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Making your own smoked or unsmoked bacon couldn't be easier. Although you'll have to wait 5 days for the finished product, you'll only spend about 15 mins actually 'making' it. Better than that, it'll have none of the nasty additives and it will taste loads better than anything you can buy. The materials you need are already in your garden, house and local shop, so why not give it a go?
Step 1. How to make unsmoked bacon
The first thing you need to do is buy a 500g packet of salt and a decent fatty cut of belly pork. I'd suggest you go to your local butchers for the belly pork, and make sure it is fatty or the bacon will not taste as good. You can use other cuts of meat, but belly pork gives you streaky bacon and is the easiest to get top notch results on first time. You'll also need a little bit of sugar, but you probably have this already in the house.
Next find a big dish capable of taking your cut of belly pork. As the pork cures it'll produce lots of watery liquid so this does need to be a dish or tray. Now simply rub salt and a little sugar all over your cut of bacon. For the cut shown in the photo I used about 2 table spoons of sugar, the vast majority of the mix is salt. Also if you like your bacon unsmoked then you can also rub in some herbs and spices to give it some extra flavour. It's really up to you, but once you're done coating your meat, turn it fat side down and place it in the dish. Finally cover it with something to keep critters off and put is somewhere cool, but not cold (i.e. do not use the fridge unless you have no alternative).
Every day for the next 5 days drain off the liquid that forms at the bottom of the pan/dish as your bacon cures. On day 5 remove the bacon, wash off the salt and steep it in water for 2 hours before hanging it up to dry somewhere safe for 24 hours. You can hang it by sticking a skewer through it and running some string from that. When it is dry you'll notice it has a glossy, slightly tacky sheen on it - this is the pedicle and it helps keep the bacon fat in the bacon for maximum taste and shelf life!
If you like unsmoked (i.e. green) bacon then that's it, your bacon is ready for eating and will keep a couple of months in the fridge without a problem, or you can slice it up and put it in the freezer. If, however, you like smoked bacon (I do) then progress to step 2 below.
Step 2. How to make smoked bacon
You don't need special equipment to make smoked bacon, you just need a dustbin, a bamboo cane and some non-resinous wood (I use ash). Before all that you of course need some bacon to smoke, so follow the procedure in step 1 above to get some green bacon.
Once you have some green bacon, do not remove the skewer as you'll need to hang it over the fire in the smoke. This is not hot smoking and you need to hang it high enough that it is not going to get cooked (keep it below 100C) - this is what the bamboo cane is for! Then you simply set the fire in the dustbin, let it burn down to smoldering wood and hang the bacon above it on the bamboo cane in the smoke for 2-3 hours (see my setup in the photo). Check it every now and again to see that it's not cooking, but other than that leave it alone.
It really is that simple! When it's done the final article is smoked bacon which will taste better than anything you can buy in a shop. Also, more importantly, you can say "I made that".
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