We like to get our pork from local growers, as we are not zoned to have piggies in the backyard and prefer ethically raised meat. Now we could just have their processor turn the belly into bacon for us, but we like to do it ourselves. Why? Control! We know what's in it, can manage the flavor to our liking and cut it to the thickness that suits us. I love me some butch block bacon, not that thinly sliced, mostly fat, strips of meat in the store they call bacon.
The wonderful thing about this DIY homesteading activity is that even if your like us and can't raise your own pig, anyone can go get a pig belly to make bacon. You can source from a farmer if you have that option or for the "big city" folks, you can tap your local butcher to help hook you up. No matter where you live, you can make bacon..... Mmmmm bacon... yummy, yummy bacon! So how does one go about makin bacon? Well I am glad you asked!
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 (which we used in making lard), 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 the lock bags and spent the next week in our refrigerator. We flipped the packs over every day. So when you go to get your milk in the morning for your coffee, just flip you meat.
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. You do want your bacon to have salt but not too much, trust me on this. 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 are currently looking at meat cutters because if you do this more then once (and we eat a lot of bacon around here) cutting by hand can get old. I want my bacon cut faster!!!!
We divided up our bacon into 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. And since it is all dived into meal size packages, it is convent to grab what we need when we need it. So what are you waiting for? Don't you want to smile every time you open your freezer?!?!
**Homestead Tips on Tuesday is a weekly series where we help you learn skills, tips, and trick to help you on your journey of homesteading. Many places post list of things you should/could do as far as homesteading skill, but I feel lists are at times overwhelming and can make people give up before they even start. So every Tuesday I share one thing for you to try or consider. I hope you join us every Tuesday and I would love to hear about your adventures with each weeks topic.**