Bacon. Let me say that again, BACON! There are so many uses for bacon, goes great on a English muffin with eggs and cheese, it is the essential beginning to pasta carbonara and it’s great to carry around in a baggie in your pockets….maybe not quite that last part, but it’s a crucial component to any kitchen. Did you know that bacon is probably the easiest thing on the planet to make yourself at home? Start with this homemade bacon recipe and before you know it you will forget all about those plastic capsules of cured pork of unknown origin.
I started today just like you, thinking that bacon comes from the supermarket either from the butcher’s case or encased in plastic from the refrigerated section. Where else could it come from? For Christmas this year my wonderful wife enrolled me in a class at our local Arts Center called ‘Makin’ Bacon’. That class was held today. I walked in empty handed and left with a ziplock bag containing what will be bacon in just seven short days.
During the course of two hours I learned that to cure bacon the minimum that you need is pork belly, salt, sugar and Prague powder (curing salt) to get the process going. After that the rest is up to you. I chose to go for the sweet version instead of the savory. The sweet version added brown sugar to the process. The savory added fresh ground black pepper. Once the pork belly is in curing agent and in the ziplock bag you just need turn it over every other day and slow roast it for a couple hours, remove the skin and then it is ready for use in your favorite recipe.
Homemade bacon recipe process:
Make the curing mixture. Combine 1lb canning salt, 8oz organic cane sugar and 2oz pink curing salt (also called Prague Powder). The curing agent will keep for a long time in a sealed mason jar.
Place the pork belly in either a glass baking dish or a ziplock bag with 1/4c of the curing mixture and coat completely. Once coated add your flavoring, for sweet bacon add a generous amount of brown sugar (or maple sugar if you like maple flavored bacon) or a generous amount of ground pepper for a savory bacon. At this point cover the dish or seal the bag and place in the refrigerator and let the curing agents do their job. I usually leave the skin side up at this point. I am not sure if it really matters, but it’s what I do.
I would suggest going simple for your first batch. After that you can be adventurous with flavorings. Just avoid tropical fruits and they contain an enzyme that will turn the pork belly into mush.
Check on the belly, make sure you aren’t leaking out or anything like that. At this point the moisture should should be accumulating in your container. That’s a good thing and it means that things are working. If everything looks good, leave it until tomorrow.
It’s time to turn the over the belly. There should be a decent amount of moisture in the bag at this point, redistribute the juices over the whole belly and put it back in the refrigerator with the opposite side facing up.
Check on the belly. If it still looks good, leave it until tomorrow, if not make the needed adjustments.
It’s time to turn it over again. Redistribute the juices on the pork belly and place back into the fridge with the opposite side up.
Almost done. Check on the belly. If it still looks good, leave it until tomorrow, if not make the needed adjustments.
The pork belly should have released quite a bit of moisture and be fairly firm. Rinse the bacon well under cool water and place the bacon on a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. Roast at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 – 2-1/2 hours. You are looking for an internal temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the bacon cool to room temperature and carefully remove the skin. The homemade bacon recipe is now complete and ready for use in your favorite recipe, or just slice it up and fry as a delicious addition to your breakfast.
Tips and tricks:
It is likely that the pork belly that you get from your butcher came from an actual animal so don’t get freaked out if there is hair or even a nipple on it. You are going to remove the skin at the end so you don’t need to do anything to remove them.
A spice grinder will come in handy if you will be making a savory bacon. It can grind up a whole bunch of peppercorns in no time at all.
- 1lb canning salt (no iodine, caking agents, etc.)
- 8oz organic cane sugar
- 2oz pink curing salt (Prague Powder)
- Using a digital kitchen scale, measure by weight salt, sugar and curing salt.
- Combine three items in a mason jar and mix thoroughly.
- Mixture will keep for years if sealed well.