There are two main methods of curing:
1. Dry Curing
- This is the oldest method and each farmhouse would have its own recipe and a slab of bacon would be kept in the inglenook above the fireplace. From Saxon times pigs were fattened in oak forests on mast (acorns) during Autumn and cured to provide meat for the family in winter months. Bacon formed part of the rations for long distance sea journeys, heavy salting preserved the meat from spoiling, but by the time it reached the Americas it was tough and more like boot leather than bacon as we know it today.
2. Wet Curing
- The term ‘Wet-cure’ means to immerse in a liquid brine (a salt and saltpetre solution containing useful salt tolerant bacteria) for 3 to 4 days. This is a much milder form of curing, and the meat is cured in the brine under refrigeration. As meat keeps fresh longer at lower temperatures it does not require so much salt. The Wiltshire Cure (Wet-cure) was developed by the Harris family of Calne, Wiltshire in the United Kingdom, and was revolutionary in its time (1840’s). As there were no refrigerators in those days, they used to pack the roof with winter ice to lower the temperature.
After bacon is cured, it is often smoked prior to preparation.