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There’s more than one way to cure bacon.

Here is a guide to the different types of bacon available in the market including the various types of bacon cures. How is bacon made and what is the difference between wet cured and dry cured bacon? We begin the journey in 1500 BC, in Ancient China, which is the first known date for dry curing pork. Because dry curing pork kills bacteria, before opening it is shelf stable and does not require refrigeration. The USDA recommends using dry cured bacon within 10 days without being refrigerated or four weeks when kept chilled.

There’s more than one way to cure bacon.

Columbus brought the first pigs across the Atlantic in 1493 AD. Decades later the increasing popularity of bacon demanded a faster curing process than dry-curing pork. This slower process was replaced with a faster curing process using a brine curing solution. This process is known as the “Wiltshire cure”, and is the pioneer of large scale bacon production. Bacon cured with a brine is labeled as wet-cured.

Since the Middle Ages, we cure bacon with nitrates. When we eat nitrates, they convert into nitrites in our digestive system, which then convert to ammonia and are disposed of by the body. Nitrates can be found in root vegetables, including celery. When they come into contact with bacteria, nitrates break down into nitrites and add a distinctive flavor and a pinkish hue to the meat. Uncured bacon, as its name implies, is not cured, though it can be smoked. Nitrate or nitrite free bacon is cured by using natural spices, often celery powder, which contain naturally occurring nitrates, serving the same purpose as the synthetic stuff.

Dry Cured Bacon

The first known process for curing pork belly is dry-curing. Salt and/or sugar and sodium nitrite are rubbed on the pork belly then left to cure for several days. The meat then starts the smoking process where it hangs above smoking hard wood chips. The next step is slicing the pork belly. Leaving the meat whole produces what is known as a bacon slab. The USDA recommends using dry cured bacon within 10 days if it is not refrigerated. Once open, refrigerate the bacon and use within seven days or freeze it for up to one year. Dry cured bacon splatters less while cooking and tends to be saltier than wet cured bacon. The dry-cure bacon sampler or the 6-pack dry cure bundle at Bacon Freak offer several different varieties of gourmet dry cured bacon.

Wet Cure Bacon

Water with a high concentration of salt is a brine. Bacon producers use brine to cure pork belly. You can submerge the meat in the brine or inject the brine into the meat. This brine cures the meat. Smoking the cured meat over hard wood chips is most often the next step in the process. When you do not slice the meat, it is known as a bacon slab. This bacon has a higher moisture content causing some popping while frying and increased shrinking while cooking compared to dry cured bacon. The Three Amigos bundle at Bacon Freak includes wet cure bacon with three different spicy bacon flavors: sriracha, jalapeno and chipotle. Also available is a 5-Pound hickory smoked, sliced bacon that is also wet cured. 

Uncured & Nitrate Free Bacon

Pork belly that undergoes no curing process is uncured bacon. This uncured bacon is different than nitrate free or nitrite free bacon. These use organic spices, such as celery powder, which contain naturally occurring nitrites, which offers an organic way of killing bacteria. Keep uncured bacon refrigerated and once opened use it within seven days. Or freeze for up to
one year. Among the uncured bacon that BaconFreak offers is an
uncured hickory smoked peppered and sliced bacon as well as an 
uncured and sugar-free bacon.

The post Bacon 101 appeared first on Bacon today.

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The sweet spot in pork cooking is juicy but not pink, and that can be a challenge. Too bad smoked pork chops are not readily available at the market because once they are smoked all bacteria is killed so they are safe to eat. This recipe adds some sweet flavor through a whiskey glaze that mixes nicely with the smoky pork. By covering the cooking pork with the heat very low, the flavor of the glaze becomes stronger but the pork remains moist.

