After hog butchering this year, we cured and smoked our own bacon.  We chose not to do hams for several reasons.  We love roasts, and pulled pork both of which come from the same area of meat as the hams.  An additional reason is the requirements of the curing process. The meat must have the cure on them for approximately 1 day for every inch of thickness AND it must be less than 45 degrees for the day to count.  We waited until spring to butcher and the weather  was too warm to allow curing to be done in barrels in the open air.  We do not have a root cellar that stays cool.  Being Modern Pioneers we are fine with using modern conveniences but did not enough refrigerator space to allow for the hams and bacon… we decided to do bacon only.  I will say that is turned out delicious!  I will walk through our process, even the failures so you can see what we did.

The process started the day we butchered with working the Morton Sugar cure into the meat. The cure was purchased at our local grocery store but can also be purchased online.  It was rubbed in and packed into the tubs you see here.  These were placed, uncovered in the refrigerator.  The rule of thumb is to allow them to cure for 1 day per inch of thickness.  Due to our schedules, ours actually cured 4 days, even though the thickest part was only a couple of inches thick.

It was then time to rinse and soak away the salt from the cure.  The meat was rinsed with lots of water until it seemed that the salt/sugar mixture was all gone, then allowed to soak, submerged in fresh water. This water was changed and the meat rinsed, daily for an additional 4 days.  Not a lot of work to this part, but time consuming.  Each day we would slice off a small amount of meat and cook it to see if we had enough of the salt removed.  When the salt had been soaked from the meat to our taste, it was time to add the smoke flavor.

Our smoke house was built about a year ago, in anticipation of curing/smoking our own pork, and other meats.  There is another set of doors on the opposite side of these so you can reach in from either side to be able to easily hang the meat.

At Academy, one of the local sporting goods stores, we found these large size 8 fish hooks.  Papa took them to the grinder and removed the barb so that they would slip out of the sides of meat without hanging up.

1 1/4″ dowel rods span the ceiling of the smokehouse and can be easily lift up and removed.  With nylon string tied to each hook, they could be easily slid over the dowels and ready to hang whatever was going to be smoked.

The hooks worked well, the slid in easily to hold the meat in mid air for the smoke to circulate around and penetrate all surfaces, but were easily removed when the smoking was completed.

We tried some apple wood pellets, but they didn’t work well.  They didn’t create much smoke and when we added some soaked hickory slices it went completely out.  The only thing it was good for was entertaining Rastus who thought he was real fire-fighter.

We ended up using charcoal, adding some small green hickory sticks…..and with a little patience.  We got some smoke going.

We added a block in the center of the floor of the smokehouse on the piece of tin, then added some soaked hickory chips to create more smoke.

When the smoke got rolling, we secured the doors and left for 6 hours.

We had to cut the slabs to fit in our slicer so our slices are a little shorter than store-bought.

We weighed out 1 pound, and vacuum sealed it before freezing it.  By the way, did you know that when you buy a “pound” of bacon at the store, it only weighs 12 ounces these days?

The flavor of this bacon is wonderful.  I have had multiple tell me that it is the best bacon they have ever eaten…including some pretty picky friends and family.  I call this one a complete success….the old flavor, done with the help of our modern conveniences.  What a wonderful life!

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