Start new topic
page 1/3 go to

first dry cure bacon experiment - success!

by HowardW
Thought I'd share my first experience of making my own dry cure bacon. Have tried brine curing before (streaky bacon and ham in same brine), but this was the first go at dry curing. Am very pleased with what came out!

Firstly - thanks to the many people who've shared their experiences and/or recipes for dry curing. I ended up collecting a lot of useful info and tips from these forums, put that together with Hugh's books (and the Maynard book), then decided on my own cure mix and method based on all of that. Alison's 3-day cure info from downsizer, and the comments from people who tried it, were particularly useful!

I realised that there are a LOT of variables. The key ones seem to be:

Salt/sugar ratio - I've seen everything from 5:1 (Hugh) down to 2:1. I opted for 3:1 (with a little saltpetre - quantity based on Hugh's book; bacon colour ended up nicely pink with some more pink-brown patches on the surface)

Length of curing time - again, anything from 3 days up to a week or more. General view seems to be that 3/4 days suits most people. I went for just over 3 days.

How much cure to use? Hugh talks about rubbing "handfuls of cure", others said they used about a mugs worth. Franco (and I think others) suggested using 3-4% of the weight of the meat. That's what I based my measures on (~75g cure for 1.75 kg belly pork), and it came out really well, so this seems to be a good rule of thumb.

Drain liquid off or leave it? I drained the liquid after one day (there was quite a bit), then again on the 3rd day (very little liquid at that stage). Not sure what difference this makes - probably not as much as other factors.

Add more cure during the curing period? Hugh's method says drain liquid every day then rub in more cure - but his method clearly produces rather salty bacon. Because I drained a fair bit of liquid after the first day, I added a bit more cure (~5g), then no more after that.

The saltiness of the final bacon was pretty much spot on - a slight saltiness in the taste, but not at all strong so the bacon would be fine for butties, bacon and eggs etc. When I do it again, I'll probably not add any more cure mix as the meat cures - with the 3-4% by weight rule, and 3 days curing time, I reckon this will be perfect.

I had fun with the spices. Following Hugh, I used a few crushed juniper berries and some finely chopped bay leaves, but also added quite a bit of black pepper, some crushed coriander seeds and ground mace (for a sweeter/fruitier kind of spice note). During curing it smelled amazing - the mace was very noticeable, and I worried that I'd overdone it. You can taste the notes from the mace in the final product, but I'd definitely opt for using mace again in the mix. As Hugh said (in relation to making ketchup) - mace is ace!

Looking forward to trying this again (still have plenty of cure mix). Might try meat from a different supplier next time to compare - this time was free range Berkshire pork belly, might try Old Spot next time.

For anyone thinking of giving dry curing a go, but hasn't yet, try it now! It's easy, takes next to no time, and you should get great results.

Thanks again to all for previous discussions on this topic, here and elsewhere. Very useful!

last edited on
by Behemoth
Thanks for that Howard. I did my first corned beef recently and was pleased with how easy it was and how well it came out. Dry cure bacon's my next project when I can get hold of some good pork.
by Gribbie
Thanks for all the info - I've been thinking of making bacon for a while, I might just get off my butt and do it this weekend
by Twoscoops
Just let us know the amount of saltpetre you used this time, I may have a go shortly.
by HowardW
The amount of saltpetre I used was based on the dry cure bacon recipe in Hugh's meat book. I remember Hugh's recipe says 2 tsp - but can't remember for sure how much cure mix that was for (1kg or 1.2kg I think). I just scaled the amounts, so used 1/2 tsp for ~300g cure mix (slightly smaller amount than Hugh's proportions).

I did notice that this was about twice as much as some other recipes suggest, but since it came from Hugh's book I felt confident that his suggestion would be OK.

I have some proper tbsp, tsp, 1/2 tsp and 1/4 tsp measures - so can get an accurate amount for these.

For those keen on trying it themselves, it's definitely worth getting the best meat you can get your hands on. This needn't be that expensive - but a good farmer's market or butcher will nearly always be preferable to supermarket. Rare/traditional breed is ideal if you can get it.

by nickhowe
Thanks for that Howard. I did my first corned beef recently and was pleased with how easy it was and how well it came out.

Must supply recipe.....

I *love* corned beef, and I have a freezerful of fine beef, all cuts, just waiting to be eaten. Help me, Behemoth, you're my only hope! (Do I make a convincing Princess Leia?)
by Behemoth
Only with Danish Pastries stuck to the sides of your head.

Prepare your brine:

4L water
400g demerara sugar
600g sea salt
A dozen juniper berries
A few pepper corns
3 bay leaves
saltpetre if you wish (franco suggests 6g per litre)

Boil it up until all has disolved and allow to cool. Pour into a suitable container and drop in a piece if brisket ensuring it's covered/weighted down and brine for up to five days turning the meat once or twice, in a cool place or the fridge.

I then rinsed it and slow roasted for two hours it in a roasting tray surrounded with the usual carrots, onions, leeks, celery, pepper, two heads of garlic and enough chicken stock (unsalted) and a couple of glasses of wine to just about cover the briskett. There may have been some tomatoes in there as well.
by nickhowe
Oh lookie! I have a piece of rolled brisket in the freezer, looking for a job.

