Back (Canadian) Bacon 3 Ways

Back Bacon 3 Ways at oldfatguy.ca

In my post of Honey Loin Hams I mentioned that I had bought a couple of full pork loins to make some smoked goods for my brother and his family. In this post, I will be making 3 different kinds of back bacon. For my American readers, you call this Canadian bacon although Canadians don’t.

You will note that methodology is the same as that used in my post Buckboard Bacon. It just uses a different cut of pork.

I will start with some basics of making  bacon. You have to use curing salts to make bacon. Curing salts are a mixture of salt and sodium nitrite.

The curing salts inhibit bacterial growth during the long smoking process. If you cold smoke meat for hours without curing, it will go bad.

The curing salts also give bacon its distinctive colour and taste.

Curing salts go by many names, Instacure #1, Prague Powder #1, Pink Salt and many more.  Just make sure it is 6.25% sodium nitrite and the rest is salt.

The problem is that too little curing salt will not protect the meat and too much can make you sick. It is imperative you use the right amount.

There are two ways of introducing curing salts. One is a dry rub and the other is a brine where they are mixed with water. I prefer the dry rub for bacon and the brine for hams. I will be using the dry rub here.

When you are using a dry rub, you must have the exact amount of curing salts for each piece of meat. This means that, if you have more than one piece, you must do each piece separately so that you can make sure you have the right amount of curing salts.

I would like to strongly recommend you get a small scale to measure the curing salts by weight. It is just more accurate and you will get a better result.

Not all bacon is smoked. Several European countries have a tradition of making bacon without smoking. So, if you don’t have a smoker, you could still make this bacon by not going through the smoking process. After rinsing the cure off the bacon and soaking it, just put it in a 180 F oven until the internal temperature is 140 F. It is delicious but quite different without the smoky taste.

Also, if you don’t have a cold smoke generator, you can skip the cold smoke and just hot smoke it in a smoker. It will be delicious but will have less smoke taste.

Let’s get to it.

I used the centre parts of whole pork loin. You can use pork loin roasts or any other sectional cut of the whole pork loin.

In this case, I cut the 2 pork loin sections into 2 pieces each for 4 slabs of bacon. I trimmed any really thick fat layers off and saved the fat for future sausage.

I will start with the description of how I made basic back bacon and will give instructions on how to make Berbere and Pepper back bacon after.

Start by weighing the piece of pork loin you are going to make into bacon.

For each kilogram of meat, the basic bacon cure is:

  • 3 grams (2 ml) Prague Powder #1
  • 40 ml brown sugar
  • 15 ml kosher salt

If you are one of my metrically challenged readers, use the following amounts per pound of pork loin. The ounces refer to weight.

  • 0.05 ounce (1/5 teaspoon) Prague Powder #1
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix the ingredients together. Put the pork piece on a plate and rub the cure mix into all sides. Put the piece into a sealable plastic bag making sure any cure mix on the plate gets put into the bag.

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Repeat this with each piece you are making bacon out of. You have to do one piece at a time in its own bag to make sure you get the right amount of cure for each piece.

You need to determine how long to cure the bacon in the fridge. Measure the thickest part of the loin in inches. Multiply that by 4 and add 2. The thickest portion of my meat was 2 1/2 inches so I cured it in the fridge for 12 days (2 1/2 times 4 plus 2). I turned the bags and rubbed the cure in daily.

After 12 days, I took the meat out of the bags and rinsed it under cold water. Then I soaked it in cold water for 40 minutes, changing the water once.

I put the meat in the fridge overnight on a rack, uncovered. You want the surface of the pork to be dry and tacky.

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I did not turn my Louisiana Grills Pellet Smoker on. I put my A-Maze-N tube smoker in with hickory pellets and lit it. I put the bacon in and let it cold smoke for 6 hours. Then I put it in the fridge, uncovered overnight.

If you are not set up for cold smoking, you can skip this step and just hot smoke it.

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I fired the Louisiana Grills smoker up to 180 F and put the meat on a rack over a tray and into the pellet smoker. I smoked to an internal temperature of 140 F.

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I put it in the fridge, covered for 2 days to let the flavour blends.

Here are the variations for pepper and Berbere bacon.

For Pepper Back Bacon, I grated fresh pepper over all surfaces of the pork before the cold smoke.

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For the Berbere Bacon, I added 1.5 ml Berbere spices per kilogram of meat to the curing mix before spreading it on the meat.

Of course, I had to fry some up for quality control!

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The Verdict

These turned out wonderfully. The regular bacon isn’t as salty as commercial bacon but has a great smoke/salty/sweet balance. Berbere and Pepper don’t make for spicy bacon but each add their own complexity.

Try making your own bacon. You won’t be sorry!

I have done a video on making back bacon:

The Old Fat Guy

10 thoughts on “Back (Canadian) Bacon 3 Ways”

  1. We recently purchased both a hot and cold smoker. To date I have only used it a little, but have had great success with salmon. However, I was feeling less confident about making our own bacon, After reading your recipe and guide above, I now can’t wait to get a nice piece of pork loin to give it a go. Thank you.

          1. Not only does your bacon look wonderful, your post puts mine to shame. I back away slowly, bowing to the master!

    1. When we did a trip to England and Ireland I tasted some great unsmoked bacon. Some were only cured, others were cured and spiced. It is my intention to experiment with unsmoked bacon some day but sadly my list of desired projects is growing instead of shrinking!

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