CURE MIX FOR 5 LBS. (2.25 KG) OF BACON
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) Bradley Maple Cure (Do not use more than this amount.)
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) onion granules or onion powder
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) garlic granules or garlic powder
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) white pepper
- maple syrup (optional) 1 to 3 tbsp.
- imitation maple flavour (optional) 1/2 to 1 tsp.
Note: If the meat weighs either more or less than 5 pounds (2.25 kg), the amount of cure mix applied must be proportional to that weight. For example, if the weight of the meat is 2 1/2 pounds (1.25 kg), then each ingredient, including the Bradley Cure, needs to be cut in half.
For the kind of bacon popular in the United States, use pork belly. If you wish to make the British-style back bacon, use the same cut of meat that is used for ham, or use sirloin or loin. In all cases, however, the meat should not be more than about 2 inches (5 cm) thick. The width and length are not important, but the hunks or slabs of pork need to be small enough to fit in the curing containers and smoker. If the meat is more than about 2 inches (5 cm) thick, the curing time will be excessive
Blending and applying the curing blend
- Weigh the pork. If you are using more than one curing container, calculate separately the total weight of the meat you will place in each container. Refrigerate the meat while preparing the cure mix. (Any plastic food container with a tight-fitting lid — or a strong plastic bag — will work as a curing container.)
- Prepare, calculate, and measure the required amount of curing mixture for each container. Mix this curing blend until it is uniform.
- Place the meat in the curing container(s). Rub the cure mix on all surfaces evenly. Cover and refrigerate. Set the refrigerator temperature between 34°F and 40°F (2.2°C to 4.4°C).
- Overhaul the pieces of meat after about 12 hours of curing. (Overhaul means to rub the surfaces of the meat to redistribute the cure.) Be sure to wet the meat with any liquid that may have accumulated in the bottom of the curing container.
- Overhaul the meat about every other day, until the required curing time has elapsed. (Cure one week per inch: If the thickest piece is 1 inch, cure 1 week; if the thickest piece is two inches, cure the whole batch 2 weeks.)
- When the curing is finished, rinse each piece of pork very well in lukewarm water. Drain in a colander, and blot with a paper towel.
- Wrap each piece of pork in a paper towel, and then wrap again with newspaper. Refrigerate overnight.
Smoking the bacon
- The next morning, remove the paper and dry the surface of the meat in front of an electric fan, or inside of a smoker heated to about 140°F (60°C). If using a smoker, make sure that the damper is fully open. Do not use smoke. Drying the surface will require one or two hours.
- When the surface is dry, cold smoke the pork for 3 hours. If your smoke chamber temperature is higher than 85°F (about 30°C), the smoking time might have to shorten to prevent excessive drying.
- Raise the smoke chamber temperature to about 150°F (65°C). Using maple wood, smoke about 2 or 3 hours more until the surface of the bacon takes on an attractive reddish-brown color. Remove the meat from the smoke chamber.
- Let the meat cool at room temperature for about one hour. After cooling at room temperature, place the hunks of bacon in a container – uncovered – and chill overnight. You may slice the bacon the following morning. Freeze the bacon that will not be consumed within about a week.
Note: If the salt taste is too mild, the next time you make this product, add about 1 teaspoon of salt to the ingredients list. If the salt taste is too strong, reduce the amount of Bradley Cure by about 1 teaspoon.
Varieties of bacon
Irish bacon is made from the same cut of meat used to make boneless pork chops: the boneless pork loin. Consequently, when Irish bacon is cured, smoked, and thinly sliced, it will have the same fat content and the same shape as a pork chop. Some people use a little Irish whiskey in the curing blend.
A product called Canadian bacon is very popular in the United States. In Canada, a similar product called peameal bacon is popular. Both of these back bacons are made from the well-trimmed eye of the loin. When trimming the eye of the loin, leave about 1/8 inch (3 mm) of fat on the top. However, peameal bacon is rolled in cornmeal (rolled in yellow peameal in the old days) and is not smoked. Canadian bacon is usually smoked. Use the Bradley Sugar Cure Mix to cure the eye of the loin.
You can put your own signature on bacon by adding your favorite spice to the curing blend. Allspice flavoured bacon has a special appeal for some. A few people like the taste of cinnamon with pork. Use your imagination and you might make a great discovery!
Pepper bacon is very popular and it is easy to process. Select the cut of pork that you like for bacon, and cure it with your favorite Bradley Cure. Just before beginning the smoking of the bacon, use a basting brush to “paint” the surface of the bacon with maple syrup, light corn syrup, or honey diluted with a little water. Let the surface dry for a while until it becomes tacky, and then press on coarsely ground black pepper.
Jowl bacon is made from the cheek of the pig. It has layers of fat and lean just like belly bacon. Process it in the same way as you would process pork belly bacon.