Yum yum! Thanks very much.
by Behemoth
Make sure you unroll before dropping it in the brine!
by Behemoth
Forgot to say - throw a dozen cloves in with the brine mix as well.
by Tahir
Why's it called "corned" then?
page 1/3 go to
To leave a response to the post you will need to be a registered user. Sign-up here or Login here
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Learn a new skill this year + help save #bees! Come on our #beekeeping course this summer: http…
  • RT @ThisisDavina: I love Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. #Scandimania
  • @ThisisDavina thanks for the love, Davina! x
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: The ultimate rural retreat...allow us to present to you our Four Day Cookery Course! link…
  • Exciting! Look what's arrived in the office, hot off the press... #pigsandpork Congrats @GillMeller! link
  • RT @JamiesFoodTube: Who's that in the @rivercottage kitchen? Why it's @tesswardchef knocking up a storm! link…
  • . @samgorecomedian If you aspire to a career in comedy this does not reflect well. Neither, thanks to you, does our mirror.
  • RT @DeborahMeaden: “@bristolcanteen: Somebody told us @DeborahMeaden popped in for lunch. Hope you enjoyed it! #celebrityspotting in #Brist…
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Only 7 tickets left for our @martinharley gig in April. Don't miss out! link
  • A beautiful sunset over the valley tonight! link
  • RT @RCChefsSchool: Welcoming our first #Trainees to River Cottage - the first step of their 3 month work experience programme. link
  • Hey @nationaltrust still looking for lovely frosty pics? :o)
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Wrap up warm, it's frosty out there! link
  • RT @plymouthcanteen: Feeling hungry this lunch time... Visit @plymouthcanteen for 3 small plates for only £10! link
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Tickets just released for our @sohsteve gig on 22 May, which kick starts our #RCFoodFair weekend. Grab a ticket now! ht…
  • Make the most of your oven's energy, cook meals in bulk where poss. Reheating uses less energy. Top tip via @wwwfoecouk
  • . @johnmushroom looks like someone needs a #selfie stick!
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: We have discounted tickets available for this Sunday's dining experience. Gather your loved ones + come on down! https:…
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: The only thing blue about our Monday is the sky. #BlueMonday link
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Want to meet @GillMeller and hear about his forthcoming book #pigsandpork? Don't miss this! htt…
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Gain work-experience in our @RCChefsSchool – free traineeships starting 26 Jan – travel expenses paid. link
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: How much cake is too much cake? The fruits of our labour from today's #cake course in our #cookeryschool...…
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Hooray! #pastrysuccess #choux link
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Oh dear #pastryfail link
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Time for our third breakfast of the day. It's a hard life at our #cookeryschool... link
  • RT @RiverCottageHQ: Time for a second breakfast at the #cookeryschool... Drop scones with runny honey. link
  • @anneHuscroft1 so lovely to hear, thanks Anne! Any plans to come back to the farm soon?
  • RT @Hartsturkeys: Great stuff @ChefTomKerridge @BBCFoodandDrink @rivercottage. The best 30mins of TV this week. Looking forward to @Corriga
  • RT @jiholland111: @rivercottage @BBCFoodandDrink Great show. Excellent banter with @ChefTomKerridge :)
  • @linsalad @BBCFoodandDrink glad to hear it :o)
  • Hope you are all enjoying Hugh on @BBCFoodandDrink right now, BBC2!
  • @CharlotteClare1 sorry, blame Hugh!
  • And of course we couldn't let Hugh go without a birthday cake #50yearsofHugh #AskHugh link
  • And if you'd like to buy the book, check it out here! #lightandeasy #askHugh link
  • Thank you, its been great chatting! Have to dash, making a birthday cake for a fellow 50-year-old. Chocolate + hazelnut, pg 374! #askHugh
  • .@Eco_Gite It spreads like mad so not in the veg patch, better in a big pot, but it does take nearly a year to produce good sized roots.
  • . @Lou_la_may Default topping is a sprinkling of soft brown sugar but a trickle of runny honey is also great. #askHugh
  • .@trishaocf Could be your choice of flour or that your sd starter needs a feed up, take a good tblsp, feed it for a few days & start again.
  • . @bookslinger always lovely to hear that people are cooking from my books and enjoying the results! #askHugh
  • .@harrycornwall Cider is a good choice, I would choose a fairly dry one as the onions are quite sweet #AskHugh
  • . @_DjTC_ soon! Early Feb is good, provided you can keep them frost-free. A sunny window is good. #askHugh
  • .@IantheCW I'm all over the roots right now, big trays of them roasted and finished with a sprinkling of toasted seeds and spices #AskHugh
  • . @ACoSfChildren but it's so flat! Actually I do have a soft spot for Norfolk and it's been a while so who knows. #askHugh
  • .@rojob1 Yes, series 3 coming your way very soon and as ever Paul champions the sustainable approach to fish, veg and meat #AskHugh
  • . @missaniela really sorry but I'm not around for that one. I will be here for the Spring Food Fair in May... #askHugh
  • .@pupspigspoulets We said goodbye to our Oxford Sandy & Blacks before Christmas, they were fab! We like ringing the changes though. #AskHugh
  • . @bookslinger It's always a treat to be given other people's goodies. Of course I try them! #askHugh
  • .@GrowandEat That's a tough one to comment on without knowing the whole picture.
  • . @MyrtlesGarden there's a lovely potato gnocchi recipe in RC Veg and you could swap a GF flour in for the wheat flour. #askHugh
  • .@pickleshlee A good way to deliver vitamins and fibre but not to be drunk by the gallon as they are often quite high in sugar #AskHugh
Login or Sign-up

Login & Sign-up

Forgotten your password? Retrieve it here
Or connect via Facebook
Connect with Facebook
Join River Cottage
Shopping basket: 0 items £0.00