On Various Methods of Curing Bacon

Over the years, I have cured bacon many ways. Flavor has been the primary motivator of curing innovation, but not the only one. When I started out, it was lack of refrigeration space. From the beginning, I assumed that preservation in all conditions is what it means to cure. For bacon, this means that it can be hung in room temperatures and never spoil. Initially, this produced saltier bacon that some disliked. And so my methods have adapted to find a very elusive balance. How can I cure bacon that is mild and preserved?

Salty bacon has never been a hardship in the Sheard household because bacon has been so much more than a breakfast ration. I use it for braises, soups, beans, hashes, larding and barding. Salty bacon is really only a problem if sliced, gently fried and eaten on its own. This happens to be how bacon is consumed 99% of the time, so if it doesn’t work in that context, it is understandable that consumers would feel that the bacon is a complete failure

At first, I confess that I bristled at this notion. Stubbornly, I refused to change my curing methods because they weren’t flawed and neither was the bacon. The problem was the limited culinary imagination of those who think bacon is only the vacuum sealed, pre-sliced, “uncured” flaccid strips labelled bacon at the grocery.

But pride is a luxury I can’t afford as a service provider. Making bacon that most people disrelish is not a good business plan. Fortunately, I have not had to compromise the nobility of traditionally cured bacon in order to please. The situation required a deeper devotion to the art of baconing.

- December, 2018 Harvest Journal, On Various Methods of Curing Bacon
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