When did you last bought bacon in the supermarket? Did you notice that the price never goes down? It is expensive for just a few strips. If you love bacon, with backyard piggery and raising your pig organically, then this article is for you!
This bacon curing recipe will not use sodium nitrite or the “pink salt” which is toxic in high quantities and has been linked to migraine in some people. There are also people using celery juice as alternate for sodium nitrite but it has more sodium nitrite than the curing salt.
Here is the procedure how you can cure your bacon at home. This was written by Dawn Gifford of Small Footprint Family.
- 5 pounds pasture-raised pork belly, skin/rind removed
- ½ cup sea salt (NOT refined table salt)
- ½ cup packed whole cane sugar, coconut sugar, or pure Grade B maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
For a sweet cure, consider adding one or more of the following:
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 4 Tbsp. strong coffee
- Raw apple cider vinegar
- Bourbon, to taste
For a savory cure, consider adding one of more of the following:
- 3-4 crushed bay leaves
- 4-5 crushed garlic cloves
- 1-2 Tbsp. fresh thyme
- Toasted fennel seeds
- Juniper berries
- Other seasonings, to taste (optional)
- Cut your pork belly into a nice square, bacon-like block.
- Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl until they are uniformly combined.
- Mix the wet ingredients (if using) in a separate bowl until they are uniformly combined.
- In a glass dish, use your very clean hands to slather the meat all over with the wet ingredients (if using) until thoroughly coated everywhere.
- Place one half of the dry cure mixture at the bottom of the glass dish
- Place the wet pork belly into the dish and press it into the salt/sugar mix.
- Carefully pour the rest of the mixture across the top of the meat and press it in uniformly all around, using your hands to thoroughly apply the cure mix into every nook and cranny of your pork belly.
- Place the dish in the refrigerator for 3-7 days, until the meat feels firm throughout. (5 days is a good average, but check to be sure. The longer you cure it, the saltier it will be.
- Turn the bacon every day in the liquid that will accumulate in the dish.
- After 3-7 days curing, wash the salt/sugar mixture off of the pork belly very carefully.
- Pat the bacon dry with a clean towel and set it on a rack over a baking sheet. Allow the bacon to air-dry in the refrigerator for 6-24 hours.
- At this point, you can slice it for “green bacon” or you can smoke or roast the whole belly. Only smoking will give the pork belly that smokey flavor most are used to.
- If roasting, preheat the oven to 175-200 degrees. Roast the pork belly in the oven to an internal temperature of 150 degrees F for about 90 minutes. The meat should be cooked a bit on the outside, but not all the way through.
- If smoking, smoke at 175 degrees until meat reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees F, or about 3 hours. The meat should be cooked a bit on the outside, but not all the way through.
- Let the bacon cool to room temperature on a wire rack over a baking sheet, tightly wrap in parchment paper, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. This sets the flavor and texture.
- With a long, very sharp knife, slice it thin or thick, as desired. Use hard-to-slice pieces in pots of beans or soup.
- Homemade bacon will keep for a week in the refrigerator and several months in the freezer.