BACON – Hand marinated & smoked!

BACON – Hand marinated & smoked!, Fit Average Jo

Fit Average Jo is usually all about fitness & travel.  But on this occasion you get to see the Average Jo side.  Because Bacon.

I have a mate who makes bacon from scratch – marinated, then smoked.  Once you have eaten this bacon you are ruined.  NOTHING will ever compare.  This has to be the BEST bacon I have ever tasted in my entire life.

So, with his permission, I am sharing how to make your own awesome bacon from scratch.  You’re welcome!

Instructions for making your own bacon

Remove the skin (preferable for the curing process, and the skin goes quite hard, however if you prefer to leave it on, score it first), then rinse the pork belly under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels until it is very dry; the less moisture the better. You can cut it into smaller pieces if you wish.

The ingredients lists for 5 different flavours are below, each including curing salt and a 1.5kg pork belly.

BACON – Hand marinated & smoked!, Fit Average Jo

In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients first so the curing salt is well mixed before adding honey, maple syrup or other liquids of your choice. Using half of the curing mix above, sprinkle or spread it evenly over one side of the belly, and rub it in well. Next, turnover and repeat on the other side with the remaining mix. Spend a couple of minutes massaging the curing mixture into the meat.

Place the entire belly and curing mix into a large vacuum seal bag, then seal it using the Vacuum sealer. I used large ziploc bags for the first five I made, and it was harder to spread the mix after a couple of days, as the liquid would move around in the bag In the future I will definitely use a vacuum sealer (as recommended by many bacon lovers).

BACON – Hand marinated & smoked!, Fit Average Jo

Now place your pork belly in the refrigerator for 14 days. Each day the belly should be flipped onto the other side, and the contents (which will transform to a liquid) should be massaged gently around to ensure an even mix – if you do not do this, you may end up with uncured areas. Leave the liquid in the bag, it does not need to be drained off.  After 14 days, the bacon should be fully cured, with a firm texture and no soft spots.  Remove the bacon from the vacuum sealed bag, and rinse it very well under cold water and pat it very dry – I used paper towel which worked well.

If you are using a grill, set it up for two zone cooking, or fire up your smoker. Smoke over indirect heat at about 110 degrees celsius, until the internal temperature is 66 degrees celsius, which should take about 2 hours. You can use any wood you like. While hickory is the tried and true, I liked the applewood.

BACON – Hand marinated & smoked!, Fit Average Jo

If you don’t have a smoker, you can cook the pork belly in a 110 degrees celsius oven until it registers an internal temperature of 66 degrees celsius. Times will vary; check after about 2 hours.

Like most food, bacon tastes better fried the next day – or fry some up straight away and if you have the will power, put some away.

Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months – if you don’t eat is straight away!!

BACON – Hand marinated & smoked!, Fit Average Jo
Tips:
• When using salt, do not use iodised salt as there are additives in it to prevent sticking that can affect the curing process.
• The finer the salt, the saltier the meat will be – so use a coarse salt if possible. I used a pink Himalayan salt for mine and it was great.
• Wash the meat well before smoking, to reduce the saltiness.
• The longer you leave it curing the saltier it will be.
• If using a thick liquid like honey for the curing process, soften it in the microwave first, and have the belly at room temperature so it doesn’t stick to the meat, leaving a ‘pink’ spot on the meat.

Below are the 5 different cures I tried, and they are rated in order from best to least favourite – not by label number as they were simply the numbers given before curing.

Label # 2
• 1.5 kg pork belly
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 3 tablespoons of coarse, non-iodized salt
• 1 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon curing salt
There wasn’t much salt to rub in, but it started looking good straight away – lightly sprinkle the mix on to make it last, then massage it in. We left it for 16 days before smoking. Excellent flavour, agreed by all as the best and simplest.

Label # 4
• 1.5 kg of pork belly
• 4 1/2 teaspoons of coarse, non-iodized salt
• 4 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup dark maple syrup
• 3/4 cup water
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/2 teaspoon curing salt
This one had a lot of liquid in the bag during the curing process – the cracked pepper stuck to the outside of the meat, even after a very good clean and looked fantastic. We left it for 16 days before smoking. Great flavour, rated a close second.

Label # 5
• 1.5 kg of pork belly
• 4 1/2 teaspoons of coarse, non-iodized salt
• 1 teaspoon 5 spice powder
• 3 tablespoons powdered ginger I used fresh ginger
• 1 tablespoon powdered garlic
• 1/3 cup honey
• 3/4 cup kecap manis sweet soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon hot sauce
• 1/3 cup water
• 1/2 teaspoon curing salt
This one didn’t look very good during the marinating process due to the water added. I wish I had vacuum sealed this one. We left it for 10 days before smoking. It had a sweet taste – almost like a honey ham when fried on the BBQ. We couldn’t taste the hot sauce, and although we rated this as the third best, it was very good fried the next day.

Label # 3
• 1.5 kg of pork belly
• 3 tablespoons of coarse, non-iodized salt
• 1/3 cup white sugar
• 2 tablespoons pepper
• 2 teaspoons sweet paprika I used normal paprika
• 1 teaspoon curing salt
This one had a lot of salt to rub in, easy to put on and we left it for 16 days before smoking. There was none left in the pan after frying it up, but the other ones above were a better tasting.

Label # 1
• 2.5 kg pork belly
• 1/4 cup of coarse, non-iodized salt
• 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
• 1/4 cup honey (preferably chestnut honey)
• 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
• 2 tablespoons sweet paprika I used normal paprika
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 2 teaspoons curing salt
It was very hard to apply due to the honey to this one, but after a couple of days the honey started to melt and blended in well. We left it for 10 days before smoking it, and it was very salty with no pepper/chilli flavour. There is no such thing as ‘bad tasting bacon’, but given the choice, this was our least favourite.BACON – Hand marinated & smoked!, Fit Average Jo

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Published by Fit Average Jo

I am a Personal Trainer working in the Outback. I love fitness and travel so I have combined both loves on social media. I am an Average Jo. I am fit, but I am not a fitness bunny. I am real. I eat nice food, I drink tasty beverages and I train it off with boxing, bootcamps and running. I travel any chance I can. Join me on my fitness and travel journey.

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