in to family size packages and put them in the freezer. I must admit, every time I open the freezer, I do love looking at our homemade bacon. Mmmmm Bacon…… we made our own bacon!!!! And by the way…………so can you!