DIY Homemade Pastured Bacon

The word bacon got your attention, didn’t it? According to friendseat.com, bacon contains six types of umami which produce an addictive neurochemical response. They say that 1.7 billion pounds of bacon are consumed in the U.S each year and that bacon is one of the oldest processed meats in history being around as early as 1500 BC. According to mentalfloss.com the word “bacon” actually refers to the “back” of a pig and the average American consumes 18lbs. of bacon per year!

Isn’t Bacon an Unhealthy Food?

Let’s expose this myth. The proper question should be, Isn’t conventionally raised and nitrate cured bacon an unhealthy food? To that question, I would answer with a loud yes! In examining why this type of bacon is unhealthy it comes down to three important factors:

  1. How the pigs are raised.
  2. How the pork belly is cured.
  3. The chemicals and additives that are used in the bacon

Unhealthy bacon comes from unhealthy pigs. These are the conventionally raised pigs that are raised in ultra-tight quarters with 2,500-10,000 hogs in a very small space with feces everywhere. The potential for disease and infection in this type of situation run sky high. These pigs are also loaded with antibiotics and often carry drug the drug resistant bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus. They are also fed a steady diet of GMO soy, corn, are stressed beyond belief and their meat, according to nutritionist Robb Wolf, has 300% less vitamin E and 74% less selenium than pasture raised pigs. Dr. Loren Cordain says free range pork actually contains higher levels of essential fatty acids (EFA’s) as well.

Conventional curing is done with sodium nitrite (E250) which is also used in pesticides, dyes, and pharmaceuticals. It is used to keep processed meat a pink color and kill off botulism spores. Sodium nitrite has been linked to a 74% increase in leukemia (1), increased risk of esophageal carcinoma (2), reproductive toxicity (3), rise in Parkinsons, Alzheimers and Diabetes (4), and gastric cancer (5) as well as a 31% increase in ovarian cancer (6) and an increased risk of COPD (7). Need I say more? I could write an entire blog post on sodium nitrite but I think you get the picture.

Lastly, conventional bacon is unhealthy because of the extra chemical additives that are used in the processing. These are usually caramel color (a known carcinogen), MSG (an excitotoxin) and sometimes natural flavoring which can contain 100 or more chemicals.

If you eat conventionally raised nitrite/nitrate cured bacon, it IS an unhealthy choice. You will be ingesting GMO’s, antibiotics or chemicals that can damage your body.  However, if you eat pasture raised, uncured bacon, you will be consuming a meat that’s naturally higher in vitamins and minerals as well as quality fat and is free of GMO’s, antibiotics, herbicides, and pesticides. Pastured, uncured bacon IS a healthy option for your breakfast plate and if it’s homemade that’s even better!

DIY Homemade Pastured Bacon

To make the best bacon at your house you need the proper tools. I want to share with you a list of all the tools and ingredients I use and where you can get them. *Some of these are affiliate links but that doesn’t change the cost for you. Instead, it just helps cover the cost of running this blog.

Bacon Tools

Bacon Ingredients

  • 3, 4-6lbs. Pastured Pork Belly (I get mine from my favorite local organic ranch. You can find one near you by going to Eat Wild or Local Harvest or you can click here to get your own pastured pork belly.)
  • 12 C. Filtered Water
  • 1/2 C. Organic Maple Syrup (here’s a note about choosing the grade of maple syrup)
  • 1 C. Himalayan Sea Salt (it needs to be pink and you’ll need a lot.)
  • 1 tsp. Gluten Free Liquid Smoke (this is the only brand free of chemicals, that’s gluten free, that I can find. It will last you a long time,)
  • 1/4 C. Raw Honey (find an apiary near you here)
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper, crushed or freshly ground

We love to get our healthy, organic ingredients at Thrive Market because we save so much money due to their lower prices than stores. Start your trial membership for free and get ⇓ {Exclusive for Feasting On Joy readers}

DIY Homemade Pastured Bacon is a Simple Process That Requires Patience

Making bacon at home is truly an art and for me, it required some trial and error. However, after several tries, I have finally produced the tastiest, crispiest bacon that’s even better than uncured, pastured, organic store-bought bacon.

Timing That’s VERY Important That You Need to Know About:

It will take 7 days to brine your pork belly. On the seventh day you’ll be smoking your pork belly and packaging it so be sure to plan your schedule accordingly, Day 1 brining – give yourself about an hour. Day 2-6 – no effort needed. Day 7 be sure you’re at home to prepare your smoker, tend to the smoker for a few hours and spend an hour or two slicing and packing your bacon and cleaning things up.

