Sheddie Nick (@shedbacon) has written a guest post about two of my favourite things Sheds and Bacon.
The shed I use was a bit of a white elephant, I built it as a sort of garden room cum small summerhouse, but it just got filled with kids toys and the barbecue, and it was a bit lacking in direction. Until I hit upon the idea of making bacon in it.
Bacon is lovely, right? But it’s not like it used to be. Fed up with this (And with a dearth of decent butchers or farmers markets up here) I set off on a voyage of discovery.
I was going to make it myself.
It’s just pig, at the end of the day, with salt and maybe some smoke, so I hit Google. Hard.
Here is a gallery of all of Nick’s work – in detail 🙂
It’s not really just salt, if you just use salt you get bacon which isn’t all the same colour, and it takes longer to cure as well. Who wants to wait?…
I buy the pork in the supermarket, I usually get a rolled loin roast weighing about 2KG. You just cut the string and you’re good to go. Once it’s cured you end up with about 1.5 KG of bacon.
Happily there are several companies who will provide you with a pre mixed curing salt mix, I use a commercial organic curing salt with some success, although I now use a mix of the curing salt, rock salt, and demerara sugar at a ratio of about 100g per KG of product.
The dry curing takes place in the shed when the weather is cool (I’m in Aberdeenshire, so that means anytime other than late June, July, or August usually. During these months I have to use the fridge) The meat is placed on a layer of cure, and has the rest of the cure rubbed all over it and sits in a pyrex dish, The cure causes liquid to leach out of the meat, and this is discarded every day, after all I’m dry curing it, nobody likes that white foam you get when you try to fry brined bacon. Well, I don’t and I originally set out to make it for me.
Once it’s had long enough in the cure (3 to 4 days usually, although Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall recommends curing for a week, but this is so salty that it turns your face inside out) I remove it from the salt and rinse it, then hang it up for a day or 2 to air dry a little longer. If you like unsmoked bacon then that’s it. Slice it up and get it eaten. It’ll keep for a week to ten days in the fridge.
I prefer smoked bacon, And there really is no smoke without fire. I ‘m looking to flavour the meat, not cook it, so I needed to get smoke. Cold smoke. You can rig up all manner of Heath Robinson contraptions using ducting, pipes, old pans, steel car wheels, etc, etc, but I took the easy way and got hold of a Pro Q cold smoke generator. It’s a great little thing, stainless steel, zero moving parts, and it gives about 12 hours of consistent smoke. It uses the Pro Q smoking dusts, which which are available in a variety of woods. Cherry and Oak are my favourites, so I tend to use a mix of these 2 woods together.
My smoker is made from a piece of 9mm ply I wombled from a big pallet courier company, along with a heap of pallets a while back, it’s just a box about 18 ins square by about 4ft high with an old floor tile in the bottom for the smoke generator to sit on, and a couple of rails at the top to hang whatever you’re smoking from.
I smoke the bacon, for about 12 hrs and then leave it for 12 to 24 hours still in the smoker before slicing it by hand, eating, it, or distributing it among my friends and colleagues, in exchange for a bottle of beer or two.
If you do something amazing and slightly different from the norm in your shed then let me know.