Bacon and sheds – two perfect things together at last – how to cure & smoke bacon in your shed

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.


British Tomato Week May 19-25

I missed this at the start of the week, anyway my toms are not even flowering yet..

Tomatoes are now the most widely-grown ’vegetable’ in the world and as well as tasting so good, they’re also extremely healthy. Tomatoes are low in calories and contain virtually no fat or cholesterol. They are a good source of Vitamins A, C and E and contain potassium, calcium and other mineral salts and have been linked to cancer prevention.

To celebrate British Tomato Week May 19-25 here are a few hints and tips to help you get the best flavour and enjoyment from this colourful fruit courtesy The British Tomato Growers’ Association.


:: Tomatoes dislike the cold and should be stored at room temperature. Storing them in the fridge impairs natural ripening and flavour

:: Remove tomatoes from their plastic bag or packaging and place then in the fruit bowl

:: Natural herb partners for tomatoes are mint, parsley, basil and oregano

:: Use under-ripe, green tomatoes for making chutney

:: Use up over-ripe tomatoes to make soups or sauces which can be stored in the freezer for up to six months

:: To skin tomatoes, place them in a pan of boiling water for 15 seconds and the skins will then peel off easily

:: Plum tomatoes of varying sizes are good for barbecues as their firm flesh keeps them on the skewer, rather than slipping off between the bars

:: Make your own ’sun-dried’ tomatoes by sprinkling equal amounts of caster sugar and salt over halved tomatoes. Place them cut side up on a baking sheet and cook in the oven on a low heat for two and a half hours, until most of the liquid has dried out.

Mash and a banger 99

Not about sheds, but I love a 99 in the Summer and I love Sausage and Mash, but those odd lot over at Aunt Bessies have gone one better and mixed the two!

mashAunt Bessie’s Mash Cone

Mash and a banger in a cone launched as the first all-weather alternative to the ’99 Flake’

It may look like a 99 Flake from afar, but it’s just the latest sign of the British adapting our eating habits due to our increasingly rainy summers. With last summer being one of the wettest ever recorded and the heaviest snowfall for almost 20 years this month, Aunt Bessie’s* is breathing new life into the fortunes of the ice cream van by replacing chilly ices with an all-weather, British classic: creamy mash and a banger – in a cone!

Served from a specially customised ‘Mash Van’, Aunt Bessie’s will offer cones filled with creamy, warm homestyle mash and a banger topped with gravy and a sprinkling of garden peas. Aunt Bessie’s Mashed Potato is made using exactly the same ingredients as you would at home – real potatoes, milk, butter, salt and pepper.