Steps to Brine Your Pork Belly

  1. In your heavy duty roasting pan, place all brine ingredients and stir until mixed and the salt is dissolved.
  2. Place your pork bellies in the brine and be sure every surface of meat and fat is covered with brine. The bellies will want to float so use your weights /bricks to weigh them down so they don’t come to the surface.
  3. Cover the entire roasting pan with saran wrap and try not to let it touch the liquid.
  4. Place the roasting pan with brining pork bellies in the refrigerator for 7 days and leave it undisturbed. Look at it every few days to be sure the pork bellies are still underneath the brine solution.

On the seventh day, when you are done with the brining step, pour the brine out and prepare your smoker.

To Prepare Your Smoker

Every smoker is different and I am only going to write the steps that I use for the Smoke Vault Smoker that I own. Your smoker set-up may differ from mine but this is the point you’ll want to set yours up to get ready for smoking your pork belly and turning it into bacon!

For the Smoke Vault Smoker, these are the steps to take:

  1. The day you are going to smoke your pork bellies, in the morning, place 3-4 cups of woods chips in a big bowl filled with filtered water. Let the chips soak until you are ready to put them in the smoker.
  2. Line metal racks that the pork belly will be on with tin foil. I do this because it makes clean up so much easier.
  3. Fill the water tray about half way with filtered water and cover it with tin foil. With a knife, poke some holes in the foil so steam can come out of the holes during smoking.
  4. Place soaked wood chips in the wood tray for the smoker.
  5. Be sure you have enough propane in your tank to run for at least a couple of hours at 200 degrees.

 

 


6. Be sure you have enough propane in your tank to run for at least a couple of hours at 200 degrees.
7. Place your pork bellies on the foil lined rack(s) and insert the rack(s) into the smoker.
8. Turn on your smoker and keep it at 200 degrees. Monitor it closely so that it doesn’t get cooler or hotter than this.
9. Smoke your pork bellies for 2-3 hours until the meat is at 150 degrees internally. Monitor that there are still wood chips burning at in the wood tray during the smoking process.
10. Remove your smoked pork bellies from the smoker.

 

11. After the pork belly has cooled a bit, using an extremely sharp knife or an electric meat slicer, cut the pork bellies, length wise, in 1/4″ thick pieces.

12. Package your bacon in portions that will fit your family. I package my bacon in 16 piece packages because we like to have four pieces each during breakfast. To package, you can use parchment paper and tape and then wrap that paper in tin foil. Be sure to label the package with what it is, the date and how many pieces are in the package.

13. BE SURE TO SAVE THE BITS! Don’t throw out the bacon bits that aren’t full slices. Save them and package them in a package that is labeled bacon bits. These are great to fry up and use in salads, sweet potato skins and more.

 

 
DIY Homemade Pastured Bacon
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Lunch Dinner and Snacks!
 
You'll never go back to store-bought, cured bacon after making your own pastured, nitrate free bacon at home! This recipe makes the most flavorful, crisp, clean bacon in the world.
Ingredients
Bacon Tools
  • Smoke Vault 18" Propane Smoker and Smoker Cover
  • Applewood and Hickory Wood Chips
  • Tin Foil
  • Countertop Meat Slicer
  • Cuisinart Stainless Steel Stockpot
  • Ball Jars for Grease
  • 16" x 12" x 3" Heavy Duty Roasting Pan (for brining)
  • Something heavy to weigh the pork bellies down (I used bricks covered in foil)
Bacon Ingredients
  • 3, 4-6lbs. Pastured Pork Belly (I get mine from my favorite local organic ranch. You can find one near you by going to Eat Wild or Local Harvest.)
  • 12 C. Filtered Water
  • ½ C. Organic Maple Syrup (see link in post about choosing a grade of maple syrup)
  • 1 C. Pink Sea Salt (it needs to be pink and you'll need a lot.)
  • 1 tsp. Gluten Free Liquid Smoke (link in post is the only brand free of chemicals, that's gluten free, that I can find. It will last you a long time,)
  • ¼ C. Honey, local and raw (find an apiary near you at link in post)
  • ½ tsp. Black Pepper, crushed or freshly ground
Instructions
Steps to Brine Your Pork Belly
  1. In your heavy duty roasting pan, place all brine ingredients and stir until mixed and the salt is dissolved.
  2. Place your pork bellies in the brine and be sure every surface of meat and fat is covered with brine. The bellies will want to float so use your weights /bricks to weigh them down so they don't come to the surface.
  3. Cover the entire roasting pan with saran wrap and try not to let it touch the liquid.
  4. Place the roasting pan with brining pork bellies in the refrigerator for 7 days and leave it undisturbed. Look at it every few days to be sure the pork bellies are still underneath the brine solution.
  5. On the seventh day, when you are done with the brining step, pour the brine out and prepare your smoker.
To Prepare Your Smoker
  1. Every smoker is different and I am only going to write the steps that I use for the Smoke Vault Smoker that I own. Your smoker set-up may differ from mine but this is the point you'll want to set your up to get ready for smoking your pork belly and turning it into bacon!
For the Smoke Vault Smoker, these are the steps to take:
  1. The day you are going to smoke your pork bellies, in the morning, place 3-4 cups of woods chips in a big bowl filled with filtered water. Let the chips soak until you are ready to put them in the smoker.
  2. Line metal racks that the pork belly will be on with tin foil. I do this because it makes clean up so much easier.
  3. Fill the water tray about half way with filtered water and cover it with tin foil. With a knife poke some holes in the foil so steam can come out of the holes during smoking.
  4. Place soaked wood chips in wood tray for smoker
  5. Be sure you have enough propane in your tank to run for at least a couple of hours at 200 degrees.
  6. Place your pork bellies on the foil lined rack(s) and insert the rack(s) into the smoker.
  7. Turn on your smoker and keep it at 200 degrees. Monitor it closely so that it doesn't get cooler or hotter than this.
  8. Smoke your pork bellies for 2-3 hours until the meat is at 150 degrees internally. Monitor that there are still wood chips burning at in the wood tray during the smoking process.
  9. Remove your smoked pork bellies from the smoker.
  10. After the pork belly has cooled a bit, using an extremely sharp knife or an electric meat slicer, cut the pork bellies, length wise, in ¼" pieces.
  11. Package your bacon in portions that will fit your family. I package my bacon in 16 piece packages because we like to have four pieces each during breakfast. To package, you can use parchment paper and tape and then wrap that paper in tin foil. Be sure to label the package with what it is, the date and how many pieces are in the package.
  12. BE SURE TO SAVE THE BITS! Don't throw out the bacon bits that aren't full pieces. Save them and package them in a package that is labeled bacon bits. These are great to fry up and use in salads, sweet potato skins and more.
Notes
Timing That's VERY Important:

