Bacon is one of the most delectable delicacies on the earth, and nothing compares to handmade bacon! It’s simple to learn how to cook bacon, and you’ll be ecstatic with the outcome! Some experts believe that dry-curing produces a more pronounced flavor and that the bacon fries up crispier than wet-curing. Others, on the other hand, argue that the opposite is true. To know how to make homemade bacon, read further.
The fight continues. The ultimate line is that it is a matter of personal preference and interpretation. I’ve used both ways, providing good results, but I prefer dry-curing. Both approaches are included for you to experiment with. Choose one or the other, or experiment with both to find which you prefer.
How to Make Homemade Bacon?
Bacon is slowly smoked in a temperature range where germs can grow and multiply. The use of nitrites in bacon helps prevent the growth of hazardous bacteria while also preserving the color of the meat.
In a mixing basin, add all dry cure ingredients and stir well. The pink curing salt must be applied evenly throughout the pork belly. So grind the rub in a spice/coffee grinder, but you can also use a tiny blender or a mortar and pestle.
- 5-pound pork belly, skin removed for the wet cure method
- Six c. cool water 1/2 c. kosher salt 1/2 c. dark brown sugar, packed (optional, if you want a piece of sweet bacon)
- 2 tsp Prague powder No. 1 (measure carefully)
- bay leaves (two)
- One teaspoon of black peppercorns, whole
- For the Dry Cure Method, follow these steps:
- Pork belly, 5 pounds, skinned
- a quarter cup of kosher salt
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed (optional, if you want a piece of sweet bacon)
- #1 Prague powder one teaspoon (measure carefully)
- black peppercorns, coarsely crushed (optional and amount according to personal preference)
- For the Wet Cure Method, combine all cure components in a large mixing basin and whisk well. Pour the brine over the pork belly in a gallon ziplock bag or a container that fits the size of the pork belly. If you’re using a ziplock bag, keep it in a container if it leaks. Refrigerate it for seven days, flipping the bag (or the pork belly if curing it in a container) after two days to ensure all sides are evenly cured. A 3-pound pork belly will fit in a one-gallon bag. You can chop the pork belly in half and divide the brine evenly between the two bags if you’re using a 5-pound pork belly and plan on using the wet cure method with ziplock bags.
- The pork belly will have firmed up after seven days. Rinse the pork belly thoroughly after removing it from the brine. Some folks recommend air drying the slab of bacon for up to 24 hours before smoking it. However, many experts believe that this is unnecessary. According to these experts, if you leave it moist, the smoke stays on the bacon better than if you leave it dry. Sprinkle it with cracked peppercorns and brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup. Go ahead and start smoking (see below).
- Place all dry cure components in a mixing basin and whisk well to make the dry cure method. The pink curing salt must be applied evenly throughout the pork belly. A spice/coffee grinder, a small blender, or a mortar and pestle are good options.
- Apply the dry rub evenly and generously on all sides of the pork belly. Cover it with plastic wrap and place it in a ziplock bag or container (like a casserole dish) with the fatty layer down. Could you keep it in the fridge for five days? Turn the bacon over, redistribute the liquid collected (in a ziplock bag, turn it over and massage it), and refrigerate for five days. The pork belly will be pretty solid and rigid after ten days. Please remove it from the container or bag, thoroughly rinse it, then dry it with paper towels. Sprinkle it with cracked
- peppercorns and brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup. Go ahead and start smoking.
To smoke the bacon, follow these instructions.
- Preheat your smoker from 175°F to 180°F (do not exceed 200 F). (The Masterbuilt Digital Smoker is one of our favorites.) Smoke the bacon fat side for 3+ hours or until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F (when the fat renders, it will run down over the meat). (This fast read thermometer is one we use and recommend.) During the smoking process, add a handful of wood chips a couple of times. (Hickory, apple, and cherry are all excellent choices.)
