Homemade bacon – how to cure and dry your own bacon?

Homemade bacon – how to cure and dry your own bacon?

Homemade Bacon! If it’s not on your bucket list you should add it right now! In this post I will tell you how to dry age your smoked pork belly in your fridge. I did hesitate way to long. I’m actually writing this post before making the pictures because I couldn’t wait to taste… I actually couldn’t believe my taste buds. This homemade bacon is smooth and tastes pretty awesome! It’s well worth the wait! Take a time to read on and find out how you can do this project at home!

Jump to Recipe

Disclosure: "This post contains affiliate links. All opionions shared are my own."

Bacon

So what’s making bacon typical and different from a smoked pork belly? It’s a question I’m still not sure I get it correctly. Yet I know Bacon is a piece of cured pork that’s often smoked. As far as I find some information it can be fresh or dried. Some can even be boiled. But forget about the last part! This is a BBQ blog so we don’t boil our ingredients! In most cases bacon should be cooked or grilled before eating. Yet some versions of the smoked dry aged bacon are ready to eat. For the curing process you can chose between the dry cured version or using a brine. Further in this post I’ll explain what version I made and why. We all know bacon makes a lot of good things even better. Though I’m a huge fan, I think we should honour this product by NOT using it in every meal we make! Feel free to disagree and discuss this subject with me.

Homemade Bacon

Homemade Bacon – is it safe?

The biggest question that kept me hesitating to dry age bacon at home. No matter how much people told me it was perfectly save to make bacon at home, I didn’t dare to try it. Simply because I don’t like to throw away food. Most people told me I would see if it turned bad… Though it’s a good point, it still means a piece of meat needs to be thrown away. So you might be wondering what convinced me to give it a try? Well I saw this movie explaining well how to do the process at home and somehow the guy made it look easy and clear enough to challenge me and give it a go! With a result I couldn’t imagine at the start of this process. I followed the steps in the movie and added a cold smoking session. Not only because smoke kills the bad micro-organisms, but mostly because it adds a lot of flavor. So let me go through the process I followed step by step and explain why I did those steps.

Selecting the meat

Well obviously for bacon we go for a piece of pork. For other dry aging projects you can use other animals. I’m actually dry aging a duck breast at the moment. But that’s no bacon so we stick with the pork! Pick a piece of pork that contains quite some fat. It’s not only safer to preserve but fat also gives a lot of taste to the end product! But if you have the chance to chose between different pieces you need to look for a piece that’s well marbled with fat. Mostly races of pork like Iberico, duke of berkshire, … that has been fed with grains, nuts, fruit, … and had a pieceful live deliver nice pieces of meat. So for this project I spent a tiny bit more money and bought myself a 500 gr. duke of berkshire pork belly.

Homemade bacon

Curing the meat

Like explained in the movie there are 3 options for the curing process. You can brine the meat. This means you’ll be curing the pork belly in a large amount of liquid with spices and a huge amount of salt and sugar. Since we want to dry age the meat afterwards we’ll skip this one. So we’re left with the excess salt method or the equilibrium curing method. What method you should follow depends on whether you have a vacuum sealer at home or not. If you own a foodsaver I would advice to go for the equilibrium curing method. This method is easier to control and requires less salt and sugar to get a well flavored piece of bacon. For this technique you wheigh the meat before curing it and add 4% of nitrite salt/curing salt to the meat! This needs to be exact. You can also add some other spices and sugar like I did. When adding spices early in the process your homemade bacon will be spiced to the core. Put the piece of meat and salt in a vacuum bag and seal it for 4-5 days or a couple of weeks when using a big piece of meat. I used spices from some leftover curing salt I had left from the cuban style pulled pork I made some time ago.

