Make Your Own Bacon!

We can’t believe we’re posting this, considering we follow a largely vegetarian diet – but it’s bacon, mmm… [Homer-style drool] For all you do-it-yourself foodies, and for those of you who want to exert a little more control over where your food comes from, Dave at the BSBrewing blog provides a step-by-step guide (with photos!) to curing your own bacon at home.

When we were growing up, our parents sometimes bought our pork from local butchers; they even bought pigs for slaughter on occasion. In the grand scheme of things (at least if you agree with Michael Pollan’s approach to non-industrialized food), it’s a lot more humane, and you get the satisfaction of having a hand in creating your own food. If you can find a local farm or butcher, you can fill your belly with delicious pork product without being forced to participate in the over-industrialized modern meat industry.

And, mmmm, bacon

An Animal’s Place [Michael Pollan in the New York Times, reprinted at organicconsumers.org]
Makin Bacon [BSBrewing.com via Metafilter]

(Photo: Getty)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. dtn says:

    My uncle was a butcher and cured his own bacon… omg that was good stuff! Eat all you can then rub the rest all over you! hehe!

  2. JRuiz47 says:

    No bacon post would be complete without this:

    [www.youtube.com]

  3. LeopardSeal says:

    Mmmm, bacon. Actually, it is very true that sourcing your own meat is not only a good idea from a health standpoint, but also tends to taste so much better.

    Our business buys a steer every year from the 4-H club auction (think beef hand-raised by farm kids), and it is some of the most marbled and tender beef I’ve ever eaten and I live in Alberta.

    As for pork, we buy a weaned pig from a local farmer once in a while and have the local meat processor cut it any way we want. It definitely makes it hard to eat supermarket pork and beef after that.

  4. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Wow. That’s a lot of work. But pretty neat tutorial.

  5. Cowboys_fan says:

    “We can’t believe we’re posting this, considering we follow a largely vegetarian diet”

    “Oh geez Homer, you and Marge aint cousins are you”

  6. B says:

    @JRuiz47: No clip about making bacon on the beach?

  7. oneswellfoop says:

    House cured bacon is incredible, especially if you can find a local farm that responsibly raises and kills their animals. If you have an interest in curing your own meats(specifically pork), check out “Charcuterie” by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Poleyn. That’s the book our sous chefs have used as a basis for making some things like a wonderful chicken chorizo, duck prosciutto, a normal prosciutto that was cured for over a year, guanciale(hog jowl), and other incredible bit of charcuterie that blow store bought items(even high end ones) out of the water. All you need is the space and time.

  8. The_Shadow says:

    Alton Brown covered how to make bacon on Good Eats a few years ago [in his "Scrap Iron Chef" episode].

  9. Mom2Talavera says:

    That looks like too much work for most people. I’m sure there would be more vegetarians if people had to make their own bacon,prepare the cow for hamburgars,steaks(do the dirty work)…ect Some people don’t want to think that they are eating Wilbur.

    / Its funny to observe people at the county fair oohing and awing over the baby pigs,cows and chicks.I’m like “If you love them so much why eat em?”

    // I guess if your gonna eat pigs get your meats from an CSA and support your local organic farms. And make your bacon. It wont have all the hormones,chemicals and preservatives.

  10. B says:

    @Mom2Talavera: Cause Wilbur tastes good, that’s why.

  11. bohemian says:

    The book referenced is too cool. I can’t eat commercially cured meats anymore (sodium nitrate makes me ill). So my options are a few overpriced natural versions by places like Hormel and they are so-so. Good luck finding anything beyond bacon and ham. That book rocks and is going on my want list.

  12. asherchang says:

    SAY NO TO THE JOURNALISTIC “WE”.

  13. acambras says:

    @asherchang:

    ‘Round these Consumerist parts, that there’s known as “the Royal We.” ;-)

  14. Musician78 says:

    I love bacon. I will never understand vegetarians. Oh well; more for me. :)

  15. NYGal81 says:

    Someone beat me to it, but I’m gonna put in my vote for the book Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman as well. Absolutely fantastic, and right in line with the return to caring about where our food comes from.

  16. guymandude says:

    I’d just like to alert everyone about a few things regarding the making of bacon. 1st of all getting pork bellies can be a problem. If you can find them you almost always have to buy them in bulk. Asian markets are good places to look for a small quantity of bellies. Don’t let people jerk you off… don’t pay anymore than about 2.50$-3.00$ per pound. Some “specialty stores” will stick it to you. Don’t be fooled.
    The link above shows how to make *dry rubbed* bacon. It is very good but it is salty as all hell. If you insist on using the dry rub method be prepared to soak your bacon in water a while before cooking. My humble suggestion is that you *wet brine* your bellies. Add 1.5 cups salt (I like to use Kosher salt…any brand is ok) and 1 to 1.5 cups brown sugar to a gallon of water. Soak your bellies (or pork loin… more on that below) for about 3-4 days. A mass debate about whether or not you should add salt peter rages as we speak. The salt peter is to keep botulism away. I don’t know about the rest of you but my bacon never lives long enough to worry about it. The SP keeps that nice pink color. Without it there is a grey color that the bacon takes on. It won’t hurt you but it doesn’t look like store bought bacon. Store bought bacon has a lot of water in it. Don’t expect your homemade swine to shrink the way store bought stuff does.
    Next: you can use all different kinds of wood. People traditionally think of hickory and mesquite when talking about smoking but I have discovered that oak and maple work VERY well. A weber domed grill (the full size kind) work real well for smoking. Just remember that you’re not trying to cook your bacon only smoke it. So you don’t need a lot of charcoal unless you want to both smoke and cook your bacon @ the same time. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
    3rd: My wife likes her bacon “brittle”. It’s really hard to cook bacon like this “crispy” for the simple fact that it’s difficult to slice thinly. If you put it in the freezer for a little while it makes it easier to slice. Use a SHARP knife. Be careful. Best of all possible worlds is to have a friend with a meat slicer. That rules!
    4th: PORK LOIN! I discovered in my investigations that “Canadian Bacon” is just smoked pork loin. It’s actually cheaper than bellies and is a boat load leaner and easier to get.
    5th: I would like to give credit where credit is due and would like to say that the gentleman on the listed website was the inspiration for my investigations. I also highly recommend this website: [www.smokingmeatforums.com] these people KNOW how to smoke meat(and probably a few other things based on some of the articles). :)
    6th: Don’t feel like you have to stick with just bacon. While I don’t recommend you brine for 3 days, bringing a whole chicken overnight and then smoking to cook it is WONDERFUL! You will have more friends than you know what to do with and smoked chicken salad borders on hallowed. So… what are you waiting for. Skin that smoke wagon and see what happens! :)