The Doctor's musings

How to avoid crushing disappointment

15th November 2017

You are standing in the bacon aisle of the supermarket. The paracetamol you took an hour ago hasn’t dented the red wine headache just yet, and the only food choice for moments like this is a bacon sandwich.

Why is some of it so damn expensive, bacon’s bacon, surely? You grab a pack of the mid range own brand – the safe option, right? Mid range, mid price.

There is nothing quite so disappointing than watching your bacon shrink to a point that you’re not even sure there will be enough to fill the two thick cut slices of tiger bread (and you’re not the only one who starts slicing the bread from the middle, NO ONE can make a decent size sarnie if they start at the end).

A strange white liquid accumulates in the pan, which does your red-wine queasy stomach no favours. Your wife looks at your dejected face, looks at the pan, and says:

“I told you to get dry cured.”

It’s time to go back to bed.

Cheaper, mass-produced bacon is made quickly, the cure is injected into the bacon which speeds up the curing process and gives an opportunity to add polyphosphates. These stop the water loss from the meat usually associated with curing and therefore increases the profit margins per kilo. The polyphosphates leach out of the bacon when you cook it – this is the strange white liquid in the pan, along with the water it has been holding in.

This is a side effect of the supermarkets’ “race to the bottom”, as they strive to produce the cheapest product, at the expense of quality.

BAM’s bacon making process is designed to remove moisture from the meat. The dry salt mix is hand rubbed into the bacon and then allowed time – at least five days for the cure to penetrate the meat and remove moisture. Air drying the meat afterwards gives the cure time to fully disperse through the meat and allows the pellicle to form – a thin film over the bacon which will allow adhesion of the smoke molecules when it is smoked.

The hot smoking process allows further evaporation of moisture and penetration of flavours.

When BAM bacon is cooked, any shrinkage is due to the contraction of the meat fibres, not loss of moisture and there is no white goo, because we don’t use polyphosphates. Arguably although per pack our bacon looks more expensive, you will get more weight of cooked bacon for your money. Oh! I just came up with another blog post right there!

If you want to know more: Here is an educational video of commercial wet cure bacon production (I was a teacher, old habits die hard!)…