How To Dry Cure Bacon
Probably the easiest thing to do with bacon is to learn how to dry cure it. This old British tradition to store meat doesn’t take much physical effort and certainly, doesn’t require any special expertise or equipment. All it needs is a keen mind and clean hands
Things to Remember While Dry-Curing Bacon
1) Curing Mixture
As is evident, dry curing requires dry ingredients, which include salt, saltpetre, sugar, black peppercorns, etc. Saltpetre is optional but it is advised that you use it because it only enhances the flavor of salt in the bacon. The range of ingredients that you use to cure bacon also depends upon what you eventually intend to do with the meat. So, if you are not going smoke the bacon, you can even take up molasses, which may make the meat sweeter. Similarly, instead of just black peppercorns, you can take a mixture of powdered peppercorns. You are welcome to use any herbs as well if you want the bacon to smell and taste even more exotic at the final stage.
2) How Much Do You Need?
The quantity of mixture for dry curing bacon depends directly on the amount of meat or the weight of the pork/bacon. The ideal thing to do would be to take the curing ingredients and make mixture in batches. You can use the mixture by batches as you go on curing, so that none of the mixture gets wasted. In case you are left with some dry curing mixture after the process ends, you can store the same in an air-tight container for later use.
3) How to Do It?
Now it comes down to how to dry cure bacon and believe us, it is very simple. Just take a handful of curing mixture and rub it into the piece of bacon. Keep doing it until the meat is covered completely in the mixture. Keep turning the piece of bacon over and over so that all sides are covered equally in the mixture. Make sure that this mixture enters every crevice in the meat as leaving any part of the meat uncovered shall lead to spoilage.
4) Now What?
After you have ensured that each piece of bacon is covered thoroughly in the drying mixture, place it in a plastic box, preferably food grade, and place the box in a cool place, such as a garage or basement. After every 24 hours, open the box, remove the meat, and drain away the liquid that may have been extracted from the meat. Remember, the amount of liquid draining out of the meat will reduce with passage of time. Before the meat is replaced in the box, try to rub in some more curing mixture onto the meat and then replace it in the box.
5) For How Long?
The duration of this process varies with the amount and weight of the meat. But you can cure bacon for at the most 2 weeks. Generally, it takes 5-6 days to cure bellies and 4-5 days for dry cure loins. So, decide accordingly.
6) What To Do With Cured Meat?
After the meat is cured to your satisfaction, soak the cured pieces in fresh water for at least 2 hours. Repeat this in another batch of clean water for another 60 minutes. This way, the excess salt drains away and the meat can now be stored in the freezer but not before letting it cool in a basement or garage for another 24-48 hours. Make sure that a slight pellicle forms around the meat, which is a layer that does not allow the fat inside the meat to spoil. Besides, this pellicle also keeps the moisture intact so that the meat doesn’t become too dry or chewy.
You eat bacon everyday because you like it. However going down to the supermarket or your butcher shop daily can prove to be costly as well as time-consuming. So, knowing how to dry cure bacon at home will be a useful skill in every sense.