Whiskey Glazed Smoked Pork Chops

Yield: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 4-6 smoked bone in pork chops
  • 1 tsp dried mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 TBS brown sugar
  • 1 TBS whiskey
  • 1 TBS vegetable oil
  • 2 TBS water
  • pomegranate seeds (optional)

Instructions

  1. Dry the pork chops with a paper towel. Then season them with the cayenne and mustard powder. Stir together the whiskey, brown sugar and water and set to the side.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil until hot then brown the pork chops in the oil at medium high heat. When nicely browned, be careful not to burn them, otherwise the burnt flavor will be present in the glaze. Once the chops are browned, remove them from the heat.
  3. Turn down the heat and add the wet mixture you put to the side earlier. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon to release the brown (not burnt) bits attached to the pan. Continue to heat until the mixture is reduced to a glaze, this should take a short time, around a minute or two.
  4. Return the browned chops to the pan and cook on both sides, heating and covering the chops with the glaze.
  5. Remove from heat and plate. Top with pomegranate seeds if desired.
5.0.12

The post Whiskey Glazed Smoked Pork Chops appeared first on Bacon today.

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A delightful combination that is apparently well known based on all of the bourbon and bacon festivals going on around the country. Bacon Freak was happy to be a sponsor of the Bacon & Barrel Festival held recently in Chattanooga, Tennessee. And well, if you’re going to have a bourbon festival, Tennessee seems like a natural location. Add to that bacon inspired dishes from local restaurants and live music and you’ve got yourself a mighty fine time! By the many photos taken at the event, it was a very happy occasion!

Bacon Freak bacon being served up at the Chattanooga Bourbon & Bacon Festival.

So popular were the Bacon Freak bacon samples, we’re told they ran out about 1/2 way through the day. Along with the Bourbon & Bacon, several local restaurants served up some good eats.

Mmmmmm … Bacon Freak bacon samples! Nom nom.

The post Bacon & Bourbon appeared first on Bacon today.

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Bacon. Bourbon. Yep. It’s bacon infused bourbon.

Bacon & Bourbon festivals are on the rise. Click on our events button above to see if there’s one scheduled in your area.

Adhering to the adage everything is better with bacon, we applied the theory to bourbon, and we’re quite sure those festival folks are onto something.  Did you know that you can make your very own delicious Bacon Bourbon? Of course you could make your own bacon infused vodka, but that takes infinitely longer than bacon bourbon (weeks). And you want to have a nice Bacon Old Fashioned this weekend!

Here’s how you get to making that sexy drink.

A bacon with more smokiness creates a better and more sophisticated drink. It also amps up that bacony good flavor. We suggest a Hickory Smoked Bacon, Boss Hog Hickory Smoked dry cured bacon is an excellent choice.

Make sure you’re hungry because you’re only going to be using the bacon fat to infuse your bourbon. You could always drink your cocktail with a plate of bacon. Or save the bacon for later. Do whatever you want; you’re your own person.

The process of infusing the bacon into the bourbon is called fat washing. Sounds gross but the result is absolutely delicious and delightfully intoxicating. To do it right, follow these steps:

Bacon Infused Bourbon
.33 cup of rendered bacon fat
3 cups of bourbon

Cook a pound of bacon and reserve the rendered fat. Add .33 cup of hot fat to a jar and fill with bourbon. Seal and allow to stand until it reaches room temperature. Place the jar in the freezer for 24 hours. The fat will solidify but the bourbon will remain in a liquid state. Open the jar and pour off the bourbon, straining through a coffee filter or cheesecloth to remove any loose fat particles.

Bottle it and slap on a cool label.

Or get to the mixing:

Bacon Old Fashioned
2 oz bacon-infused bourbon
.25 oz Grade B Maple Syrup (A syrup darker in color and containing more of a caramel flavor)
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Orange twist

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine all the ingredients except for the orange twist. Shake, then strain into a tumbler glass filled with a couple of ice cubes. Garnish with the orange twist. Then enjoy bacony, boozey goodness. It’s the perfect man drink. Or even a sexy drink for an awesome lady.