It will take 7 days to brine your pork belly. On the seventh day you'll be smoking your pork belly and packaging it so be sure to plan your schedule accordingly, Day 1 brining - give yourself about an hour. Day 2-6 - no effort needed. Day 7 be sure you're at home to prepare your smoker, tend to the smoker for a few hours and spend an hour or two slicing and packing your bacon and cleaning things up.

Try Your Hand at Your Own DIY Homemade Pastured Bacon

Once you have all the tools, have located a great farmer for your organic pastured pork belly, you’re going to want to try making your own bacon at home. From my own experience, I know it’s so rewarding and tasty to have our own homemade bacon on our table for breakfast in the morning. Don’t buy into the myth that bacon is unhealthy. Instead, make it healthy by only consuming organic, pastured pork and don’t ingest nitrites/nitrates and chemicals that accompany conventional bacon.

I cannot wait to hear your success stories with this DIY Homemade Pastured Bacon!

 

 


Sources: 
(1) Adams, Mike. “Food Forensics: the Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food and How You Can Avoid Them for Lifelong Health.” Food Forensics: the Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food and How You Can Avoid Them for Lifelong Health, BenBella Books, Inc., 2016, p. 801.
(2) Adams, Mike. “Food Forensics: the Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food and How You Can Avoid Them for Lifelong Health.” Food Forensics: the Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food and How You Can Avoid Them for Lifelong Health, BenBella Books, Inc., 2016, p. 802.
(3) Adams, Mike. “Food Forensics: the Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food and How You Can Avoid Them for Lifelong Health.” Food Forensics: the Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food and How You Can Avoid Them for Lifelong Health, BenBella Books, Inc., 2016, p. 803.
(4) Adams, Mike. “Food Forensics: the Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food and How You Can Avoid Them for Lifelong Health.” Food Forensics: the Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food and How You Can Avoid Them for Lifelong Health, BenBella Books, Inc., 2016, p. 804.
(5) Adams, Mike. “Food Forensics: the Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food and How You Can Avoid Them for Lifelong Health.” Food Forensics: the Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food and How You Can Avoid Them for Lifelong Health, BenBella Books, Inc., 2016, p. 805.
(6) Adams, Mike. “Food Forensics: the Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food and How You Can Avoid Them for Lifelong Health.” Food Forensics: the Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food and How You Can Avoid Them for Lifelong Health, BenBella Books, Inc., 2016, p. 806.
(7) Adams, Mike. “Food Forensics: the Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food and How You Can Avoid Them for Lifelong Health.” Food Forensics: the Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food and How You Can Avoid Them for Lifelong Health, BenBella Books, Inc., 2016, p. 807.

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7 Comments

    • Jennifer

      You’ll love it Pam! You’re welcome.

      Reply
  1. This is so great! I had no idea how to do this and I learned a lot!

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Nicole, I am so glad. Thanks for your kind words.

      Reply
  2. This is so cool – I had no idea you could make bacon at home like that – my husband would LOVE this!

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Laura, It’s amazing. Something you’ll definitely want to try!

      Reply
    • Jennifer

      Laura, It’s amazing. Something you’ll definitely want to try!

      Reply

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Jennifer | Feasting On Joy

Hi! I’m Jennifer

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