Smoking homemade bacon

When smoking bacon you can go for the hot smoking process or opt for the cold smoking process. Since we want to dry age the meat we go for the second part. Our bacon doesn’t need to be cooked at this stage. Like mentioned before smoke kills the bad bacteria but also adds a lot of flavor. You can chose what wood you use and how long you smoke the meat. Bacon is often smoked on hickory which leads to a deeper sweeter taste. I cold smoke the homemade bacon (500 gr.) for 10 hours using my cold smoker and hickory wood dust. Meanwhile the meat is drying a bit. Make sure the dome temperature doesn’t pass the limit of 25°C/77°F. Going higher in temperature might give the few remaining bacteria the chance to grow. Though they should be killed by now by the salt and sugar. But better safe than sorry.

Homemade bacon

Dry aging process

So this was the scariest part for me. I don’t dare to dry age my meat outdoors and don’t own a cellar or something like that where I can hang my pieces of meat. The mentioned video however showed me a technique to dry age in the refrigerator. And I guess most of you own a refrigerator at home. Most refrigerators have the right circumstances to dry age your meat. I actually don’t know what amount of humidity and air flow you need but it worked perfectly. To prevent the meat from growing molds I wrapped them in cheese cloth and hang them on a wire in the refrigerator. Make sure when aging different pieces of meat they don’t touch each other. From that moment on you need to be very patient. Your homemade bacon needs to lose 30% weight. These are the juices that evaporate. For a small piece it can take about 3 weeks. But it’s well worth waiting!

So here you go! Three weeks later it’s time to taste! And like mentioned before you’ll be quite impatient by now. I actually tasted immediately before I thought about taking pictures. The result was stunning! It’s like I’m cutting through a piece of butter and the taste is phenomenal and well balanced. Would you dare to try this project? I’d like to hear your thoughts. So take a moment to join us on social media and share your opinion.

1 from 1 vote
Homemade bacon - curing - smoking - dry aging

You've been dreaming of homemade bacon and don't know where to start? You're scared you might do something wrong? I recognize the feeling! But when I found out you can dry age the bacon in the fridge I gave it a go! What are you waiting for? 

Course: Charcuterie, Fine Epiceries, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, European, French
Servings: 2
Ingredients
  • 500 gr. Pork Belly well marbled
For the equilibrate salt cure
  • 20 gr. Nitrite salt Nitrite salt is salt with 0.6%nitrite/100gr. salt. Not to be confused with cure#1 or cure#2.
  • 10 gr. dark sugar
  • 5 gr. cilantro
  • 5 gr. basil
  • 2 gr. ground black pepper
  • 2 gr. dried cumin
  • 1 gr. onion powder
  • 1 gr. garlic powder
Extra necessities
  • 1 vacuum sealer
  • 1 vacuum bag
  • 1 cheese cloth
  • kitchen rope
  • 1 cold smoke generator
  • Hickory smoke dust
Instructions
Dry curing the homemade bacon
  1. Mix all cure ingredients! You can experiment with the flavors by adding or mixing in different spices. However you must keep at least 3-4 procent of the total meat weight in nitrite salt

  2. Rub the pork belly thoroughly with the salt cure and add it to a vacuum bag. Make sure all of the salt is in the bag!

  3. Vacuum seal the bagwith a foodsaver and put in the fridge for 4-5 days. 

  4. Remove the pork belly from the bag and pat it dry. Now you're ready to smoke

  5. Gently stuff the cold smoke generator with extra fine hickory smoke dust. Don't push it too hard or it will die out. 

  6. Lit the cold smoker using a blow torch and once it's smoking add your cured homemade bacon to the smoker. Smoke for 10 hours (or more). Warning: make sure the temperature doesn't cross the 25°C/77°F limit. 

  7. Once smoked remove the homemade bacon from your smoker. Wrap it in a clean cheese cloth and tie it up with kitchen rope.

  8. Hang the homemade bacon in the fridge for dry aging. You need to lose 30% of weight before it's ready to serve (in this case it's done when you're left with a piece of homemade bacon that weighs 350 gr.). In this process the meat juices are evaporated causing the weight loss and intensifying the flavour!

