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Raw streaky bacon

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Pork and bacon

Bacon is a cut of meat taken from the sides, belly, or back of a pig, then cured, smoked, or both. Bacon may be eaten fried, baked, or grilled, or used as an ingredient to flavour dishes. The word is derived from the Old High German bacho, meaning "back", "ham", or "bacon".

The in America, USDA defines bacon as "the cured belly of a swine carcass"; other cuts and characteristics must be separately qualified (e.g., "smoked pork loin bacon"). "USDA Certified" bacon means that it has been treated for trichinella.

In continental Europe, bacon is used primarily in cubes (lardons) as a cooking ingredient, valued both as a source of fat and for its flavour. In Italy, bacon is called pancetta and usually cooked in small cubes or served uncooked and thinly sliced as part of an antipasto. Bacon is also used for barding and larding roasts, especially game birds. Many people prefer to have bacon smoked using various types of woods or turf. This process can take up to ten hours depending on the intensity of the flavour desired.

Dry cured bacon vs brine cured bacon

Dry curing is where the bacon is covered with a layer of salt, flavouring such as sugar and additional preservatives such as sodium nitrite. This process leeches the moisture from the bacon. The bacon is then often air dried resulting in quite a dry bacon that is unlikely to release liquid when it is cooked. [1]

Wet cured bacon, brine cured bacon is soaked in a preservative brine solution or sometimes injected with a brine solution. Wet cured bacon normally releases a lot of liquid when cooked.

Cure your own bacon, 'River Cottage Style'

Home smoked bacon

Follow my simple steps to cure your own bacon. I have been smoking and curing bacon at home for 5 years now and never had a failure.

Cuts of bacon

The names of rashers or slices differ depending on where they are cut from:

  • Streaky bacon comes from the belly of a pig. It is very fatty with long veins of fat running parallel to the rind. This is the most common form of bacon in the United States. Pancetta is Italian streaky bacon, smoked or aqua (unsmoked), with a strong flavour. It is generally rolled up into cylinders after curing.
  • Back bacon comes from the loin in the middle of the back of the pig. It is a lean meaty cut of bacon, with relatively less fat compared to other cuts and has a ham-like texture and flavour. Most bacon consumed in the United Kingdom is back bacon. Also called Irish bacon or Canadian Bacon.
  • Middle bacon is much like back bacon but is cheaper and somewhat fattier, with a richer flavour.
  • Cottage bacon is thinly sliced lean pork meat from a shoulder cut that is typically oval shaped and meaty. It is cured and then sliced into round pieces for baking or frying.
  • Jowl bacon is cured and smoked cheeks of pork

Bacon joints include the following:

  • Collar bacon is taken from the back of a pig near the head.
  • Hock, from the hog ankle joint between the ham and the foot.
  • Gammon, from the hind leg, traditionally "Wiltshire cured".
  • Picnic bacon is from the picnic cut, which includes the shoulder beneath the blade. It is fairly lean, but tougher than most pork cuts.

Cuts of pork

The two images above outline the differences between British and the American cuts of pork. Not all cuts are shown, but those that are not should be self-evident.

Pork chops

A pork chop is a chop of pork. A cut of meat cut perpendicularly to the spine of the pig, and usually containing a rib or part of a vertebra and served as an individual portion.

Boiled bacon

Many cuts of bacon can be used for boiled bacon, gammon is probably the most common.

See also

See also: Traditionally Farmed Gloucestershire Old Spot Pork

Which cuts of pork make the best minced pork?

If you are concerned about what goes into packaged mince [ground pork] then make your own mince at home. It's very easy and can be made in a food processor with a metal blade if you don't have a meat mincer. The best cuts of pork for making mince are pork shoulder, collar or neck. Trim the excess fat to suit your recipe.

How much does one cup of bacon weigh?

Estimated US cup to weight equivalents:

Ingredient US Cups Grams Ounces
Bacon raw - chopped/diced
225 grams 8 ounces

How much does one cup of minced pork weigh?

Estimated US cup to weight equivalents:

Ingredient US Cups Grams Ounces
Minced pork raw - uncooked
225 grams 8 ounces

Welfare of pigs

Conversion notes:
Every ingredient has a cups to ounces or grams conversion table. Search for the ingredient, cup to weight conversions are at the end of each ingredient page.

We also have a generic conversion table and a portions per person lookup.

See also

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