Mmm… Bacon…

In reading a lot of turn of the century camping books, they all list bacon as a must-have staple. Curious, I deep-dived into it and discovered that shelf-stable (country cured) bacon was the norm. Country cured bacon is dry cured and how most pork was preserved before refrigeration.

This recipe for country cured bacon is from the Foxfire book series, book 1. It should be made immediately after the hog was butchered in the cooler months. Since that probably isn’t an option, good pork bellies from a decent source will do:

100lbs meat (1600 oz)
8 lbs salt (128 oz, 3629g)
1 qt molassas (32 fl oz, 907g)
2 oz black pepper (57g)
2 oz red pepper (57g)

At a consumer level:

5 lbs belly (80 oz, factor of 20)
181g salt
45g molassas
3g black pepper
3g red pepper

Smear on meat, sit 6 – 8 weeks in cool, dry area (cellar, fridge, smokehouse).

For Early Use:
Wash off salt, soak overnight, parboil next day, cook & eat

Phase 2, Smoking:
1a. Cover with black pepper & borax
Cover in brown sugar & pepper
Hang in smokehouse
– or –
1b. Make syrup of 1 box brown sugar, 2 boxes red pepper, 1 box saltpeter per hog
Hang in smokehouse

Smoke with hickory, oak, or corncobs for 2 – 6 days

I bag mine in muslin and hang it up after smoking. White mold will eventually grow on it, but it’s fine; just wash it off with water. Any other color mold (grey, green, etc.) indicates infection and should be disposed of.

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