Bacon. Bacun. Rasher. Backe. All words used from around the world, throughout time to describe salted pork belly. Delicious, would describe how it tastes.
I’m not alone in this love affair for bacon. I bet you enjoy bacon too. That crisp salty slice of pork right next to your eggs and toast. On top of those beautiful garden-fresh sliced tomatoes kissed by the sun, piled on some nice romaine lettuce with mayo and fresh bread. It makes me want to go bake some bacon in the oven RIGHT NOW. Sigh.
According to Peggy Trowbridge Filippone of The Spruce Eats, in her article
“The Short History of Bacon”, salted pork belly made it debut thousands of years ago in China.
From there bacon spread over into the Roman Empire and then to the Anglo Saxon peasants who cooked with bacon fat. If the Romans liked it, it wasn’t too long and the whole rest of the world would like bacon too.
A prehistoric “smoke cave” was found in the mountains of Siberia. Cave drawings nearby depicted cavemen smoking pork belly, complete with instructions on how to place your small fire breathing dragon in the smoking cave and what wood to use for smoking. There, you should be paying attention now! Hopefully “small fire breathing dragon” caught your attention and you knew I was fibbing.
Cuts and Cures
You can take several different muscle areas of the pig and make bacon. Your region and culture dictate what part of the pig the bacon is cut and the process you use to cure it. Here are a few “cuts” of bacon:
- Side bacon– comes from the pork belly, has streaks of muscle and fat running parallel- this is popular in the USA. Italians use this cut as well to make their pancetta.
- Back bacon– comes from the back of the pig, leaner. The UK and Ireland like this cut.
- Collar bacon– comes from the back of the pig near the head, neck area
- Cottage bacon– comes from the pig shoulder area, leaner, very meaty
- Jowl bacon– comes the cheek area of the pig, Italians call it Guanciale
I have only had side bacon and cottage bacon. Cottage bacon makes an excellent morning breakfast side of protein. Cottage bacon has more meat than side bacon, but it is not as flavourful as side bacon due to less fat.
The curing of bacon is generally done as a wet cure (soaking it in a solution with the popular potassium nitrate and sodium nitrate) or a dry cure (using plain crystal salt). According to the cookbook The Virginian Housewife, circa 1824, you always smoked bacon. To have done anything else was sacrilege. Smoking bacon was considered a job for both genders- not just the “guys”.
Bacon just doesn’t come plain. Many folks like to add “flavors” to their bacon! I can’t write this article without mentioning two great places to stop and get some homemade cured bacon. These places are Edgerton Food Center and V&M. Two very great places to get some GREAT bacon.
First up we have Edgerton Food Center. Bill Sandbulte does a great job making their cottage bacon, side bacon, and pepper bacon. I remember the first time I found out there was “cottage bacon. EFC was out of regular side bacon so they asked me if I had ever tried cottage bacon. I had never heard of cottage bacon but wanted to try some. I ordered two pounds of the cottage bacon and was very glad I did.
Next, we have V&M. They have a variety of flavored bacon: regular, pepper, Hungarian (has garlic and onion flavors), apple cinnamon, and Raspberry Chipotle. They make cottage bacon as well.
I have tried their apple cinnamon and it is very delicious. The apple cinnamon has just the right amount of apple and not overpowered by the cinnamon. The other flavors I have been a little shy about trying when it comes to the pepper, Hungarian, and raspberry chipotle.
Stay tuned to next week’s bacon recipes and different ways to cook bacon. Till then friends, here is good food, good friends and a GREAT LIFE! Thank you Founding Fathers for our Constitution and our Veterans for fighting for freedom here and abroad.
Michele Bruxvoort is sure to draw you in with her delightful sense of humor and love for living life. She enjoys reading, repurposing, as well as remodeling the family home with her husband. Drawing from her life experience as wife, mom, and follower of Jesus, Michele brings you a very honest and real perspective on life. When you don’t find her writing, you can find her mowing lawns, stocking shelves, taking care of her grandbaby and tackling her latest life adventure.
Wisconsin native and empty-nester, she now makes her home with her husband of 27 years in the South West Prairie plains of Minnesota.