Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Homemade Bacon - Part 1

Ever since reading Michael Ruhlman's post on home curing Pancetta I had an overwhelming urge to make my own bacon, and with the purchase of a BBQ and now having the ability to smoke stuff, it had to be done.

So I set about finding some pink salt also known as Prague Powder #1 (it's a mix of salt and sodium nitrite), I had little luck trying to find a store or supplier handy in NZ, and was about to ring the local butcher when I finally thought of TradeMe, lo and behold success!

The pink salt turned up and I had a pork belly ready to turn in to bacon, so I turned to Ruhlman's website to get the recipe for the curing mix. By now I had read up a bit on Sodium Nitrite and the latest Cooking Issues radio show didn't help at easing my mind about using an ingredient that is essentially toxic.

So with that paranoia swirling around my head I thoroughly checked the recipe. The Sodium Nitrite levels were greater than 200ppm (parts per million), damn the FDA recommends having a level of less than 200ppm for human consumption. Was I to trust a very famous chef or the FDA? Thank god for twitter! One tweet later a tweet back "we're altering all pink salt recipes: measure it at 0.25% of weight of meat for 156 pp". A bit of maths later I had my mix recipe.

450 grams of Kosher Salt
225 grams of Sugar
35 grams of Pink Salt

Mix it in a jar and store in a dry place, make sure to mark it as Curing Salt as you don't want to accidentally consume it. I recommend storing it out of the kitchen to avoid this.

Weigh the piece of pork that will be cured and measure out 5% by weight of the Curing mix.

To flavour the pork, I coarsely ground some black pepper, juniper berries and bay leaves. I then mixed in quarter of a cup of Muscovado sugar and the weighed curing mix.

I found a zip lock bag an easy way to evenly distribute the mix.

Spread the mix evenly over the pork and place in a zip lock bag. Place in the fridge for 7 days, making sure to redistribute the mix around the meat each day, and flip over.

Well that's where I'm at, in a few more days it'll come out of the fridge, get rinsed off and hung up to dry, and finally after drying for up to 7 days (I think) it'll get smoked... So more soon.

Read all 3 parts


  1. Interested to see how this turns out. The one and only time I made bacon I left it curing for 4 days and it was very salty. Probably should have soaked it in water afterwards. I'll have to have another go.

  2. The above curing mix ends up with about 3.5% salt by weight of the meat, so hopefully wont be too salty (bread is about 2%).

    I'll be hanging it up to dry this weekend, and then smoking it next weekend, and will do a part 2 post then.

  3. Oh my god this sounds amazing. I can't wait to find out what happens!