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How to make bacon – with Foodcraft Collective DIY kits

The day I made my own bacon

This should really be titled “the week I made bacon” as the curing process takes a bit longer than a day; or “the two hours when I made bacon” as that’s pretty much the actual time I spent handling the pork…but both would be less impressive so let’s keep it as it is.

how to make bacon kit

When Foodcraft Collective got in touch with me to see if I may like to review their food kits, I was really happy to have discovered yet another London-based food enterprise. Recently I have been very much interested into made in London food & drinks, and these kits are made in North London and are meant to encourage people to experiment in the kitchen and make their own food with freshly bought ingredients – it couldn’t be more local!

I chose two out of the three kits available at the moment: Bacon, Asian Dumplings and Bubble Tea. The latter was really not my cup of tea (although I’d love to know what’s in those jelly bubbles and exactly how much sugar you need) so I chose the savoury kits. I decided to start with bacon-making as it sounded more fool-proof than fiddling with fillings and dough for dainty dumplings. Oh, and because as we’re in the midst of house-moving, it was really hard to find any empty surface in the flat to cook on.

I WAS ALL SORTS OF WRONG. You can screw up bacon making even with a kit, as I nearly did, you just need to be the type of messy, disorganized, instinctive, “I don’t need instructions for this” type of cook I am. But let me try to do the kit justice to the bacon making kit, because there’s nothing wrong with it, I loved in in fact and it still made a pretty good bacon.

 

The “make your own bacon” kit: step by step

foodcraft bacon kit

1. Unpack and read the instructions. Buy the pork meat.

So you see I did a brilliant job at opening and unpacking the kit. I also did read the instructions religiously, including the part that says “A large flat pork belly joint is what you’re looking for, with a maximum thickness of 2 inches”.

1b. Do what the instructions say. Seriously. Not like me.

Then, I did it all wrong by buying strips of pork belly instead of the single fat 1kg piece the recipe asks for. I could blame it on the fact that the nighbourhood butcher I went to was absolutely swarming with people, so much that I could not see them picking up the pork belly piece and just assumed (wrongly) it would be OK…reality is, I should have checked and I didn’t. I went home to find out to my dismay that my pork belly looked like this and also had the skin on.

It was too late and I was too lazy to go back and buy the right thing, plus what would we do with one extra kilo of PB? (of course, we would devour it – which may or may not be a good thing for two people trying to lose weight). So I decided to try my luck and go ahead with the kit recipe.

2. The curing (AKA shake-it-shake-it)

The curing part is really easy. You take your meat, using the gloves provided or with your bare (clean) hands like I did, put it in the clear plastic bag and sprinkle it with the curing powder. Then close off the bag and shake it madly till it’s all nicely coated, it’s quite fun a a great stress-release method. Then get as much air as possible out of the bag, close again and place it in the fridge.

Instruction say “one day per half inch thickness of the meat, plus two days”, so 7 days for a 2 ½ inch joint (or strip, like mine). It has to be “turned every two days”, which is not as hard to remember even for a head-in-the-clouds like me- just place the bag somewhere in the friedge where it’s easy to see it when you open the door, and the thought of BACON ahead of you should be enough to keep your memory fresh.

bacon making kit 3

Top right: the raw pork meat in the curing powder; bottom right: cooked beacon cut into lardons; left: bacon rashers (kind of)

3. The waiting  (easy part)

So I waited and turned my bacon religiously for a week – sometimes tentatively poking the bag to see if anything was happening, only to discover that apart from being cold and harder, my pork belly looked very much the same. If you’re nervous about having raw meat lying around for a week (I was) think that prosciutto crudo is completely raw uncooked meat; as prosciutto is my favourite food ever, I kept the faith.

4. The cooking and waiting again (hard waiting)

After a week, I got my instructions out again to finish the process. I got the belly out of the bag, washed it and dried it up with some paper towel. There is a cute little “pop up thermometer” in the kit that has to be stuck in the middle of your joint; as my pork was not really a joint, I just picked a thicker part and hoped for the best.

To be honest, there is not a lot of detail in the kit about how you are supposed to cook your belly (“cook at 200C and you are done when the thermometer pops”), but a bit of googling supplemented the information nicely: I went for my own oven rack over a tray to avoid splashing pork fat all over.

The thermometer popped very shortly afterwards, maybe 30 minutes- the kit says it should take about 2 hours, but of course, a smaller piece like a strip will heat quicker that a single flat joint. To err on the side of caution (I will only eat pink pork from a proper restaurant and let somebody else do the sous vide cooking thing for me), I let it to cook for an hour and let it cool down in the oven. THAT was hard. The flat smelled like roast pork so strongly we had to open the windows and go for a walk – really, just to avoid the temptation of eating the thing before it became officially bacon, which would somehow defeat the purpose

5. The cutting

Once out of the oven, the result was maybe not too bacon-looking but surely very tempting to eat straight away. I removed the skin (most of it has puffed and cracked nicely and made a great cook’s snack), sliced a few thick slices and cut the rest into chunks. I always preferred bacon lardons to rashers anyway, and by now from the smell and texture it was clear that, although not much of a looker, my homemade bacon was a flavour winner.

6. Eat ALL THE BACON!

homemade bacon breakfast

The following day breakfast was one of the most delicious and best-looking meals I had at home recently. I just fried up the bacon lardon, chucked in some Burford Browns eggs, toasted some bread and dug in! For extra decadence and as a pat on the back to myself for successfully making my first ever bacon, I even shaved some truffle from Burro e Salvia on top. Now, if all my breakfasts were like this one…I would need to run a lot more but I’d be a very happy chick.

 

Verdict: I had a lot of fun (and some self-criticism moments) with the Foodcraft Collective Bacon Kit. It is easy to say that if you’re a bit into cooking and eating “real” unprocessed food, you don’t really need a kit – but then in the reality of our busy, messy lives, a kit is one of those things that can make the difference between dreaming of one day maybe making your own [bacon/dumplings/pancakes etc] and actually doing it. I think the kits make a fantastic inexpensive, original Christmas or birthday or housewarming present for that foodie friend who maybe just needs a nudge towards making something to be proud of. Plus, you will be supporting a London-based companythat works closely with local producers – win all around!

The Foodcraft Collective kits are available to buy online at foodcraftcollective.com and retail for £7.99

 

 

Disclaimer: I received the Bacon Kit as a gift free of charge from Foodcraft Collective. Opinions are my own.

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2 Comments

  1. I just wanted to say thank you for this post and it totally inspired me to try make bacon at home in Malaysia. I just successfully completed my first batch of Kelantanese wild boar bacon (compliments of Dad’s ‘resources’ hehe), but I certainly would have never thought of trying it if you hadn’t blogged about it XD

    • Oh, thanks! Flattered I have been an inspiration. You must save some of this bacon for me, it sounds absolutely amazing…*drools*

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