Close your eyes and think of the perfect Sunday morning: soft buttered bread, sizzling bacon and a cup of strong coffee. That can’t be beaten. Whether you like your rashers crispy and crackling or soft and juicy, choosing bacon that’s been simply cured (without nitrates) and traditionally prepared will yield the very best results. That’s exactly the way we make ours.
Bacon comes from two cuts on the pork carcass: the loin becomes back bacon and the belly makes streaky bacon. In the old days, the meat was cured as a way of preserving it. Now, we just love the salty-sweet flavour and crispy texture it delivers. Over the years, some debate has arisen regarding the proper colour for bacon. If you go to the supermarket, you’ll probably find it’s bright pink. That’s because it’s been chemically cured using nitrates. But it’s not the traditional colour: bacon that’s been cured in the traditional way with just salt and sugar is a brownish-grey colour, resembling cooked pork.
Curing bacon is super simple and can easily be done at home. All you need is salt, brown sugar and some spices. Here’s what to do:
- For a 2kg loin or belly, mix together 120g flaky sea salt and 40g soft brown sugar. Crush 5 juniper berries, 5 allspice berries and a good pinch of black peppercorns. Add to the salt and sugar mix with 3 shredded bay leaves.
- Rub the cure mix all over the meat, massaging it in well and ensuring it gets into all the nooks and crannies.
- Pop the joint into a plastic tub with a lid and put it in the fridge. Check it each day, turning it and basting it with the liquid that gathers in the tub. For every inch depth of meat, let it cure for 3 days.
- When the time’s up, take the meat out of the box, wash off any remaining cure mix and pat it dry with a tea towel.
- Put it back into the fridge, sitting uncovered on a rack, and leave it to dry overnight.
- When your bacon has dried out, it’s ready to slice, cook and enjoy!