My apology for the lack of posts recently. Our camera died and we are waiting for batteries from Hong Kong to arrive so we can document visually the Liquid Smoke Bacon recipe. I can report on it now, since we just made it.
First off, is it the same flavor as true smoked bacon? No, it isn't. It is very close to the commercial bacon sold in the USA in terms of flavor. So while it is not the top of bacon, it is still quite good and substantially better than the bacon we have found in sold commonly in the Philippines, including those marked as "smoked" by the large commercial producers.
What is very nice about it is how easy it is to make! No smoker, no wood chips, minimum mess. You add two tablespoons of Liquid Smoke to the Bacon Cure #1, coat the pork belly, then 7 days in the refrigerator, turning over every day or two. Bingo, you have a very presentable bacon seen all through out North America.
Our next time of using Liquid Smoke we will do a couple of things different. We will add some other flavorings to the cure and we will give the cured bacon a second coating of Liquid Smoke before we "finish" the cure process in our oven. This should enhance the smoked flavor significantly and the the other flavorings will help give a deeper flavor.
Also, on the way for next year: Maple Bacon Cure #1. We will have Bacon Cure #1 with real maple sugar which is made from maple syrup. And to help you enhance that nice sweet maple flavor we will have a very limited amount of commercially made Natural Maple Flavor. Combine very small amounts of the Natural Maple Flavor with real Honey and you get an amazing taste. When you use that with Maple Bacon Cure #1, you will have an amazing flavor not seen in the Philippines except in the very top end, elite restaurants that use all imported products.
If you are interested in the Natural Maple Flavor to use with our upcoming Maple Bacon Cure #1, let me know since the supply will be very limited initially.
We will be updating the blog with reports, with pictures this time, of the Liquid Smoke recipe, our tests with Coco Sugar Cure for bacon, and more. At the end of December we will be attending an informal class in making Tocino Sausage and developing a recipe for it using Bacon Cure #1. We will also be looking at Longaneza Sausage, both cased and plain. We are all looking forward to that very much!
There has been lots of discussion about food safety and the use of nitrites and nitrates in processed foods. We share those concerns. We use our products to feed our own families. And happy healthy people are what we want. For ourselves and for you. And yes, it is all nitrogen.
Pork Belly, about to be turned into bacon.
Sodium Nitrite occurs naturally, as does Sodium Nitrate. In fact, when Sodium Nitrate is eaten, your body turns it into Sodium Nitrite. That is simply part of the process of digestion.
A survey of popular websites produced so many competing claims about Sodium Nitrite. Many were almost exactly the same as the claims about Sodium Nitrate. But they are not the same thing. It becomes very confusing and hard to know who to believe.
If it occurs naturally, can it be all bad? No, it isn't all bad. Can you, like anything, eat too much? Yes! Just as we balance the amount in our products, you need to balance the amount of processed meat you eat.
But we do not believe, based on the research, that sodium nitrite, in appropriate levels, is harmful. Otherwise the natural cycle in our body that converts Sodium Nitrate to Sodium Nitrite wouldn't be part of our normal body function. And it is a normal part of how our body converts various nutrients for use by our body.
Natural sources of sodium nitrates.
Sodium Nitrate, oh no! Well, it is not a toxic poison, as some want people to believe. It is found naturally in many different things that we eat. Grains and green vegetables have lots of it. Celery has it, spinach has it. You don't see lots of articles saying that those things are bad for you.
What there does seem to be agreement on is that Sodium Nitrate should not be in foods that will cooked over high heats. Bacon is one of those foods. In the USA, Sodium Nitrate is not supposed to be "added" to the cure for bacon. But Sodium Nitrite is used at specific levels, measured as PPM or "Parts Per Million".
The human body converts sodium nitrate into sodium nitrite as part of normal digestion. It does this when you eat celery, or spinach, or many fruits. All foods that are widely claimed to be very healthy for you.
But Sodium Nitrates do produce nitrosamines when cooked over a high heat. And that is why we do not have Sodium Nitrate in our Bacon Cure.
We believe that eating wisely, enjoying life, and not adding Sodium Nitrate to bacon are all good things!
The family favorite is honey cured bacon. We started about 5 kilos last night. The meat counter at the local SM had only so-so pork bellies when we visited them. They were not the nice thick ones we prefer. But that did not slow us down for a moment. After removing the skins, we cut the bellies into sizes easier to work with and prepared four small bowls with the correct amount of Bacon Cure #1 by weight for each piece. Simple. Then we took 1/4 cup of honey for each 2.5 pounds. The amount of honey is not crucial, you can use more or less, but you want to be sure that you use the correct amount of Bacon Cure #1 based on the weight of the pork belly you are working with.
When we cut these bellies down to smaller sizes to be easier to work with and it made them fit into the ziploc bags we have. The pieces ranged from 2.25 pounds to 2.8 pounds each. We adjusted our amounts of Bacon Cure #1 by using measuring spoons that were appropriate. Each pound got a level tablespoon. Then we figured the difference. The teaspoon measure worked if we needed 150 grams or 5 1/4 ounces of meat left after the 2 pound weight. A half teaspoon would handle 75 grams of met. And the 1/4 teaspoon would do 37.5 grams of meat. So it was just a matter of figuring how many grams were left after the 900 grams (2 pounds) the initial 2 tablespoons of Bacon Cure #1 would do.
Then we added 1/4 cup of honey. I had a bit of natural Maple Flavoring on hand, so we put a few drops of that in the honey to give a deeper flavor to them. A tablespoon of hot water made it easier to spread the mixture around. If you do it, add your honey to your correctly measured Bacon Cure #1 for each piece, stir the together and then coat the exterior of your pork belly.
The photos below show how easy to coat the pork belly. We have removed the skin and any bones or cartilage. Then cut into easier sizes to work with.
1. Coat the fat side with the Honey/Bacon Cure #1 Mixture.
2. Be sure that all of exterior is covered with the mixture.
3. Cover the other side of the pork belly. Try to spread the mixture evenly.
4. Cover all the sides and edges. Work it in gently with the back of the spoon.
Next time we will look at using Liquid Smoke if you do not have access to a smoker for flavoring your bacon. Until then...
Love, Peace, & Bacon Grease!