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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
If you have any questions let me know. It is a fun project!
Thanks, finally have the pork so now about to start…
If you have any questions, let me know.
Absolutely delicious and very easy. All you really need is patience!! Thank you.
Not only does your bacon look wonderful, your post puts mine to shame. I back away slowly, bowing to the master!
Very interesting post. I never knew that you could make bacon without smoking it. Seeing that last pictures, is really making me hungry!
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!
Fantastic Post! I probably can’t do this while I’m here at the folk’s house, but will try it when I’m home!
I hope you like it. Let me know if you have any questions.
Just to be clear on the cure ratios, your measurements on the brown sugar and the kosher salt are listed as “ml” which to my eyes denotes the liquid unit of milliliters.
I am assuming you mean milligrams?
No I mean mililitres. Mililitres are not a “liquid” measure, they are a measure of volume. 15 ml is roughly the same as a tablespoon. If you go to your kitchen store, you can buy measuring spoons in ml’s. While the Prague Powder #1 is critical and has to be measured by weight, the kosher salt and brown sugar are much less critical. The changes caused by the different crystal size or type of brown sugar are way greater than any slight inaccuracy of using volume measures.
In short, just like putting one teaspoon or 5 ml of salt in a cake or 1 cup or 250 ml of flour in a bread recipe, use a mililitre measure do NOT substitute miligrams.
What scale do you use for the small amounts of cure? My scale does not go to 3 decimal points.
I bought it years ago but some friends have found effective scales on Amazon.
I have made bacon from pork bellies a number of times, but I just finished my first attempt at Canadian bacon using your dry brine recipe. Since I am metrically challenged, I used the per pound recipe you provided. It is now in the fridge.
It doesn’t seem like very much salty compared to the belly recipe. I assume because there is far less fat/water?
Did you use a brine as opposed to a dry rub for prior bacon? A brine uses a lot more salt as it has to account for the weight of the water when equalizing. Dry rubs use less salt for the same amount of meat. As for your measure of 6 tsp for 4 pounds, that sounds about right. I use a touch less salt and more sugar than others but not a lot. You should be fine. If you want more salt in your next bacon just add more but I think you will find it salty enough.
I have made bacon from bellies several times but decided to try Canadian bacon.
I used your dry rub recipe, and as I am metrically challenged, I used the per pound method.
I had a 4 pound loin and used 6 tsps salt in addition to pink salt and sugar. It seems like it should need more? I stuck to the recipe and it’s in the fridge for a couple weeks.
As per my prior response, I think you will find the salt amount fine. I use the same amount for belly, loin and buckboard bacon.
I did 6 hour cold smoke and back bacon is now in fridge. When you hot smoke, roughly how long does it take? And do you smoke again on the hot smoke, or just use the heat/oven part to get the internal temp up to 140? I am using a Bradley.
Hi! The purpose of double smoking is to get a strong smoke flavour so I do smoke it for the hot smoke. That being said, watch what you wish for! Bradley smokers add a lot of smoke flavour and a double smoke may be more than some people want. My missus doesn’t like double smoked for that reason while I love it. So, if you want a strong smoke flavour, smoke it for the hot smoke. If not, do it in the oven.
If you are concerned about oversmoking, try using only 3 pucks for about 1 hour of hot smoke and then increase the number of pucks in future smokes until it gets to your taste.
As for how long it takes for the hot smoke, it depends on the thickness of your meat. A thin loin takes about 2 hours but thicker ones can take up to 4 hours. The length of time isn’t important. It is the internal temperature of the meat.
When i posted July 19 it was my first time and it was fabulous. Previously I did wet brines and they are awful; no comparison. Wet brine leaves a musty taste. And i double smoked and I like smoke. I don’t think it over smokes it because the meat is so thick you will only get so much smoke penetration. On my second batch now. DOH! I should have re-read your Q&A comments because I see u answered this on July 6 regarding measurements. In metric I thought everything lined up so 1 ml is the same as 1 gram (this is true for liquid). I think I may have overdone the sugar and salt this time using that theory because I know 15g is a lot more than 15ml (i.e a TBSP is 15ml and 15g is almost double that). Maybe I will soak a little longer for my error.
It isn’t that much different. My granulated sugar is 1.08 grams per ml and my Kosher salt is 1.28 grams per ml. The amount of sugar and salt in the bacon isn’t that critical and your bacon should be fine as it won’t be way out of line.
I followed your back bacon directions and was very happy with the results. If I wanted a sweeter end result how should I adjust the dry brine? Can I simply add more brown sugar to the mix or will the entire ratio need to be adjusted?
Yes, you can increase the brown sugar without adjusting any of the other ingredients. The only two critical ingredients are the Prague Powder #1 and salt. Do NOT change the amount of Prague Powder #1 as it is a health issue. As for the salt, if you go too low, it won’t draw the liquid out of the pork in the curing process. You can go as high with the salt as your tastes like. As for the sugar, the bacon would cure with no sugar but wouldn’t be very good. But you can easily increase it to your tastes with no problem.
So, I read and watched the video and I the pork is in the fridge curing. I am however unclear on the cold smoke. I have a smoke tube, an electric smoker. Do I just smoke the meat at 70 degrees for 6 hrs without any heat? Thanks
You can do what you described. You can also smoke it at 180-200 F to an internal temperature of 140 F. For a strong smoke taste, cold smoke for 6 hours one day and then hot smoke to 140 F internal temperature.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want detailed help and answers.
Cold smoked for 3 hrs, raised temperature in smoker to 215 degrees and smoked using apricot wood till the interior temp was 140 degrees. Let rest in fridge overnight before slicing. I am never buying bacon again,
Just fried up my first attempt at your dry rub for Back Bacon.
Fantastic! I’ll never buy it in the store again.
Smoked it over hickory at 225deg to an internal of 145.
Store bought doesn’t come close. Thanks!
Thanks for the kind words!