Posted 02-24-2003 at 22:45:14
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You don't have to smoke pork to make bacon and ham. I'm sure the flavor is improved if you do, but if you just want to experiment, here's how you do it.
When I moved to Utah, I had a couple of pigs processed locally. The processor is clean, efficient and I trust him completely. However, his bacon and ham is not to my taste.
I called the processor I had used in Montana and picked his brain about curing hams and bacon the way he had done it for me when I lived up there. He directed me to his local supplier (salesman) in Billings, and told me to ask for maple cure from F.W. Witt Co. based in Yorkville, IL. I did, and the salesman sold a large box of cure to my "meat company." I've never regretted the purchase.
For thinner slabs of pork, the cure is rubbed liberally all over the outside of the meat. The meat is placed in a plastic bag in the frig for 5 to 7 days, turned as needed, then removed from the bag and rinsed thoroughly in tap water. The bacon is ready to eat.
For hams, buy a special metal syringe, mix some of the cure with water (I can't remember the proportions, but any good butcher could tell you), and inject the cure deep into the thick parts of the meat, especially along the bones. Around the bones is where the meat will sour if the cure does not get completely through all of the meat.
Rub the dry cure liberally all over the outside of the hams. Place the meat in plastic bags in the frig for 5 to 7 days, turning as needed. After the 5 to 7 days, remove from the plastic bags and rinse thoroughly with tap water.
This is called a quick cure. The meat will not keep out of the refrigerator or freezer, as well smoked bacon or ham might.
This method produces a good flavored bacon or ham that is far better than any you could buy at a retailer. It's a pretty easy process, too.
There are other suppliers of good cures, too, I'm sure. But, this is the only brand I have used.