Big Bacon Challenge: Day Zero – time to begin!

So, now you’ve (hopefully!) received your pack of curing salt, have laid your hands on a promising looking piece of pork, and are raring to get going turning it into bacon.

Belly pork, skin side upFirst of all you may need to do a bit of preparation with your pork.  If it came as a tied ‘joint’, cut all the string and flatten it out.  Rinse it under cold water before drying carefully with some paper towel if there’s any loose material on the surface left over from butchering, or if it seems ‘wet’ – this is more likely to be the case if it’s been vac-packed or previously frozen.

Belly Pork Piece - trimmed with skin-side downA loin piece should require no further preparation, though you might want to trim away any really loose bits of meat.  If your belly piece has come from a butcher or farm shop there may still be ribs on the inside surface.  Trim these away from the rest of the meat, preserving as much flesh as possible.  You also want the non-skin side to be able to absorb the cure as well as possible, so if there’s a thin layer of fat on this surface, you want to remove it.  It should peel away carefully, or use a sharp knife.

Now weigh your prepared meat and make a note of the weight in grams. Mine weighed very slightly under 600g.

Weighed-out curing saltThe total cure weight is going to be 10% of the weight of the meat – so for 600g I’m looking for a total weight of cure of 60g, which is going to be 80% curing salt and 20% sugar – so in my case 48g of salt and 12g of soft brown sugar.  Mix these together thoroughly in your airtight container.

Weighed-out cure mixYou’re ready to take your first steps in the ancient culinary alchemy of curing!

Belly pork with cure applied - skin-sideTake some of your dry cure and rub it all over all the surfaces of your meat.  There’s no hard and fast rule about how much to use for this first application, but I tend to use about 1/3rd of the total cure mix.  The cure will absorb least well through the skin, so while you should still rub some of the cure onto this surface, concentrate on getting the cure in to contact with the meat.

First batch of cure applied, skin-side downNow place your cured pork into your non-metallic dish, cover loosely with cling film, and put it in the fridge until tomorrow.  If you peek later, don’t worry if you start to see liquid in the bottom of the dish – this is quite normal and shows something’s happening!

Remember to seal the container with the rest of the cure in to keep the air and moisture out!

Please do keep me posted on your progress!

All the Big Bacon Challenge posts will be collected under the ‘BigBaconChallenge’ category heading – so go there to read them all!

Read more from the Country Skills blog >>

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13 thoughts on “Big Bacon Challenge: Day Zero – time to begin!

  1. I forgot to get clingfilm! Is there anything else I can use instead, or should I wait until I can get some?

    Colin told the butcher what he wanted the meat for, and the butcher was really enthusiastic. I should use that butcher more often.

  2. We received our salt yesterday (thank you!) and we will get some pork later in the week – thanks for the instructions… Ghoti I wonder if you are using our old butcher!? He was always very enthusiastic…!

      • This was a bit of a conceit to avoid people going ‘But I started on Monday, and you said it would take five days, it’s Friday now and I have to wait another day for my bacon, waaah!’ – of course a curing-day has to be 24 hours 🙂

  3. Pingback: Bacon challenge day zero | Alison was here

  4. Pingback: Make your own Bacon | Very Berry Handmade

  5. Pingback: Bacon Basics – bacon-in-a-bag method for ‘dry’ curing at home | Country Skills for Modern Life

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