Bacon is one of those volatile subjects, best discussed among the faithful. I will leave the various discussions among the faithful who abstain due to religious beliefs, the faithful who abstain due to cholesterol brainwashing by the medical industrial complex, the faithful who abstain due to knowledge of the agricultural industrial complex system of CAFO torture and GMO feed, the faithful who by preparation stocked up early on pasture raised non GMO fed pork from their local grass-fed farmer in consideration of the pork shortage we will enter soon, and the rest of us, so devoted that we raise our own. I am so blessed to have entered that last flock of faithful and have friends and mentors who have taught and shared much with us.
Enter the world of raising, processing, brining and smoking your own bacon, from the finest and most darling heritage breed: American Guinea Hog. My friends from Golden Goose Farm are the ones who introduced us to the wonders of the AGH and now to the magic of brining and smoking our own. A week before you are going to smoke your bacon, you defrost it and begin the brining process. The packages don’t say “bacon” but “fresh side” and there will of course be two packages per processed pig.
Our two fresh sides weighed over 16 pounds.
I have a thing about salt, knowing how good sea salt or pure mineral salt is for you and how bad processed salt is for you, which is one reason I did not want the processor to make our bacon. This is an informative article on nitrites and bacon from the Weston Price Foundation
On October 16th I started with two cups of coarse Celtic Sea salt and processed finer in the food processor.
To that I added one pint of my sage preserved in honey and Apple Cider vinegar, two heaping teaspoons of cayenne pepper, and three heaping tablespoons black peppercorns. Process well in the food processor.
It was a bit difficult to work out the best pan or container to use for this process, but for the initial mixing I started with a large plastic tub with a lid and switched to large roasting pans.
Many recipes called for water being much of the liquid for the brine, and I wanted more flavor, and more room in my refrigerator, so I wanted to use kefir whey, one gallon.
Last year I bought several cases of Johnathan apples and made lots of applesauce, apple cider vinegar and apple cider. For the apple cider I just juiced the apples with my juicer and intended to make hard cider. Over the next few days I strained off much of the sediment from two gallons cider, which resulted in one gallon of clear apple juice, longing to be turned into hard cider. I still had it in my refrigerator and so I opened one of the jars and tasted it, surprised to find that it had neither soured, nor produced any alcohol, but was as sweet as when I made it.
So in goes one gallon apple cider with the gallon of kefir whey, and two cups organic cane sugar. The trick to brining is that you need a large enough container either glass, food grade plastic, stainless steel or enamel to be able to fully submerge the fresh sides in the brine. I settled on a large canning pot because it could also fit into my refrigerator.
But fat floats and so I used a pottery tray on top to keep the bacon submerged under the brine.
Place in the refrigerator for at least 5 to 7 days, removing twice daily to turn the meat over, stirring the brine well and making sure everything is well covered and submerged.
Recipe for curing two sides bacon:
two cups salt
two cups sugar
one pint preserved sage in honey and ACV
two teaspoons cayenne
three tablespoons peppercorns
one gallon kefir whey
one gallon apple cider
Next post will be drying the brined bacon to form a pellicle, cold smoking the bacon and the easiest and cleanest way to cook bacon.