All being well, it's an incredibly simple thing to make and means we'll have our own store of bacon for the next few months.
Whilst I was searching for something simple, I discovered that there are a wealth of ways to cure bacon, but I wanted something that I could cold smoke and then freeze that wasn't too fiddly or faffy. In my opinion, if you have to spend a week messing over fiddly stages, then it's not worth it.
So the recipe I adapted was along the lines of this:
I used 8.5lbs of belly pork that I cut into six easier to manage slabs (when this is cured completely, I will slice it and freeze it in usable batches).
Fro the 8.5lbs I used around 1lb of salt
1 packed cup of brown sugar
and 8 pints or 1 gallon of water.
The best way is to dissolve your sugar into half your water before you pour it into the other half, that way you can visually see if you have grains of salt left or not.
I used a large cool box to store the brine solution and belly in.
Mix up your water, salt and sugar until it has all dissolved, then place your belly into the brine solution.
I then weighted it under the solution with plates to hold it down.
You don't want to let any creep above the liquid or you'll end up with rancid pork which will tarnish all your meat.
Put it somewhere cool - my recipe said the fridge, however, my fridge is not a walk in size and therefore as I was doing this in October, we put it in the back of the garage for 24 hours.
After 12 hours take a look at it and mix up the brine to ensure full coating.
After the 24 hours, I got our smoker going. Again, the recipe called for Applewood chips, but with Mr Beehive being in Kenya for the week and this being my first attempt at smoking, he advised we used Oakwood chips as they have less of a tendency to go out.
The meat was removed from the brine, I washed it thoroughly and patted it dry. Then each slab has been hung on various levels in the smoker. I may swap them over later today or, after 10 hours, which is the length of time the oak tends to smoke for, re-smoke but swap the levels over then, so the upper ones get as much intensity as the lower.
Once the smoking is over, I will take them out and, according to my recipe, they'll look a little moist, so will need to be patted dry. Then I'm going to attempt to slice one slab up. I'm hoping my useless knives will work on the meat. I think if I refrigerate for an hour first, the meat will solid up a bit and be easier to slice. Then it'll be frozen...apart from the slab we eat for dinner this evening! Mmmmm.
There are alternatives which I intend to try next time including using maple syrup and maple sugar. I have NEVER seen maple sugar in the UK, so if anyone knows where I can get some, or if any of my US pals want to airmail a bag to me ;-)
On the other side of our thriving little cottage industries, the cider has had a bit of a disastrous start this year!
The first batch we made up may have been 'killed' by there being some sterilising fluid that got into the juice! None of the yeast got going and despite following lots of advice from the cider makers, we just couldn't get it to go.
However, with Mr Beehive going to get the pig last weekend, he happened to 'stumble' across a Zummerzet Zyder farm and managed to wangle himself two large sacks of proper cider apples for £4!!!!!!!!!!!
Hence the fact he is now brewing the 'real' stuff on the windowsills which is doing VERY well and all the gallons of wasted stuff :-( has been replaced. He's learned a cruel lesson this year, that is to say that sometimes you can 'over clean' and it be just as bad an outcome. We all need some good bacteria ;-)
Finally, a sneaky pic of my sis and me. We managed to take mum to see Wicked in Manchester for her birthday last weekend without her figuring it out until she was standing underneath the signs in front of the theatre! We had a lovely time and had such a laugh trying to give it away but her not getting any of it. This included me wearing my Wicked t shirt and trying to fly down some stairs and us throwing song titles and lyrics into conversation wherever we could. To the normal human being this made us sound like utter tits the whole day, however, maybe mum is used to us acting like drongos and therefore, nothing seemed out of character! Yay mum, cheers!