How to cure bacon
When you buy a pig from a small producer, you pay a fee to make bacon. The bacon you get is delicious, but you can do better at home with these simple instructions. It is fun and you can play with the flavor.
- 1 Boneless Pork Belly (skinless)
- 1 Ziploc Bag large enough to contain the belly slab
- 1/4 tsp Pink Curing Salt (Prague Powder #1) This is the amount to use for the entire range listed in the Kosher Salt section. DO NOT add extra. (See note #1 for more information.)
- 1/3 cup Natural Sweetener White sugar should be your starting point, but any natural sweetener can do this job and will change the cured bacon flavor. (See note #2 for more options.)
Kosher salt, minimum quantity is 2% by weight, of the belly. This recipe covers belly quarters weighing 800-2,000g. Each weight range has a generalized amount of salt using Morton's Kosher Salt for the weight reference. If you are on a low sodium diet, I highly recommend weighing your belly quarter in grams then multiply it by .02 to get the minimum weight of kosher salt needed for your belly.
- 4 ½ tsp Kosher Salt Belly weight 801g-900g
- 5 tsp Kosher Salt Belly weight 901g-1000g
- 5 ½ tsp Kosher Salt Belly weight 1001g-1100g
- 6 tsp Kosher Salt Belly weight 1101g-1200g
- 6 ½ tsp Kosher Salt Belly weight 1201g-1300g
- 7 tsp Kosher Salt Belly weight 1301g-1400g
- 7 ½ tsp Kosher Salt Belly weight 1401g-1500g
- 8 tsp Kosher Salt Belly weight 1501g-1600g
- 8 ½ tsp Kosher Salt Belly weight 1601g-1700g
- 9 tsp Kosher Salt Belly weight 1701g-1800g
- 9 ½ tsp Kosher Salt Belly weight 1801g-1900g
- 10 tsp Kosher Salt Belly weight 1901g-2000g
Seasoning, Option 1
- 2 Tbsp Pepper
- 2 tsp Paprika
Seasoning, Option 2
- 1 Jalapeno, minced Leave the seeds in if you prefer a spicier flavor
- 4 Garlic cloves, minced
- In a small bowl, combine the seasonings (optional), Kosher salt and sweetener (not the pink salt). Remember to calculate the correct amount of salt if you are using the minimum.
- Place the belly on a tray lined with foil. Using half of the cure mix, sprinkle evenly over the surface of the belly, and rub in gently. Turn over and repeat on the other side with the remaining mix.
- Place the entire belly and any extra curing mix from the tray into a large zip top bag.
- Add the pink salt. Measure carefully because you don’t want extra.
- Remove as much air as possible from the bag, seal it and place in the refrigerator.
- Every day, for 7 days, flip the belly over. You do not need to open the bag to do this step. After flipping the belly, massage the cure around a bit and return to the refrigerator. It is normal to see liquid form in the bag.
- After 7 days, remove the belly from the bag and rinse under water to remove all remaining salt/sweetener.
- Pat dry with paper towels.
- Taste the bacon. For your first taste, slice two pieces off one end of the bacon (the outer slice may be extra salty). Cook thoroughly and eat. If you are happy with your bacon, skip to the smoke or bake step.
- If the bacon tasted too salty, let it soak submerged in a casserole dish of water for an hour. Slice and taste the bacon again. (This time, you only need to cut one piece of bacon per test if you can resist.)
- Smoke (see note #3) or bake the cured belly at 200° F until the internal temperature reaches 150° F. This cooking step is a safety to ensure your bacon is cooked. If you always cook your sliced bacon thoroughly before eating, you can skip this step.
- Store bacon in an airtight plastic bag or container in the refrigerator for up to a week, slicing and cooking as needed. If you don’t eat it all within a week, the remainder may be frozen.
Tips for slicing bacon.
- It is easier to slice the bacon into strips when it is cold.
- Use the longest knife you have and pull it across the slab with maximum blade contact. One pull of the knife, one piece of bacon is the goal.
- If you can't eat nitrites, the pink cure salt may be omitted; however, this is not recommended by the USDA.
- You can use brown sugar, honey, agave or maple syrup in place of white sugar as the sweetener. Do not use artificial sweeteners. Natural sugar is required for the curing process.
- Using apple or cherry wood to smoke your bacon, will give it a mild smoke flavor. Hickory will give a much stronger, woody smoke flavor to your bacon.