Maple Sugar Bacon

I made bacon in my last post. A friend had given me some maple sugar. I was curious how it would taste in bacon. So I did a slab of Maple Sugar Bacon and here is how I made it.

Before I begin I want to point something out. When you buy a “maple” flavoured product, it is usually made with artificial maple extract. You will not get this flavour when you use natural maple products like maple sugar and maple syrup.  They give a nice smooth sweetness but not the artificial taste of the extract.

To make dry cured bacon you need to understand the process of curing. You make a mixture of salt, curing salt and a sweetener.

The salt pulls the moisture out of the meat.

The curing salt is a mixture of salt and sodium nitrite that gives the bacon its cured flavour and red colour. It also inhibits bacterial growth. Bacon is cooked at low temperatures and cured for a long period of time. Without the curing salts, the meat may spoil. The curing salt usually used is called Prague Powder #1, Instacure #1 or many other names. Whatever it is called, you are looking for a product that is 93.75% salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite.

It is important that you don’t use too much curing salt as excessive sodium nitrite is bad for you. It is important to not use too little or the pork may spoil during smoking.

You start with a slab of what Canadians call side pork and Americans call pork belly. It usually comes with skin attached. Ask the butcher to remove it or carefully cut it off with a sharp slicing knife.

Weigh the pork after removing the skin and record its weight. Measure the thickest part of the pork and record it.

Use a meat injector to inject  20 ml of maple syrup per kilogram of pork. That works out to 2 tsp per pound. It is easier to inject the maple syrup from the side in a slab of side pork.

Make up a curing rub. For each kilogram of pork use:

  • 2.3 ml (3 grams) of Prague Powder #1
  • 25 ml (17 grams) of maple sugar
  • 15 ml (19.2 grams) kosher salt

If you are an American and not in step with the rest of the world, that is, for each pound of pork :

  • 1/5 tsp (0.04 oz) of Prague Powder #1
  • 2 tsp (0.24 oz) of maple sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp (0.3 oz) kosher salt

Calculate the amount of each ingredient needed and mix them together.

Put the slab of bacon on a plate or tray so that any rub that falls off the meat is held on the plate. Rub the curing mix into the surface of the pork. Put the slab into a resealable bag or a vacuum sealer bag.

Scrape any rub that fell onto the plate into the bag. Seal the bag. If using a vacuum sealer bag, don’t suck the air out.

You will need to put the pork in the fridge to cure. To determine how long it should be in the fridge, multiply the thickness in inches of the thickest part of the pork by 4 days and add 2 extra. So, a one inch thick slab would be (1 times 4 days plus 2 days) 6 days. A 1 1/2 inch slab would be (1 1/2 times 4 days plus 2 days) 8 days.

Turn and massage the pork in the bag every day or so.

Take the pork out of the bags and soak it in cold water for an hour, changing the water once.

Put the pork on a rack and pat it dry with a paper towel. Put the rack in the fridge, uncovered, overnight to get the surface of the meat very dry and tacky.

I preheated my smoker to 180 F and smoked the bacon to an internal temperature of 130 F. I let it cool and then put it in the fridge for 2 days to let the smoke even out.

I sliced the bacon with my rotary slice. A long slicing knife can be used but it is time consuming.

Freeze any bacon that won’t be used in the next week.

Of course I needed to fry some up and try it!

The Verdict

This was a really good bacon. It is not a lot different than regular bacon but there is a great smooth sweetness that is more complex than the bacon made with brown sugar. You won’t scream MAPLE but you will like the mellow pleasant notes.

The Old Fat Guy

Maple Sugar Bacon

Maple Sugar Bacon

Ingredients

  • slab of side pork/pork belly
  • Metric:
  • For each KG of pork:
  • 20 ml maple syrup
  • 2.3 ml (3 grams) of Prague Powder #1
  • 25 ml (17 grams) of maple sugar
  • 15 ml (19.2 grams) kosher salt
  • US Measure:
  • For each pound of pork:
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/5 tsp (0.04 oz) of Prague Powder #1
  • 2 tsp (0.24 oz) of maple sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp (0.3 oz) kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Weigh the slab of pork after removing the skin. Measure the thickest part of the slab in inches.
  2. Calculate the amount of maple syrup needed and inject it into the pork.
  3. Calculate the amount of Prague Powder #1, maple sugar, and kosher salt needed and mix them together.
  4. Put the pork on a plate or tray. Rub the mixture into the pork.
  5. Put the pork into a resealable bag and scrape any rub that fell onto the plate into the bag.
  6. Seal the bag and put it in the refrigerator for 4 days for every inch of thickness plus 2 days.
  7. Massage the bag every day or so.
  8. Take the meat out of the bag and soak in cold water for an hour, changing the water once.
  9. Put the meat on a tray and pat it dry with a paper towel. Put it in the fridge, uncovered, overnight to make sure the surface is totally dry.
  10. Smoke the meat at 180 F until the internal temperature is 130 F.
  11. Let the pork cool to room temperature and then refrigerate it for 2 days.
  12. Slice the bacon and freeze any that would not be used in the next week.
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