Can You Make Homemade Bacon? Here’s What You Need To Know

It's cheap, delicious, and easy.

Bacon is arguably irresistible stuff! The pleasure starts when you get the bacon in the pan and the fat sizzles, letting its delicious aroma spread. Whether you love it cooked soft or crispy, it always delivers big flavors that's satisfying every time.

So, is it possible to make bacon yourself? Of course! Making this salt-cured pork isn't just possible, it can possibly be life-changing. Making it yourself is quite easy and will yield delicious (maybe even better than store-bought!) and cheaper results.

Here are the steps and tips you need to know so you can make homemade bacon at home:

Photo by Patrick Martires

1 Get the right cut of pork.

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First, get an uncut slab of pork belly. The quality of your meat will determine the big part of your success. The fat needs to be creamy white, and the muscle needs to be pink. You're looking for equal amounts of fat and meat. Also, make sure it's 1.5 inches thick, with the skin, the outermost layer, already removed. It will also be better if you have your slab trimmed to a neat square so you can get perfect slices later on.

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Photo by Majoy Siason

2 Cure your bacon.

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This is the part that sets apart a fresh, raw pork belly slices from real bacon: the curing! It's all about patience and preciseness with this step. You'll need these elements in this step: the perfect pink salt to meat ratio, seasoning, refrigeration, and time.

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Pink salt, or Prague powder #1 or more popularly known locally as "salitre", is a preservative made of nitrites and salt that kills microbes, lets your meat develop flavor, and gives it that distinct pink to red color. It's the same ingredient that is used in quickly-cured meats like corned beef, tocino, longganisa, and ham.

Precision is extremely important when handling pink salt since you need the perfect amount to cure your pork just right. Remember this rule: use one teaspoon for every two and a half kilograms meat.

This amount should be able to kill all the germs in your meat but don't use more! Using too much of it can make it too salty. Its potential toxicity is also why the stuff is dyed pink, so it can't be mistaken for regular salt. Make sure to store these properly, away from children and animals, and label it "Do Not Eat" so no one unconsciously sprinkles it on their food.

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Once you have your ingredients ready, time to cure it. Mix your pink salt, spices, regular salt, sugar, and cold water in a resealable freezer bag. If following a recipe, follow it faithfully. Insert your slab of pork and get as much air out from the freezer bag before you seal it. Massage your pork then place it in a pan before putting in the refrigerator. Once a day for seven days, massage your pork and flip it. You can finish the curing depending on how much pork you have and the strength of your brine.

How do you know when the pork is done curing? The pork feels firmer. Just make sure not to go over seven days as this will make your bacon too salty.

A note about your brine: you can totally change the flavor of your bacon from simple to extra special and delicious with a few additions. Add in your choice of syrup, including expensive but delicious classic maple syrup, honey, or maybe even arnibal. Use bay leaves, peppercorns, chili flakes, paprika, oregano-or whatever floats your boat. However, do not add an acid. The acid will react with the pink salt.

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Photo by Rico Jose

3 Time to slice.

First, quickly rinse your bacon. Get rid of any extra salt deposits. Then, firm up your slab of bacon even further by putting it in the freezer. Freezing will make for easier slicing. Once your pork has further firmed, slice according to your desired thickness.

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After this step, you can keep your fresh bacon in your refrigerator for up to three months. Cook it how you like it: fried, baked, in a toaster, or even grilled.

4 To smoke or not to smoke?

Some people say it's not bacon if it's not smoked. However, if that part to you isn't essential, you can skip this step. However, smoking will definitely add flavor and make your bacon truly special. If you're thinking of smoking it, we've got a few options for you to try to make that happen:

Liquid smoke

This is the fastest method. You can buy liquid smoke from the groceries' imported section or find it online. Add this ingredient to your brine, and voila: smoked bacon.

Smoker

If you have a smoker, you can use it to smoke your bacon for three hours at 200 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius). This step is admittedly difficult for several reasons: it takes time and special materials. For the wood chips that will give it flavor, like classic hickory, it's quite unpredictable whether you'll find it at your local hardware store. However, some stores do carry smoke chips and even a disposable smoker if you're lucky to find it. So, if you have the equipment and materials on hand, using it may just be the best thing to ever happen to homemade bacon.

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Spice mix

You can also purchase a prepared hickory spice mix to include in your marinade which are widely available in the spice section of your local grocery or supermarket.

Who knew making bacon was actually easy? Why not try it out? We've got tons of recipes to use delicious bacon with!

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