If it is your first time making homemade bacon, this guide is perfect for you. The guys from Smoked and Cured gave us advice on how to make it and we used their pre-mixed Maple Bacon Cure which was super easy.
Ready-made cure vs homemade cure
You can choose the more convenient pre-mix option or take on a more challenging path of doing your own mix. Most cure recipes will call for some form of curing salt commonly referred to as Pink Salt or Prague Powder #1. This not only helps the bacon develop its signature pink hue but it also ensures that the bacon is cured properly and so safe to eat and last well in the fridge. We have experimented with recipes without curing salts in the past, but it isn’t 100% safe, so best not to risk it unless you really know what you are doing.
So, If this is your first time making homemade bacon, we definitely recommend you start off with a ready-made cure such as the Misty Gully Maple Bacon Cure. Otherwise, if you are after something a bit more challenging you can check out this guide from Smoked and Cured.
pellet smoker vs kitchen oven
While it is possible to cook bacon in your electric or gas oven you won’t get the same great smokey wood-fired flavour as in a pellet smoker. We used the Z Grills 450A Pellet Smoker along with some hickory pellets for this batch of bacon. Hickory wood smoke is known to leave quite a distinct flavor on food that is similar but not quite as strong as mesquite wood and has a hint of sweetness just like maple wood. This combination of aromas is often associated with bacon itself. You could use a more neutral-flavored pellet or a blend if you want something milder. The key thing is that it is your own homemade bacon, so you can experiment to get the flavor profile that you like best.
The type of bacon will usually determine the cut of pork you will need. The two most common types of bacon you’ll find here in Australia are streaky bacon and short cut bacon. We cut down our pork belly to around 1kg pork for our batch, but it is a great idea to do a larger cut or even multiple bellies in a large batch as you can vacuum pack and freeze the bacon and store for months.
Streaky Bacon – Pork Belly
Streaky bacon is known for the streak of fats that runs through the bacon. Streaky bacon is also sometimes referred to as American bacon. It is made from pork belly, where the fat content is high.
Short Cut Bacon – pork Loin
Short cut bacon which is also known as British bacon, has a chewier texture compared to the latter streaky bacon. It has a lower fat content and it is made from the pork loin.
What you will need
- Misty Gully Maple Bacon Cure
- Z Grill Wood Pellet Smoker
- Extra flavour from ingredients like pepper, thyme, mustard seeds, juniper berries or even ground coffee
- Pork cut of choice
steps to make it
step 1 – Dry and Cut your pork
Pat the pork dry with paper towel, trim away excess fat and cut into a neater square shape. The rind can remain on or be removed. The rind can end up quite tough after the curing and smoking process but can form some nice crunchy rind when cooked in a pan. Perhaps try a cut each way and see what you prefer.
step 2 – Apply Cure
Mix up the herbs and spices of your choice with 40-50g of the maple bacon cure for every kilogram of pork. We used 50g/kg to be safe, as some ended up left on the cutting board. Apply the dry mixture to your pork cut. Once evenly coated, put in a ziplock bag, push out all the air and store away in the fridge for at least 4 days or up to 8 days. Those extra days making it saltier. We cured ours for 5 days.
STEP 3 – FLIP IT DAILY
Turn over the bag every 24 hours to allow the cure to work on both sides. The liquid will accumulate in the bag which is what you want to see, so don’t drain that out, and don’t open the bag.
step 4 – Rinse/SOAK
After the curing is done, give the bacon a thorough rinse under cold water to remove the excess salt. We did this after our 5 days curing time and our bacon was perfect salt level. If you cured for longer than this you may need to soak the bacon for up to an hour in room temperature water to remove some more of the salt.
Step 5 – Smoke
Fire up your Z Grill Wood Pellet Smoker and bring it up to anywhere between 82°C and 107°C. On the higher setting, the bacon will cook a little faster but will not get as much smoky flavor. We cooked ours at 107°C and were super happy with the smoky flavor.
Put your bacon in your Z Grill once it has come up to temperature and let it cook until the internal bacon temperature reaches 65°C. Depending on the thickness of the cut and your temperature setting it could take 2-3 hours.
Step 6 – COOL
Put the bacon in the fridge for a few hours to allow the fats in the bacon to properly solidify before you try to slice it.
Step 7 – Eat & enjoy
Just like that, you are done. Give yourself a pat in the back for making your very own homemade bacon. Whether you choose to slice it thinly with a meat slicer or into thicker cuts with your kitchen knife is up to you. Fry it up and enjoy!
Your bacon will last up to 3 weeks in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.