Now, sit back and… Ahh. Enjoy.

The post Bacon Bourbon appeared first on Bacon today.

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Bacon Gift Guide for Mother’s Day

Dads shouldn’t be the only ones who score bacon on their big day. Moms love bacon just as much as dads do. We’ve created this Mother’s Day Bacon Gift Guide for the mom who loves bacon. In other words, just about every mom you know. Make Mother’s Day sizzle with BACON!

Mother’s Day Bacon Bundles

Filled with assorted bacon goodies, these bacon gift bundles are for the mom who lives by the motto that “variety is the bacon spice of life.”

The Mom Nom Nom Bacon Bundle is filled with all sorts of bacon goodies. With Bacon & Chocolate in the same gift box, you’re sure to win her heart all over again.

Mom Nom Nom Bacon Bundle

Bacon Freak Mother’s Day Sampler makes an awesome breakfast with both sweet and savory flavored packs of bacon and just add water pancake mix. Kitschy Keep Calm & Eat Bacon t-shirt is fun plus there’s chocolate covered bacon and it all arrives in a gift box.

Bacon Freak Mother’s Day Sampler

The Happy Mom Bacon Bundle is a collection of fun, useful and tasty treats that are sure to make mom “squeal” with delight!

Happy Mom Bacon Bundle

Sweet, sweet bacon

This bacon is sweet–literally! Some of Baconfreak.com’s bacon have a hint of sweetness.  Some of our favorites include Maple Cinnamon, Honey BBQ Rubbed, Apple Pie Bacon and Hickory Smoked Maple Bacon.

Boss Hog Honey BBQ Bacon

Bacon Chocolates

Mother’s Day isn’t complete without chocolates. These chocolate covered hickory smoked bacon confections are available in either milk chocolate or dark chocolate, depending on mom’s preference.

Dark Chocolate Double dipped hickory smoked bacon

Bacon T-Shirts

Of all the bacon t-shirt designs out there, this is one of our favorites. It’s a good reminder in any mom’s hectic, busy life. Keep calm. Eat bacon.

Bacon Cookbooks

Great Bacon deserves some great cookbooks and we’ve got a few, like our Bacon Freak “50 Savory Recipes for the Ultimate Enthusiast” or  “101 Things to do with Bacon” by Eliza Cross and more that are filled with tons of bacontastic recipes that will help keep mom’s creative spark alive in the kitchen.

Bacon Aprons

Mom’s bacon aprons will stay clean and tidy as she cooks up those delicious bacon recipes. These aprons are functional and stylish!

This post was updated in April 2019.

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Newsweek gathered 8 interesting facts about Chinese New Year and are posted below.

Gung Hay Fat Choy – traditional Chinese New Year Greeting

Today, February 5, 2019 kicks off the Year of the Pig. Each lunar cycle in China is comprised of 60 years, with every 12 year period defined as a small cycle. Each of those 12 years is represented by an animal: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

The Year of the Pig is the twelfth sign of the Chinese zodiac and it signifies wealth and prosperity. According to legend, people share some personality traits with the animal that represents the year they were born in.

China is not the only country to celebrate Chinese New Year. The holiday is observed in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore and other Asian countries. In Vietnam, for example, the holiday is known as Yet Nguyen Dan.

The celebration around Chinese New Year lasts 15 days and concludes with the Lantern Festival.

People celebrate with a reunion dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve, which lands on February 4 this year, with their families. After the reunion dinner, families watch the CCTV New Year’s Gala.

This last fun fact sounds awfully familiar. I wonder what CCTV’s answer to team Anderson & Cohen is.

Were you born in a lunar year of the pig?

If you were born in one of the following years, you were born in a lunar year of the pig. 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019 and 2031

The Pig is the twelfth of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. Pig was late because he overslept. Another story says that a wolf destroyed his house. He had to rebuild his home before he could set off. When he arrived, he was the last one and could only take twelfth place.

