Makin’ bacon – anyone can do it

River Cottage - Pig in a DayI am glad I wasn’t bought up Jewish, or I would be having serious issues sticking to the ‘no bacon’ rule. I would not really call myself a pork eater except for bacon.

Recently my local permaculture newsgroup made me aware of an interesting program on the ABC called ‘River Cottage Spring’. There is a whole series of River Cottage shows which I have subsequently got my hands onto (5 years worth of programs) and they are fascinating to watch. I can highly recommend these.

For a few months I have been glued to the television watching Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall show you how easy it is to live off the land, grow your own vegetables and meat, right down to making bacon. Hugh is passionate about educating people about where their food comes from, and respecting the animals while they are alive, and also when you use them for meat.

In one program – Pig in a Day – Hugh and his butcher friend Ray show you everthing you need to know about pigs – from raising them, to butchering them and cooking all of the cuts.

They showed how to make bacon. It looked so easy, I was inspired to give it a go. Uncle Bob (equally glued to the River Cottage series) was also keen. So we rushed off to our respective butchers to buy some pork – and luckily I discovered that free range Otway pork is sold at Camberwell market. I purchased a pork belly (no loin) for a total of $39 dollars ($19.95 per kilo).

Pork belly

After some running around I also found a source of bulk salt – 25kgs of cooking grade salt for $10.20. That’s enough salt to keep me in bacon for the next century!

Uncle Bob supplied some juniper berries from his secret stash, and I had some home grown chillies from the garden that I had dried from last summer. I also had a handful of bay leaves, and Australian Mountain Pepper leaves too. We were in business!

4 days later I had my very own homemade bacon. Not only was it easier than I expected, but also cheaper than normal bacon. Plus, there are no preservatives used other than salt. You will notice your own bacon tastes different to commercial bacon. It is way better, and it amazes me how we become used to something that is probably packed with preservatives.

It was so easy to do, I wonder if I will ever be lured again into buying bacon. I hope not. I have supplied the recipe below.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Jo says:

    We LOVE Hugh at our house. You need to check out his cook books if you haven’t already. Not only do they have fantastic recipes they also have loads of info about such things as keeping pigs.


    1. Geri says:

      Jo, I have watched everyone of Hugh’s shows ever made – I was completely glued. I love him (but not enough to want to marry him – with that funny little nose). But I agree with you – he is awesome. I don’t think the Australian version – Gourmet farmer – has the same passion or enthusiasm. I don’t have his recipe books, but my sister does so I think I will be perusing them next time I am over.


  2. Jo says:

    Totally agree with you about Australia’s attempt, we’ve been watching it but it doesn’t even come close.


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