How different really is our bacon to that which is mass produced?
March 7, 2018
Being a small, artisanal producer who only uses ethically reared pork, old fashioned dry-curing methods and plenty of hand labour, when we're asked this question our short answer is, "very". But if you take it a little further you’ll realise that there really is no comparison. Firstly unlike the bacon found in supermarkets or mass producers of bacon, the pigs we use are naturally reared which means that they are allowed to grow up at their own pace under natural conditions, without any unhealthy, unnatural additives in thier diet.
It’s common knowledge that mass produced bacon is made in a matter of hours by machines. We can assure you that our bacon takes a lot long and much of the work is done by hand. In most factories the process begins with frozen pork that’s thawed and tumbled in a metal drum to soften the meat whereas we begin with fresh pork which gives the bacon a better texture and flavour right from the start.
Then theirs is placed on hangers and injected with a liquid cure solution called brine whereas ours is dry-cured, which means we hand rub each cut with a dry mixture of salts, sugar, and a small amount of curing salts and then, turning it daily, we leave it in this mix for a number of days so that it can properly permeate the meat and intensify the flavours.
Often instead of actually smoking the meat, they add liquid smoke and other flavourings such as sweeteners, herbs and spices to their brine and then, when the slabs have been curing for a few hours, they spray them with more liquid smoke and heat them in a thermal processing unit, which is known by the misnomer of a "smokehouse". When our cuts are completely cured we hang each one in our real smoker where they slow smoke over virgin oak shavings for hours and hours, with us adding more oak every hour or so.
Finally commercial slabs are quickly chilled, machine-pressed into a uniform shape, sliced and packaged for sale. Whereas once our bacon is smoked the pieces are dried and we have no way of creating a uniform shape, so our slices are not all the same size, but surely that’s all part of the charm of hand made.
Just to recap, artisanal bacon takes lots more time, plenty of love and hand labour and real wood smoke to make. The extended curing and smoking time intensifies the natural flavour of the pork and shrinks the meat, and because no brine is pumped in, you pay only for well cured meat which doesn’t shrivel up in the pan. And most important of all, it tastes like real bacon should.