The Pig is also associated with the Earthly Branch (??—dì zh?) hài (?), and the hours 9–11 in the night. In terms of yin and yang (??—y?n yáng), the Pig is yin. In Chinese culture, pigs are the symbol of wealth.
Their chubby faces and big ears are signs of fortune as well.

Pigs might not stand out in a crowd. But they are very realistic. Others may be all talk and no action. Pigs are the opposite.

Though not wasteful spenders, they will let themselves enjoy life. They love entertainment and will occasionally treat themselves. They are a bit materialistic, but this is motivation for them to work hard. Being able to hold solid objects in their hands gives them security.

They are energetic and are always enthusiastic, even for boring jobs. If given the chance, they will take positions of power and status. They believe that only those people have the right to speak, and that’s what they want.

Find more fascinating facts about the year of the pig from the Chinese Zodiac website here.

The post Year of the Pig appeared first on Bacon today.

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Bacon Potstickers

National Bacon  Lover’s Day is August 20! This seems like a great time to try out a new recipe featuring the star of the holiday, bacon. And we’re going in what might seem an unusual direction for a recipe featuring bacon, but really not so much if you consider that China is one of the first known cultures to salt-cure pork belly way back in 1500 BC. This recipe for bacon pot stickers is delicious and has a limited number of ingredients but the taste of the smoky peppered bacon along with the toasted sesame oil and the green onions is bacon bliss. The potsticker filling can be kept refrigerated for a couple of days which allows you to turn out fantastic, fresh hot potstickers in under 15 minutes.

Ingredients

Instructions

5.0.12

Raw Bacon Potstickers

Bacon is so very versatile, it should be celebrated more often!

The post Bacon Potstickers appeared first on Bacon today.

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You’re likely familiar with wine and craft beer flights, a collection or grouping of various wines or beers for the purpose of tasting and comparing. The same concept is used for bacon flights and can be found in many restaurants including The Center Street Cafe in Farmersville, OH.

Breakfast, the most important meal of the day.

The owners of this culinary gem, Heather Neitman and Mike Dowden, are locals who love their town. But they defined something that was missing, a great breakfast spot. So they made one! Talk about necessity being the mother of invention.  Their farm to table style restaurant, where everything they make is made from scratch, is also home to the elusive bacon flight.

The Center Street Cafe expanded their menu, by popular demand, to offer lunch in short order. With offerings as delectable sounding as maple bacon pulled pork mac-n-cheese, cracker-jack French toast (Thick-cut challah bread, bathed in a rich custard, finished with Cracker Jacks® & a salted caramel compound butter, oh my!) and waffled crab cakes, that demand is highly understood.

bacon flight from Center Street Cafe

Bacon Boom

The cafe stocks ten different bacon flavors. Customers choose four flavors to be included in a bacon flight. The flight includes two slices of each of the chosen flavors. The cafe’s current ten bacon flavors from which to choose are: Coastal Caliente Chipotle, Bacon Freak Everything but the Kitchen Sink, The Majestic Pig Cracked Four Pepper, VooDoo Swine Blackened Louisiana, Orville’s Apple Pie, Pan Fried Pier Summer Herb, Firecracker Chili, Smokey Strabler’s Italian, Boss Hog Hickory Smoked Maple and Bacon Freak Maple Cinnamon. The restaurant plans to refresh their bacon selection periodically, giving new taste opportunities to their clientele.

Bacon has become a cure-all for bland food in recent years. It can add a new dimension to old recipes making them new again. And flavored bacon can be a nice compliment for some recipes.  With a bacon flight, since the bacon doesn’t compete with other ingredients, you can savor the distinct flavor of the bacon and its seasonings as well as the texture and scent.

Bacon Bust?

