Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bacon is smallholder heaven

Out of all the food projects I've done at Lantanaland, for pure pleasure, you can't beat the satisfaction of home cured and smoked bacon. It is the slow process that the bacon demands that gives me such a thrill.

Like all my cooking it's never been done the same way twice, but here are the consistent bits. Into some salt I mix brown sugar and a pile of herbs and spices banged in a mortar and pestle, juniper, bay, fresh rosemary, Tasmanian pepper, fennel seeds, whatever takes me at the time. The spice blend/sugar is mixed about one to five with the salt, then rubbed into the pork belly. This then goes in the fridge for ten days, with more salt being rubbed in and the liquid drained off every couple of days.

The next step is firing up the cold smoker. This time I am using woodchip from work but any sawdust free of chemicals will do. The first time I used the woodchip I bought from the tree contracters who pushed back the trees from the road and mulched it. I'm also going to try and get some sawdust from a mill that does ironbark trees.

The bacon gets smoked for four days relatively non stop. I fill it up before work and then when I get home. The cold smoking gives it a much stronger, dryer flavour, unlike any bacon you could buy. After the smoking it goes in the fridge for a few days before I take it to a freindly butcher, slice it and cryovac it.

This gives me a good supply of an ingredient that will change any recipe that has bacon in it to a class above. Quiche, filos and especially breakfast will never be the same.

All in all it's about a 18 day process and you get more than amply rewarded for time put in. The only way better is to raise your own pigs.

Wanna sell me a pig?

MF from the iPhone


  1. My uncle who runs a farm near Tuntable Creek (ask the wife) used to do his own salami. It was farquing wonderful stuff. Used to hang it and smoke it under the house. Of course processed cured meats leave a lot more scope for good poisoning disaster than curing bacon, and Pagotto's butchery in Lismore used to do a fairly handy and much less labour intensive substitute, so the point was lost at some stage. A bit like my home brewing endeavours.

    See if you can maybe get hold of some different sorts of woodchips (garden centre maybe?) Manuka-smoked bacon is big over here, lots of flavour.

  2. Nice work. Missed the cold smoker story. A pity, because we recently paid someone to take a dead washing machine off our hands.

    I do a lot of hot smoking and my best brine is a brown sugar and salt mix in equal parts, with honey and soy in the water.

    For wood, I typically use Australian hardwood sawdust. I have a deal with an amateur carpenter.

    Happy smoking.

  3. You curing meat or fish with that brine abe? Sounds interesting.

    As i mentioned i'm chasing some ironbark sawdust but the ideal would be the woodchip with dried fennel stems, bay leaves and rosemary. I don't have enough bay yet to supply the smoker, but i have planted half a kilo of fennel seeds

  4. 'Free of chemicals' also necessarily means 'free of stupidity'. There are sawdusts you don't want. Camphor Laurel is an excellent example. Oleander is even better. And I have to admit, I'm not partial to eucalyptus-flavoured bacon.

  5. Beeso, Usually I smoke salmon and trout, but I have also hot smoked chicken and duck. Prost.

  6. Sounds really good mate, got to say i love hot smoked eel and trout.

    Dirks right (yawn, as usual) you've gotta watch your woodchip supplier!!