- If using a grill, set it up for 2-zone cooking and smoke the bacon for about 3 hours over indirect heat at 175-180 degrees F (no higher than 200 degrees F) or until the interior temperature hits 150 degrees F.
Transfer the bacon to a plate and store it in the fridge to cool down after reaching an internal temperature of 150 degrees F.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the bacon across the grain. Use a large sharp knife or a meat slicer for extremely uniform/professional cuts.
- To store the bacon, wrap it in multiple layers of plastic wrap followed by an outer layer of foil, and keep it refrigerated if you want to use it within two weeks. You can freeze it for up to 3 months if you don’t plan to use it within two weeks.
- To freeze the bacon, either use a vacuum sealer, such as the Food Saver or lay the slices out on wax paper like store-bought bacon and cover with another layer of wax paper. Fold the sides inside to around the bacon. Place the bacon that has been wrapped in a ziplock bag. Cut strips of wax paper and insert them between each slice of bacon if you don’t want the pieces to cling together. Remove the bacon from the freezer and allow it to thaw before using.
Is It Necessary to Use Curing Salt When Making Bacon?
It’s a matter of personal opinion, although some people like to add it for added botulism protection. Others choose not to since nitrites can develop into nitrosamines when cooked at high temperatures. As an alternative for curing salt, celery juice or powder might be used. However, keep in mind that this method of curing is imprecise because it’s difficult to know how high the nitrate
Concentration is achieved without looking at the flesh that the celery juice is applied to. The main purpose of curing salt is to prevent the formation of unfavourable microbes, which reduces the likelihood that the meat will become contaminated. It also imparts flavor and aids in the preservation of the meat.
How Long Should the Bacon Soak?
Fortunately, there is—and it isn’t all that difficult. Soak the bacon in cold water until completely submerged, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Check if the container you’re using will fit in the refrigerator. Cook a little piece of bacon after 2 hours to check for doneness. It’s best to do it ahead of time, but soaking later can suffice if the bacon is still too salty.
Cut the ends off the bacon and immerse it in cold water for 2 hours, changing the water every hour. Finally, it’s time to light up. Remove your bacon-to-be from the zip-lock bag, rinse under running water, and soak in room temperature water for 60 minutes. This should get rid of any surplus remedy.
Is It Necessary to Cure Bacon With Sugar?
While salt wants to draw all of the water out of the flesh, sugar is hydrostatic, preventing the cure from totally drying out the pork. You can use any sugar, whether granulated, brown, or raw. I also suggest using pork belly with the skin on. If you’re thinking to yourself, “But Jered, I want sugar-free bacon!” keep in mind that sugar plays an important role.
While salt wants to draw all of the water out of the flesh, sugar is hydrostatic, preventing the cure from totally drying out the pork. Sugar curing is a pig preservation procedure that gives the meat a sweet flavor. A conventional sugar cure uses light or dark brown sugar, while maple sugar adds a new flavour.
What is the ideal temperature for cooking bacon?
Bacon can be cooked at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, both thin-cut and regular. Preheat the oven to 350°F and cook the bacon for 18-20 minutes, or until it reaches the crispiness, you prefer. Halfway through, I rotate the pan to ensure equal cooking, but that’s it. Some recipes suggest baking bacon at 425 degrees F, 375 degrees F, or starting the bacon in a cold oven, but I found that the optimal temperature for baking bacon is 400 degrees F.
It cooks the bacon uniformly, regardless of thickness, and doesn’t splatter. Bacon is ready when the flesh browns and the fat drains. Bacon is typically served crisp, but the slices can be removed from the grill while still chewy.
Freeze Bacon You can vacuum seal it with a Food Saver or do what I do (because my bacon never lasts more than a couple of months): Like store-bought bacon, place chunks on wax paper and cover with another layer.
Fold the sides inside to around the bacon. In a ziplock bag, place the bacon that has been wrapped. Usually freeze bacon in tiny portions, the quantity known needed for single use. Cut strips of wax paper and insert them between each slice of bacon if you don’t want the pieces to cling together.