If you’re not near Farmersville or don’t have the good fortune of a local restaurant serving  bacon flights, be the mother of your own necessity and create a bacon flight all on your own.  Including both savory and sweet varieties of bacon spans the breadth of possibilities. Add a bacon with a spicy kick as well, all the better to finish with a frosty brew. Including a simple bacon can calm the palate and helps showcase the different flavors that can enhance bacon.

Be sure to have good drink to accompany the bacon flights. Label the different flavors or consider blind taste testing, revealing the flavor of the bacon only after it has been tasted. You can provide each guest with a note pad and pencil and ask them to write down the flavors they taste in each flight. To make it cute add some pig inspired items like pink napkins,  pig placemats, bacon themed serving tray or pig name card holders. The final ingredient will be good friends that enjoy good food.  Let the tasting begin!

The post When Pigs Can Fly! appeared first on Bacon today.

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“Begin with Bacon” should be the rallying cry for recipes, as everyone knows, everything is better with bacon. Some recipes use bacon as a garnish, other recipes feature bacon as the star of the show. This recipe begins with bacon, but rather than sliced strips of bacon, a portion from a slab of bacon is used in order to cut small cubes, or lardons, that render the fat while cooking, but don’t become crispy.

Once the fat is rendered you remove the cubes and then add them back when you quickly toss the cooked spaghetti in the warm bacon fat near the end of the recipe. Although the recipe is simple, it is unusual in that you don’t cook the egg before adding it to the cooked pasta.  If this step is not done properly you end up with bits of scrambled egg in your pasta. And if it is done properly, you end up with a delicious creamy coating on all your pasta. The raw egg can only cook properly with a pasta shape that has a sufficiently large ratio of surface area to volume, such as spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine.

Ingredients

Instructions

5.0.12

The post Bacon Based Spaghetti Carbonara appeared first on Bacon today.

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Bacon. Bourbon. Yep. It’s bacon infused bourbon.

Bacon & Bourbon festivals are on the rise. Click on our events button above to see if there’s one scheduled in your area.

Adhering to the adage everything is better with bacon, we applied the theory to bourbon, and we’re quite sure those festival folks are onto something.  Did you know that you can make your very own delicious Bacon Bourbon? Of course you could make your own bacon infused vodka, but that takes infinitely longer than bacon bourbon (weeks). And you want to have a nice Bacon Old Fashioned this weekend!

Here’s how you get to making that sexy drink.

A bacon with more smokiness creates a better and more sophisticated drink. It also amps up that bacony good flavor. We suggest a Hickory Smoked Bacon, Boss Hog Hickory Smoked dry cured bacon is an excellent choice.

Make sure you’re hungry because you’re only going to be using the bacon fat to infuse your bourbon. You could always drink your cocktail with a plate of bacon. Or save the bacon for later. Do whatever you want; you’re your own person.

The process of infusing the bacon into the bourbon is called fat washing. Sounds gross but the result is absolutely delicious and delightfully intoxicating. To do it right, follow these steps:

Bacon Infused Bourbon
.33 cup of rendered bacon fat
3 cups of bourbon

Cook a pound of bacon and reserve the rendered fat. Add .33 cup of hot fat to a jar and fill with bourbon. Seal and allow to stand until it reaches room temperature. Place the jar in the freezer for 24 hours. The fat will solidify but the bourbon will remain in a liquid state. Open the jar and pour off the bourbon, straining through a coffee filter or cheesecloth to remove any loose fat particles.

Bottle it and slap on a cool label.

Or get to the mixing:

Bacon Old Fashioned
2 oz bacon-infused bourbon
.25 oz Grade B Maple Syrup (A syrup darker in color and containing more of a caramel flavor)
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Orange twist

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine all the ingredients except for the orange twist. Shake, then strain into a tumbler glass filled with a couple of ice cubes. Garnish with the orange twist. Then enjoy bacony, boozey goodness. It’s the perfect man drink. Or even a sexy drink for an awesome lady.

Now, sit back and… Ahh. Enjoy.

The post Bacon Bourbon appeared first on Bacon Today.

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