Serve your homemade bacon with eggs or in a delicious pasta Carbonara! If you can resist eating it right away!
Recipe Notes

NOTE: Nitrite salt 0.6 % is only apparantly only known in Europe. When using pink cure 1 containing 6% sodium nitrite you need to add (per 500 gr. meat): 

1 gr. Pink salt

19 gr. kosher salt

FULL DISCLOSURE
With my blog I try to share some passion. Some times I get some test products by passionate people or make use of affiliate links to cope with the costs. By buying through these links I earn a small commision without costs for you! All opinions shared are my own and no false statements will be made!

For the homemade bacon: 
- There are affiliate links on the Cold smoke generator, Hickory sawdust, FoodSaver, Cheesecloth

 



8 thoughts on “Homemade bacon – how to cure and dry your own bacon?”

  • I am sorry you need to do more research before publishing recipes. Sodium nitrate (cure #2, not sodium nitrite (cure #1), is used for drying meats. What you’really making is a smoked pancetta. Meats hung for 30 days or more require the time release properties of the nitrate. Worse yet your cure calculations are nearly enough to poison people. The maximum cure allowed by law in bacon is .32% or 200ppm. Then to reach 4% salt (a nearly inedible %) you add the rest of the percentage in kosher salt.

    • Hey Walt!

      Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read and comment to the post! You are completely right about the Pancetta! I found out after I published the post…
      On the proportions on the other hand there might be a misunderstanding. The meat was dried for 21 days and Nitrite salt is not the same as pink salt (cure #1). Nitrite salt contains is 0.6 percent nitrite. The rest is regular salt. Over here in Belgium we can only by this kind of salt. I’ll make an edit on this to make sure no person is making the mistake! Concerning the inedible % you should try it! It’s not at all inedible).

      But once again thank you for stopping by! I know I can still learn a lot on this subject so comments like this help us all!

      • – “Nitrite salt contains is 0.6 percent nitrite. ”

        You’re still getting it wrong. Cure #1 (what you’re calling “nitrite salt”) contains 6.25% sodium nitrite…NOT 0.6%.

        You need to stop blogging about a subject about which you are so fundamentally lacking in even basic knowledge, as you’re going to make people who follow your advice sick….or worse.

        • OK, never mind. I see that “nitrite salt” is an EU thing that restricts nitrite content to 0.6%. Nonetheless, your descriptions make it clear that you don’t really know what you’re doing.

          • Hey, you are right indeed. Concerning not knowing what I’m doing: the only thing wrong was the name and they are often misused… I read a lot on this subject before and still learn. Yet this is a safe recipe or do you have other arguments to tell me it’s not? If so I would love to read them!

            Cheers

        • Hey,

          Thank you for your comment it learns me my explanation is not clear yet and I’ll change it again tonight. Over here in Belgium Cure#1 is forbidden so I really know what you are saying. Yet we can buy butcher salt or nitrite salt with 0.6 percent nitrite. Clearly this is something unfamilliar out of this country causing misunderstandings. I will add a conversion calculation tonight to keep it safe.

          Kind regards,
          Simon

  • Hi BBQ B! We have a unique problem in Singapore trying to make bacon. First up is that we cannot get hold of Curing Salt or Nitrate salt, since it’s import is heavily regulated by Government. So thus far I’ve been using normal course salt instead. Also I have not been able to find non-Iodised salt – but can explore further on this!. Number two is that we simply do not have space to do cold/hot smoke in a bbq setup (living in small apartments). I do however have a cold room, but until now I have rubbed my pork belly in brown sugar, whiskey and salt, hanged it in my fridge for 21 days, and called in bacon. Pan fried it tasted ok… Going forward we want to add the smoke flavour, hence we are thinking of using liquid smoke and doing the wet cure thing for three days before hanging up to dry-cure for 21 days. Any thoughts/tips on this approach?

    • You can try I think it might work but never tried liquid smoke! Maybe you can cold smoke it in a park but that takes time. A cold smoke generator is pretty small and can be used in a box… good luck! Curious to hear how it turned out!!! Cheers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Inline
Inline