Here at Puddledub we are often asked "what is dry cured bacon?" and "how is it different to just normal or regular bacon?"
Well all bacon is cured. ‘Dry-cured’ is used to differentiate between the two common curing processes used. Wet curing is used to produce normal or regular bacon and dry curing to produce dry cured bacon.
Why does it matter?
It matters because these 2 curing processes produce two different products with different taste and texture.
Why do we cure bacon?
The curing process is used originally to preserve meat and prevent bacteria from forming. With the onset of modern refrigeration, this need has diminished but curing has remained because is adds depth of flavour and texture.
Bacon starts as a cut of fresh pork. Most often its loin but it can also be shoulder or gigot. This cut is then cured using a mix of curing salts. Curing is also used to make other pork products such as gammon and chorizo.
What are curing salts?
Curing salts are a mix of regular table salt (sodium chloride) and sodium nitrate. We make up our own curing salt mixes here at Puddledub including sweet cure which has a little sugar added.
The Dry Curing Process
The dry curing process involves no added water. The curing salts are applied directly to the surface of the meat and rubbed in thoroughly. The cut is then wrapped in a protective air tight covering and refrigerated. Here at Puddledub we leave the meat and cure to work together for 14 days in the chill.
When cutting the joint it’s important that the thickness of the joint is uniform so the meat is a similar thickness for the surface salt to work on.
How does the salt reach inner fibres of the meat?
This is the skill of the butcher comes in when deribbing the cut. The more uniform the thickness of the cut, the more even the curing process will be throughout the cut.
The wet curing process or 'regular' bacon.
The bacon cuts are submerged or pickled in salty water solution to allow salt to filtrate into the muscle fibres of the meat. This can be down naturally through capillary action over time or quickly with high pressure.
The difference between the curing process really becomes apparent when you cook your bacon.
No added water to the dry curing process means the dry cured bacon retains it's texture and shape during frying and there is very little residue left over after cooking. Not so with the wet cured bacon which releases a lot of moisture of the wet curing process and loses it's texture and shape.
How to cook your bacon.
Fry or grill? It's really up to you. Both work well.
Is dry cured bacon safe to eat uncooked?
No it's not safe to eat dry cured bacon raw. You need to cook it.
So next time you are shopping for bacon, you know know to have look at the label and check. Producers of dry cured bacon are likely to tell you that their bacon has been made using dry curing methods. No added water is also a big clue. It water is listed as the 2nd or 3rd ingredient after pork, then you will be buying bacon that has been wet cured.
Puddledub is a small family business making award winning pork products from our family farm in Fife, Scotland. If you would like to find out more about our farm or our products, then sign up for our Puddledub updates.
Jo Mitchell is a member of the Mitchell family and helps market Puddledub. Mum of 2 boys and living on the family farm helps Jo tell the story of farm life and provenance as well as sampling many of Puddledub's gluten free products.